Hands On Podcast: Bringing Open Source to Market + Journey of a First Time CEO

by Bryan Offutt


Bringing open source to market + Journey of a first time CEO

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Aaron Katz is the CEO of ClickHouse, Inc. Before building his own company, he walked a remarkable path working at Salesforce for more than ten years, helping the brand become what it is today. In this episode of Hands On, we talk about the main virtues of the open-source model and its challenges for the future. Aaron shares what it was like for him to build trust with his co-founders and how each founder's profile and experience contributes to the secret sauce behind ClickHouse's success. Tune into this conversation where we delve into how crafting a sales narrative for an enterprise software company is very different today than it was five years ago.

Listen to Hands On on Spotify. Also available on Apple Podcast & Simplecast.

Jump straight into:

(05:26) - The early life of Aaron Katz: Background, influences and why he decided to apply to Salesforce. “I met with Marc Benioff. I vividly remember that interview. The most notable question that he asks is simply ‘Why should I hire you?’, and it's an interesting question. I've taken that with me in my career.”

(11:51) - A new go-to-market motion: Adopting an open-source model and Aaron’s shift to Elastic after 12 years of traveling around the world working for Salesforce. “I think those three vectors; internationalization, segmentation and industry orientation, qualified me to take a broader job at a smaller company.”

(17:01) - Building culture as a CEO: How Aaron managed to lead ClickHouse alongside his co-founders. “I've got two incredible co-founders on the product and engineering side to help me think through this as we're an enterprise software company and I'm not an engineer.”

(21:35) - The foundations of a successful enterprise software company: The trust alignment process among founders prior to ClickHouse official market launch. “In open source, you really need the key contributors to the project to work inside your company to be able to positively influence the roadmap and where you actually take the tech stack.”

(29:07) - Developing for the future: Discussing the issues around pattern matching from prior successes with a few examples. “We're not building software for our customers where they are today, we're developing it for where they're going in the future.”

(32:15) - The challenge of crafting a go-to-market narrative for an open source company today versus five years ago. “I think those two components, licensing and the dominance of several large cloud suppliers have really changed open source distribution models significantly.”

(34:06) - Aaron’s words to live by and his personal development growth following the ClickHouse foundation journey. “It's important to take expanded roles, to push yourself out of your comfort zone, to demonstrate vulnerability and willingness to learn.”

Published — July 13, 2022