Of course dotCloud ended up being a precursor of Docker itself, and took the idea of "lightweight easy-to-create container" to an even higher level. shykes if you are reading this, hi!
Also, @solomonstre has changed his Twitter profile picture. This is brilliant communication. He lets everyone know that he has moved on to other things, just from his profile picture. I think this is very interesting and clever.
Companies that succeed are driven by burning vision, not by day-to-day operation people. It might make feel the companies run smoother for some time, but day-to-day executives are harmful to a company core vision leading to boring companies if they manage to sustain profitability in the long run at all.
Note: I'm not saying this is what's happening here, just responding to the general comment above.
I think you are absolutely correct.
I am the MD (CEO elsewhere) of an IT consultancy that is 18 years old. We have around 20 staff and t/o ~£1.5M. I like to sleep at night, I do have ambitions but they'll never be cool. Our business model will never set the world on light but we are one of many companies that you will never hear of that keeps the world turning. We are the boring lot that worry about backups and security. We host some customer systems at our place and run a near comprehensive monitoring system that generally warns us pre failure. We also have a few other skills around the place.
There are other reasons why startups don't go big and that is by design. I do not want my firm to go big. If we hit around 50 staff then I will break it up into bits (budding).
Did I mention that we are boring? I like boring.
I was (1997-2000) a contractor in the IS department for the really large aerospace company in Yeovil, Somerset, UK (it's changed hands a few times). I eventually got to the team doing server management, app delivery etc ie third line. IS was due to be "facilities managed" and two of my colleagues approached me to be the MD of this thing they'd cooked up. The idea was we would go external and resell ourselves as a unit back through the on site supplier of IT/IS services. The supplier chosen by said aerospace company used to have a short name that matched the name of a famous sauce from these shores - it's brown (the sauce) and starts with H.
We rented a small unit down the road (proper rural around here) and had an old PC that ran Win 98 as a file server etc etc. We put in a ISDN BRI link (2x 64Kbs-1) for internets. We had one customer.
We moved on gradually and learned. Our first employee stayed for around eight years and then moved on - still in touch. Employees 2 and 3 (poached off a local travel agency - terrible pay there but we could better the pay despite being a little setup: E2 stayed for 10 years and moved on and sadly played silly buggers with customers - nothing too detrimental but still a bad taste left behind. E3 still with us, complications recently but all good now.
By 2013ish we now have around 15 odd employees. We have moved to a bigger pair of units in the same area that we started from. We now have modern systems involving (small) racks, virtualisation etc.
The norm for most companies is to rent but I wanted to own my premises. My thinking was that we could do more stuff. We looked for a while and ended up buying (story short!) an NHS clinic in Yeovil which is the largest town in the area.
We now have five internet connections - a leased line (100M) and four FTTC (ADSL 80/20) and a pair of pfSense HA routers running on Dell R310s (to be ditched soon - they can't do AES-NI) with a lot of IPSEC VPNs and OpenVPNs and 10ish internal VLANS. We have a proper computer room with proper gear. We also have a lot more customers these days. We are now ISO 9001 and 27001 registered and lots more stuff.
Every day I love going to work. Don't get me wrong - it's still hard. I came into work the other day and found an employee in tears. I sent them home (obviously, I can't say too much here). Two of our employees have moved on and then come back again (one of them was once a lover of one of my business partners). Thanks to our past involvement with a large firm whose name is saucy, we have several customers these days that you will probably have heard of.
One thing that I think we have is that we have three Directors - a Triumvirate if you like. Any two can gang up on one - it works very well.
I'm a very lucky person. I'll never be a millionaire but I'm very comfortable as far as I'm concerned. I'm a shopkeeper and fucking proud of it.
IMO thats a classist lie that keeps people in their place. Any reasonably smart CEO can learn his way from 10 - 10000. Yes, (s)he may not be capable of 10k on day one, but they can grow along the way.
It's absolutely true that some people can evolve from a leader of a small company/team/project into a leader for a much larger one. But it's also absolutely true that not everyone can and that the skills to lead that larger endeavor are significantly different from the skills needed to get something off the ground. It's likely that Docker would never have gotten off the ground without someone like Soloman to take a very opinionated stance and drag people towards his vision. But if Docker is to continue to succeed, it now needs to expand its reach learn to be what people need rather than convincing people that they need Docker. Not being on the inside, I can't say for sure whether Soloman is capable of evolving into a leader that can move Docker in this direction, but the superficial view from the outside suggests to me that this was probably the right decision. It's no knock against him as either a leader or a technologist, it just feels like it's not the best fit going forward and his efforts would be better spent on something new that pushes a new vision forward.
Sorry but this is extremely naive and I'm sorry that your naïveté has caused you conclude things which are simply not true.
This is a very strong assumption, and a lie that is peddled by the media (Zuck is the greatest example of this) to create a novel story. I'm not saying it's impossible, it's just a dangerous assumption.
For the record, I've interviewed over 75 software founders (CEO/CTO) and I can tell you right now that there is nowhere near even 50% of them who have the ability to scale their companies.
Furthermore, there is a reason many of my clients (PE investors) replace management teams who cannot scale businesses and when they do, they reap financial awards as a result. So my conclusions are based on following the money...
What direct experience do you have with this to justify that claim?
Obviously sometimes people brought in are nothing more than sacks of potatoes that make noises, but I think its insulting to the intelligence of everyone involved to believe even a significant proportion of people fall into that category.
It's just a different set of skills to the ones for 'technical founder' and involve things like... organising, collaborating, compromising and socializing... you know, grown up things that leaders are expected to be able to do without screwing up.
Scaling a company is lot more than just scaling the tech.
I know way more people whose money is on the line that will gladly take that bet.
Analogy: (far) less than 50% of military officers have what it takes to be a general/admiral/other “logistics at scale” type. But yet still, military officers with experience commanding in smaller engagements are the only good source of those high-level strategists. If people couldn’t grow into roles requiring more responsibility of them, militaries would be “making” admirals and generals from scratch.
Does that sound feasible? If not, then why would one be able to “make” a Fortune 500 CEO out of anything other than an existing, experienced SMB CEO?
Maybe, just maybe, Harvard Business School is the place for teaching better than 50% to do well and expand.
There is nothing inherently special about someone who runs a small vs. big company, except for experience. I agree with the poster above: classism at its finest.
I think the question is, given that someone can do one of those things really well, how likely is it that the same person can do the other really well too?
It seems obvious that the kind of traditional business ceo that investors often want to find to replace a founder is not going to be successful as a starter. Let's just accept the common assumption on that one.
I'd argue that what makes a great startup founder often makes a terrible leader for large corporations. I think every great founder has a reality distortion field (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reality_distortion_field) which projects their vision, keeps them pursuing seemingly bad ideas in the face of insurmountable odds and allows them to overcome the biases and assumptions that dominate so many business decisions.
Some leaders expand and adapt this to build great, crazy companies: Steve Jobs, Elon Musk, Zuckerberg (maybe). Often they also create a cult-like, maybe toxic, certainly messy corporate culture that still somehow succeeds.
Others can't do this: Travis Kalanick, Elizabeth Holmes, Parker Conrad. They let their "startup founder, growth at all costs, thumb your nose at the rules" attitude destroy their company culture and embroil them in ridiculous, easily avoidable legal issues.
In my experience, a corporation's culture is the manifestation of the most extreme personality traits of its leaders. There is a time, when crossing the chasm, that the exact traits that made the company grow rapidly and the founder extremely successful are the ones you want to suppress to create a stable, efficient and effective collaborative endeavor involving thousands of people: a corporation.
I think (and this is due to some reflection on my own ideas) that if you reject the idea that there comes a time when a company should abandon "burning vision" in favor of stability, process, predictability, and broad appeal, you're actually rejecting the idea of a corporation as a hierarchical system of power deployed to efficiently organize the work of thousands of people. And I'd probably agree with that. The traditional corporation needs a traditional ceo but it's a damn shame that every revolutionary startup has to end up as a traditional corporation.
In other words, you can't use a broken system to criticize leadership.
Second, if they do learn that skillset as the company grows, then they would be a great man/woman for that job.... at their next company. For this company, you'd want someone who has it right now, not someone who'll learn it halfway, from costly mistakes.
There's nothing classist about it. You could train an army corporal to become a general. But you can't just take an army corporal all the way to the experience needed to become a general in a year or two. It takes generals 20+ years before they have the skills to lead thousands of soldiers. To suggest that any reasonably smart corporal can go from leading a squad to leading a division in a few years of on-the-job training is just ludicrous. If I'm wrong, then please provide some data. Actual data, not anecdotes.
Nobody is saying that a corporal can't ever become a general. The suggestion of classism is implying that a corporal can't become a general because he's not of the right class. Of course a corporal can become a general (at least in the US Army) -- which is the very opposite of classism. We're just saying that a corporal doesn't become a general through a few years of on the job training and that a corporal doesn't become a general while on the battlefield.
What I'm saying is that a good large-company CEO is gets those skills over years of experience. If a founder-CEO slowly scales, then perhaps on-the-job training would work. But when an org goes from 10 people to 1000 people in a few years -- it would take an extraordinarily lucky person to be able to handle that transition without prior experience.
You assume that they all want to scale. There is a place for us boring people. We are the ones who do something well and are reliable. We don't blow the profits on fancy cars and houses. We have shit loads of cash in the bank at all times relative to t/o. In 18 years of trading there was one month that me and my partners didn't pay ourselves - to cover employee salaries without creating an overdraft.
Bugger scaling - I'm happy to sleep at night. Some of our customers are amongst those that you will almost certainly have heard of, regardless of which country you live in.
If they've taken outside investment based on a business plan of scaling, then it doesn't matter whether they want to scale. They either need to do it, or hand it over to someone who will.
I love nicely sized companies that are profitable and long term viable without the need to chasing after constant growth, but you only get to do that if the investors agreed to it. That's much easier when the investors are just the founders.
What you just wrote does not contradict maerF0x0's assertion. If you can recognize what makes someone capable of scaling a business, and what makes someone incapable, then what prevents you from teaching those skills?
I work for a Startup in valley, and I agree. Our founder CEO was fired recently. Why, you may ask?
Because he was a really poor Manager, so poor that even Senior Engineers could see it clearly. Luckily board came to senses and replaced him with a proven CEO.
Sad but that is the truth, to scale you need different skillsets and off course being a good Manager is just one of those.
(Are they unwilling to delegate and trust others to make decisions? Overly focused on trying to be involved in and influence everything?)
The kind of people who enjoy running a company with a ragtag group of 10 employees in the early days are rarely the kind of people who will be able to effectively run a 10000 employee operation.
If you’re growing fast there is no time for on-the-job training as CEO. You need to be effective immediately or else you are only hurting your company’s growth.
How about the reverse case? Would, say, Meg Whitman or Satya Nadella, for example, be able to act as a CEO or co-founder of a small company, say < 10 employees?
But then I thought about Bill Joy, Bill Gates, Larry Ellison, Steve Jobs, Jeff Bezos, Mark Zuckerberg, and, well, you hopefully get my point.
Which is, even though I agree that most startup founders probably would not be able to head the same company as it grew by multiple orders of magnitude, there are enough famous outliers that we know it can be done and can be done spectacularly well.
There must be a statistical name for this apparent paradox. (Or am I just experiencing confirmation bias?)
EDIT: grammar nits
Maybe at one point they could, early in their career, but by now those skills may have atrophied.
In this case, the appropriate term would be "survivorship bias". Those who survive are noticed and used to generalize to the group, even if their survival is atypical of the group as a whole.
Language changes constantly, and meanings often flip from one century to another. The previous meaning of "prove" doesn't obviate the modern usage inside or outside of the phrase in question or turn the clock back. That particular horse escaped the barn, long, long ago along with tens of thousands of other changes in the last few centuries. "Probable" existed before probability theory did, and it didn't refer to odds or math; it just meant "respectable."
I could follow your own suit, I suppose, and compliment you by calling your comment "smart", since that word used to mean "painful" in olde english and you prefer the old ways. But I won't. (I'll just say your comment was interesting, and not quite the full story.) I roll with the common currency: language as it is. Print greatly slowed these sorts of changes, and the internet will slow them even more, of course, as the decades and centuries roll on.
In general, I try to correct it in order to give the benefit of the doubt. Either somebody is misusing a phrase, which is a charitable interpretation, or somebody has a fundamentally flawed idea of how evidence works, which is rather uncharitable.
Basically, you can name the exceptions off the top of your head, but you could never do that with the non-exceptions because they're so numerous. Kind of like how in your parking example, you don't need to name the hours that parking is allowed, because it's a rule. It's always allowed, with some exceptions. You only need to point out the exceptions.
I would take your charitable interpretation and say you're misunderstanding the phrase. Since there are examples of this usage all over the Internet and a very long Wikipedia page detailing the various forms, I hope we can move past this wildly off-topic conversation.
What do you think an investment is? How do you think business works?
The guy didn't get pushed out in any event.
The argument is not what an individual is capable of learning and doing but personality fit. The founder who has a burning desire to unleash their idea to the world is generally not the same person who wants to grow the company at a larger scale.
1) I think the founder treats the company too much like a baby and sometimes the hard realities of the business are ignored. It is nice to have a fresh breath of air from leadership who have not been with the company from day 1. They have a different perspective that I believe can make a huge difference.
2) It is a different type of work. Perhaps the person can make the transition but I don't think that is normally the case. The challenges are different at size 500 compared to what t hey were at size 10 and I think a lot of CEOs who strive in the small scrappy environment do not really enjoy it at size 500. Sure they may trick themselves in thinking it is for them but I think it does more harm than good but it is also a learning experience for a lot of first time founders.
Don't confuse me. I am not saying its impossible to successful founder/CEO at size 500+ but I don't think the type of person who founds a company really enjoys it.
See, for example,
and its sources.
Wow. What if the organization begins in Stage 5?
At the 5000 employee level, you are probably dealing with a ton of abstractions that were filtered multiple levels up.
Statistics are pretty clear in the failure rate of founder-CEOs when they scale past certain sizes. Even Zuckerberg -- if it weren't for Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook wouldn't have survived as well as it did. Zuckerberg didn't know the first thing about running a large organization, I might argue that he still doesn't -- but when a company can basically print money, there's a huge margin of error afforded to Zuckerberg-type leaders. If Zuck where competing in the energy business, banking or autos, he'd have been long since buried.
Steve Jobs also wasn't particularly good (managing a large org) during his first stint at Apple -- it took a lot of maturity and learning at Next and Pixar before he was really ready to lead Apple.
Mark Benioff is another founder-CEO that did really well -- however, he was an Oracle Vice President before starting Salesforce. He was both incredibly smart but also had experience within a large organization.
> Any reasonably smart CEO can learn his way from 10 - 10000. Yes, (s)he may not be capable of 10k on day one, but they can grow along the way.
The list of successful founder-CEOs who have scaled to huge orgs is a very short list.
OK, but many (most, if others' claims in this thread are to be believed) of them don't do so. That contradicts your original claim, unless you want to say that many/most CEOs are not "reasonably smart", which is dubious at best and armchair quarterbacking at worst.
I mostly am rejecting the knee jerk reaction of "Company has grown 100x and now requires a new CEO" ... Who knew this would spark so much discussion?
The relative rarity of CEO jobs at sizes deemed large helps ensure that empiricism is complicated because the sample sizes remain small, so what the truth here is, who can say? It's tough to science.
The "classist" question is why is the pool of people with such experience so small and seem so exclusionary?
One specific thing mentioned up thread is the perception that not a lot of small, startup CEOs "graduate" to large, corporate CEOs and asked the question why doesn't "small, startup CEO" count for more experience in these searches than it seems to? The people that believe that classism may be to blame wonder if it is simply and inevitably because they are outsiders to the "proper" upper class or other such cliques. Anecdotally, there seem to be counter-examples on both sides of that hypothesis, and I don't think either side has enough data to prove or disprove the hypothesis.
CEO of IBM: Ginni Rometty -- grew up in a single parent home, with a mom that worked multiple jobs. Ginni got in to Northwestern and studied computer science and electrical engineering. She certainly didn't have any upper-class advantages. She went to public school.
Geisha Williams, CEO of PG&E (part of the Fortune 500) -- daughter of Cuban refugees -- literally arrived in the US with nothing, her father was a political prisoner in Cuba before being released. He worked multiple jobs to support his family. Geisha started her career as a residential power auditor and worked her way up to CEO. Hardly a "silver spoon" story.
Rex Tillerson (former) CEO of Exxon -- one of the largest companies in the world. Picked cotton and worked as a janitor before getting accepted to the University of Texas with a band scholarship. He joined Exxon as a production engineer and then worked his way up to CEO over the next 30 years. Hardly an "elite."
Tim Cook -- son of a dockworker and a pharmacy worker. Went to Auburn University (hardly an Ivy League, "elite" school.) He worked at IBM from 12 years working his way up to the director of North American fulfillment while earning a Duke MBA at essentially night school.
I could tell these stories all day. There certainly are some elites who do go on to be CEOs, but there are even more CEOs and self-made millionaires that aren't Boston Brahmins or cousins of the Kennedy family.
This whole "classism" idea is promoted by three types of people:
a. those who are actually ignorant about American business and its leaders. Spend some time actually learning the backgrounds of American business leaders and you'll see more "State U" than "Harvard U."
b. those from other countries where a public school girl from a broken home would never become CEO of IBM or a redneck janitor on a marching band scholarship could never become CEO of Exxon -- these are often Europeans where, in places such as France -- if you aren't a male who went to a Grande Ecole, you will never be CEO of a major French company. CEO of Groupe PSA (France's largest car maker) -- Carlos Tavares, graduate of Ecole Centrale Paris. CEO of Renault? Also a Grande Ecole graduate. Former CEO of Airbus? Louis Gallois, also from a Grande Ecole. CEO of LVMH? Bernard Arnault, another Grande Ecole graduate. The "egalitarian" French have nothing but elites leading their top companies. In the US, the most valuable company's CEO? Tim Cook -- Auburn University -- a state school. Rex Tillerson? University of Texas. CEO of Walmart (the top company on the US Fortune 500 by revenue) -- University of Arkansas and University of Tulsa. CEO of United Health? Dave Wichmannm, Illinois State University with an Accounting degree -- not even an MBA and he's the CEO of the number 6 company in the United States. CEO of United Airlines? Oscar Munoz, the oldest of 9 kids in a Mexican-American family in California and the first to graduate college in his family. Some elite. What "classism" helped Munoz? He's the CEO of the world's largest airline.
c. the type of person that is angry at their own life, their own bad decisions or their own lack of success that they want to create a political narrative that supports the "evil capitalism" trope. This is the type of person that feels like they have been wronged by life and society and rather than looking at their own failings, instead attempt to blame some boogeyman. Maybe their daddy didn't love them enough. I don't know. But these are negative people that claim conspiracy when there is none. They themselves just don't think they're good enough and they need an excuse to justify it.
Now, if we were talking about politics -- THEN I might agree that classism has some influence. When we have a brood of Bushes, a variety of Clintons and an infestation of Kennedys, then it's pretty clear classism does have a real impact. But in the C-Suite -- I would argue that the evidence suggests that classism isn't a factor at all, instead it's about hard work, tenacity, luck and intelligence.
All I read was that the needs and the skill-set to meet them vary with scale. There's no class-ism in that unless you project a lot of other stuff into it.
Having a number of hours in a small plane in no way disqualifies you to fly bigger planes.
Also in this case they aren't only the pilot but also the constructor of the "plane".
(That said while most pilots started small not all Cessna pilots should go on to fly passengers or even cargo.)
Unless I’m mistaken, that was actually the point being made; you made it again for him.
Your argument was going the other direction.
Running a company of 10 people is an experientially different thing than running a company of 1000, just like collaborating is an experientially different thing from doing stuff on your own and playing video games is different from using Excel. Being interested in one is no guarantee of being interested in another.
"Management of many is the same as management of few. It is a matter of organization."
With 1000-10000 you never seen most employees faces. You have no idea what they do whole day. They don't know you either and likely don't trust you. You manage by making general rules and by talking to few people directly under you. You dont see impact of your decisions directly, you have to guess from hints and long time.
What is the evidence for this? We can throw anecdotes like Apple on one side and Unilever on the other, sure, but is there any study saying e.g. "Of these 100 promising companies founded in 1990, x% of the founder-led ones were successful by 2010 whereas y% of the outside-CEO-led ones were?"
Making a bold claim like "Companies that succeed have X cool-sounding behavior" is the realm of business books in airport bookstores. It would be nice to take a more data-driven approach.
One thing the article brings up is that "success" may not be synonymous with "financial success". If you have a specific burning vision for a thing that should exist in the world, it might not be the most profitable thing, and the founder staying on is probably a good way for exactly that product to exist - but an outside CEO might choose to compromise the product vision and significantly expand the potential market in doing so.
I suspect involuntary founder replacement is much more common in venture-funded companies. While your, my, and the founder's definitions of success may not be synonymous with "financial success", many VCs and their LPs may not feel the same. Obviously it's tricky to fully generalize, but the point is that VC can be expensive if founder and investor motivations aren't closely aligned.
GP's burning vision, of course.
I once had my vision burn so hard my landlord charged me for the floor paneling.
Founded by realistic visionaries (Bob Young and Mark Ewing). Bob was smart enough to bring in Matthew Szulik, who gave Red Hat structure and growth. And Matthew was smart enough to hand over to Jim Whitehurst.
Red Hat is nowadays a smooth running company with 64 quarters of growth, with a portfolio that goes far beyond Linux.
Execution is key. Having passionate employees a must.
and it seems he also was a co-founder of Linux Journal! Didn't know. Cool. His work has had quite an impact.
You don't make your company succeed by giving up control. You hire people you do control who have the skills you lack.
Of course you do. Every time a new hire is made the founder gives up some control. The secretary now chooses the paper for the copy machine. The sales guy now enunciates the detail of the offering to the prospect. The engineer codes in her specific way. Growing a company is ALL about giving up control in exchange for accelerated growth of the business.
If this post were by someone named Linus, or Guido, (or Jobs) or any number of other names I can think of - people would be freaking out.
Yet the reaction so far is one thatI can only describe as "meh" - there wasn't a scandal (uber) there isn't a failure (intel) and people mostly (with exception) like the product.
I wonder what the future holds for docker after this change.
Also that art at the end, looks great but all I could think of was "fail whale" when looking at it (and not docker).
Day to day operations can be handled by COO, CFO, CMO, VP and other lieutenant roles. Why not hire Steve Singh as chief operating officer? Why not even lower down the totem pole? Is it because there's a fear that 'talent' of that quality may not take the job without a CEO title? Money can solve that. If there's an ego in the way, perhaps that's a problem.
I've scaled our business from 2 people to 10 to 20 and now to 30 with high 8 figures in revenue. I'm quite comfortable that I can scale it to any number. The reason is that I am very comfortable hiring people that are smarter than me and putting them in leadership roles in the organization, stepping back and trusting them and heavily relying on them to do an excellent job.
Stepping back and trusting takes an incredible leap of faith as a founder. You also need to be comfortable asking Fortune 5000 execs to work for you in a VP or C suite role. You also need to be able to pay them. If you can do those three things, you can assemble a team of lieutenants that will run their business divisions, provide you excellent visibility in all areas without over communicating and you will be able to scale into infinity as they replicate your strategy for scaling by hiring trusted lieutenants.
It also helps if you know how little you actually know, can be completely honest about that with your exec team and ask them for help and input and trust them to give you what you need.
I haven't experienced this, but it seems to me that firing founder CEOs and 'hiring a mature CEO' is conventional VC wisdom and it's based on a pattern they've seen work. e.g. Cisco. Once you raise big VC, I'm not sure that as a young founder you actually have a say unless you specifically build controls into your funding agreements. In FB, Zuck controls about 60% of the voting rights. He's 33. You have to ask yourself if he'd be CEO if the voting structure was different.
It's the reason why John Doerr brought in Eric Schmidt as Google's CEO for adult supervision. Good investors, in addition to bringing cash, also bring with them accumulated experience from previous rodeos, which means they'll be able to recommend a few qualified hires for the up hill battle ahead, if it is clear the founder is lacking in requisite experience.
Founder types tend to be amazing at Starting, and sometimes at Growing. But at a certain point, you need to bring in the people who are better at the Growing/Containing phase. IMHO most Founder/CEOs don't have this distinction and can't see how what makes them terrific at the beginning hobbles the company as it tries to become a stable business.
Plenty of companies are founded by people who aspire to lead large companies.
They are not mutually exclusive; thinking that they are is a recipe for failure.
It's the ethical thing to do; it's a fiduciary duty of leadership to do so.
He may be stepping aside because what's required to lead an enterprise company is not something he's capable of or interested in doing; it's a radically different thing then created a company from nothing.
I think Shykes stepping aside is an extremely professional move and a hallmark of great leadership. Honestly, it's not something you see often in tech; many founders hold on for dear life and companies suffer greatly because of it.
The day to day is what actually leads to revenue and hopefully actual profits. You can only burn vc money for so long until you actually have to show some sort of return.
I should probably expand on that. Yes, in some cases keeping the founder as a CEO can be important for the morale of the team, but sometimes bringing in outside experience (the so called 'adult supervision') can be very important for a company. Eric Schmidt did a great job doing this for Google, before he assumed the role as chairman, leaving the CEO post for the founders at a later point.
It may not be glamorous, but no matter how innovative or successful, someone (many people really) have to have an eye on day to day operations. A CEO should have vision, yes, but their job isn't just to have vision, it's to share that vision with the people under them, the day to day people that have to be in place, and will make the best day-to-day decisions only if they understand and share that vision.
The later part is more severe.
/not even close.
If you're reading this and have performance issues look at caches as a last resort, first figure out why things are slow
I'm assuming a traditional stack here but use mysql jet profiler, or SQL equivalent first, then your languages profiler xhprof?
If your queries are slow or impossible make sure your tables are normalised and indexed, make sure opcache is on and xdebug off
Mysql out of the box is very conservative with its resources, the limits can often be raised and the web server can often be configured to be faster, make sure you're sending the correct http cache headers
There's so many things to consider with performance Please don't denormalise your data slap it in redis/ use varnish and call it a day
No cache is free, eventually you have to pay the pied piper when you do make sure you can afford to have never used the cache at all
Some of my hardest bugs have come from out of sync caches & trying to build performant data architecture around systems that had data stuffed into a redis black hole aged for years..
Just make sure it's your first step, not your last step.
I do believe caching to be the proverbial Swiss Army Knife of performance. Some of its tools can be used properly and others as band-aid / stop gap. Even band-aids serve a useful purpose. But I can definitely see how a system can accrue technical debt when over leveraging caching.
But to believe in prevalent, perfectly built systems is to deny the status quo of the landscape. When you democratize development like WordPress has done with its plugins and Node has done with npm, as popular examples, you definitely have it coming.
Also, adding caches is still resource scaling.
Also, adding caches is still resource scaling.
This is a semantically correct. Caching can indeed cut down on resource usage. It isn't always a scale-up operation.
Doing smart things to do more with the same resources, do the same with fewer resources, or by replacing expensive resources with cheaper resources, is optimization, not scaling.
We're being really pedantic right now, though. :)
Aside for the near coincidence, I find reading historical first release posts very enlightening!
I'd be happy if any of you would share first-reaction posts and chatter and more on Solomon's marketing-first approach on making Docker a tremendously successful opensource project.
I understand the realities of working in a corporation, and the demands on C-level executives, but it's hard to imagine any company that is improved by his departure from it.
Fare well, Solomon. Eager to see what you've got planned next.
Probably one of the best departure messages I've ever seen.(especially with that image)
This transition is simply another chapter in a long story of change, growth, hard work… and a lot of luck.
Ten years ago, I quit my job, returned to live with my mother in Paris and, together with my friends Kamel Founadi and Sebastien Pahl, started a company called Dotcloud. Our goal was to harness an obscure technology called containers, and use it to create what we called “tools of mass innovation”: programming tools which anyone could use. I was 24 and had no idea what I was doing. We needed a CEO, so that became my new role.
Five years ago, Dotcloud reinvented itself as Docker, around a battle-hardened core of five people: Eric Bardin, Sam Alba, Jerome Petazzoni, Julien Barbier and myself. Soon growth was off the charts, and we hired an experienced CEO to help us sustain it. I was 29 and eager to do my part. Docker needed a CTO, so that became my new role.
Today, as I turn 34, Docker has quietly transformed into an enterprise business with explosive revenue growth and a developer community in the millions, under the leadership of our CEO, the legendary Steve Singh. Our strategy is simple: every large enterprise in the world is preparing to migrate their applications and infrastructure to the cloud, en masse. They need a solution to do so reliably and securely, without expensive code or process changes, and without locking themselves to a single operating system or cloud. Today the only solution meeting these requirements is Docker Enterprise Edition. This puts Docker at the center of a massive growth opportunity. To take advantage of this opportunity, we need a CTO by Steve’s side with decades of experience shipping and supporting software for the largest corporations in the world. So I now have a new role: to help find that ideal CTO, provide the occasional bit of advice, and get out of the team’s way as they continue to build a juggernaut of a business. As a shareholder, I couldn’t be happier to accept this role.
As a founder, of course, I have mixed emotions. When you create a company, your job is to make sure it can one day succeed without you. Then eventually that one day comes and the celebration can be bittersweet.
It’s never easy for a founder to part ways with their life’s work. But I realize how incredibly lucky I am to have this problem. Most ideas never materialize. Most software goes unused. Most businesses fail in their first year. Yet here we are, one of the largest open-source communities ever assembled, collectively building software that will run on millions of computers around the world. To know that your work was meaningful, and that a vibrant community of people will continue building upon it…. can any founder ask for anything more?
I want to thank from the bottom of my heart every member of the Docker team and community, past and present, for making Docker what it is today. Thanks to you, this founder’s bittersweet moment is mostly sweet. We have built something great together. I look forward to seeing where you will take it next.
I don’t think any back alley drama needs to have happened.
Founding a company is much different from running it.
I'd consider founding exiting for the first years, but later rather boring.
Nobody wants to be a one trick pony. Even if you are successful beyond your wildest dreams, people want more than one act in their lives.
If I had founded docker, I'd be retiring now, because I've done other things and this might feel like the cherry on top. But he's only 34.
 If I knew how, which I don't. At best I'd switch fields and start over on something else I care about.
Not everyone has the desire to persist in that same role, particularly as the company evolves with size. For some, the money allows you to walk away and pursue passions that are independent of a need to make money. And/or maybe his passion is starting a new project that MIGHT be a business that MIGHT make money, just like Docker once was.
The lack of scrutiny means questionable technical decisions and complicated tool chains that add layers of complexity with little benefit are passed on to users with little knowledge of the trade-offs involved.
In a way the original promise of containers of being simple and portable have been completely lost to complicated wrappers like Docker and Kubernetes and words like devops that promise a lot but deliver an out of control web of complexity.
Google and Facebook have an army of networking, storage (they even hired the btrfs developer), security and scalability experts. It's not 2 engineers doing devops.
This also sets perverse incentives. Wrappers like Docker and Kubernetes monopolize all the attention and funding while the core open source projects that they are critically dependent on like LXC, Aufs, Overlayfs, Btrfs, Dnsmasq, Nginx, Keepalived, Consul, Quagga, Bird, open source networking tech, container tech in the kernel, apps are all hidden from view.
Docker initially wrapped the LXC project without proper credit and there was a lot of misinformation about what LXC is, with zero pushback here. Many commentators even today are not clear about containers and think Docker invented containers. And this after thousands of posts about containers here.
How's Kubernetes a wrapper? Wrapper on what? The ones you listed are dependencies. What projects don't have dependencies?
> Docker initially wrapped the LXC project without proper credit ...
Docker hasn't been a wrapper for lxc for a long time (at least 3+ years, which is a long time in tech world). Also, the debian package at the time was called lxc-docker.
> Many commentators even today are not clear about containers and think Docker invented containers.
Misguided people are always going to be the majority, especially in the tech world. People actually working with these technologies, they will bother to figure out the differences.
I'm a bit puzzled about where docker as a company has to go. But the enthusiasm that was unleashed is without par.
Because of Docker I can bootstrap new employee's working environment in 5 minutes - everything is a container except they thing they are changing, commit, see.
So long as he is happy and he didn't expose himself to any financial ruin. It's all good.
(It's the official good bye of former French president Valery Giscard d'Estaing as he left office, and it's been used over and over again as a comic element.)
My hat tip to shykes. We studied in the same engineering school and he was part of the teaching assistants' panel doing the interviews for the new batch of candidates I was in. When I met him that day, he was in charge of testing my conversational English level and this interview (amongst others) convinced me to go for this school. He was also one of my tutors/teachers in the first few months, and I eventually became part of the same teaching team. Great guy all around, talented technician and a great educator.
I think he entirely deserves the praise for creating dotCloud and Docker, no matter what people may say about the underlying technology and the lackluster Docker activity lately.
He's turned it into a great product and company, with impacts and snow-ball effects all over the IT landscape.
Was that really the goal? My impression was that dotcloud was just a hosting company
I've seen this before firsthand and it always looks painful. It's easy to look at something from afar and think, "why not just let it go?" But seeing the pain of letting go time and time again makes it seem far more difficult....
Sad to see him go, so so grateful for his work!
How common is it for a company to flourish after the original sole founder leaves?
Having seen founders forced out by the board first-hand multiple times, I've yet to see things really take off after the departure of such a key player.
I'm curious if, on average, it's really the right move.
Until the people on the board vote to replace you and the silence is deafening.
Brutal what business has come to
I put CloudFlare in a similar boat, but CloudFlare seems more tech-savvy (apart from one giant screw-up that cemented marketing-first for me).
I'll always be sad that marketing wins.
I'm not saying anything against this person professionally or personally, it is more a textbook example of marketing hustle as key to financial success. I prioritize technology ahead of marketing, and am currently struggling to flip this around.
PS. I didn't know Docker was YCS10, so props to YC for connecting with this person early. Growth hacking definitely fits into the YC culture.
May I ask why you feel strongly about a technology-first approach?
I can think of someone that tried your exact approach, but it didn't end well. He happens to be a member of this community  and he wrote a great blog post  introspecting as to the reasons why technology-first approaches don't work in the world we live in.
If you've not read it, I encourage you to do so.
I'm glad that RethinkDB seems to be headed toward a happy ineding as a community, and thanks for the pointer to the write up.
I made a big bet on Docker a few years ago, so I know personally that's been the case.
Today I’m announcing my departure from Docker, the company I helped create ten years ago and have been building ever since. A founder’s departure is usually seen as a dramatic event. Sadly, I must report that reality is far less exciting in this case. I’ve had many roles at Docker over the years, and today I have a new, final one – as an active board member, a major shareholder and, I expect, a high maintenance Docker user. But I will no longer be part of day-to-day operations. Instead, after obsessing for so many years over my own ideas, I am rediscovering the joys of putting myself at the service of others – my friends, my family, and the brilliant entrepreneurs I’ve been lucky enough to advise and invest in over the years. Over the coming months I plan to use my experience to help them in any way I can.
Twitter post here:
edit Solomon Hykes is departing - https://twitter.com/Docker/status/979027618866520064
"The entire #Docker team would like to thank @solomonstre for creating the containerization movement and his 10 years of service and innovation. Thank you for bringing us all along on this incredible journey – we look forward to continued collaboration https://dockr.ly/2ut6OyO"
It isn't a bad or forbidden phrase in and of itself, it just usually sounds rather hollow when users are getting screwed by a service shutting down. But Docker isn't shutting down.
Also, consider when railing against cliched thinking that the 'Our Incredible Journey' Tumblr is by now a massive HN cliche. It no longer sounds insightful or smart.
Whenever I read about this I can't help to think that people don't make a good use of a load balancer like HAProxy in front of their web-servers. Even if it's a single server behind the load balancer.
There's this sweet spot where your server is handling requests as fast as it can but if you cross above it everything halts. To make it simple, this usually happens when one or more hardware resources (CPU, RAM, disk) reaches 90% utilization.
So just do some basic benchmarks and find that sweet spot and put a limit in HAProxy. Say 100 concurrent connections for static assets and 50 concurrent connections for everything else.
All requests above the limit will go in a HAProxy queue but they should not stay there for long because the web-server is able to work at full speed without being overloaded.
PS: I have quite a dream. To write some fabulous blog post that reaches the HN front page and serve it from a raspberry pi device. Too bad I don't write at all.
On the web, this means sending 503 responses. In a more intelligent client-server model, this might be the client doing an exponential back-off retry with jitter. A plain-old retry can swamp the server and just kill everything. An exponential back-off retry will allow the backend to achieve a level of service that isn't fast, but also isn't unavailable.
Hopefully in this case the haproxy is used intelligently and simply returns cached responses to GET requests without query strings. You don't want to hold onto connections or pass them off to the dynamic layer behind the proxy if you're overloaded. You can also respond to the client with a page with an auto-refresh, implementing an exponential back-off retry.
What you really want is something more like Varnish, a pass through caching proxy that handles known requests from memory, and any novel requests go through.
My opinion is that the CPU is usually the first to fall and you will not help it quite that much with an in-memory cache when the actual problem is the https overhead or the PHP/DB processing.
Hehe, why so negative?
It's depressing that 17 years later it still seems to lack a decent competitor.
But yeah, it’s less user friendly. I’m sure someone will make a good solution for this soon.
99% of the time for 99% of the people who want it to do something (something realistic), it does it. In order to get people to switch to something like a static site backend it has to be much better than wordpress. It can't be as good, or a little bit better it's got to be waaaay better or it's not worth the time and effort to switch away from something you're familiar with.
They build container tech. That doesn't mean they will benefit from engineering the best solution for everything they do.
Content hosting sites are supposed to host content. That's what they do. If a site doesn't work under unusual but not outrageous conditions, it's fundamentally broken and not fit for purpose.
The industry should be much less tolerant of excuses for tools and systems that perform poorly under load. It's had a couple of decades to get this right now. How is it acceptable that this is even a problem?
You don’t need containers or in fact anything fancy for that.
With WordPress in particular containers make some maintenance and scalability issues more difficult to deal with.
It looks like this is true for Docker which seems to be hosting it themselves instead of using Wordpress.com
» nslookup blog.docker.com
blog.docker.com canonical name = blog-1556129762.us-east-1.elb.amazonaws.com.