The Founder Formula
The Founder Formula

Episode · 1 year ago

Ian Tien, Co-founder Mattermost - How to Solve a Problem Before Knowing it Even Exists


How do you know when you’ve built a winning culture? More importantly, how do you know when you’ve succeeded in instilling your core values across the entire company?

We’re talking this week to Ian Tien, CEO at Mattermost, an enterprise messaging workspace for teams to collaborate securely and effectively. His career has taken him through various areas of the entertainment industry including founding Spinpunch, an independent game studio.


Our conversation on this episode centered all around:

  • Building a company to address a customer need when YOUR company is the customer
  • Listening to the market
  • Building open source platforms and why they’re so beneficial
  • The 5 core pillars of culture at Mattermost and why each one is crucial to their success

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

Let's imagine in three to six months I've totally screwed this up. Who I taught to bed. 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 insiders look at how companies are envisioned, created and scaled. We hope you're ready. Let's get into the show. Hey, everybody, welcome back to the show. Really excited to have you. My name is Todd Galena, and with me is the chief technology officer here at trace three, Tony Old Zach. Hey, Tony, how's it going? Hey, so doing great. Thanks. How's IT gun? Everything is terrific. It was great to spend some time with you personally and a few other folks when you flew out here to the west coast. Yeah, first socially distant sporting of that. Yeah, we we were a couple of the lucky people that were able to go to a dodger game. So there's a big rivalry out here in the West Coast between the world championship dodgers, and down South we have the San Diego Padres, who also have a pretty good team. So some are comparing this rivalry between the dodgers and the padres to the classic rivalry between the Yankees and the Boston Red Sox. We were all there and I think you were the only kind of like true dodger fan in the group. Yeah, that group. Not In dodger stadium for sure, but in that group. You know, some would argue that it can't really compare to a Yankees red SOx rivalry because I don't think the podres have any championships. Right, this is true. No, I'm not a pottery fan, but no, you are absolutely right. How it's hard to compare. But like talking about from like pure talent, wise both teams seem to have like captured all the talent and baseball for some reason. Oh yeah, well, in this game was was no exception. I mean we saw how many home runs from Tatis he had to, he had to. It was incredible in one game. It was amazing when he had like to the game before too, as crazy. Yeah, a lot of talent on display in that whole series was pretty close, but anyways, it was just great to see you. We had a couple of other folks from from trace three there and in like Tony said, was the first time we'd all been together as a group. It's just great to see some of the restrictions being lifted everywhere now life is beginning to get a little bit back to Norma. That was fun for sure. Hey, so we have a guest today were I'm thrilled to have him on, and he's from matter most, and matter most was a company that was built on open source, and he's not one of the first guess that we've had on, for example, found or starburst, the founder of cloud era, the founder of Heptio. They are all companies that were built on open source software, and I was wondering if you just could give our listeners a reset on what open sources. Yeah, open source can be a little confusing sometimes because it can be confused with free software. That means something slightly different, but essentially what we're talking about is a project where the source code is available for you, thus the open source, and usually that is open then for people to take and modify or use in ways that they desire, and that could be anything from hey, we want to use this open source software to solve for this problem inside our organization. We want to use it for testing. Maybe we want to modify it because there's a feature that we want. And you know, it being an open source project means that people can modify it as they see fit. You know, things that new features, they wants new security, things that a compliance related,...

...things that come down or even bug fixes. Typically, open source communities then will pop up to will support of a large open source project and will commit those changes back. You don't necessarily have to commit changes back, though. So you know, there are distinctions and in how open sources run and and everyone's version of open source has slightly different rules to it, depending on what the you know, the person who's putting it out there, how they want it use. So when you say anyone, you're talking about anyone who has access to the Internet for the most part, can get access to to open source. Yeah, the source code is available, thus the open source and if you've access to the Internet, you can sign up for an open source project and you can gain access to the source code and, you know, begin your own testing with it. Okay, so then why would somebody start a company, with the baseline being code that anyone can grab and modify as they see please. Yeah, there's a there's a few angles to having business models that include open source. Sometimes open source is created solely out of the goodness of someone's heart because they're solving a problem and they would they have a community that rises up behind helping to solve that problem as as that source code kind of cat or that project kind of catches on. In other cases, if you are pursuing some kind of commercial angle, you may create an open source community around a project to get buy in, to get a community of champions who are helping you to create new features, create the bug fixes and rise up and then your your business model around it then would be to create kind of like the enterprise support model around it. You know, in a lot of cases you start to scale your consumption of an open source project to it agree to where some organizations to consume it need enterprise support contracts, somebody to call for support, you know, updates that are coming down. Maybe there's enterprise features that wrap around and open source project, but you generally do it to create community, to create speed to market, to create speed of the change and to have versus just your only your developers working on a problem. Maybe you've got a thousand people working on that problem. Makes Sense. Makes Sense. And then for the for the enterprise that the purchases it or does business was one of these companies that were originally found in on open source. It kind of gives them, you know, maybe one throat to choke if they've got some problems to solve instead of, you know, trying to have their own people go out into the community and find solutions. But why? In addition to that, you may find unique value propositions with an enterprise version of something that began as open source. If you look at all the hood companies that launched years back. You know, the cloud data version or interpretation of that, ends up being something difference over time. You know, red hat with Linux ends up being something different over time versus like a true open source version of Linux versus what you get with red hat. And there's many more examples, but that's essentially how it works. I get it. Okay, that's Super Helpful, Tony. Appreciate it. Okay. So with that I think maybe we should get to the gentleman who has done just that. Are you ready to bring on our guests. Let's do it excited. Okay, our guests is a two time founder whose careers taken him through various areas of the entertainment industry, including founding Spin Punch, an independent game studio. This current company is matter most, which is an enterprise messaging workspace for teams to collaborate securely and effectively. They are located in Powell out of California, where, we might add, is not far from his Alma Mater, which is Stanford. Please, welcome to the show, Ian Tan. Welcome. Thanks. Thanks for having me excited to be here. Yeah, good afternoon, and it's been awesome to have you on today. We've been tracking you guys for a little while and it's really exciting the earl to make some time for us as afternoon. Yeah, thank you, I'm really looking forward the conversation. Well, Hey, with that, let's dive right in.

What can you tell us about matter most and why you started it? Yeah, so matter most was really started from a need in the market and the need started with us. So we were a small video game company. We are running sort of a messaging APP to like keep everyone in touch, and the messaging APP that we had was from a start up and it got bought by a big company which started neglecting it and, you know, that APP would would have outages, it would lose our data. It was really frustrating because we lived on that application. We were assass service, we were making twenty four by seven, you know, Games, Games that people are playing, and if our games had downtime we would lose money. So we couldn't have our messaging platform go down and us not be able to communicate. That just sort of like not acceptable. So we kind of wrote our own soft where and we started running it. We did about three versions. At one point we sort of open sourced it and, you know, it was reliable. We could run on messaging. You know, we really counted on it and it turned out a lot of people out there were looking for the same thing. They're looking for a messaging platform that day could control, you know, if they had an outage from a third party. That was really, really difficult. Like they themselves, like us, control when they do roll ups, when they do updates, and it was really important for this segment the community that, you know, can't have adages. And it grew and it grew amazingly fast. As an open source project and we looked our video games and looked at like what the business could be for this open source messaging platform, and it was a really easy choice. So we've been doing this open source messaging collaboration ever since. We've got amazing customers out there that are using matter most sort of every day and that reliability, that customization, that ability to see and control all of your data is is so important. So that's how Madam has started. It's really fulfilling that market need that we saw from an open source project that we started. Yeah, that's written. That's really interesting and you've been a part of other startups that were booted up with the purpose before, but it sounds like this is one to where you had to do it for yourselves and it turned out to just be in need and then you're able to make the leap. I mean, is that is that little gratifying in a different way to see your use case come to life when you didn't even mean to do it to begin with? Yeah, it's amazing what happens when you listen to the market right. You don't know how the future is going to unfold, and you know what you can do is you kind of put yourself in a position to understand what people what customers want, what people need, and if you can build that, if you can see a business model in that and you can see a large market, you just go and it's it's sort of like it's this weird sort of market force. It almost feels like part of nature, and if you kind of go with it and align with those market forces, I think people can do incredible things and companies can do incredible things and you can build amazing software that gets really adopted, and that's what is one of the things that really excites me about about open source, about building companies. Before we get to the rest of these questions, because you just touched on a couple interesting things there and I'm just really curious, because we don't often have someone on like yourself who you know, made something for was it your intention and then it turned into something else? At what point in time, when you do so, do you go off and decide that you're going to take on outside clients and then did you stop doing what you were doing before, or did it just happen organically? How did you even get to that point? Yeah, we had we're building our open source project and it was really clear that there were enterprises that wanted all these enterprise features, that had that like we were video game company, you know, small company, couple dozen people. They wanted, you know, active directory integration, like or like a doesn't like two dozen people, like we don't have an at what does an act of directory? And we realize that, wow, there's there's enterprises that want these features that aren't in the product that we built for company. He's like us. And we found this business model which is okay, great, we're going to continue open sourcing this great software for sort of small teams and when enterprises want these sort of big, complex enterprising features, well, we can hire a team to go build that and we can charge enterprises like they got lots of budget,... know, we'll charge them to say, Hey, we'll do these enterprise nails you want. And they want. They want user management, they want compliance, they want et discovery. They will like, we want an integrate to smash and global relay. Were like, what is that? We figured it out and we integrated with it and and the customers are happy and there's a lot of customers out there like that. In the final services space, we got in the public sector. We've got a lot of sort of we're now on the US federal government's GSA schedule, so it's really easy to buy us from all these government organizations. And it's really just listening to the customer and hearing what they need and figuring out the right model where, you know, they have this very clear need, they have budget and they want you as a company to be successful. Like, how can we get you? We have this budget, how can we get you to make the thing that we want? And the beautiful thing about open source is you can have those conversations directly with the people that want you to go in a certain direction. So, you know, that's how matters was kind of created. Was Really Understanding that there's these customers that have budget, that are in the enterprises that have problems to solve and there they're searching constantly for solutions and we just happen to be in that solution set. So that's that's really about listening to the market and and letting the mark it and your customers pull you into the opportunities. Yeah, that's great. I mean it's amazing to see how you guys have grown and how you've captured a part of the market and in need that was just out there and just some something that happened kind of organically. Before we dig into the rest of that stuff, we'd love to hear a little bit more around your background in your past and you know specifically when you look back through your background, I know you did a sin at Microsoft years back. At what point in time did you decide that you could start a successful company and go the startup route? Like, was there anything that happened or was there something in your background that made you feel like I can do this and then went off to do your own thing? Yeah, that's a great question. I think that I was very lucky to go to graduate school here in Silicon Valley and there's a saying about Silicon Valley which is like why are there's so many startups? And the answer is most people in Silicon Valley know somebody who looks kind of average who was part of some startup that was like massively successful and they're like well, thanks, first you can do it. So true, so true. They made a whole HBO series based on that. Yeah, and it's and that's exactly right. It's like well, that person could do it, maybe I can do it. And you know where this amazing market right now, where there's so much need from enterprises and there's so much transparency and openness, that there's problems to be solved in the world that offering technology can solve and it's just it just amazing to be able to step up and go solve those problems. So I think, you know, that's what really yeah, that's what gave me sort of the confidence. So ultimately, your problems all where you're like, I can figure this out, I can you know, people can get behind me and I can I can run with this. There's a there's a leadership, entrepreneurial piece that had to come with that as well some confidence, you know, not just looking around and seeing some other people, regular people, as you said, who've been successful at this. was there a family background around that where you were you guided into maybe, you know, pursuing these types of endeavors? Actually have. My two grandfathers were business owners, although I don't know if that has as much influence. Like I didn't come from a family of a start, start up family. I think it was really Grad School. I think that Grad school environment in the Silicon Valley. They're just so many people that are costly, thinking about the future and you know what's there, their role in it and how they make a contribution. So I think that environment, being here in Silicon Valley, it's just kind of contagious. I think most people buy a car and out there it's like most people just start a company. Maybe started a company it. Hey, so you so your background is in streaming movies and video games and, as you stated earlier, you know, you kind of went down a path to fit a customer need, which you know where you ended up in this kind of collaboration world, which in some...

...ways is far more practical than the video game world, which is where you started. Is are a part of you that says, Hey, I'm really excited by that world where we started? Or was this always part of your plan? Yeah, that's a great question. My entire career has really been in communities and and sort of communications. So early days, you know, I was at Microsoft working on different products inside of Microsoft Office about collaboration. sharepoint was one of them. I moved on to what's now outlookedcom and one drive. So I was product management, program management across different products. They're all the collaboration and you know, when I went into sort of entertainment. There's a stint with backing from Sony pictures and Warner Brothers for entertainment startup that I did, sort of video games, again, interactive entertainment, and then matter most, which is a lot of sort of open source and communication. The thread across all of it is really connecting and a sense of belonging, and whether that's, you know, one to one over messaging or one too many, or that's, you know, through through games and the communities around that, or through like communities within the office environment, like the workplace environment, I think there's a thread and there's certain things that are fundamental to human interactions, like we want to work, we want to express ourselves, we want to communicate, we want to work in groups, want to achieve things, you want to celebrate things, and I think that's in a constant through everything I've done and I'm really excited just to take sort of different aspects of that. That human need to sort of communicate and express ourselves and belong. I think that's been a theme over my career. It's great. Let's talk a little bit about the funding, if you don't mind. So in two thousand and nineteen you guys raised twenty million and then shortly after that, is only five months, you raised another fifty. Was the plan always to get seventy or did something happen in between those two rounds that you know, you guys felt the need to kind of pour some lava on this thing? Yeah, I think it's really the market demand. Right like when we started, we probably raise a little bit later than we should have because we were profitable for for quite a while and that, you know, going from video games as a the video games business we ran was not, you know, venture backed. It was originally started as just a steamer quied game edge. So it's a technical innovation and then it became sort of a game studio and that was sort of profitable and then it funded. It funded in large part the early parts of matter most until matter US could fund itself and you know, we really didn't need a lot of capital. But when we took that that round from red point at twenty million, it really transformed the company. It really said it really showed us the potential of the market and what the company could be. So, you know, when we we were getting, you know, multiple term sheets for our series be and just amazing. Investors were like okay, well, we'll take a little bit of money and we just kept and like there was just so much capital out there. We end up extending around from forty to fifty and then that's been excellent. We love our board members, we love working with red point and Y see continuity and battery ventures, and it's just been amazing to have that those investors, really experienced operators helping us grow. So it's been it's been excellent and it's really listening to the market. It's saying, you know, what is the opportunity to the market is opening up. That's how we think about jumping in sometimes. Now that makes a ton of sense. What do you do with the money? What are some of the first things that you make investments in? Yeah, I think in every cycle we have different plans. We think about the go to market side. We think of the product plans. With more capital, lets you do is it? Lets you send a signal the market that hey, this is a business that's at a certain level of maturity, because people don't, you know, we don't publish our revenue numbers and all that sort of private information, but people can see the the capital raised and it really signals a certain level of company. So you know, there could be companies out there that you know haven't you know are just as big or bigger than us, that haven't raised and people really haven't heard of and there's not really this sort of excitement and signal out of the market, whereas, Hey, after we've raised a series B at fifty million with amazing investors the like,...

...the job applications just like flood in right like we're just so many people are applying to jobs. Like before we were like, oh, like, hybrid matter most, let's talk about this. But after you've raised these these sort of larger rounds, it becomes you're still a different level and people are really excited to apply and they feel like hey, there's a there's something happening here. So a lot of it is is one of the big benefits of signal, and it's also the ability to sort invest confidantly in different areas and product and different areas of go to market and to really invest in growth. So I think those are some things. From sort of a self funding business to a venture back business, really it comes down to sort of signal and then speed. You can do more if you have capital to work with and you can go faster and makes a ten of sense. Signal speed. I love it. Yeah. So, speaking of signal and speed, obviously last year covid signaled a crazy shifts in the world's you guys having a collaboration suite or a platform. How did that impact you guys? I think when then pandemic hit and there is this on mask move to remote work, it pret a lot of interest in different remote work technologies and Mans was certainly in that set. And you know, our segment of the market is for the folks that really need a building for that security and privacy but can't have one. So there's certain segments the market which could be utility companies, could be defense organizations, could be certain manufacturing there's a lot of regulations on the protection of certain data and certain information with these organizations and traditionally you have them in physical buildings and when you can't and you have to use these sort of third party services to communicate and send information, that gets some segments the market a little uncomfortable. And matter most is the closest you can get to being in a physical the whole room in all the software that's out there. So you know, what's unique about us is that, you know, you can have the choice of selfhosting the database, the application server, even the push notifications and the mobile applications. Were the only software out there that lets an enterprise take our mobile applications in IOS and Android, compile the code themselves with their own certificates and put them on to mobile devices and have no third party see the information as it passes from the self men server over the mobile applications and back again. So we're matter most is the closest you can possibly be to a physical room that you control for remote collaboration and owning that segment of the market has been great for us. It's been a great accelerator of the technology and of the customer base. Yeah, I got imagine that. The demand was just exponential last year. I mean, we're saying all over the place as well. It's a common question that we're ass all the time around the future of work and actually would love to get your your viewpoint on this. You mentioned earlier that matter most was invented to solve for a problem that it turned out that everyone had. This problem, which we were able to you guys were then able to take it to market with the amount of exposure then you were able to get last year with all this remote workforce in us and collaboration as all the rage right now, digital collaboration for remote workforces. Now that you've got access to all these people asking you for this, you've got to be getting some tremendous insight. So where you guys go next? Just love to hear your kind of glimpse of the future of like where do you take it from here? Yeah, we're definitely by gearing it for some announcements. I think one that's public right now is really just different use case and solutions within the collaboration market and it's really looking at what our customers are doing with our software and is supposed to making that custom like dozens and dozens of times across different enterprise customers, we're doing what they're asking and taking that application, that functionality and building it in. So one of the number one things we see is the use of playbooks inside of our inside of our solution. When...

...a playbook is especially around, a playbook is like hey, you've got something you need to react to and you need a certain certain people in the organization or certain groups to come together and to xe you the playbook quickly. Very often it's something that is not always but triggered off of some exception or sometimes a crisis. Could be an an outage of your system, it could be a security breach, it could be some sort of service level agreement, it could be a compliance issue. And when that happens you have to start the clock and then you have to have your checklists and you have to have the right people with the right information at the right time. The traditional place they come from is like everyone jump on this conference call and it literally could take, you know, hours, it could take days in a conference call to solve these things. And every time someone joins a conference call they're like, okay, can someone bring me up to date? And some true. So you know, that's these that's the of you know, current world and you know, for us it's like, well, I can use this messaging platform that's got these playbooks built in, that's got these checklist that automatically adds people based on the incident type and your have this log, this history of everything and people joined. There's an automatic feature to say hey, here's the instant commander, here's a person in charge, here's a list of next actions that we're going to do. Here's like the next the time to the next report and update, and you can get that so you don't like so you don't have to like repeat yourself sort of every single time. So that's instant collaboration. That's a product that's integrated playbooks and really excited to roll that out recently. And there's a whole sort of product line around these scenarios. Another one is around retrospective. So after you've got the incident, you know, how do you look back and now that you have this this trail of everything had happened, what could you do better and one of the actions you want to take, and then how do you sort of tract those actions and make sure that those get done? So we're taking the scenarios that people are sort of, you know, with the sort of like spitballs and glue, just trying to we've trying to staple together and then making them come out of the box and fully supported and really support these very common escalations and workflows. So that's one example of what's coming and this year we're excited to announce a lot more. Are you sure you don't want to break one of those announcements on this very podcast. Thank you. Thank you for the offer. I'll I'll the check with their with our marketing team. A Nice right side close mouth. Don't get fed right. He shifting gears for a second it maybe. Maybe this story for you is a little bit difference. You know, we hear a lot about how community is is created in Silicon Valley, but when you were going through founding, creating for your founding team, for matter most, you were already doing another company and you guys already had a team. How do you go about picking the founding team that became where you guys are today? And did it change at all since you pivoted the company and kind of went in another direction? Yeah, I think we have a lot of folks from the video game company. I mean people are going to sort of self selected and self select out and I don't know if there was it was a little bit more organic. I don't think there was sort of like hard criter. It's like hey, this is we're going and and you know, people, you folks, feel like you're staying, like you really like the Games and you folks feel like you kind of want to do this piece over here. So it was kind of organic and natural. And you know, it's funny because like depending on who you are and they're kind of the same thing. So as a developer, you know, the things that you love are sort of your dream as a developer is to like work on video games that your friends play and then to work on like open source technology. So, you know, I think both of those. For a lot of the folks that were in early you get to do both, and I think that's that's one thing that the early folks enjoyed and the certainly I did. A lot of folks talk about their their founding team on this podcast, is you just mentioned, which is Great. I'm curious about where someone like you goes for mentorship. I don't know if it's your board members that you select or if it's just someone in your personal life. That's that's a great question. I definitely go to folks for advice, and the sort of algorithm that I have... like, okay, let's imagine in you know, three to six months, I've totally screwed this up. Who I talk to? Ben All right, and then, instead of waiting for you to six months, I try to talk to them now. And you know, part of that is going to be school. We've got a lot of classmates that end up going in different industries. I think the investors, you know talking about the advantages being the feces. The investors help a ton. They can really introduce you to folks in their network, advises the network. There's going to be exacts, there's going to be eiers, there's going to be, you know, just folks that are super interested in in like helping companies at our stage or whatever stage it is, because they've seen it before and because they've helped a lot of these other companies. And you know, those the folks that we go to. I mean there's a fantastic one. Example is Adam Gross, who was the former Sey of Hiroku. He's you know, you'll see him do it during a lot of talks on heavy bit. He's definitely helping. He definitely helped us a ton in the in the early days, and he's absolutely wonderful. So you know deav marketing from you of us. You'll see of Hiroko. He did developer marketing at sales force. He did marking, a dropbox, just like amazing guy. So those are some examples really just and we were introduced to Adam from from bedpoint and Tomash tongue is there, who led the series. A amazing, just wonderful, wonderful people. So lots of people in the network, whether it's from Grad school or investors or sort of the bay area community. And then how I prioritize it is like, well, what's the thing I'm working on right now and who would I talk who would I want to talk to in the future and just talk to them now. Yeah, it feels like all the more reason for going somewhere if you're going to be in the startup community where there is community, like you mentioned the participating communities earlier. You know, we've heard that quite a bit. You know, hey, over distributed world's houses change. Do you still congregate in places like Silicon Valley, and it sounds like where you are and then networthy of built has been an advantage for you? Yeah, I think geography, at least in my experience your sample of one, has been really useful. I think you're just being able to go to like there's a certain places that people to show up right. There's like that Coopa cafe off university avenue and like everyone's there and everyone knows the meat there and then you know, within that sort of like ten mile blast radius, there's just like the places that people always go. So I think that's that community that, in such a sort of condensed area, is pretty amazing. So when you're when you're in a community like that and a lot of people who are trying to accomplish the same kinds of things or congregating this area, and I think there's some kind of almost like foundational, understood concepts of the kinds of places they want to work and how they want to work. Did you actually have to go out and purposefully create any rules for developing your culture, or was it something that was pretty easy based upon where you guys were coming from and just the people that you're surrounded with? I'd say culture was super important for us. One thing it's a little different is that we're a remote company, even though, like, I'm based in Silicon Valley, like my exact team is distributed and the her company's distributed. It's been like that since the very beginning and because of that there's a culture that's innate, which is very high trust. Like there's not a lot of supervision, there's not a lot of oversight. It's not like someone's, you know, paar coating next to you, right, like the people that work really well in our environment, which is all remote, are people who have that sort of intrinsic drive. Right, they're going to get things done, they're going to figure things out and they don't really need that other structure to the to the most part, right, there's very independent and that's been sort of innate toward culture. What we've had it to add to our culture is like, okay, well, what are our principles? And the reason is because, like, we don't all want to be working different ways. We won't have the same expectations and we want to make decisions the same way. So we've got sort of five core values. It's around customer session, it's around high impact, it's around self awareness, it's about earning trust and those and it's about ownership. And when you think you can apply those sort of five principles to like different examples, it's like hey, we want to change like this label thing over here, right, and it's not about all. I don't want to jump with the call and talk about that label. I'm to say, okay, the principle, I think the principles earned trust right. So, like, as long as... earns trust and you know label is clear and people know what it says, you know, then then go ahead and make that change, that the label or that title or whatever it is, and it's having that that's set of principles that are all consistent across your organization lets you move a lot faster. You know, creates shared expectations and I think that is, for us, the most important thing about culture is make sure you got those principles, those core values, really clear, everyone saying them. And I think the most important thing about core values is that you repeat them until they're really boring and if you're in every all hands meeting and you're saying it over and over again and people's eyes glaze over, that it's working. Monsters and trust, muster and trust. I trace three we call that. Everyone's the chief reminding officer. It tell me a little bit about the self awareness pillar. That one kind of caught my attention. Yeah, so self awareness is, like everything is so much easier if your self aware. We've been and and review process and their self reflections. There's a lot of sort of opportunities for feedback and you know one I'll give you one example of sort of self awareness is that you're always asking for feedback. The best leaders are right. It's like checking in with the team and self awareness creates comfort. It's like, well, here's what I'm good at, here's what I'm not good at. Everybody right. So everyone knows and then you know, as you have conversations, you don't have that anxiety of like, oh, you know, like imposter syndrome and those different pieces, like these are like three areas that you know, I've got gaps and I'm going to work on this one over here, but these over to, these two over here, I'm just going to hi, I'm gonna have team members were better that that I am. So then you got a clarity, you've got a plan and then you have this culture feedback where you ask for it, you acknowledge it, you accept it, you can act on it and it just makes everything flow. And one example concretely of how that goes is we have a template for meetings, right, so like what is the purpose of the meeting? Where the intended outcomes for are the required intendees and filling out the template really simply at the end the template there's actually section for feedback and very often will pause sort of five minutes before the end of that meeting and say, okay, three questions in the feedback form. One where the intended outcomes of this meeting achieved in your opinion, and then sort of likes and wishes. And then when you when you write that out, when you pause and give everyone time and everyone fills it out, it's just amazing, like what you learn from that, that piece of feedback, and you create this this environment where self awareness is a value. So then people accept, okay, well, self nurse is a value and the meeting owner is asking for feedback. I'm not trying to give real feedback, and sometimes it'll just be like Oh, it'll be like complete blind spots. I think I was in one. They're sort of like, Oh, if we're doing this, then how come we're not doing this? And it's like it's a complete blind spot for them in the meaning it's like, Oh gosh, we totally should be doing that and creating environment where that's safe and like it's the CEO's meeting and someone who's like two or three levels down adds a piece of feedback that change the direction of where we're going. That's a really good culture to have. It's especially important when you're remote because in the room, like when you're in a physical room, you can read the body language, you can see someone if there's really uncomfortable all meeting and they really want to say something, you can't. You don't have that remote right. So you have to create these opportunities for people to share feedback, and only with that feedback can you have self awareness, because you know you can't create it from within yourself. So that's one I this was a couple examples of well help how we think about self awareness and some the concrete mechanisms and then some of the value that we get out of it. So, Ian, when you won, that was great. Yeah, you know, we have so many people asking us right now how they improve the way they work remotely, and I mean everything from the technology to, you know, things like you just laid out. Are Those things that you guys are building back into your platform to go help facilitate that? Or is there other piece of advice that you would give to people who are trying to succeed in a distributed workforce kind of era that we've all, you know, found ourselves plunged into? I don't know, there's general advice. I would say that I think...

...that different organizations are different maturity levels in terms of their sort of excellence set remote work and you know, there's a there's a journey to go through. I think having open conversations with the bestest probably organizations that are sort of like one step ahead of you and not like, you know, not ten steps, but like close to you, but just a little further ahead, and you can learn things and then there's going to be lots of material out there for it. I guess one one mechanism I could share that I found really valuable is this concept of remote listening tours. So in organizations, and I actually got this off of one of my board members, Ali were gone, who is a cfo a pixar and the CEO at twitter, Amazing Guy, and he showed me like remote listening tours and this is kind of from the culture he came from, and we've got a remote version of it. So the physical version is a leader and executive, the CEO would know, do skip level sort of conversations around a table, and the context of these sets like look, this is just listening right, and I'm going to look ask for likes and wishes like one, like one wish from everyone around the table. Just open feedback and what's one thing that you see the company doing? Is a like that you'd like to see us do more about? What's one thing you wish we might change or do differently? And the the leader would just take notes, just type the notes and the context was and then at the end of the meeting, the the leader would repeat back the notes to everyone in the table and just like, did I get it right? Is there more? And it just taking those notes and those notes would do, and this was something the context of the start of the meeting is they would be shared at the executive level so that we could it's a listening towards everyone's real listen. Like sometimes people get words like, Oh, you put the the exact with the leader in front of these these down in the organization, there's going to be anxiety and like they're going to expect all this stuff, but it's just, you know, if you something context right, it's just listening. You can get a lot of, you know, eye opening information that that it's not filtered, there's no filters between and you can kind of share it out. So I think those remote and in remote environment. That's like around a table. In a remote environment. There's almost like no reason you shouldn't do it right. It's like take zero time. I spend thirty minutes a week doing remote listening tours with different groups across the company and in those thirty minutes, something of twenty five minutes Ash. Like you know, I's type. I just listen. I'd get to build connection and I get to share things out and I learned so much. Our exact team learns so much from those, those listening tours. It's really powerful and and also helps you connect. You know there's there's folks that are new to our company of like, Oh my God, the CEO just listening tours, like what's that like? And they show up in a group for listening tours and they're like wow, this is so new. And you know the other sort of five or six people are like high in like they've done it before. So it's a great way to connect, it's a great way to listen and in a row environment for like, you know, twenty five minutes a week, there's almost like no excuse not to do it. So that's one thing that I think for exacts running remote organizations is something to consider. It's a great story I would love to explore a little bit more around. You've mentioned how you guys are open source a few times. What I love to know about from the open source perspective is how much contribution do you get from the community and by the community participating? Has that created any interesting advantages or ideas that you guys take a look at? Yeah, thanks to the question. We have over a thousand people contributing to matter. Most we're translated and over sixteen languages and the community, open source community, has a material impact on our software and we love it. And you know, those are folks that contribute with new ideas, with those are those are a thousand plus people who contribute to the actual product, like their code changes and and beyond that there's a bigger community that who contributes ideas and feedback and thoughts. So absolutely it is fundamental to our business and our customer base. And in terms of you know, the the bists will to get a little technical. If you compare sort of like the open source go to market with the sort of conventional enterprise mass go to market, they're very different. Enterprise ass is kind of brutal right, like differentiation last maybe six to nine months before the competitor gets the exact same thing. You Go and you tell your message and it's whatever your category is.

It's not that different from anyone else. And then when you spend on sales and marketing, because your messages are identical, you're really just bidding up keywords and putting out content that is, you know, over time, you know, not that distinguished. So your customer requisition costs are very high and your differentiation is very low. In Enterprise Sass be to be sort of overtime just because everyone's can get has capital deploy to getting engineers and to marketers and sales folks. The open source code to market. You know the one that we're in. The type is called open core. So it's got you got an open source project that you that continues to be free and amazing, and you've got a enterprise license product. That is the commercial business. That is really powerful, because what happens is the bigger open source project gets, the more value you deliver for free, the bigger the opportunity to for those customers to upgrade to the enterprise version for if the folks that need it, and you go in through. If you want to go to enterprise, you skip everything. Your open source license, so anyone can use you. Might License Binary, really easy to install. Anyone can use you online, doctor install and no legal review because it's an open source license. No privacy. You know, where's my data go? Because you get to pertain all your data. So we get to get we get to enter the enterprise, no gatekeepers. Deliver value, grow our brand, you know, and we're in there already. And when it's time to consider our commercial offerings, the values of that, you've already got. The Enterprise already gotten so much value for free from the open source. When they think but the enterprise, it's just it's so much closer to being, you know, purchased and adopted and rolled out. So very different. Go to market's completely different and we're really excited about that. That open core piece. You look at, you know, Hashy Corp, you look at get lad, you look at matter most. These are examples of that, that sort of new way of delivering value in these in these enterprises through open source. Yeah, it's very clever. I mean I watching that kind of grassroots effort where you're organically building following inside a company and then they get to a point where, you know, they kind of trigger some kind of scalability or controls and then they decide they want some like enterprise support. It's very clever. I love seeing what you guys are doing. Thank you, Hey, and this is this has been great. We've learned a ton. Hey, before we wrap it up, is there anything that we didn't cover that you'd like to share with our listeners? Yeah, I think we got a pretty good conversation. If anyone's interested in the other remote listening tours, you can just Google remote listening tours and there's a blog post about how you can run one. I'll kind of share that is one extra follow up if anyone's interested. Yeah, the remote listening tours are brilliant and I think a lot of people are going to want to hop on that. This has been great in we really appreciate you hopping on. Well, thank you so much, todd and toney. This has been a really enjoyable and yeah, appreciate the opportunity to talk to you guys a day. Yeah, thanks so much again. It was great. Avenue 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,.

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