Apr
21
2018
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Through luck and grit, Datadog is fusing the culture of developers and operations

There used to be two cultures in the enterprise around technology. On one side were software engineers, who built out the applications needed by employees to conduct the business of their companies. On the other side were sysadmins, who were territorially protective of their hardware domain — the servers, switches, and storage boxes needed to power all of that software. Many a great comedy routine has been made at the interface of those two cultures, but they remained divergent.

That is, until the cloud changed everything. Suddenly, there was increasing overlap in the skills required for software engineering and operations, as well as a greater need for collaboration between the two sides to effectively deploy applications. Yet, while these two halves eventually became one whole, the software monitoring tools used by them were often entirely separate.

New York City-based Datadog was designed to bring these two cultures together to create a more nimble and collaborative software and operations culture. Founded in 2010 by Olivier Pomel and Alexis Lê-Quôc, the product offers monitoring and analytics for cloud-based workflows, allowing ops team to track and analyze deployments and developers to instrument their applications. Pomel said that “the root of all of this collaboration is to make sure that everyone has the same understanding of the problem.”

The company has had dizzying success. Pomel declined to disclose precise numbers, but says the company had “north of $100 million” of recurring revenue in the past twelve months, and “we have been doubling that every year so far.” The company, headquartered in the New York Times Building in Times Square, employs more than 600 people across its various worldwide offices. The company has raised nearly $150 million of venture capital according to Crunchbase, and is perennially on banker’s short lists for strong IPO prospects.

The real story though is just how much luck and happenstance can help put wind in the sails of a company.

Pomel first met Lê-Quôc while an undergraduate in France. He was working on running the campus network, and helped to discover that Lê-Quôc had hacked the network. Lê-Quôc was eventually disconnected, and Pomel would migrate to IBM’s upstate New York offices after graduation. After IBM, he led technology at Wireless Generation, a K-12 startup, where he ran into Lê-Quôc again, who was heading up ops for the company. The two cultures of develops and ops was glaring at the startup, where “we had developers who hated operations” and there was much “finger-pointing.”

Putting aside any lingering grievances from their undergrad days, the two began to explore how they could ameliorate the cultural differences they witnessed between their respective teams. “Bringing dev and ops together is not a feature, it is core,” Pomel explained. At the same time, they noticed that companies were increasingly talking about building on Amazon Web Services, which in 2009, was still a relatively new concept. They incorporated Datadog in 2010 as a cloud-first monitoring solution, and launched general availability for the product in 2012.

Luck didn’t just bring the founders together twice, it also defined the currents of their market. Datadog was among the first cloud-native monitoring solutions, and the superlative success of cloud infrastructure in penetrating the enterprise the past few years has benefitted the company enormously. We had “exactly the right product at the right time,” Pomel said, and “a lot of it was luck.” He continued, “It’s healthy to recognize that not everything comes from your genius, because what works once doesn’t always work a second time.”

While startups have been a feature in New York for decades, enterprise infrastructure was in many ways in a dark age when the company launched, which made early fundraising difficult. “None of the West Coast investors were listening,” Pomel said, and “East Coast investors didn’t understand the infrastructure space well enough to take risks.” Even when he could get a West Coast VC to chat with him, they “thought it was a form of mental impairment to start an infrastructure startup in New York.”

Those fundraising difficulties ended up proving a boon for Datadog, because it forced the company to connect with customers much earlier and more often than it might have otherwise. Pomel said, “it forced us to spend all of our time with customers and people who were related to the problem” and ultimately, “it grounded us in the customer problem.” Pomel believes that the company’s early DNA of deeply listening to customers has allowed it to continue to outcompete its rivals on the West Coast.

More success is likely to come as companies continue to move their infrastructure onto the cloud. Datadog used to have a roughly even mix of private and public cloud business, and now the balance is moving increasingly toward the public side. Even large financial institutions, which have been reticent in transitioning their infrastructures, have now started to aggressively embrace cloud as the future of computing in the industry, according to Pomel.

Datadog intends to continue to add new modules to its core monitoring toolkit and expand its team. As the company has grown, so has the need to put in place more processes as parts of the company break. Quoting his co-founder, Pomel said the message to employees is “don’t mind the rattling sound — it is a spaceship, not an airliner” and “things are going to break and change, and it is normal.”

Much as Datadog has bridged the gap between developers and ops, Pomel hopes to continue to give back to the New York startup ecosystem by bridging the gap between technical startups and venture capital. He has made a series of angel investments into local emerging enterprise and data startups, including Generable, Seva, and Windmill. Hard work and a lot of luck is propelling Datadog into the top echelon of enterprise startups, pulling New York along with it.

Feb
12
2018
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XebiaLabs lands $100 million Series B led by Susquehanna Growth Equity and Accel

 XebiaLabs, the Boston-based software startup that helps companies automate DevOps functions, announced a healthy $100 million Series B investment led by Susquehanna Growth Equity and Accel. Today’s investment brings the total raised to $121.5 million. Derek Langone, Xebia’s CEO says they raised the money out of a desire to expand more rapidly. “You always want to raise money… Read More

Aug
03
2017
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Heptio launches two new open source projects that make using Kubernetes easier

 Heptio, the Seattle-based company recently launched by Kubernetes co-founders Craig McLuckie and Joe Beda, wants to make it easier for businesses to use Kubernetes in production. Since its launch in late 2016, the well-funded company has remained pretty quiet about its products, but today, the team released two open source projects into the wild: Ark and Sonobuoy.
While Kubernetes&#8217… Read More

Jun
13
2017
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Atlassian launches a new subscription bundle that includes all of its developer tools

This photo taken on December 8, 2015 shows flags adorning the head office of Australian tech start-up Atlassian . Atlassian today announced the launch of Atlassian Stack, a new subscription service that bundles virtually all of the company’s self-hosted developer tools into a single offering. Starting at $186,875 per year for 1,000 licenses, this new bundle is meant to make the procurement process for enterprises easier and cheaper (despite what looks like an eye watering price at first). Instead… Read More

Dec
01
2016
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AWS Personal Health Dashboard helps developers monitor the state of their cloud apps

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Jun
21
2016
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Microsoft expands its support for Docker containers

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May
11
2016
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Weaveworks grabs $15 million Series B from GV to bring order to containerization

containers Weaveworks announced a $15 million Series B round today led by GV (the artist formerly known as Google Ventures). Accel, which invested in its earlier $5 million Series A also participated. The company has raised $20 million so far with this round. Weaveworks has created a set of open source tools for managing, monitoring and securing containers, the latest hot technology for developers… Read More

May
09
2016
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Rancher Labs raises $20M Series B round for its container management platform

rancher_labs Rancher Labs, a container management platform that supports both Kubernetes and Docker Swarm, today announced that it has raised a $20 million Series B round. This new funding round was led by new investor GRC SinoGreen, a Chinese private equity and venture capital fund, with participation from existing investors Mayfield and Nexus Venture Partners. This round brings the company’s… Read More

Feb
23
2016
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New Docker Datacenter Admin Suite Should Bring Order To Containerization

Cargo ship in port at sunset. Docker announced a new container control center today it’s calling the Docker Datacenter (DDC), an integrated administrative console that has been designed to give large and small businesses control over creating, managing and shipping containers.
The DDC is a new tool made up of various commercial pieces including Docker Universal Control Plane (which also happens to be generally… Read More

Jan
26
2016
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Walmart Launches OneOps, An Open-Source Cloud And Application Lifecycle Management Platform

@WalmartLabs_Concept25 Walmart (yes, that Walmart), is launching a new open source DevOps platform for cloud and application lifecycle management. OneOps, which was developed by Walmart Labs, is meant to help developers write and launch their apps faster and make maintaining them easier. The company first announced its plans to open source the service last year. “Our mission is to give our customers the… Read More

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