Docker’s new CEO, Steve Singh – Highlights

In a mildly surprising announcement (see below), Docker announced a new CEO, Steve Singh, formerly of Concur-cum-SAP. The consensus is that this is the typical startup move to get a “more enteprise-y” leader in place, e.g., this happened at Puppet, Chef, and probably MuleSoft and Cloudera [I don’t know those last two well enough, but ¯_(ツ)_/¯.

As most all non-Docker (myself included and us over on the podcast) are always saying, Docker, Inc. needs to figure out a business model. So huzzah on that!

The PR folks at Docker were nice enough to line up a bunch of interviews. Below are some highlights from them and other places, As always, my comments are in square brackets unless it’s obvious otherwise.

Docker itself

Docker Customers Screenshot 2017-05-03 09.28.20

From outgoing CEO Ben Golub’s blog post announcing this:

  • Customers, in addition to the above: “Docker has rapidly scaled revenues, building a sustainable and exciting subscription business in conjunction with tens of thousands of small and mid sized businesses and over 400 G2000 customers like ADP, the Department of Defense, GE, Goldman Sachs,  Merck,  MetLife, and Visa.”
  • Partners: “we’ve created enduring partnerships with the likes of Accenture, Alibaba, Avanade, AWS, Booz Allen, Cisco, Google, HPE, IBM, Microsoft, Oracle, and more.”

Singh Interview with Todd Bishop & Tom Krazit

  • Over at Geekwire.
  • “Today we have about 400 enterprise customers, and that’s really been over the course of the last year or so that those enterprise customers have adopted Docker, so the rate of growth is phenomenal. I think our capacity to add value to those enterprise customers is huge. They’re running legacy applications. They’re building new applications on top of the Docker platform, and that’s driving massive economic savings for them. They’re able to see 75-500 percent reduction in the application infrastructure.”
  • It’s rare to see cost reduction used as an argument by cloud-native vendors; usually it’s a value-based sales: “compared to all the growth-money your company will make with this (and, sure, productivity gains), the cost will be nothing.” This might be an early sign of Docker’s enterprise value-prop: it costs less. One part to ponder: how cheaply can they do this w/r/t to sales and marketing? They have some good marketing costs from brand/community – i.e., everyone knows Docker. They need an enterprise salesforce and sales engineers to help buyers evaluate and then procure stacks; that is, unless they go (mostly?) pure inside sales a la Solarwinds. There’s some interesting comparisons here: Red Hat with the pure open source play, traditional middleware & infrastructure vendors with the open-core model, and then Solarwinds and New Relic for more inside, service-driven sales.
  • “My last day at SAP was April 30.” [So two reasons to wait until now (vs. at DockerCon): (1.) it’s traditional to let a standing exec have “one last conference,” and, (2.) Singh still had to officially be out at SAP.]
  • Some product-think, CaaS and building a platform with container parts: “We’re in the fortunate position that we are the leading platform company in this broader container-as-a-service space, number one. Number two, if you think about orchestration — things like Swarm or things like Kubernetes — our view is that what our customers are looking for is a platform to run their applications, manage them and deliver them. We want to take an open platform approach that allows the customers the choice to pick whatever components that they want from Docker and whatever components they want from anyone else, and run them in a model that makes sense for them. We have a number of customers that use the Docker platform as well as components from either the open source community or partners. That’s fantastic. When customers have choice, that’s a great thing.”
  • He skirts naming any competitors, which is standard, but, you know, eye-rolly.

Interview with Ari Levy

  • Over at CNBC.
  • “The software start-up was generating less than $5 million in revenue [in 2015].”
  • “Singh inherits a business that’s growing, with annual revenue in tens of million of dollars, according to sources with knowledge of the company but who asked not to be named because the financials are private. He’s still got money in the bank from the $95 million round that Goldman Sachs led two years ago.”
  • I’d read “tens of millions” as $20 to $30m. If it was $50m, they’d probably say so; if it was $40m, they’d say “nearing $50m”; and if it was $10m, it wouldn’t plural. Also, it doesn’t specify if this is TCV (paid out over 2-3 year contract terms) or ACV (total size of the deal, over all years of the deal’s life-span), but, hey, that’s how all private companies speak of revenue now-a-days. As a point of reference, the product my company, Pivotal, sells in this space: “booked revenue grew 130% (in 2016) to $270 million from $117.4 million for 2015.”
  • “The company started selling its enterprise product early last year and has about 400 customers, Singh said.”
  • “I’m more focused on the road ahead as opposed to things that have happened in the past,” Singh said. “We want to collaborate and make sure customers have choice.”

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