It’s been a few months since I joined the Hortonworks management team, and I thought it made sense to tell you a few things that led me to that decision.
First let me just say clearly and unambiguously that I believe Hortonworks is among the most exciting and consequential new companies. I can also say without reservation that I know I made the right choice.
It wasn’t a decision made lightly nor with short-term considerations, because I’m not a short-term kind of person. An example being the 12+ years I spent with my last employer.
For me the decision came down to a checklist of questions I asked myself:
Go Digital, with Data, or…be Irrelevant
For businesses who want not only to survive the digital era but lead it, data is without question the world’s most strategic resource. Today we’re at the start of an era of history that I call Civilization 3.0. Earlier eras were equally defined by optimizing and curating key resources. Civilization 1.0, or the agrarian society, was all about agriculture. The currency of the time was land – if you were involved with land and doing a good job of it, you were likely to be successful. Civilization 2.0 was all about industrialization and the currency of the time was iron and steel. Most companies who found unique and innovative ways of using that currency of the time created businesses that were not only the envy of industry competitors, but were also built to last.
I believe the 21st Century came a few years later than expected – more like 8-10 years ago – and ushered in the era of Civilization 3.0. Now, data is the currency of modern times for businesses as every company not only becomes a software company but also a service provider. I believe companies that build their strategy around their data will be the ones that win.
So back to my checklist starting with item number 1: Relevant company? For sure.
Never Stop Running
One of my favorite books is “Shoe Dog: A Memoir By The Creator Of Nike.” The author argues that one thing that’s mandatory for success is an unwavering belief in what you’re building. One statement he makes in the book has stuck with me: “Grow or die, that’s what I believed, no matter the situation.”
Thankfully, Hortonworks operates at the intersections of three, historic technology trends: Cloud computing, the Internet of Things, and Big Data. All three are at least multi-billion dollar market opportunities, while IoT is by some estimates worth trillions. And together they give us a monumental opportunity to grow this company.
Back to the checklist item number 2, growing market? No doubt.
Be First and Be Open
Hortonworks launched in 2011 and was the first Hadoop vendor to complete an IPO, heading up a new generation of companies fueled by open source technology. About 60 percent of the companies on the Fortune 100 list have chosen to work with us because they know that open source represents the future of how software is built and consumed. And that fact contributed to another milestone: We were the first software company to attain $100 million in annual revenue within four years of operation.
The milestones weren’t easy, but the team powered through the work to get it all done. Among them were: The GA release of the first 100 percent open source platform; the first sales; and delivery of the first connected data architecture. From the outside, I had been a big Hortonworks admirer, and occasionally, an envious competitor.
I met our CEO Rob and was very impressed by his vision to put to use the world’s data through an open source approach. Not to mention he’s a stand-up human being that I could see myself working with for at least a decade!
Again, the checklist and item number 3: Solid management team I can work with over the long term. Nailed it.
Since arriving at Hortonworks I could not help but notice a very rare cultural aspect to this company. It’s inspirational and aspirational at the same time – more of that in my next post.
So there you see a bit into my thought processes about joining this company. And you see why I’m so excited to get started building on the foundation the team has established. I’d love to hear from you: Find me on Twitter @big_data_raj. Also I’m heading to the DataWorks Summit/Hadoop Summit in Munich next month (register here). Looking forward to connecting with all the people who make up the Hortonworks ecosystem.