I never planned to stay that long. When I joined a16z as an EIR in 2010, I did so in order to quickly expand my view of startups to join as an operator to get another at bat to do something special like we had done at Opsware. I had absolutely no intention to be a VC or work for one. I love the granularity of building and scaling a business that can have a transformational impact both technically and financially for customers where almost every day there is a scoreboard telling you how you are doing.
That short evaluation period quickly turned into operating partner role at a16z and I got the unique opportunity to see thousands, and work with hundreds, of founders and startups in my tenure there, but during that time I had never stopped asking myself: would I join this team?
After a long detour, I’m excited to announce that I am joining SignalFx for the following reasons:
“The achievements of the organization are a result of the combined efforts of each individual.”
— Vince Lombardi
How my skill set complements the technical founders was high on my who to partner with criteria list. I’m a team sports guy and I want to work with the best players. This team has learned and earned the secrets of building solutions, markets, and companies.
Phil was our Chief Architect at Opsware and we made numerous customer calls together in the early days to get a deep understanding of customers problems and assist them in their shift to data center automation. Not long after being acquired by HP, Phil departed to Facebook and was on the team that built their modern monitoring solution in the infancy period Dev/Ops, microservices, and containers adoption.
Karthik and I go back to his Delphix days before he and Phil pitched the idea of SignalFx to a16z. Since the initial investment, we’ve worked closely on go-to-market strategy and with his early customers via the a16z briefing program. His understanding of customer problems, of the market opportunity, and his product prowess and vision are unprecedented. Karthik’s invaluable experience running product under Diane Greene in the early phases of VMware’s explosive growth has provided him with a unique insight and muscle memory to guide the company on a similar trajectory.
Last fall I was also able to help place Jim Brzezinski into the company as their VP of worldwide field operations. Jim is one of the most customer-centric and wicked smart sales executives I’ve ever worked with and this will be the 8th time we’ve worked together in some capacity since 2000.
SignalFx’s team strength is rounded out with key exec’s Karthik has already recruited like Susan Gudenkauf, “the customer warrior” who is an outstanding customer success executive from VMware that knows the importance of white glove treatment. Another VMware veteran, Patrick Lin runs product and the company recently added product marketing veteran, Paul Ross.
Having the air support of Ben Horowitz (a16z) and Devdutt Yellurket (CRV) on the board will also shave cycle time in communication and execution.
In my tenure at a16z I built what resembled a “global’ or ‘major account” team, and program that often exists in the sales and marketing organization of the large enterprise technology companies. The purpose was to create two-sided lasting and valuable relationships with executives and decisions makers at the largest global corporations, government agencies, brands, platforms, and technology influencers in the world. We then connected them to a16z portfolio companies by facilitating business building opportunities via the a16z executive briefing center program, in-territory “roadshow” programs, and large CxO and technology influencer events.
Being able to meet with thousands of large company executives and their teams who were seeking answers to early stage technology innovation questions in the shifting sands and rapid pace of technology adoption that affects their business in so many ways, gave me a clear view of a multitude of high impact opportunities. I constantly asked myself: is this startup I’m working with skating to the puck? Would I, should I, team up with them?
Witnessing large companies coming together with startups through these meetings and events painted a broad and vivid picture of the bottoms up nature of the shift from a monolithic to modern cloud-based infrastructure. This is resulting in product teams focusing on driving development closer to production (enabled by agile software development) and the explosion in public cloud adoption, open source tools, microservices, and containers. The increasing complexity of the web of interdependencies of this environment is driving the need and opportunity for more relevant and real-time systems intelligence beyond traditional IT’s static and noisy health checks. SignalFx delivers on that opportunity.
Similar to what Facebook and Google built years ago, modern applications operate at cloud scale and in an environment of constant change. But the rich operational data that inform crucial systems, product, and business decisions have been historically impossible to gather in real time – when they matter most.
Karthik, Phil, and the SignalFx team have built a real-time infrastructure and application monitoring solution, delivered as a service. Product teams use SignalFx to aggregate and interact with a breadth of streaming time series data across their entire stack, enabling them to have the power to explore, interact with, and alert on operational data as it streams through our platform. Every second counts when it comes to interpreting and interacting with operations data for time-sensitive tasks like troubleshooting and triage. SignalFx’s meaningful alerts fire in seconds. SRE’s, infrastructure engineers, DevOps, developers, product managers, sysadmins, and QA engineers can all drill down into and get a custom view of any layer of the environment, all delivered with full admin oversight and security controls.
One of the other big advantages of the SignalFx solution is that it was purpose-built for today’s highly elastic, ephemeral container environments. Timing is important for startups. Docker was released the very same month that Phil first went to work architecting the SignalFx platform. Phil and team were able to design a monitoring solution understanding what the platform of the future would look like, unlike virtually every other monitoring solution out there that will have to re-architect their platforms to support the scale and churn of container environments.
Now if you are a technologist or senior executive, you may be asking yourself, don’t I already have this? What about my APM or Log Management investments? Let’s use an airplane analogy to demonstrate. APM is like pre-flight planning. It is for testing code and transactions before the code rolls into production. Log Management is like the flight recorder post flight, using batch processing to look for deep intelligence on anomalies. SignalFx is the inflight, real-time instrumentation from takeoff to touchdown. If I’m the plane’s pilot, I’m betting on the instrumentation, monitoring, and real-time, and accurate alerting to allow me to quickly take action to ensure high-quality performance in the heat of battle and to bring everyone home safe. The same applies to teams of modern cloud technologists, executives, and their customers when running or consuming modern cloud infrastructure and applications.
Value! That will be my job at SignalFx. Not to just to communicate value to our customers and prospects, but to truly define, create, and demonstrate it. I’m excited to be joining such a fabulous team who has developed such a high impact set of solutions that are solving a such a big and growing problem with the explosion of companies executing their digital transformation. Bringing it all together by executing the acceleration of the customer-facing company building process to capitalize on this market opportunity starts today.