Citrix Systems executive Jesse Lipson eyes new startup

Jesse Lipson, left and his wife Brooks Bell. Lipson is leaving Citrix Systems to pursue startup possibilities.
Jesse Lipson, left and his wife Brooks Bell. Lipson is leaving Citrix Systems to pursue startup possibilities. Courtesy of Brooks Bell

Jesse Lipson, who gets the credit for luring software giant Citrix Systems to Raleigh and expanding its local presence to more than 900 employees, is leaving the business software giant to start another company.

Lipson – who joined Citrix in 2011 after the Florida-based company acquired his startup, ShareFile, for $54 million – confirmed Tuesday that he plans to depart from Citrix at the end of March.

Lipson said he never expected to stay at Citrix, where he is corporate vice president and general manager of the cloud services business unit, as long as he has.

He said his decision to return to the startup arena came after he started reflecting on what he wanted to do for the next decade or two given that he will turn 40 in October.

“Going back to a startup and starting from scratch is what I’m most excited about,” he said. “I decided that if that’s what I want to do long-term, I may as not waste any time and get to it.”

But he hasn’t yet formulated what that startup will be.

“It’s to be determined,” he said, adding that it will most likely be another business-to-business software company. ShareFile enables businesses to shares large files securely over the internet.

But Lipson isn’t in a rush to embark on his next venture.

“I am planning to take the rest of the year off,” he said. “Brooks and I got an Airstream trailer so we’re going to be doing some road trips and tours of the country.” The couple will also do some international traveling, he said.

Brooks is Lipson’s wife, Brooks Bell, who is CEO of a marketing analytics company that bears her name. Her company and the company that became ShareFile split off from novelProjects, a website development company that Lipson and Bell co-founded.

The power couple also are among the co-founders of HQ Raleigh, which offers affordable, flexible space and business advice for entrepreneurs and is based in Raleigh’s Warehouse District.

Lipson said that Bell won’t be joining him at his new startup.

“She’s pretty happy” at her company, Lipson said. “I would say there is about a zero percent chance that she’ll work with me on the next startup. She’ll be an adviser.”

Citrix moved its local operations, whose 900-plus workers consists mostly of employees focused on ShareFile, to the Warehouse District in the summer of 2012. That move proved to be a catalyst for a renaissance of the area, where two projects currently are being built across the street: the Union Station transit hub and The Dillon, which includes a 17-story tower.

Citrix’s software-as-a-service business, which is dominated by ShareFile, posted a 30 percent gain in revenue last year.

“Leaving at a high point ... is always good,” Lipson said.

In December, Citrix committed to 400 new hires in Raleigh over the next five years.

“That momentum is going to continue,” Lipson said. “We’ve got some strong leaders in place in Raleigh ... who will be stepping up to continue to run the ShareFile business here.”

In addition to formulating plans for a new startup, Lipson expects to remain involved with HQ Raleigh, which is slated to roughly double in size by expanding into the top five floors of the Capitol Club Building at 16 W. Martin St. in downtown Raleigh in June.

“I’ll definitely be a customer of HQ,” Lipson said. “When I start my next company, that will be my new office.”

David Ranii: 919-829-4877, @dranii