The Founder Formula
The Founder Formula

Episode · 2 years ago

Craig McLuckie, Founder Heptio - A Founder's Two Most important Relationships Revealed


"The only reason to launch a start-up is because you have to!" 


In this episode, we talk to cloud entrepreneur and innovator Craig McLuckie. 


He talks about the time to launch a startup when you see 2 things: 


1) A total addressable market 


2) A moment of disruption 


Listen to this and all of The Founder Formula episodes on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or our website.

I was not seeking the next promotion. I didn't care if I never promoted again. I wasn't seeking well, what I was seeking was changed, positive change in the world. The founder Formula Brings you in behind the curtains and inside the minds of today's brave executives at the most future leaning startups. Each interview will feature a transformative leader who's behind the wheel at a fast paced and innovative tech firm. They'll give you an insider's look at how companies are envisioned, created and scaled. We hope you're ready. Let's get into the show. Hey, everybody, welcome back for another episode of the founder Formula. I'm Todd Galina. In with me is trace threes chief innovation officer, Mark Campbell. What's up mark, Hey, hey, hey, how you doing? Doing okay? Getting a little bit of cabin fever? I cannot lie. Yeah, well, I tell you what I think. My family is getting sick of me walking around the House with curlers of my air, singing Patsy Clin songs and smoking, you know, unfiltered camels. They're getting sick of it. Just no one likes to smell of cigarettes, mark, but everybody loves somebody's head and curlers. That's a Oh yeah, no, you know, they're the only thing that goes with a pink bathroom. You. I mean, it's all about coordination and fashion sense. Are you trying to as it would appear that there are going to be some restrictions lifted? Are you trying to get out? Are you trying to plan anything? Because I sure a second know that I am. Yeah, I wouldn't mind getting out, heading in the mountains and doing some camping. It's a little problematic. It's kind of hard to find. You know what campgrounds are open, what are closed. I'm here in that they're open, except you got to keep that social distancing, which I think is a little ironic. I mean, that's why I'm going camping right. I don't want to be closer than six feet from someone else, right I think. I think for the campground they need to extend it to like a hundred feet for sure. And wouldn't it be weird if just some buddy else from a different campground just kind of stumbled into your area and started hanging it around, ext your tent and only breaks social norms, it breaks camping norms, except in the Netherlands when I lived in the Netherlands, and for those of you who maybe live in the Netherlands or have in the past, you'll know what I'm saying is not just an anecdotal story. It is totally true. I was told about a campground they had their out on the coast of the North Sea and one of the advantages of the campground there is it was so popular you could send your you could set your tent up using only half the pegs because you could share with the tent next to you. Know. Yeah, and they're like, go online, look up Dutch camping. Okay, make sure you got an adult filter on when you do that. But but if, if you go take a look, these things are like, you know, you've got like one every doodle distance in between each of these tens. It's it's scary. I looked at that I was like, okay, one thing I'm not doing in the Netherlands is going camping, but I guess the folks in the Netherlands are. They really enjoy it. I get a little sense of community. Wow, little different than what I experienced growing up in northern Canada. Now I a big, big fan of the Netherlands. Get over there whenever I can. Yeah, except for camping, you definitely that would know. No, no. Hey. So, mark, we have an amazing guest today because he's done something that I haven't quite heard done by any of the folks that we've had on the podcast so far. He pretty much was involved in inventing something that's open source, which, for those of you who might not know, basically means this is available to anyone. It's it includes permission to use any type of source code or designed documents. It's pretty much free and available to anyone. He was involved in developing some open source and then later, after sending that out into the world, he basically started a company to take advantage of some of that open source that he helped develop. So can you tell...

...the listeners a little bit about that open source that he was part of? Yeah, for any techiks out there, you're going to know what couper Netti's is, and you know, our guests today was on the ground floor of that at Google, helping develop that, helping to get it introduced into the community and making it basically a household name around just about every it shop in the world right now. Everyone uses coubernetti's. For the most part. COUBERNETTI's is a container orchestration tool, which, if you know what a container orchestration tool is, there's no need for me to explain it. But for those I don't, what, what wouldn't I know? I know, no, it's it's people talking about on the streets constantly, but it is pretty popular as one of the hottest texts out there and basically, containers are taking over the world. Is probably everyone in it knows. Containers are basically like a think of it as like Serran wrap that you can put around one specific service. So you can kind of you can kind of shrink wrap that and then Coubernettie's will let you replicate that as many times you want. You can give it rules to say, Hey, spin one of these up at seven o'clock at night, or if the virtual CPU gets above a certain amount, let's scale it up. By the way, if we run out a compute here, why don't you jump out the public cloud run some instances up there? COUBERNETTI's is kind of the traffic cop for all of that and there's some other solutions out there, but over the past couple years coubernetti's is kind of emerged as the de facto standard, very, very useful and is kind of certainly every cloud native company out there is built on Cooper Nettie's for the most part. So being involved in something like that is yeah, I tell you what is. Resume Looks Pretty sparkly. No, exactly. I can't wait to get into it with him and we that. Are you ready to kick it off, my man? Let's jump in with both feet. Okay, as promise with us today. As a cloud entrepreneur and innovator, he was the original product lead for the Google compute engine. He created and shared the cloud native Computing Foundation and Co founded the COUBERNETTIES project. He was the founder and CEO of Seattle Base Heptio, which was recently acquired by vm where. Let me welcome to the show Craig mclucky. Hey, Craig Hey, thanks for having me on. Well, this is going to be a fun one. Todd, this is a foundational technology of today's enterprise it landscape and we've got one of one of the guys that created the witch is Bruce. So this is going to be fun. Yeah, I'm looking forward to it. So Craig, from your recent past, you you were kind of focused on the open source side of life, container orchestration. So coming into the entrepreneurial world via that open source for route and getting COOPERNETTI's out there and kind of watching it blossom into kind of the de facto standard. Can you kind of give us a rundown what that is? I'm not sure that we've had a guest on that kind of has has taken that path into entrepreneurship. Yeah, so, you know, these just way describe it is to kind of look at what we were trying to accomplish with the project. So my friend Joe and I were working at Google and we started Google computer engine. Well, you know, just sort and I was responsible for the productizing it, and we got to a point where we recognize that we really needed to shift the narrative, we needed to shake up the landscape a little bit to reposition the place where we were competing with the other cloud providers. And we met another friend of ours, burn and Burns, and start playing with ideas of doing almost exactly the opposite of what we've done with computer engine, which was taking a relatively traditional way of running it. Workloads and bringing it into the Google data center. Let's let us instead take a lot of the patterns and practices of the Google Data Center and take it out into the border wall. And so we came up with this which, you know it may be. I think... was the time of a bit of a head bringing scheme to create an open source project that was really inspired by the way that the cloud providers were building and running their underlying infrastructure. So looking at what made hyperscales great and taking that technology and bringing it back into it organizations in a way that it could solve the problems that they were dealing with in a data basis. Now, you know the audience follow US themselves. Well, I'm not a hyperscaler, do I really need this technology? But the truth is the patterns and practices that the cloud providers have established were equally relevant to the problems that I had. Being able to start looking at a broad collection of undifferentiated computers as a combined resource, being able to start having a way to take it workloads and package them up and and deploy them into that environment was incredibly powerful. And at the same time there was another open source technology called Doctor that we took a lot of inspiration from and we asked that question, like what would this look like if we were building it from the ground up, knowing what we know now, having been this close to the inner operations of a megascale pyk provider? And so we created the cubinetti project and you know, obviously it worked out pretty well. Like we've been thrilled by the community engagement and success to the project, and I think that was in part already driven by two things. One was it was an opportunity to open up some of what Google offered, but, more importantly, it was a way to engage this vibrant, open community that had real will problems that could work hand in glove with us to produce something really powerful. And so, you know, over the next couple of years we worked very hard on the on the project and created a community that supported it. We worked a lot of other enterprise software companies to make it a staple in their portfolio and at the end of the day, I think it was an opportunity for us to look for creating effectively a ubiquitous substrate. So, thinking about something that's low enough level, you could run pretty much anything high enough level at it, hit away the specifics of the workload and as results, became really popular and it became more than just open source. Technology, became the promise of being able to develop and deliver applications and solve real will business problems. In a way, that was the couple from the OO Keness of running your own infrastructure. Well, and you know, certainly from our side of things, we watched the meteor are adoption rate of COUBERNETTI's just go from from kind of what is coubernet? Is that like a Greek wrestler, someone I don't know about, all the way to, you know, it being literally at every one of our customers. And that didn't you know? That didn't happen over a decade. That happened over, you know, a handful of hoarders, and so that was super interesting to watch. In obviously say I'm assuming that your position and job and team at Google didn't suck. You were, you were kind of it, one of the apex organizations in our industry. But yet in the middle of all that, decided, hey, you know what, I think I'm gonna go start by own company. What in your background made you believe that? Yep, now is the right time, I'm the right person, this is the right thing. How did that all come together? It was really interesting and it's funny because I've taken a lot of inspiration with other stortup farmers that I've worked with and, you know, the the one sort of founder I worked with said like the only reason to do a start up is because you have to do a start up. You know, it's not the type of thing that you know, it's not easy. It takes a lot of pluck to kind of work through the the challenge associated with it. It's not even necessarily the best pot too wealth, you know, like often is not just, you know, grinding every day inside a traditional company and make any way forwards will produce better kind of lifetime up comes for you. But at the same time, you know, I've interacted with with other folks and I can actually stand by what he said. You know, like you just start it because you kind of have to to start up. You do it because you you need to experience it at some point in your career. But at the same time, you know, spoking to another founder who was part of a company that we recently acquired and I looked at him as something of a mentor. You know, he had grown this organization significantly and he had created a...

...lot of success and his perspective was, you know, the time when you start a start up is when you see two things. You see a total addressful market that's significant. So there's you know there's money there, you know there's something there, and you see a moment of disruption that is rolling through that addressful market and you know, when the timing is right, you have an opportunity to create something quite unique and quite special. And so for me it's always been a question of timing rather than just a question of having a great ideas, about having a great idea at the great time. And I remember very clearly, you know, walking down the stairs one day and thinking like it's never going to be a better time, there's never going to be situation a better opportunity than now, and I kind of need to do this at some point in my career, like I really need to do this. And when I was looking at COUMARINETTI's itself, I thought there was this critical need for an organization that could emerge that would meet in apprice customers where they were, because if you're from a club provides perspective. You're writing letters from the future. Hey, come join us the future. It's great where flying cars. You want to be here, but as an ANAPROSS company you're living in the present. It's just like I don't want to flying car, I just want my car to start morning, every day, the second right to work. Maybe I'll get a flying car, you know, sometime, and you know once I've I've got the finance sport. And so I was really inspired by that opportunity to meet the Enterprise Organization where it was and walked the journey with them, bring as much as I could from my experiences with the open source community, with my experiences from inside the club providers, and and that's what ready motivated galvanize me to to start hip here with my friend Joe. So I love what you said. You only want to start up because you have to. And you mentioned the address bull market and a clear moment and disruption and you obviously were very familiar with the space. Tell us a little bit about the pitch when you went to get funding. Was it a no brainer because you had those two things pretty much solidified, or was there some difficulty there? No, it was a phone call. Really you know because I look this is this is sort of one of the unfair advantages that I think folks have. If you've if you've created a sufficient you know positive outcomes and if you're timing is perfect, the situation is obvious. So you know, secure and funding initially was was pretty easy. You know, I'd worked with this Guy Pingley from Xel, who I held in the very highest regard. You know, he'd always you know, when he met me the first time he was like, you know, you should do a company. Sometimes like yeah, yeah, one day, paying when I'm ready, and then when the time I was right, he was just to incredibly supportive. So it worked out relatively well. So it's a pretty easy story from my perspective. But you know, obviously the challenge was getting the Kubunity sting going in the in the first place. This was a pretty obvious next step in that journey. Well, when you left, of course you didn't. You didn't go solo. You took Joe along with you. How did you come up with it? was that just kind of Alchemy and you guys just knew then, Oh yeah, we've got the pieces of the puzzle, or did you say hey, look, the two of us was go out. By the way, we're going to have to find about four or five other people to round out the band. How did that founding team come together? I don't think I took Joe with me. I think Joe Moore pulled me out of Google. So Joe, Joe decided he wanted to, know, step out of the rat race and take some time to be with this family. And it was funny because I've known Joe for work with him for quite some time and he's a worker like he likes to work, he likes to get things done, so I figured it was only a matter of time before we'd work together again. Like I think through your career, and this is advice to perspective, founder is one of the most like this. This too, really important relationships that matter. There's relationship with the other founders and operating from a base of trust. See so many folks coming up with a great idea or having done something and going through the sort of found a dating process and one of the sure if most surefile ways to kill a start up is founded drama. And with Joe we had a very good, positive chemistry. You know, we built compute engine together and that was a triump, I mean was it was hard to it was hard to get over the cognit of heard with getting that out there. Would work with our friend Brendan to bill coumarnetti's and that was a hurdle. So We'd been to hell him back couple times...

...and I think you know once you've once you've got enough bake on a relationship, you know it's comfortable, a familiar there was no air gap between us. When we saw the same data, we'd form the same conclusion. We we knew each other well, we knew what we're good at, what we're bad at. When you like, you knew when to trust me and you went to trust him. We never argued, and so that chemistry was just critical to getting things going. And then the second relationship you already care about is with your board and making sure that you have the right folks that that also Gel with you. So when I look at, you know, our original investors, Ping and tim from exile Madrona, they were just class acts. They were very, you know, well aligned with our aspirations, incredibly supportive, you know, at every step of the game, you know, from founding to ultimately making the hard core to sell the company. They were there with us and that that, I think, you know, set us up for success in a way that is really important. One of our previous guests had always said you definitely want to found a company with somebody that you could sit next to you on a plane for a very long flight. Sounds like you definitely had that with Joel. Yes, look very long flex with deliberty not sit next to each other because we spend so much time together in the office all the time. was sometimes that that will space. But yeah, I mean it's it's entirely true like that. Chemistry matters. It's not about necessarily being the same person or, you know, being friends and going drinking off to work. It's about trust, like a deep Intrinsic Trust, and being in a situation like that with someone you just intrinsically trust reduces the strain to a level that you can't believe. Right because, let's start of funding. You're all is going to be dealing with existential situations. It's always going to be something that's that's challenging and the last thing you want to do is to be second guessing your founder, being second guessed by your founder's just co founders would add too much kind of cognitive strains. So, but trust is critical well, and I suppose you know, much like in dancing, if there's two of you, you know that trust and coordination is is tricky enough. But as you start to scale your company and you start adding more people to the mix and I don't want to say diluting that relationship, but certainly making it more complex and dispersed, how do you scale up a company, especially one that grew as dramatically as Hepty oh, and kind of keep that distinctive culture intact? Or is it something that kind of changes and as you grow the company, you kind of move towards the center of Cultural Gravity? But how did you guys deal with that? I think that is probably one of the biggest lessons I took from from Petsio and one of the things that I do I'm proud of. Bout was when I think about culture and a company, a lot of folks are like, Oh, we have a startup culture, so we get to the office earlier, we work late, we pay foods full and we hang out together and drink. This is off the work right. That's not culture, that's just your choices around the work environment that you end cultures effectively the operating system of go company. So when you think about how an organization makes sense of information, how they make decisions, how they approach adversity, how they how you evaluate someone, whether they're, you know, someone you want to hire or not, right, if you have a very clear articulation of your culture and if you're very deliberate about your culture, you will stand in good today. So the first thing John I did is we sat down and wrote down the culture and, you know, we identify the problem at hand and we try to think through and sort of think ahead to like what would the essential attributes we wanted to manifest that would enable the organization to scale, to dress the problem, to meet customers where they were. So we started with this sort of almost cultural manifesto, if you will, that lay that out. Now, of course, like if your culture is an operating system, you know operating systems have bugs, so your culture also has to have the ability to evolve and be tuned over time. You know, you'll start off with something that you know you can make a statement around, like you know. You know we were very passionate about disruptions. To carry the file as one of us have cultural elements,...

...but how that manifest can be positive or negative. You can have it overweighted and it creates chaos or you can have it sort of dialed in at the right level. So a lot of it's how it expresses itself. So I think there's putting a lot of emphasis on culture and then tying a lot of our decisions and explaining them through the culture. You know, as we approached, you know, some of the hardest existential issues that we faced, being able to kind of anchor that and explain our position through the Lens of our culture was important. And then as we as we hired on New People, first thing we do is talk about the culture and make sure that there was a very clear and explicit understanding of what they were getting into and expectations around that as they progressed through the through the process. So I think that enables you to achieve coherency and the best companies today, I think, have a very precise and explicit cultures that you know they manifest is either explicitly or implicitly handles. So in the case of, you know, an organization like Amazon, there their operating system is written down in a very specific way and it ables them to scale. EFFORTACY and approach new businesses is a very powerful thing. But that culture may not work in a different context. So it is situational and it needs to be intelligently design and, frankly, you will make mistakes, you know you will. You'll have culture manifesting in pathological ways and you need to have the Acumen and willingness to address that and you kind approach with dogma. Yeah, well, and I suppose as not only your company evolves and grows and Scales and so forth, your culture, as long as that true north doesn't really shift. That you mentioned about Amazon having it kind of written in stone, in it being effortless. But what happens when you go through an acquisition? So you got picked up by VM where, by the way, congratulations, you get to pay off your Honda Accord now. If so, now you're you're in another large company of what you've been in several large companies your career before. Does that Culture Morph? Is it additive? Is it, you know, kind of Ven Diagram the intersection of the two cultures? I mean, how is that transition? God, and I think it's one of those those sort of decisions that you know, every startup founder you know this is the joy of running around company and it's it is a true like it is the most amazing job in the world, like there's nothing quite as amazing as as participating in the growth and nurturing something that you build. But you also, you know, let's you look at what you're ultimately building the company for, you know. So for me, like, my goal was never to build a company for the sake of building a company. My goal was to build a company because I want to create an outcome in the world. And so when you face the situation like this that we were faced with, it was a question of are we selling out or are we buying in? Are we in a situation where our macro goals are going to be better met and we believe the thing that we work with this this team to build is going to be better met by joining forces with this bigger company, or are we simply just ring the cash way just to handle and and for me it was it was pretty clear. It was no particular empetus to style. We were doing really well. You know, I think we were on the on a trajectory to create something quite special in the world. But at the same time, it comes back to timing. You know, everything in this world is a question of timing and while we could have created something that was significant, I think we would have lost the opportunity to create something that was industry shaping. And for me and Askin for the culture we created, the the appetite and the opportunity to engage in something industry shape was formal motivating than any you know, specific financial outcome. For me, the preservation that culture was was really grounded in what was the intent behind V and we're enjoining forces with us. And you know, when I met with Pat and asked me, pat girl sing or what you know, like what he wanted to do with this, and I listened and I was like and it's like you's like, what do you want to do? And I was like, well, pretty much that, it became clear that there was an opportunity to join forces and, you know, use what Vm we're already created,...

...use the culture, which was in many ways not that the similar to the heptio culture. And I did my research on the company and I interview people at it worked there. You know, some of them worked worked at Heptio and you know, I spent a lot of time thinking about it and it really got me to the conclusion that the cultures were not that but, you know, essentially different. But what we could potentially create was an alloy that was stronger than some of its past. We could bring in and preserve some of that entrepreneurial spirits, some of that authentic hunger to change the way that it operated. It was something that vm, where was, was certainly looking to bring not just to the existing business but to bring to the Wat rid large and so for me it wasn't a question of like, how do you preserve your culture, it was how do you infuse your culture into the broader apparatus and how do you infuse it, the culture the broader apper and is, back into yours and create this alloy that's just stronger than any of the materials that went into it. So we were very deliberate and, you know, I remember kind of going through this process quite the liberty of deconstructing this thing that I created into constituent pieces, blending them with the pieces that existed and working to create something that was greater than the sum of its parts. And, like, I've been very peace with results. It's been a it's been quite, you know, quite a positive journey. Just it's really nice to have access to those resources. It's really nice to have access to that cells organization. It's a pleasure to work with like minded executives, you know, above you and an adjacent be used. That one of the same things you want. So I feel we were very privileged to be in the situation where the cultural distinctions were not different. You know, like the folks that joined are still, by large there and we just haven't seen that many people drift away because we're doing more less what we were always doing, just doing it with more resources, and that is support. And maybe a lot of the people that were with you kind of knew this was always a possibility and when you have the opportunity to be welcome with open arms by vm where and get access to all those resources, I'm sure that even in the back of their heads they knew that was all kind of part of the long term plan. Yeah, and I think it's part of the deal of joining a start up. I don't think anyone anticipated US leaving the market quite as as quickly as we did. There was certainly it was it was interesting. You know, a lot of the folks that worked to have to fell in love with the company that they really they felt very deep attachment to it, so that there was definitely a period of uncertainty and and mourning that we were becoming some else. But then, you know, once you really feel what's becoming, it became very natural. So just a process, you know, and I keep describing this to you know encourage any what I found to think about this. But it's kind of like if you're if your systems engineer or you building a system, the assumptions you make at one order of scale do not apply to the next. You know, to to orders a magnitude lodger when you one or two orders a magnitude. The same applies to teams. You know, the way that you operate, the way that you interact, the way that things are structured. For you to be able to address a bigger market and to be able to scale, you have to change a lot of those operating practices. You know, when you're a twenty person company, you have unfitted access to the CEO, when you're a hundred person company you kind of have to get in line for a one on one. When Your Thousand Person Company, there's no way they even know who you are in the in the general case, because they just can't keep how many people in head, though I have met somewhere founders who have been able to which is always impressed me, and so I also look at it as just this natural journey where as you get bigger, things change and change is necessary for growth, and one of those changes is is, you know, like are you an independent entity or you part of a big organization? A Craig, I just want to roll the clock back a little bit because we do have some listeners that, you know, might be starting their their tech journey working at a few different companies before they kind of formulate that plan early on. You also were at Microsoft and Google and it looks like you kind of bounce back between the two companies for a little while. Can you share your story about, you know, some of the stops at Microsoft? Yeah, it's interesting and illy. This is kind of like a I'm a little bit shy and a little bit of shame, but also not sorry, about macrosoft situation. Now learn pretty early in my career that that, like my ability was good. You know, I joined Microsoft in the early days and then I made two questionable choices.

I joined Acom just before the dotcom bust and then I joined a hedge fund just between before the edgecom laps. Well, timing at the end, but those first two were a little bit of bad timing. Yeah, so third times a charm. But you know, one of the things that I'd learned was that, when I mean, and I said facetiously, like the only way to get motors to resup leave and come back. But the truth is that I discovered that I got so much out of my ability, like a fundamentally change as a professional. I was actually qualified to do a job at a higher level because I was able to bring back skills that I've not had previously. So, as as an individual, I got a lot of value out of ability, like doing different things, trying something different, like, you know, going from Microsoft to Acom and learning what you know, like one year out of school, you know, getting to a point where I was as managing people and changing up my focus and engaging with customers. That would never have happened to Microsoft. And because I'd gained those capabilities, I could bring them back and so, you know, I kind of I did bounce back and forth, you know, as a as a way to acrue additional skills, you know, sort of pursue upould ability, and I'm not I'm not particularly ashamed about it. Actually think I got a lot out of it. It was interesting because I think the thing that most profoundly changed me in the end, and it took me a while to synthesize this, was the time I spent at a hedge fund. Gave me purpose because I been spending you know, like but for my little sort of stint at at Acom. I'd spend my time building enterprise software technology, but I'd never really been on the hook for deploying it and building the line of business applications that run real world's enterprise systems that make the world go around. And I discovered it was unbelievably painful and unbelievably stressful compared to the process of buying the tech, of building the tech that actually powered it. And what I realized was that the complexities of dealing with that tension between what the business needs, what the tools can support, what skills you have, you know, the rest of it. It was like it's like, Oh my God, this is really hard and it shouldn't be this hard. We have an opportunity to make this easier for people. If people that were working and enterprise just realized how hard it was on the on the trenches. They just been enough time doing the tour of duty. And it took it took me a while to kind of bake that idea. That my sort of purpose, the reason that I wanted to go to work every day, was ground in this idea that is just too hard to get cot into production. Too simple as that just too hard to get caught into production. We have to make it easier for everyone. We have to build the systems and make it easier for everyone. And I found that, you know, I have a knack for building, you know, scalable enterprise systems. I found that I did not have a knack for running it teams. Like, much to my Chagrin, there's people out there that are infinitely more qualified to do that to me, like none of the things I've done in enterprise software in any way qualify me for that job. But it certainly gave me a perspective on that and and that really became an anchor for me. It really grounded a lot of the decisions that I made subsequently in terms of what I was going to do next. I consistently sought out like what can I do in my career to make it easier for people that, like, for that person that was me running a little it team in a hedge fund to be more successful in their job? And and that realization, you know, kind of powered my career because, you know, once I've kind of reached that point of conclusion, I consistently made decisions as steered me towards that where I was able to pursue that next thing that was going to you know, change the change the outcome. So my first project with Joe Computer engine, you know, I felt like working to open up to Google data center to that person would be good. There was so much power locked up there that they could benefit from. And then, you know, going the other way and bringing a lot of the pactics and practices that the cloud providers it offered, and then thinking through some of the industitial projects that I worked on at Google and sponsor to make it easier to stutch...

...these things together and consume them and then have to it was really the going back and meeting that customer where they were and, you know, sharing a strong sign of commitment that I was willing to stand with one foot in their world and one foot in the in the enterprise software world, and walk the journey with them make sure that it all came together. So I think you're formed by your experiences and your success ultimately emerges from what you're passionate about, like what motivates you as a human being. If you can find a mission, something that you would do for free, you know, even if you want, if I'll be honest, even if I wasn't paid until my bosses, I would still do my job, I still show up you tomorrow because I'm doing precisely what I want to do. And you know, once you found that, it's like having a license to steel, like it's just it's just a joy. And and that really powered my decisions. I became I lost fear, like I didn't I was not seeking the next promotion. I didn't care if I never promoted again. I wasn't seeking well, what I was seeking was change, positive change in the world, and that being a little unfitted like that allows you to do disruptive things. You can challenge the systems. I mean, I remember some of the conversations I had when I was trying to do coupernettis and people like this is a really bad idea. Have no idea what you're doing, and I was like, I'll take it on the chin. Just let me do it like I feel this is right and that that is not so much confidence, is just that sense of purpose. is what creates opportunities to disrupt. Well, you mentioned kind of that sense of purpose. So it's hard enough, I think, to start up a start up in the best of times. And if you take a look at some of the changes going through our industry right now, given all sorts of economic and political and clinical challenges that the world is facing right now, and your some one out there that has that burning sense of purpose, Hey, look, I think I need to get out there and make the next X Y Z. This is a slightly different word world today, I think then. Well, she just even three months ago. What sort of advice would you give to someone? Either to tell them Nope, give up on your dreams, fallow it down and and just develop bad habits and and ruin your family, or go for it, because here's the silver lining between those two extremes. What will be the advice you would give to someone contemplating to start up in today's wacky world. Yeah, I mean it is. It is a challenging environment and, you know, like there's a lot of questions. I guess this the right time sort of start up? Is it wrong time? Only an individual can kind of make that decision. There's a few things that I would suggest. You know. One is this is essential proof of life that exists in the start up ecosystem. I think it's a harder proof of life to achieve today than it was three months ago. But one of the piece of advice I always gave folks was that, you know, the VC's, the venture venture firms, are incredibly good at identifying pilents. Like a lot of people think, oh, it's all about the idea, it's all about the you know, I have to have this great idea. And then if I had this great idea and I can just put it well enough, you know, like you know, I like, great things will happen. The truth is, what the VC's are looking at is their assessing you right, and they're looking for that, you know, whatever the unique set of chemistry or acumen or mastery of the domain, or whatever the case it is, that they that they're looking forward to you in a founder so that the great patent matches. They've talked to hundreds of people. Everyone pitches to everyone and they're able to patent mash the attributes that make a success fun and don't make a success of funder. And so, you know, one of the things I always, you know, have advocated for and continue to advocate for is that it's always a good idea to have a line of sight on funding in your pocket before you make the leap. I'm not saying go pitch to DC's, you know, like you obviously have to operate within the the parameters and the integrity of whatever your current job is and you can't be doing this job while you're doing other job, I trust me. Like you have to focus. But getting to a point where you've talked to enough,... have a sense of what they're looking for, they have a sense of view, you start to get positive signals. Definitely wouldn't necessarily advocate for just taking a leap of faith and hoping the fundings that to catch you like. This is a tough it is a tough journey and it does help to have, you know, some venture just capital, but the rest of it that that support apparatus in your corner so you know, work to secure funding before you make an insane leap. I have friends that have successfully bootstrapped companies and sold them and I hold them in the highest regard. It's a it's a harrowing journey, you know, being able to make payroll every month, etc. Is a herring journey. There's some people are just they can grind it out and they enjoy the flexible and control it office and they own a hundred and of whatever they created, you know, well, shared it with the employees and that's that's fantastic outcome. But I do tend to advise prospective founders to have that VC in your corner, because it's not just about the money. It's also about the support system and access to customers and advice and having a high quality board and backstopping you and like being willing to tap you on the shoulder and say hey, you know, it's time for you to find someone who's actually going to be able to take the company to his full potential, keeping you sharp. That is that is a powerful thing and it's worth having. So that would be my one piece of advice. And then the other thing I would say is when you look back on this, is more not so much for folks that are looking to start up, but you know, folks that are out there in the wild and are bit of fear in their eye with what's happening. When you look at what happened and you know some of the great companies that have emerged, a lot of them emerge from moments like this. If you look at the Amazons and paypals and Ebays I came out of thecom period. They were well capitalized, that will well run. They had a line of sight on a real business problem. Think profited from that crucible of of that, thatcom bust, and what and what emerged was we're literally change the industry. It changed the shape of the technology is. And so these periods are also a pariod of opportunity because if you do have operating Aust if you are world capitalized, if you have line of sight on n real value, these are also periods of credible disruption and if you can navigate to that again, it's Tam a disruption. That's what you're looking for, I trust me. There's plenty of disruption out there, plenty of and if you can tap into some of those disruptive forces and a false moving space for the incumbents can't keep up this this huge opportunity. Well, I think that's very well said. And Todd and I, when we were pitching the idea of this podcast, our CEO said, you know, it makes me reel a bit uncomfortable that you guys might accidentally lay out a playbook that teaches our best customers how to leave their day job. So thanks a ton, Craig, for laying out a playbook on how to have our best customers. That has very, very well done, very well done. Know you mentioned a big moment of disruption and there's plenty of disruption to be had if you are ready to start something to follow up on your point. Yeah, and look, I mean it's not old. Disruption is good. That's that's clear and like, I don't I don't want it in any way make loud of this suppalling situation that we living in right living through right now, and it's causing just object misery for so many people. I think it's also worth recognizing that it is. It is changing the way we work, it is changing the emphasis, it's causing us to learn new skills and how we work from home. It's causing us to entertain ourselves in new ways, it's changing our spending habits and, you know, where we know what we value and in some ways. So you know, I I don't want it in any way make light of what's happening right now, but I think it is worth, you know, thinking through what it means to society and you know. So, you know, both for folks are in the it space that are living with this every day and are, you know, looking down the battle of this incredibly disruptive moment. And you know it's it's also an opportunity for folks to institute a lot of the the changes that have they've never looked for.

I've worked with some of our customers. You've they were never inter wrote work, but all of a sudden there a hundrederent remote and you know what, they made it work, they figured it out, they got the systems in place, they pulled it together and I think, I think for everyone there's, you know, like there's an opportunity to make sure that whatever happens is going to happen, but we do have an opportunity to come out of this stronger, you know, as as organizations as people. Was As society, as whatever, and so change doesn't have to be bad as long as it can be shaped. I totally agree with you on the changes, and especially the work from home. I think a lot of people were were resistant to it in mark, and I had the privilege of speaking with the CIO earlier today and he's the term. It's flattening. The curves flattened on the WORKDAY, meaning we've all figured out how to kind of do it from home, and no doubt that's going to change a lot of things. Hey, Greig, this has been great and I know we've taken a ton of your time. Before we wrapped, they just wanted to check with you to see if there's anything we didn't cover, anything else you'd like to share with some potential founders. Now just say, like, you know, respect it's a fantastic, invigorating, all Lee terrifying journey, you know, considered through the highs, highs and the lowest lows. It's something that's in your blood or it's not. You know, it's it's not always the best way to two wealth. You know, I'll be honest, like there's other things I could have done that were, you know, good. I'd like this. This worked out well for me, but you do it because you got to do it and you know, I like, I respect everyone who's who's worth the journey and you know, I am to pad forwards to to future entrepreneurs. Gregg, this has been great, man. Thank you so much. Thank you for bumping around with with mark and I all right, I sho ton. Thanks to ton chose. Trace three is hyper focused on helping it leaders deliver business outcomes by providing a wide variety of data center solutions and consulting services. If you're looking for emerging technology to solve tried and true business problems, trace three is here to help. We believe all possibilities live in technology. You can learn more at trace threecom podcast. That's trace, the number threecom podcast. You've been listening to the founder formula, the podcast for all things start up, from Silicon Valley to innovators across the country. If you want to know what it takes to lead tomorrow's tech companies, subscribe to the show wherever you get your podcasts. Until next time,.

In-Stream Audio Search


Search across all episodes within this podcast

Episodes (38)