2015 is certainly an exciting time for NoSQL database vendors Aerospike. 2014 saw them open source their technology, post groundbreaking benchmarks and add a whole raft of updates to their platform. Today, they’ve announced that Silicon Valley veteran John Dillon will be stepping into the breach as their new CEO. Dillon has 30 years of experience in the database tech field under his belt, having previously been the CEO at Salesforce, EngineYard and Hyperion. His resume also boasts a leadership position at Oracle, during the time they went from multi-million to multi-billion profit margins. Needless to say, he has big plans for this promising company.
Speaking to John earlier in the week, one of the things that stuck out most was his commitment to better marketing. “The biggest challenge I’m going to put on the marketing department is to make sure we’re not a company that’s full of hype,” he said. “There’s sort of the notion in Silicon Valley and tech communities around the world that if you brag a lot and put out a lot of press releases, everybody is going to think you’ve won the battle. One of the reasons why I joined Aerospike is this is about better technology, and I wanted to join the company that I thought had the best potential and the longest term opportunity to tackle.”
Even the most casual followers of the database tech market will have noticed a marked trend towards news announcements and press releases which claim any given technology is the best, the biggest, and the fastest. But when you have every player in the market making these grand claims, the power of these assertions is lost. This is something Dillon is keenly aware of- “Everybody is saying “We’re really fast, we’re really scaleable, we’re really fault-tolerant, we’re really great- and everybody in the world is adopting our technology”. Well, that can’t be true if all of the companies are saying exactly the same thing.”
“What we have at Aerospike is a technology that works really, really well and the customers love it because we support them and we provide kind of a TLC that’s necessary.” Indeed, Aerospike have a rich history with giving back to the developer community; their last raft of updates was focused around giving back to the developer, bragging an impressive roster of new clients– as well as 33 key updates that the open source community gave back to them in return. “I think that’s a better approach these days than spending all the money on marketing,” Dylan noted. “Developers want vendors that are helpful, that have technology that works, that have support and resources that are willing to engage to help them tackle problems that they couldn’t tackle with other technologies. That’s who we are and I think that’s probably a marked difference from what I’ve seen in terms of of reviewing some of what I call “First Generation” NoSQL Database Vendors. They raise money at ridiculous valuations and then they spend it on marketing. I told Monica [Pal, Aerospike’s CMO] that we’re going to spend our money on building great technology and servicing our clients. It’s a little bit of a different notion but we think long term it’s probably a better strategy.”
So, if Aerospike’s focus moving forward isn’t going to be on breaking the bank with the marketing budget, what is it going to be? “Well we’re experiencing rapid growth and my focus is going to be to maintain a high degree of customer intimacy and customer support and satisfaction,” Dillon explained. “In other words we’re going to succeed 100% with every customer- that’s probably the core value, it’s already here in the company, but I intend to reinforce it. What we will also do is gradually tackle additional market places that have the characteristics that require higher data volumes, unbelievable scalability requirements and low latency and reliability and we’re just going to tackle one market after the other, do those really, really well.
“We have a pretty darn good database, but we just don’t think that trying to get everyone to adopt at once the right kind of focus. So I enjoy the press releases where other NoSQL vendors are saying “we’re opening offices all over the world”- I think that’s a great way to spend a whole bunch of money and have very little to show for it.We tend to tackle sort of a market at a time. We’d rather do fewer customers and do them well than try to spread ourselves too thin.”
Overall, the plan is not world domination- yet. It’s continuing to do what they do very well, and gradually trying to get more people to adopt their user-cenrtic approach. “We’re not really trying to save the world, but there’s something satisfying in being able to provide technology that actually meets user requirements and takes a headache off their plate.”