Monday, November 18, 2013

JBoss Recollections - Part 5 - The Business Team

My daughters, Mollie and Allison, in
Neuchatel, Switzerland waving the JBoss flag
I have covered other JBoss Recollections previously: 1. Early Years, 2. Forming the Strategy, 3. Tech Team, and 4. VC Funding.

Of course any real business needs business people to drive success and growth. Here were the key hires by date and some stories behind each. Looking back, I still think we made the right decisions on each of these great people as well as the timing and order of their hiring. That was one of the many lucky things that happened to make JBoss successful.

Marc and Ben
Ben Sabrin - 2001 - Ben was at JBoss before I got there. I've talked about Ben in the earlier recollections, but I would be remiss to not mention his significant contributions to JBoss. He figured out that customers wanted to buy from JBoss before almost anyone.

Tom Leonard - 12/03 - I knew that the key thing about making JBoss successful as a business was credibility. And there were two major ways to earn that credibility from a business perspective - Significant Partnerships and Significant Deals. And I happened to know the one person in the world who could help us the most - Tom Leonard.  Tom and I had worked together at Bluestone where he had almost single handedly
Tom
brought in most of the Partner business. He also had the ability to close large deals. And best of all, customers loved him. He closed Unisys, HP, Novell, Iona, McKesson and many others. Tom and I were also the ones to establish the relationships with Red Hat and Oracle that led to the eventual acquisition. I went with him on many of those meetings and never paid for a meal ;-)

Cary Smith, CFO - 1/04 - So we had a bunch of money from VC's, and we needed someone to start having some ownership of that as well as the budgeting process. Cary came from Earthlink and brought the discipline and experience needed to plan and run our operation. This was critical because we tried to operate the business on a relative cash flow break even basis, and knowing where we really stood on cash, collections, planned expansion when growing from 6 to 200 in less than 3 years is tough.

Joe
Joe McGonnell, Marketing - 2/04 - David Skok, our lead VC, had helped develop the strategy of a marketing driven funnel. I had worked with Joe at Bluestone as well. He not only knew the middleware market, but he was a pragmatic marketer that who was responsible for putting together the people, systems, and processes of a market driven funnel approach. Joe made a major career bet on this company at a very early stage and moved from New Jersey to Atlanta to be one the keys to our success. He somehow implemented David Skok's scratchings below:

Rob
Rob Bearden, Sales & Marketing to COO - 4/04 - It was clear that JBoss was growing fast and significant companies wanted to do business with us. We needed to put in place a way to keep up with the demand and take advantage of the opportunity in front of us. I still remember meeting Rob in the Atlanta airport the first time. I instantly fell in love with him. I felt he was so right for the job of getting us organized, disciplined and aggressive in going after the market. He would bring the right amount of professionalism to our organization and make us credible. He did many smart things in his early days like leverage existing talents like Ben and Tom. He also asked Matt Quinlan to put together training for sales and SE's so we could scale the organization. As the company grew he became the COO, which was exactly the plan that Marc had laid out when he was hired. I remember lots of stories about Rob. Between taking a vow of no meat or alcohol during Lent, to his farm truck he drove to work with 4 tires in the back, to his Monday morning sales team calls he was a colorful driver of the JBoss business culture.

Brad
Brad Murdoch - 7/04 - We were growing so fast, we needed help in organizing the operations of the company - especially our delivery of training and support. I still remember my first interview on the phone with Brad - the energetic Scotsman practically leapt over the phone from San Diego with his enthusiasm and drive. He was a key person in creating the type of credibility with customers to earn major contracts for our young company. For example, he was critical to gaining what was the largest deal of the company from Nokia by committing his personal support and giving their executives his personal cell phone number.

Shaun, I think...
Shaun Connolly - 10/04 - I had tried to convince Marc of the need for Product Management for quite a while, and I finally wore him down by introducing him to Shaun (another former Bluestone guy). Shaun learned the open source game at JBoss, and how to work with open source developers who were very head strong and geographically dispersed. He later helped Spring in their very similar growth efforts, and is currently at Hortonworks. There are two great things about Shaun. His humble nature, and his son. Billy has built two apps now for RunSignUp while in high school. He is far, far brighter than his father. Shaun and I are a lot alike in that we have both gotten to the point where neither of actually do anything.

Rich Friedman - 12/04 - Rich is the guy that made JBoss scalable as a business. He created the JBoss Operations
Rich's baby...
Network, which was the key value-add that made JBoss acceptable and enticing to the Operations departments in many organizations. It allowed the sales team to justify the value-add of our Subscription Services. I still remember meeting Rich when he was interviewing at Bluestone and him opening the trunk of his car and getting out a book - there must have been a dozen programming books in his car. I am lucky to still call Rich a friend and actually collaborate with him still on RedLine13 as a side endeavor that we use as an excuse to get together still.

There were many more that I was fortunate to work with. I guess my point to this series of recollections is that there is not one single point in time, no single decision, no single person that makes a company truly successful.  It is the accumulation of a lot of hard work, a lot of learning and adapting, a real sense of a team, and of course having fun along the way.

No comments: