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Detailed transcript :

Chet Kapoor: “Innovations are happening everywhere, and the ideas are everywhere. So, bring those in, start believing in them. Inspire other people to believe in them and then execute on them like crazy because ideas are cheap, but the execution of ideas is what makes all this worth it.” 

Ankur: Hello everyone, Welcome to another episode of ZeroToExit, this is Ankur. 

In today’s show I am very excited to have Chet Kapoor, The Chairman and CEO of DataStax. He is a proven leader and innovator in the tech industry with more than 20 years in leadership at innovative software and cloud companies, including Apigee, Google, IBM, BEA Systems, NeXT, and others. As Chairman and CEO of Apigee, he led company-wide initiatives to build Apigee into a leading technology provider for digital business. Chet successfully took Apigee public before the company was acquired by Google in 2016. 

If you’re an entrepreneur and technologist,  who wants to understand how a second time CEO is helping connect developers to the power and scale of open source software and cloud database-as-a-service, you don’t want to miss this episode.

Ankur: Hi Chet, Welcome to the show.

Chet: Hello Ankur, Thank you very much. I have been  looking forward to talking with you. 

Ankur: Yeah, likewise, I know it took a couple of weeks to get this whole thing scheduled. I know you’re a busy man. Really appreciate you taking the time. First of all, saying congratulations to you and the DataStax teams, on the recent Goldman Sachs’ investment.

Chet: Thank you.It is awesome to have Goldman, joined the DataStax journey, we obviously have been in business for a while and, I’ve been at DataStax for 18 months and it was like We(DataStax) had a very strong P and L (Profit and Loss) but didn’t actually  the money, but  when we started talking to Goldman, we thought a great partnership would emerge and it’s already been very successful, just in the last month).

Ankur: That’s pretty awesome. I am starting to see more and more investments by hedge funds, PE firms and  IBs, in sort of the tech startup ecosystem. Is this just something I’m seeing or are you seeing a pattern as well in the recent past?

Chet: I think there’s a pattern here. And I think what a lot of, I actually started seeing it almost seven years ago, I want to say six years ago, where maybe even eight, where I saw a lot of Wall Street investment firms. And come in earlier and earlier into, and doing late-stage deals and you see a lot more of that happening because what they wanted was they wanted more deal flow. And they wanted to actually go ahead and, and, dip into the private world as well as know which ones to double down  on the public world. So that is actually well-proven out. and that works for really good growth companies.    I think PE companies are starting to go a little earlier as well because I think they’re realizing that consolidation is something that CIOs  want, and especially in the B2B space.

So there’s a lot of that happening as well. I mean, I generally think that this comes from demand. Right. And the demand is there for investment banks, as well as for PS to do what they do. So I think this will continue for quite some time to come. 

Ankur: Yeah. This is great. I think there are just so many innovative ways, .. fresh and new funds that are coming into the tech ecosystem, which obviously bodes well for the industry and the entrepreneurs. 

Chet: There’s, you know, there’s one other thing Ankur!. It’s interesting. It’s not just the heavies as I call them. It’s not people with 2, 4, 6, 8 billion dollars.. It’s also  what I call the microphones, right? 25-30 million dollar  funds, where you have people who are good investors who have a good track record in investors, as well as who are good operators, kind of coming together and saying, we’re going to disrupt it from the bottom up and not just from the top down. So I think a lot of that is starting to happen as well, which I think is great. Just getting fresh blood and rethinking investors can help entrepreneurs is always awesome. 

Ankur: Yeah, it certainly is. You know, I want to start by talking a little bit about your(Chet’s)journey at Apigee. You know,You took reins in 2007, took the company public, and you were also Instrumental in the MNA with Google. Just starting with your journey at Apogee. In one of your talks, you  talked about the three phases of a startup, and I’ve heard all kinds of phases, never heard of this one..( CHUCKLES..)  love for you to take us through these phases. , you call it thelaugh test, the litmus test and the machine. Take us through the Apigee’s journey through these three phases.

Chet: Yeah. By the way, I use those three phases quite a bit on many different things, and there’s no reason why it cannot apply to a startup and the different phases of a company. I think the laugh test is simple, right? It is. If you’re in the B2B world, it is getting your first five customers. Right? You think about your product. 

You think about the problem you’re trying to solve. You start with a mission in mind. You think about it a lot. You actually write some code and then you have to go off and actually get some to use it. That is literally the laugh test. And generally, by the way, it’s friends and families, right. 

You’re generally like, paying people to use your product, not the other way around, but the point is people are using it. And that’s what the laugh test is. You have to go through it and it is a struggle, right? Because everybody’s like, you know, you’re a small little company. It doesn’t matter what your reputation is. You have to go through the laugh tests and that’s basically what you’re proving to yourself in this journey is that we will not be with 30% off base, 100% off base on our thesis to change the world. Right. That’s what the laugh test is. 

Explaining the Litmus Test

And then the litmus test or what I call the chemistry exam sometimes comes across as, when you go from the first five customers or the first five enterprises or the first five developers, it doesn’t matter whether you have a developer focus or you have an enterprise focus, you then go to 20 of them. And now you’re going beyond your inner circle. You have to start talking to people you don’t know. And it is not just the founder. But there are other people as well talking about the value proposition and the product needs to start, start speaking for itself and you go and get some traction.

Now you’re like, okay. I think we have a good product in the lab test in the chemistry exam. You’re like, I think we may have a business, right? That’s the takeaway from the second one. And then as you merge out of the litmus test, You see now we do not need to create the machinery. This is when you say I’m going to start thinking about creating a scalable business.

“I actually think more companies die there than anywhere else because they get too far ahead of scaling. And my take is you should always be at 70 to 80% of where you should be wherever, whenever you think you need a hundred people do it with 60, 70, 80 people, right? Because you want to make sure that you’re stretching yourself all the way through when you do that.”

Explaining the Machine Test

And that machinery is about creating the next hundred customers, the next hundred developers, the next 500 developers, the next 10,000 developers  and then, by the way, you go in and scale the machinery in different ways. But I think. Every startup was through those three phases and, for some, the laugh test takes four years and to run Apigee, It took four years for us to get through the laugh test because we had this financial event that happened from 2007 to 2008. Right. And so we had the opportunity to raise money between Bear Stearns  going down and Lehman brothers going down.

So that doesn’t happen very often, right. For some, the laugh test is three months and that’s okay. You just have to be on your journey. 

Ankur: Yeah.Really well said, and not to mention that, back in the days, I mean, APS were so hard to build and sell and to explain, on your course to pass, I suppose, the laugh test, how were you able to articulate the value prop of this thing called APIs, were, which were not even a thing back in the days.

Chet: So, let me start by saying I’m a Distributed Computing  Person, right. I’ve been in  object-oriented programming. This will be coming for a long time and specifically on middleware right in the late nineties. And so I was a firm believer in SOA( Services oriented architectures) and I absolutely understood it. I absolutely believed in it but the problem was service or architecture did not have a business reason to exist, right? It was a technology construct and there was nothing driving SOA to make it happen other than some of the large vendors saying it’s a good thing to do. So, our biggest thing that we had to do  was we wanted to talk about a business construct and the business construct happened.

It started actually, believe it or not, with the introduction of the iPhone. And so, people went off and actually said, Hey!We were actually going to do mobile apps, but the mobile apps were  really simple to use. They were all actually on this device. Right. And it, they were not accessing back ends.The moment they started, we went to iPhone meetups and the moment they started wanting to access the backend, those back ends need to be exposed. And the way they wanted to be exposed was through APIs.And the biggest insight we had was that “ don’t worry about exposing functionality, think about consuming functionality”.

So  APIs  were a construct to get that going. So that’s where it started. And then obviously we went to the B2B world and then we said, developers are cool. Google maps and Twitter were taking off. And so we went to the business to develop a world, but the interesting thing was the “ BIG ARC” around all of this.

We started with the concept of API products, but the big arc was what is the bigger thing the CIO is thinking about? The CEO is thinking about? and they were all thinking about digital transformations. They were thinking about how to change their business, whether it was working with developers and innovating, whether it was changing their B2B relationships or whether it was talking to the consumers through “ Mobile devices”. Right. And we actually hooked onto that bigger wave and made sure we talked about their business needs rather than the technology platform we were providing. 

Ankur: Got it!. Was there a point during the journey where either you and the founding team felt like, oh shit, like this is not resonating? We may have to  go back on the drawing board pivot, or was that a pivot point where you felt like that’s it we’ve passed this litmus test, 50 customers loving the product and RR through the roof, in either direction, love to get your take on sort of what were the inflection points?

Chet: When I took over Sonoa systems, it was called Sonoa systems. It was not called the Apigee. We had a good idea that focusing on SOA was actually from a technical point of view was a really good idea. It was great. We were bringing networking and middleware together. The architecture was really good, but we knew that the value prop.(proposition) was not crisp and clear, and it was going to be really hard for us to create a scalable business. So we hunted and thought a lot. We landed upon API APIs, like I said, the iPhone launched helped. and then we started having discussions with folks.

So,our pivot happened in 2008, 2009, but once we started thinking about API APIs and services from a consumption point of view, then there was no holding back. We started a project called Apigee. We renamed the company to be Apigee. We went off and started having discussions with enterprises. Developers really liked our product. And then we were just, then it was just tweaking. we were going to the cloud. I mean, MTV said, we love what you’re doing, but we want to run AWS. And that was 2009. 

So, it was one big pivot. And then, by the way, you’re always changing and moving things, right? 10, 15 degrees, every two orders or every quarter, but there was no massive pivot other than we wanted to be an API company. 

Ankur: Love it!. One of your key takeaways and you’ve talked about this often about startups, success and now, you said it’s all about people, culture, and execution. Give us some key insights on how you identify and retain top talent? Because it’s, it’s, again, it’s a people business, right? People will build the right product for the right market.

Chet: I have always heldthree words that are very close to me. and they are “Believe, inspire and execute” . And you start from you at a personal level, have to believe. Do you have to believe something to the core, which is why I always start with, be clear on what problem you’re trying to solve, and make sure it’s not yours?

“ Don’t make it about you, make it about the person who’s using your product or the person who’s buying your product. I always say I love building product businesses or delivering products that developers love and change the trajectory of the enterprises they work for. Right. So have a really clear idea of what you believe in.”

And it’s got to be really core. Then you have to inspire people. You have to inspire people to believe in what you believe in, but then they have to take it to the next level because there’s an execution game, that is, you have to write the right code. You have to test the code. You have to deliver the code.

Somebody has to implement it. Somebody has to sell it. Somebody has to support it. All the functions come into being. But the most important thing after believing in inspiring is that you have to execute right? That, I mean, all the people that actually bet on your product, whether they are developers or enterprises, actually have to see the outcomes that they were hoping for,  a better mobile app, more Doritos, whatever it might be.Right. the, whatever you want to do, you go off and do, but you have to go off and execute. So, the three words are “Belief. Inspire and Execute”. I think mission orientation is really important, right? Because you want people who want to be on a mission. It is more than a job to them. That doesn’t mean they have to work insane hours, but they have to believe in what they’re trying to do.

The last thing I’ll tell you is, I read this Harvard business review article a long time ago and it ended with a very simple statement thatI(Chet) remember forever real leaders in a phase,  move the h   an heart. And I think that is the essence of leadership, right? It is not just me bringing your mind along. It is me actually bringing your heart long for the journey. And so, I try to do that every day because you can get stuck in the operational details of running a company, but I inspire other leaders to do that as well. 

Ankur: I was reading about, I don’t know, have you heard of, Chip Wilson, The Lululemon’s co-founder…

Chet: I’ve heard of him, but I’ve not read any of his stuff yet …

Ankur: Yeah, Yeah. Tremendous guy. You should listen to him, read him whatever. But, you know, he talks about, I mean, Lululemon’s apparently has got a cult-like culture, right?

Very mission-oriented. Every employee has got to go through this, apparently, three to six months of training, goal setting, measurement, and the idea would be like, when you come out on the other side, like you are really mission-driven, like you said, because you know, at the end of the day, The startups are a grind, you know, unless you really, to the heart in your heart of heart, believe in what you’re doing the company’s you are in,  is not going to be successful. So really well said, I just think that the startups are in such a go go go mode. We don’t spend enough time in training our people to really have that orientation.

Chet: By the way, I would, I would take exception to the word “cult”, by the way, you know, just because I think I call it. 

Ankur: Yeah.

Chet: I actually think, in general, but then even for them, I think I call it a more generic style of play. 

Ankur: Yeah,

Chet: Right. We live in the bay area. The warriors have a very different style of play than the Lakers do.Right. It’s a very distinct style of play. Right. And I firmly believe that you will always inspire people to have something that if I can take a basketball analogy, it is called the “No look pass”. Right. And if you, if you dissect the No look pass, it’s just three components. They are world-class players. You, you cannot teach somebody to shoot a three-pointer right. This is a world-class team and so people should know how to play basketball, or people should know how to do their function in a startup. They must practice together. Right. Really. And they must practice a lot together.But the most important thing is, “Winning is not about individual stats but it’s about the team winning”. Right. So,  We talk a lot about the NOLA pass at Apigee, at DataStax. And my take is it’s all about our style of play and the faster you adapt to your style of play, the more successful you will be. And more importantly, the most successful the company and the mission will be. 

Ankur: Yeah. Yeah. Well said, , yeah, like the basketball analogy. We are indeed different teams, Lakers, and warriors. Are they flop? We don’t, they want, we don’t. , but I guess they are in the playoffs. We are not, so there is a big difference.

Chet: Well, if you’re going to be, there’s going to be wins and losses, right. And that, that doesn’t mean you necessarily tweak your style of play.  You’re not going to consistently do something. You take any championship team. I mean, you can only do it that much and then you have to keep reinventing yourself. Right? 

Ankur: Absolutely, so a couple of more questions on sort of the same thread, and then obviously want to talk about data, because that’s what you’re all about now. So, you know, obviously one of the key themes of the podcast is ZeroToExit. And, you know, you took the company in 2015, then obviously Google, acquired Apigee.

And that way you’re at two exits, in my opinion, this is something I’m always asking are founders, CEOs, entrepreneurs, when do you decide when to exit, you know, a downside, there’s a fear of FOMO and you know, you could have been 30 billion,50 billion,100 billion dollar company like Twilio, but then you want to do right by the teams, et cetera. How do you strike a balance and knowing what you know now, would you have done it? 

Chet: Absolutely. I wouldn’t have, [a point of statement change], I would have done it. And so, Yeah. So the first thing is let’s talk about an IPO. I don’t think an IPO is an exit. It’s a financing event and it’s a very massive financing event. By the way, Good liquidity for early investors, as well as for early employees who put a lot of sweat and blood and tears into it. 

But it’s a massive marketing event and an investment, right? That’s what it is. When somebody buys a company, “I think the simple question you have to ask yourself, at least I did a lot was: Does this accelerate the mission? Or does this  slow down the mission? Right? Because I think it is less about, I want to run an independent company that is listed on the stock exchange,that grows to be a $50 billion company. I’m not, at least for me. I’m not convinced, that’s how I measure my day. Right. My take is I’m on a mission. This accelerates my mission, or does it slow down my mission? And there was zero doubt in our mind at that point in 2016 that this, whatever we did would accelerate our mission.

There were many things that went into it. and I had my conviction by the summer of 2016, when we had a couple of offers coming in that was the best thing for Apigee as a company in the market that we were in.So my, my feedback or my advice to any entrepreneur thinking about this is, think about “ Whether it helps the mission or does it slow down the mission? Because if it helps the mission, you should do it. You will feel better about it. And that’s how you figure out timing. But there are times when you don’t want to do it because you’re too small and large companies have a tendency to crush small companies, right.But you have, if you have enough velocity, a large company, it will  actually help you become much bigger. 

Ankur: Yeah. It makes a lot of sense. You spend quite a bit of time at Google, obviously evangelizing, managing the product, the platform w what is now become, what are the product name is, at Google, I think Google API platform. Do I have that right yet?  Google  is mega-scale. Give me your top three learnings on scaling software, people, products, having seen Google and action. 

Chet: I loved my time at Google. I just loved it and I was lucky enough to have an opportunity to meet a ton of really, really smart people that continue to change the world. Right. Sunder, Prabhakar, I mean, just, it was just, it was a phenomenal experience, right. Two things right. Intergalactic impact  and the second thing is. It’s a geeks geeky place, right. I mean, you’re solving really hard technical problems. Right. And so it’s a, it’s a great place to be lots of learnings from Google, but let me, the first thing was, extremely data-driven really, really important. “ Data beats opinions.”So always, you have to measure it constantly, right? Not the way everybody else measured it, but the way you measure it for your own business, it’s really important anduse data because it takes personalities out. To actually go off and drive decisions because it means by, by the, it doesn’t mean that you don’t have to use your instincts to do it, but let’s get a baseline of data that everybody uses.

And Google is not the only company that does that. I think Facebook has a lot of it, Netflix, a lot of it, by the way, Amazon is very, very good at it, butI saw it firsthand at Google and it was very, very impressive. the second thing was to give people the space to fail and iterate and, and by the way, there’s a time component that Google can afford that a lot of other companies can’t right, because it is highly successful, but don’t only just, just, don’t only say here’s a project and you have three months, here’s a project. Go and try it. Put a milestone of three months, but it could become six months,  It could become nine months. Right. But if the project is important enough, let people feel literate as they go forward. I think Google does a great job with that. There are many, many things that Google has not been successful at, but there are many things that Google has been successful at.

Right. And I think they give space to people. and the last thing was, you know, I think a lot of things have changed in our work environment over the last three years. And I mean, small companies, big companies, right. And  one of the big things is you, you want to make sure that people don’t forget that, When they come to work for a company they’re not coming to work for a country, they’re citizens of a country, but they come to work. It’s at-will employment for a company and the company is focused on building great products.Also, the company needs to be ethical. It needs to be trustworthy. It needs to do all the things that we are learning about our culture.

But at the end of the day, the company is for profit. The organization has shareholders. It serves the shareholders, its employees and its users and Google is, by the way, I think Google navigates through some of that. Sometimes, well, sometimes not so well, but they’re on the bleeding edge of that.Right. And they are literally on the bleeding edge of that. So one of the learnings was how do you do this? And the answer is thoughtfully and be prepared to fail because there is no prescription on how to go and do DNI, or how do you solve how much a company should be involved in a political issue or not.

Right? There is no prescription. You just have to figure this out as you go along. But it was great to see that at Google, at that massive scale, 

Ankur: Yeah, I love it. yeah, speaking of scale, and this is kind of a perfect segue into the next segment, but I want to talk about big data. So, you know, obviously, Data is at the heart of the enterprise and applications today. It’s the new oil or rather the new battery tech, depending on where you are from, what are some of the biggest data challenges in the industry today?

Chet: I think the two things we talk about, right. One is the TCO debt spiral, right? If you think about it, 80% or more of the budget. In an enterprise, actually, it goes into maintaining products, and while that’s happening, data is growing like crazy. Right. Everybody wants to use it in one way or form.

So there’s this, this is TCO keeps the total cost of ownership continuing to increase as time goes on. So I, I just, that’s something that all CEOs face a lot. And then on top of that, because of it, because data is growing and you’re spending, you know, on what we call it to run the business projects, you have this innovation stalemate. Enterprises are going to the cloud, but they have very limited cloud-native architectures. And so without these modern technologies, it is difficult for them to innovate. And so what lands up happening is there, they get stuck between the death spiral and the innovation stalemate, and they’re inching ahead.

And so our art, my discussions with CEOs and even with developers is to actually be bolder on how quickly they can modernize. And go to a different point of view, even if it is on-premise, but have a different point of view on how they solve the debt spiral and the innovation stalemate. 

Ankur: Yeah! Very well said. Data is obviously the heart of a lot of the applications and because of the digital transformation, you’re seeing an explosion of the number of databases and data stores, I believe data stacks.  is, based on the Apache Cassandra open-source technology, give a quick primer on sort of the different types of data store, big data stores, where does sort of Apache Cassandra fall into that?

Like most sequel type applications versus classic RDBMS data lakes, like snowflake kind of distills it down for our listeners. How do you break down the data stores that we see  in the industry today?

Chet: That’s great. That’s a great question. By the way, There’s a lot, because the good news is we’re not the only ones who see the debt spiral or the stalemate, right? I mean, there are plenty of others that see it. “I think about the world in just two parts on the data side, right? There’s what I call the deep lane and the fast lane”, 

Mr. Chet’s Ideology about the world classification on the basis of data side

The deep plane is all about serving the analyst, data scientist. It’s a human, And so this is where. Databricks snowflake Tara data, Cloudera, right! This is the old what you would call OLAP space. And, but it’s all about serving the data, scientists, doing ML models, and things like that.

And that’s going really fast. And primarily because there’s a lot of innovation happening by, companies like Databricks and not Databricks is not the only company and not a snowflake, the only company the most visible, but they are doing some  great things on what we call the deep lane. And that is going really fast. That is doing good. That’s doing really well. But second, the second lane is what we call the fast lane, which is where we live. And traditionally it may be, may have been called the OLTB world, “ the transactional world”   that serves not an h   a being. It serves an app, what we call the modern data app.

And that’s what it is. So it’s all the different components to actually serve an app. It doesn’t matter what, it’s a web app, it’s a mobile app, it’s an IoT app doesn’t matter. And so we live in what we call the fast lane. And our take is to serve the fast lane. You must have something called the open data stackand the open data stack has to have a few things that you need to just think through. Right? One is it needs to be Kubernetes based. We talked about being cloud-native, being really important. Secondly, it has to be a developer base , the developer already, right? Kubernetes based developer ready?

Because developers at the end of the day, just want the APIs. That’s what matters to them. And the last part has to be cloud-delivered. You have to find a way to simplify operations and reduce TCO. So we actually bring these three components in, what we call the open data stack to the fast lane.

Now, there are many other things that go beyond that, right? Cassandra. If you’re doing something that needs availability and scale, and I don’t know why an enterprise would do something that does not require availability and scale, Cassandra is the “ best database in town”. 

Ankur: Yeah. 

Chet: I mean, any application of scale  uses Cassandra, right? Netflix, Starbucks, Verizon, Apple, right. They just, it is 75% of the fortune 500. Land up using Cassandra, but it’s not just Cassandra. Right? If you think about all the innovation that’s happened on the deep plane, it’s also, how do you make sure that Cassandra actually becomes serverless? because you separate compute and storage, you decrease TCO by 76% because you’re not provisioning to scale.

So we’ve taken Cassandra and actually innovated on it. And our Cassandra as a service is called Astra and we call it Astra serverless because it actually reduces TCO by 76%. So we’re definitely trying to deliver on the two things we talked about earlier, which are to reduce your TCO and increase your developer productivity. 

Ankur: Yeah. Very well said, open-source ecosystem.I mean, since, back in the days when I was a developer till now, like continues to gain a lot of momentum, we see a lot of enterprise software, a lot of success stories. Not a lot of big hits either. We know what success and the good looks like, but if you’re building a product or a company based on open-source software, what are some of the challenges that one needs to be mindful of?

Chet: OSS (Open Source System)is not a business. Open source is about solving problems that people have. A group of people come together and they say, we have “ like problems”. We are “like-minded” and we may not be like-minded, but we want to have  similar problems. So let’s go off and solve them in a community.

And why do you do it in a community? Because you can learn from each other. You get better  technology that everybody can use, and you can keep contributing to it in a very open way because there’s a journey right. There may be 4 people that start and of the four committers  you may actually end up with 30 committers, right over a period of time. So,“open source actually helps with innovation and it helps with high quality software”. A lot of companies have to realize that, by the way, it can also become a really big lead generation source. If a project is very big, you can actually go back to those people who are using the product and say, you’re doing this-Can we give you something else? Can we sell you support? Can we sell you XYZ or ABC on top of it? So. It is really important for companies to understand that open source is it can be the, you can have an open-source core, and we certainly have it, the DataStax in a massive way, but we are building a business around it, And giving customers what they need from an availability point of view, from a supportability point of view and all the other things that they need to actually make themselves successful. 

Ankur: Yeah. You talk a lot about the rising importance of Kubernetes and open API, serverless, et cetera. I was just curious, and I don’t know if you have a perspective on this or not, Kubernetes, just actually a fairly recent phenomenon and just something happened where in a matter of a couple of years, it zipped past every competitor,  captures the entirety of the market. What happened there? Why did it become the de facto operating system for cloud management? 

Chet: (MR. Chet’s Perspective On  KUBERNETES) I think we see this happen a lot. I think some people call it the tipping point. Right. And you can never predict the tipping point, but it actually, you can see it in, when you see it in a very mirror and retrospective, I think there are a lot of people that know Kubernetes far better than I do, but at least seeing, watching it while I was inside Google, I think Having Google take some of their best practices and actually say, this is the way you do can transition made a massive difference. I think, and the way Google did it was going off and actually doing it very openly, made all the difference as well. And then getting all the other companies on board was just as important.

I think Kubernetes was also the right time, right place. A lot of open-source or standards actually happen too soon. And then they don’t have the energy to survive the next five years. but I think Kubernetes has hit at the right time. What is interesting is that almost every enterprise I talk to says, they’re going to go to it. but they’re slowly getting to it because this actually does make them really rethink their entire stack. Right. It’s not just let me take workloads and put them on Kubernetes. It’s hard. Let me take my workloads, modernize them, put them on Kubernetes and maybe start on my private data center and then move them to the public cloud.

So, Kubernetes has definitely achieved the goal, Google wanted. This is, it facilitated the move to cloud, but probably a little slower than what we expected when I was at Google cloud, but it’s definitely done, it has got Mindshare, like it’s a foregone conclusion, right? Kubernetes is the standard as you go forward. 

Ankur: Yeah, absolutely. Yeah. We, in our business also talked to a lot of customers and you know, there’s still a fair bit of lift and shift out there. But people are just recognizing the importance of leveraging Kubernetes containers to build and ship applications faster. It’s fascinating for me.

I mean, I’ve been selling security to big, large financial institutions for years, what used to take them back years now they do it in weeks and months and I’m like, have you all the same people, like what happened here.[MR. CHET LAUGHS] Right. But the rate of innovation is, you know, obviously, significantly, increased, Love to get your perspective. What does the future look like? This deep lane and fast lane? First time I’ve heard of that because I don’t live data every day. What does the future look like? Obviously for the industry in general, but for data stacks as well, maybe five years, 10 years now, deep lanes are going to get deeper. Fast lanes are going to get faster. Or is there, the third lane that’s going to come up.

Chet: I think every large company will want to do both. But I don’t think it’s about what a company wants to do. It’s what the future of data is!. And I think if you take an outside-in point of view, the future of data is without limits, Developers will have the freedom to run the data on any device in any cloud.And they don’t have to worry about how it happens.

Every enterprise will have access to global data needed to deeply understand the user. So at DataStax for us, it’s really simple, right? Our short-term goals, long-term goals are all the same. [MR. CHET FURTHER EXPRESSING DataStax’s GOAL] “Deliver products that developers love and change the trajectory of enterprises because developers are the kingpins”, right? They are the ones who are building, whether, whether you’re building an app, whether you’re doing something on the deep, deep plane at the end of the day, if you’re doing something with code, I’m using the broad definition of developers, you have to make sure that it is something that developers really like using, and it changes their productivity.

And then because productivity has changed, you can actually decrease the TCO and change the trajectory of enterprises. And we want to do all of that. We want to do all of that, but removing the common barriers right. Of simple things like availability, scale cost, complexity, and cloud lock-in. 

Ankur: Yeah, very well. The last question for you, as I look at your career, right? Like you’ve been at the cusp of the next wave of technology trends, every phase of your career and technology has changed significantly. It’s not the same as it used to be, obviously, 10 years ago. But yet you’ve kept up with the latest and the greatest, give our listeners some of your learning hacks when you moved from Apigee to debt or Google, the DataStax, did you get yourself like a Coursera course on Kubernetes and data and et cetera, like, how do you learn?.

Chet: Revealing about his learning process

I try to keep myself very current and I try to make sure that I’m an early adopter of technologies. So whatever it is, I try to play with it early and often, continue to rework and rethink how I work with people, how I work with technology or all of those. So, continue to learn in whatever way that works for you. The second thing is 

“if you want to learn something new, you have to create some space for yourself to learn something new, but also make sure you talk to people who are experts because they may shorten your learning cycle in a massive way”.

So your question about the Coursera course, [The answer is..] No, I talk to people who actually have done Kubernetes, who’ve done data and had some great learnings from them. So be vulnerable and say, “I want to learn”.But the most important thing I would tell your listeners is….. 

Mr. Chet’s Message to the listeners

Innovation is happening everywhere. Right. You can come up with, you can actually walk into a Starbucks, go to a place, a good restaurant, You can go to see how airlines do it, and you can take learnings from everything that people are doing and bring it back to what you are trying to do. So don’t think that the only learnings are going to have happened from watching other tech companies or learning from other tech companies. Innovations are happening everywhere, and ideas are everywhere. So bring those in, start believing in them. Inspire other people to believe in them and then execute on them like crazy because ideas are cheap, but execution of ideas is what makes all this worth it’. 

Ankur: Awesome. that brings us to the final, rapid fire segment chat. I don’t think we have talked much about it. I’m going to ask you three or four quick questions, rapid fire. Yes or no. You don’t know what those are. All right. I’d love to get your take. All right. Out of all the technology trends in the industry, which one excites you the most?

Chet: “AI Apps!”.

Ankur: We’ve had 24 shows so far and  I’ve asked this question to a lot of my guests. This is the single biggest consistent response across the board.. “AI” .So, 

Chet: But I want to be very clear it’s AI apps. 

Ankur: Okay. Got it. 

Chet: So,I am very specific. It is like  “AI enabled”  apps. So,I want the apps here to be smart. 

Ankur: So I guess the next question asks itself, which is the next killer AI app that hasn’t been built yet?

Chet: One that reads my mind. [SUDDENLY LAUGHING VOICE APPEARS]

Ankur: Got it. All right. If you had to spend a day with any, past, present  leader, in the industry, who would you pick?

Chet: I would not pick a leader. By the way, I’m grateful. 

Ankur: Individual? 

Chet: I’m humbled to the fact that I actually do have access to a lot of them and I get a chance to meet with a lot of them.I would spend more time with my father. 

Ankur: All right!. Last question. Who’s winning the NBA?

Chet: You know, it’s funny.! I hope the Phoenix Suns win because I think, you know, because they’re coming from behind. They were not that good last year. They’re really good this year. I really like the underdogs to come in and actually do some great things and win. So, I really hope they win. 

Ankur: Chris Paul is playing with, right? Yeah. And he, I think he hasn’t won anything and yeah, What a story! I mean, he deserves one. Yeah, I guess,I needed a team to back up, I guess I’m going to follow Phoenix Suns.

Chet: They did. They’re doing really well in the west, so I’m just  glad that they are picking up steam as they go along. 

Ankur: Yeah. Awesome. Great. Well that wraps up this episode of zero to exit chat. It’s been a pleasure to have you on the pod. We appreciate you taking the time. Best wishes as you scale DataStax to new Heights. Thank you so much. 

Chet: Thank you, Ankur. This was fun. 

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