Sonny Hashmi, the well-respected chief information officer of the General Services Administration, confirmed last week that he would step down after nearly a year in the position to join the private sector. Now we know where he's heading: Box.
Hashmi will join the cloud-storage company based in Los Altos, Calif. as its new managing director for government, where he'll lead its efforts to be a service provider for the federal government. He is one of a slew of federal officials who recently left the Beltway for private-sector jobs in the technology sector -- including Jay Carney, David Plouffe and Demetrious Marantis.
Hashmi's background includes a mix of work in the public and private sectors and worked to modernize the GSA. Under his leadership as deputy CIO and then CIO, the agency launched an internal cloud platform called GSAConnect and has made its headquarters "smart" -- by way of tiny sensors that collect information on the light, heat and water usage throughout its building.
He's also spoken extensively on the question of how the public sector can use new tools with a more consumer-centric design for storage, collaboration and better data analysis. Heading back to the private sector, he'll be pushing a similar modernization fight that he led while at the GSA.
"I don't see it as a shift for me," Hashmi said in an interview. "It's the next step in my journey towards improving government solutions."
Hashmi was an obvious choice for Box when the company began looking for someone who could help it better navigate the federal world, said Box chief executive Aaron Levie. "We've been thinking about this area for quite some time and asked who's doing smart things, innovating. We kept hearing Sonny's name from players throughout the ecosystem."
Box, which went public in January, has to compete with giants such as Microsoft and Amazon for lucrative government contracts. The company gave its first earnings report last month, revealing it had lost $1.65 per share on $62.6 million in revenue in the fourth quarter of 2014.
That raised some questions from analysts about the company's long-term viability. Cloud storage providers, after all, seem to be in a pricing race to the bottom to draw consumers and small businesses. But to stay competitive, Box has invested heavily in expansion and made it a point to comply with a host of regulations governing health, financial services and other protected data to woo certain customers.
Hashmi said that he has a few goals for his new role to build the Box brand among his former fellow government workers. One is to further encourage public-private partnerships, to show how Washington -- yes, even slow-moving Washington -- can take advantage of cutting-edge technology to make work easier, foster collaboration and save money.
"There's a lot more tech savviness now in government agencies," he said. "People are aware there are better ways of doing work."