When you come to visit Pure Storage in Mountain View, Calif., you may notice a number of Nerf guns on people’s desks. As we lead the charge into the flash-oriented future of the storage industry, the Nerf gun is our weapon of choice for spreading a culture of challenging convention, working hard to win, and encouraging a people-focused industry-wide culture.

Nerf Artillery

Origins of the Nerf gun at Pure Storage

At the end of the first “real” year of selling FlashArrays, we were down to the final few weeks of the quarter, and everyone was nose-down pushing as hard as they could to meet and surpass their respective goals. This was going on for a good long while, and you could see that people were getting exhausted. A few of us took a look around and realized that the fun-factor that we were known for had completely disappeared in the midst of all the focus on end of the year, which led me to wonder, “What happened to Pure fun?”

It’s not entirely clear who came up with the idea of the Nerf gun, but a small group of Puritans decided that it met a set of criteria that would work toward our objective, which was to give everyone a very short reprieve from the pressure.

Orange Ski MasksSo on the last Monday of the quarter, we plotted the first Nerf gun ambush in the office. Downstairs, there was a tired, unsuspecting engineering team on the fourth floor. We looped in sales ops to ensure no customers were caught in the crossfire and the IT department to coordinate our efforts over the network with a secret message. Our goal was to let everyone enjoy 15 minutes of unadulterated chaos and fun with their teammates.

When the message “The Eagle Flies at Dawn” went out, the members of the Nerf Gun Ambush Brigade met in the stairwell and donned bright orange ski masks, loaded our 20-plus Nerf guns with ammo and headed downstairs to engineering.


Someone must have tipped them off.

They were very well-armed. The firefight that ensued was “not conducive to productive coding,” but the engineering team managed to fend off the Sales, General & Administrative teams successfully. Partly defeated, we chose a smaller target: Operations on Floor 2.

Packed into the elevators, we headed down. As the doors to the elevator opened, we were greeted with what can only be described as a horizontal shower of Nerf bullets.  To step outside the elevators was to commit Nerf-suicide. While a smaller team, we should have realized that the Pure operations team is ALWAYS prepared. In this case, it meant they had at least 5 Hailfire guns – an automatic weapon that carries 6 clips (couldn’t quite count those guns through the bullet-rain).

After the melee ended, it was clear that the Nerf war had served its purpose: It brought laughter and fun back into the workplace and helped us regain perspective as to why we work so hard and what we’re working toward.

Since that day, the Nerf gun has become a fixture of Pure culture. We use them to celebrate victories, punctuate jokes and “get someone’s attention.” They are a reminder that we are committed to an industry vision that’s fundamentally different than what it’s been. We’re revolutionizing the storage industry with more than just flash – but with a decidedly more people-friendly approach.

Join in the Fun at VMworld!

Now, we are ready to share that fun, pressure-release, better-way-to-do-storage with a larger audience, so we hope you’ll stop by our booth at VMworld for a little Nerf gun fun. Play a Nerf game with us, learn a bit about FlashArrays, and you can win a Nerf gun of your very own (or other, even cooler giveaways)!