Highlights from Leadership Dinner w/ Mitchell Hashimoto

Last night, my colleagues Crystal Huang, Jen Holmstrom and I hosted Mitchell Hashimoto, founder of GGV portfolio company HashiCorp, for a leadership dinner along with several other founders and senior product executives in the software infrastructure space.  It was a great night and Mitchell was kind enough to share some insights from the first several years of HashiCorp’s rapid growth.  Here are a few of the highlights:

  • Open Source Community Management. HashiCorp has had tremendous success building very loyal and active open source communities around its products such as Vagrant, Consul, Terraform and Vault. To attract initial interest, Mitchell and his co-founder Armon Dadgar welcomed contributions from any and all, encouraging submissions and promising that they’d finish and polish the code to ensure its incorporation. Mitchell also stressed the importance of patience with most open source projects – several of HashiCorp’s popular products took a while to ramp. Lastly, Mitchell, Armon and others at HashiCorp remain very committed to their open source roots, continuing to speak at open source conferences, build out their current open source products and devote time to these communities.
  • Value of HashiConf User Conferences. The company has held two large user conferences (dubbed “HashiConf”) in the US over the past two years and is planning a third HashiConf for this coming September. Mitchell believes these have been very valuable for the company. The first one, in ’15 in Portland, was attended by 250 people, mostly open source users, and the goal was to let the world know “we’re here.”  The second one, in ’16 in Napa, was closer to 600 attendees, including both open source users and lots of Fortune 500 customers, many of whom presented. The Napa HashiConf was valuable because customers met each other and helped inspire new use cases. It also helped with recruiting. I can’t wait for this year’s HashiConf in Austin in September!
  • Play Bigger as a Startup, Especially with Enterprises. Mitchell built Vagrant, HashiCorp’s first open source product, while he was in college. He spent about $1,000 on a logo and design and also worked hard to make sure documentation was really strong. As a result, users didn’t recognize Vagrant was built in a dorm room at UW and adoption grew. Similarly, Mitchell wants his sales teams dressed in suits and taking their role as liaison with HashiCorp customers very seriously. If you’re selling to Enterprises, you need them to understand you’re serious.
  • The Rapid Adoption of Multi-Cloud Strategies. Mitchell stressed that he’s seeing a surprisingly fast adoption of multi-cloud strategies among enterprise customers. Usually, these initiatives are pushed by some brave souls in an organization, but these projects have gained momentum at many large companies now. Micro-services adoption is slower but multi-cloud is really taking hold.
  • When Building out a Company Invest in Preserving Culture. As Mitchell and Armon scaled HashiCorp and started to bring on business people, they wanted to make sure they’d preserve the culture of HashiCorp. Realizing that the first few folks they brought on would then go on to hire many others, they spent time making sure those initial business hires really understood the key elements of the culture and encouraged these folks to weight cultural fit highly as they scale their teams. This has worked well so far!

Thanks again to Mitchell and the other attendees for a great leadership dinner.  We’re looking forward to future dinners and will continue to highlight them for you.

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