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I am a software developer that co-founded Bitnami to bring open source apps to everyone while working as a distributed team across the globe. Our easy-to-install packages are used daily by millions of people to learn new programming languages, host and create blogs, or run production apps at Fortune 500 companies. When not in front of a computer, I can be found chasing after my toddler.
If I'm going to start a new website on a LAMP stack, which cloud provider do I choose and why?
It depends on the complexity of the app and the expected usage. If it is a simple app with low traffic requirements, then I would not complicate things and go with shared hosting. If you want more control over the tiers and scaling up and down, then it would be much more interesting to go to the cloud and use one of the one-click images or templates
Hi Daniel. Advice for managing a global team? Really interesting work you're doing. Thanks for doing this AMA.
It is much easier if you go global from the beginning. In our case we had a couple of distributed offices in US and Europe but now have a large percent of individual contributors. My advice would be:
Focus on written communication, ideally async (Google docs, mailing lists etc.) so people in different timezones can participate. Video chats are great, but there should be a written summary
Get together the teams in the same room from time to time, especially around design
Put a lot of emphasis on explaining the company strategy, desired outcomes, etc. then people can figure out things on their own
Only hire senior people that have remote experience already
This is a good starting point guide https://zapier.com/learn/remote-work/
What's your favorite sandwich?
I like to make what my wife calls the "super sandwich" : avocado, grilled onions, mayonaise, cheese, chicken, sausage and tomato
Hi Daniel! What exactly are open source apps... how does it benefit me if I want to consider building one? Thanks!
Open source apps mean that they are free in a couple of ways. One is that the code is available and you are allows (actually, encouraged) to modify them to fit your requirements without having to ask permission from anyone, as well as sharing those improvements. When this work as intended, it creates wonderful ecosystems. The other is that they are free, so there's no licensing costs.
If you want to build your own app, the main advantage is that you can use one of these apps as the first step. Tons of people build sophisticated apps on top of WordPress and Drupal for example
What's the worst thing you've done that no one knows about?
You will have to ask your mom :)
What were some of the unforeseen challenges of running your own business? How did you overcome them?
I believe we have made every single mistake in the book, once or twice :) If I had to choose one it will be around managing people. Growing team is challenging, hiring the wrong person or hiring the right person for the wrong job can be a painful experience for everyone involved. We have gotten quite good at it and I love the team we have, but it has not been easy getting there.
I think you lack critical information to recreate this sandwich accurately. I'm no sandwich expert but one would think the type of bread, cheese and sausage would be important here, considering they can vary so much between the types that are available.
Trader Joe's Sweet Italian Style chicken sausage and Sourdough bread (if you can get it) or any regular wheat (if you cannot)
What was your major in college? Courses that were most useful (and least) for your work now? Thx!
I studied Telecom Engineering. Not a lot of programming courses (some C, Java) but that you can easily learn on your own. In a way, the most useful in the long term were some of the advanced math even if they are not directly applicable on a day by day basis. They required a lot of intelectual effort and analytical thinking and those skills translate well to other fields like programming
What Inspired you to develop software?
I knew I wanted to write software since I saw a computer for the first time. I even started buying programming magazines and programming with pencil and paper, before I was able to have access to my own computer (a ZX Spectrum 48K in the 80s)
What's the weirdest or funniest cultural quirk at Bitnami?
When the team was much smaller, we used to do these silly videos to celebrate birthdays, announce the Xmas company gifts, etc. They were really embarrassing at the time and even more now. We still do them now and it is getting a bit out of control (greenscreen, special effects, etc). On the personality side, everybody is super-curious about everything, to a fault. Not surprising because after all, it is one of our company values but it does makes for a lot of great conversations
It have to be difficult running your own company from scratch and growing the company. What do you consider a hiring error?
At a startup, especially at the beginning, you need to be able to carry your own weight and wear a lot of hats. If you hire people that are used to be told what to do or need external motivation or constant direction, that's not going to work out. This happens often when hiring people that come from a bigger company or (somewhat less) from a heavy academic background in which there's a lot of talk and not a whole of action. We have improved a lot our hiring process and try to be as clear as possible upfront about the expectations, responsibilities, level of seniority, etc. Senior, experienced people really appreciate and thrive in this environment.
Also, just to clarify, this does not mean there are bad people and good people in general, a lot of people that flounder at a startup go on to succeed at a bigger company and vice versa.
Mac or PC for general use?
I ran Linux exclusively as my desktop since at least 1997 or so, but at some point in 2013 my wireless failed after some package upgraded, for the third time in a week or so and it took me the best part of a day to troubleshoot and fix it. My wife (also a developer) said to me "Just get a Mac and stop whining" and I did so. I am quite happy with the switch but lately I am quite underwhelmed by the price/performance of the Macbook Pros and it seems I am not the only one, so I am considering switching back
I've got several questions
what are the key qualities that differentiate between developers in the ladder of mastery?
given two developers : the first had learned theoretically or say with less practice and the other one was more into practice than theory. you were told to pick one. which one would you pick ?
you were condemned to lose all your virtues and qualities but keep one. what virtue would you keep ?
sort this things in terms of importance : well-structured code ,performance, speed, long life-span ?
according to you what is the best learning method ?
what is your solution to increase productivity ?
Which programming language you will suggest other to learn? why?
where do you see your company in 5 years?
In such a fast-changing industry, it is hard to predict anything. Five years ago there was no Docker and people where still debating if the cloud was just a toy or not.
From a financial perspective, if you extrapolate our current growth, revenue, etc. we should already have IPO'd or be close to it.
From a company perspective I will personally be happy if we are still making a great product with a team of great people and can delay the "big company crap" as much as possible :) Atlassian is an inspiration in that aspect
How do you see your industry evolving and how will Bitnami have to adapt to these changes?
There's going to be a lot of consolidation in the industry, especially around containers. We are leaders in several areas and the key is to remain in that position as that happens. We will continue to adapt by listening closely to our customers and trying our best to place the right bets early on (i.e. Kubeless, Ksonnet). It is a very competitive space, though
can you elaborate on how you got your first funding?
At the very beginnings my cofounder Erica and I bootstrapped out of our savings and borrowed money from family (which we appreciated tremendously but caused us endless stress and I do NOT recommend). By focusing on customers we were able to reach profitability. We made some strategic bets early on (i.e. cloud) that provided great growth without having to raise VC. The first "official" money came when we joined YC. We did not need and have not used it (sitting in the bank), but wanted to get those investors onboard (they are all former entrepreneurs and have been great help)
What was the most difficult decision you ever had to make and did it work out in the end?
Early on, in the first couple of years, when we shipped our first product and hardly had any sales there were a couple of moments that all I could think was "have I made a terrible mistake doing a startup?" I stuck with it and it worked out great, but it was definitely NOT the rational thing to do. The light at the end of the tunnel is sometimes an incoming train, fortunately that was not the case
Cool career, my dude. Also, can you answer me this? From your experience, what is the meaning of life?
I am afraid that answer is above my pay grade. Hanging out with my baby daughter is a good approximation though!