Latest News: Technology |  Celebrity |  Movies |  Apple |  Cars |  Business |  Sports |  TV Shows |  Geek


Filed under: News


Former Football Coach's DataStax Doubles As It Beats Oracle

Jan 6 2014, 7:16am CST | by

10 Updates
Former Football Coach's DataStax Doubles As It Beats Oracle
Photo Credit: Forbes


Full Story

Former Football Coach's DataStax Doubles As It Beats Oracle

One of the oldest cliches in the book is that if you can win at team sports, you can win at business too. You don’t have to look much farther than the spectacular failure of former Red Sox pitcher Kurt Schilling’s 38 Studios to know that this truism is not always true.

But sometimes it is true. One such case is San Mateo, Calif.-based DataStax, “the company behind [open source database] Apache Cassandra. We deliver the always on NoSQL database that allows you to have your data anywhere, everywhere, all the time — scaling to previously unimaginable levels,” claimed DataStax CEO Billy Bosworth in a January 2 interview.

And five lessons from this successful sports-star-led startup are worth heeding.

Bosworth is a football player from Pittsburgh who played on the University of Kentucky football team while studying computer science, coached high school football for 13 years, worked in Dallas at Quest Systems as relational database management systems database administrator – forming a partnership with DataStax, and in May 2011 joined DataStax as CEO when it had 19 people.

DataStax has been growing fast since — having raised nearly $84 million in venture capital. Explained Bosworth, “After I became CEO, the company ended 2011 with 26 people; ended 2012 with 81; and we now have 170.  My vision for DataStax was simple — you cannot build today’s applications on 25 year old technology from Oracle. We support an open source database, Cassandra, that has the scalability and availability that today’s applications required.”

DataStax has added customers at a rapid clip — and they are among the biggest and most complex enterprises in the world. “In 2011, we had around 20 customers and now we have over 300 — including NetFlix and eBay. Other customers don’t want to say they are using our product because they see it as a competitive advantage.” noted Bosworth.

DataStax is growing because it helps big companies run their operations without interruptions — even if their servers go down in a part of the world. Said Bosworth, “What we do is make sure that their service never goes down — even if a Hurricane Sandy knocks out a company’s servers, we keep the service running with barely a blip by shifting its operation to servers.”

DataStax makes money in a way that is common for open source companies — it sells an enterprise-strength version. According to Bosworth, “We are a strong supporter of the open source community. And we sell DataStax Enterprise which is a fully vetted and tested enterprise grade version of Cassandra with security, manageability, and mixed workload capacity. We charge customers a subscription fee based on the number of nodes per year that use the product.”

Here are the five ways that Bosworth has managed DataStax’s growth.

1. Teaming with the founders

Sometimes a startup’s cofounders have a great product idea and good sales person but they lack the skills needed to grow the company. Chances are that the startup would be better off if it could keep the founders and bring in a new CEO who has what it takes to scale the venture.

That’s what Bosworth did when he joined DataStax. As he said, “DataStax was founded in April 2012 and I arrived 13 months later. I had partnered with DataStax and after nine months they asked me to join as CEO. Matt Pfeii was the CEO and he loved working with customers while Jon Ellis was chief technology officer. Neither was interested in administrative and operational requirements so I came in to provide that. And I am happy to say that we are now partners in running the company.”

2. Proving the product concept

Once a CEO takes charge of a startup, it will only grow if it can convince a customer to use the product. That customer will only benefit the startup if the product delivers what I call a quantum value leap — e.g., it works better than anything else on the market and its price is right. If that customer then refers the startup to others, then its growth trajectory can begin.

DataStax did this by shifting its focus to listening to customers. Bosworth explained, “We were able to get a critical mass of feedback. We listened to people externally whereas before our internal technical people had been shooting from the hip.”/>/>

3. Finding the business model

Once a startup develops a product that a customer finds valuable, it starts to grow. And growing often means adding people with skills other than engineering and sales — such as marketing, human resources, and finance. For a startup to keep functioning effectively at this stage, everyone must understand what others are doing and how they fit.

For that, DataStax needed to learn how to operate a distributed company – hiring the best talent and letting those people live and work where they want. He explained, “I had to figure out how to run meetings so that the person in Akron had the same experience as the people in San Mateo. So when we had all-company meetings, I ran them out of my office with nobody else there and we did it on chat so there would be an electronic record of everything that was said.”

4. Scaling the business

Once a startup gets a solid base of customers, growth can come from expanding geographically and/or adding new product lines. Saying ‘yes’ to the right expansion bets and ‘no’ to the wrong ones is vital.

Bosworth said ‘no’ to expansion opportunities that were not consistent with DataStax’s core competencies and ‘yes’ to geographic expansion. DataStax has opened offices in Europe, the Middle East, and Africa. And it plans to expand to Latin America and Asia.

Bosworth also believes it’s critical to hire an executive team that can coach leaders who report to them. Using a sports analogy, Bosworth noted, “A star athlete who becomes a coach will either be very successful or go down in flames. It all depends on whether they can coach coaches, rather than players. To succeed, they need to know enough about the product to make common sense decisions — but the key thing is whether they can pick the right people for the right job.”

5. Setting goals and creating culture

It is important once a startup has grown to a certain size that everyone understands why they are there. Each person must understand the direction that the startup is heading and how their work helps realize this vision. And they must understand what behavior the startup considers most valuable.

Bosworth has clear ideas about both. “We have our Big Hairy Audacious Goals — they are aggressive and take a lot of effort. And we have sub-goals which are about what I am doing today that will take me closer to that vision. And we have specific traits that DataStax values — distributed, visibility, innovative, customer-first, and respect. I want our culture to attract people who like those values and repel people who don’t.

Source: Forbes


iPad Air Giveaway. Win a free iPad Air.

You Might Also Like


Sponsored Update

Update: 10

4 Firms In Iskandar Malaysia Get Facilitation Fund Totalling RM16.2 Million

Source: Malaysia Today

(Bernama) – Four companies have received the facilitation fund amounting to RM16.2 million from TERAJU@Iskandar Malaysia in an information sharing programme on business opportunities and assista ...
Source: Malaysia Today   Full article at: Malaysia Today 6 days ago, 7:42am CDT


Update: 9

Selangor’s Watergate about to explode

Source: Malaysia Today

Anwar brought Wan Azmi to meet Khalid to try to resolve this matter. Anwar supports the RM2.5 billion claim but Khalid is stubbornly sticking to the figure of RM2 ...
Source: Malaysia Today   Full article at: Malaysia Today Jul 23 2014, 4:12am CDT

More From the Web

Update: 8

GLCs told to provide RM7 billion to develop Bumiputera firms

Source: Malaysia Today

(The Malaysian Insider) – Putrajaya has directed government-linked companies (GLC) to generate RM7 billion in business opportunities for Bumiputera firms this year, Prime Minister Prime Minister Datuk ...
Source: Malaysia Today   Full article at: Malaysia Today Jul 17 2014, 2:05am CDT

Update: 7

Rafizi shows proof of Putrajaya’s hand in contentious carpet-trader loan

Source: Malaysia Today

Eileen Ng, The Malaysian Insider PKR lawmaker Rafizi Ramli today revealed documents to prove Putrajaya interfered in the RM32 million Bank Rakyat loan to ‎controversial businessman Deepak Jaikishan. Rafi ...
Source: Malaysia Today   Full article at: Malaysia Today Jul 16 2014, 2:16am CDT

Update: 6

PAS MP claims Bank Rakyat loaned carpet-trader RM215m, interest free

Source: Malaysia Today

(Malay Mail Online) – Controversial businessman Deepak Jaikishan (pic) was given a whopping RM215 million interest-free loan from state-owned Bank Rakyat, a PAS lawmaker alleged today, despite Putrajaya’s claims otherwis ...
Source: Malaysia Today   Full article at: Malaysia Today Jul 14 2014, 5:52am CDT

Update: 5

MRCB, Nusa Gapurna and PKNS settle suit over RM3 billion PJ Sentral project

Source: Malaysia Today

(The Malaysian Insider) – Malaysian Resources Corp Bhd (MRCB), Nusa Gapurna Development Sdn Bhd (NGD) and PKNS Holdings Sdn Bhd have reached an out-of-court settlement over the own ...
Source: Malaysia Today   Full article at: Malaysia Today Jun 21 2014, 2:53am CDT

Update: 4

Story behind Syed Mokhtar’s ‘RM2.25 billion tax-exempt’ Bernas deal revealed, says PKR MP

Source: Malaysia Today

(The Malaysian Insider) – An innocuous written reply in Parliament has provided a peek into the cosy relationship between the Najib administration and Malaysia’s best-known businessman, Tan Sri ...
Source: Malaysia Today   Full article at: Malaysia Today Jun 15 2014, 12:56pm CDT

Update: 3

Constitutional monarchy still murky concept

Source: Malaysia Today

After the RM4.5 billion land sale, the Sultan of Johor secured a 15% stake in MOL Access Portal (MOL) for RM396 million and took a 20% stake in Berjaya Times... READ M ...
Source: Malaysia Today   Full article at: Malaysia Today Jun 14 2014, 12:37am CDT

Update: 2

Sultan of Johor’s RM4.5 bil backlash?

Source: Malaysia Today

Has Sultan Ibrahim of Johor’s succession of big money deals over the last six months caused the tide of public opinion to turn against Johor’s royal palace? KiniBiz examines the... READ MORE ...
Source: Malaysia Today   Full article at: Malaysia Today Jun 11 2014, 8:49am CDT

Update: 1

Putrajaya denies carpet dealer given interest-free loan

Source: Malaysia Today

Eileen Ng, The Malaysian Insider Putrajaya today refuted allegations that Bank Rakyat had allowed carpet dealer Deepak Jaikishan to repay a RM32 million loan without interest following intervention from ...
Source: Malaysia Today   Full article at: Malaysia Today Jun 11 2014, 5:44am CDT

Shopping Deals


<a href="/latest_stories/all/all/31" rel="author">Forbes</a>
Forbes is among the most trusted resources for the world's business and investment leaders, providing them the uncompromising commentary, concise analysis, relevant tools and real-time reporting they need to succeed at work, profit from investing and have fun with the rewards of winning.




blog comments powered by Disqus

Latest stories

Neil Patrick Harris works with LG Electronics on Art Competition
Neil Patrick Harris works with LG Electronics on Art Competition
Emmy and Tony Award-winning actor, producer, director and modern art enthusiast Neil Patrick Harris is teaming up with LG Electronics USA for a digital Art Competition.
Miranda Kerr is Topless in new Commercial
Miranda Kerr is Topless in new Commercial
Australian model Miranda Kerr goes topless for new Jeans commercial. Watch below.
Tara Reid Survived Sharknado 2 with Sawhand
Tara Reid Survived Sharknado 2 with Sawhand
The #Sharknado2TheSecondOne movie aired Wednesday night. It as not as big on Twitter as the first one.
Kate Upton does not Get a Puppy says Verlander's Dog
Kate Upton's plea for a puppy got voted down by Justin Verlander's dog. See the photo below.

About the Geek Mind

The “geek mind” is concerned with more than just the latest iPhone rumors, or which company will win the gaming console wars. I4U is concerned with more than just the latest photo shoot or other celebrity gossip.

The “geek mind” is concerned with life, in all its different forms and facets. The geek mind wants to know about societal and financial issues, both abroad and at home. If a Fortune 500 decides to raise their minimum wage, or any high priority news, the geek mind wants to know. The geek mind wants to know the top teams in the National Football League, or who’s likely to win the NBA Finals this coming year. The geek mind wants to know who the hottest new models are, or whether the newest blockbuster movie is worth seeing. The geek mind wants to know. The geek mind wants—needs—knowledge.

Read more about The Geek Mind.