Recently Tel Aviv was flooded with the green vision of “imagine there is no version”.
What were your thoughts behind this creative campaign?
The world is moving rapidly to a stage where software updates and versions are no longer something an end user needs to think about. What version of your phone operating system are you using? Clearer still, what version of LinkedIn or Facebook are you utilizing? You probably don’t know, and you frankly don’t care. Software is just up-to-date, available and secure. Imagine there are no versions of any software, and you’ll begin to understand our Liquid Software vision of an always-on, always-updated, versionless world.
JFrog keeps leapin and leapin… recently recognized by Forbes as one of the global 100 Cloud rising stars and honored by Bank of America for innovation. What’s the next leap??
To understand the next leap, it’s important to reflect on where we came from. Our very first leap was creating the category of software binary management. Over a decade ago, we spearheaded this category with Artifactory. Now, having a binary repository is a standard requirement. Our second major leap was to provide HA solutions for the enterprise. At the time, no one cared about this, but we anticipated the need and focused on the coming pain we were hearing about. Our third leap was to expand our product offerings to provide security, orchestration and management across the SDLC to support growing requirements of customers. Our fourth and next major leap will be to expand this Liquid Software vision beyond the DevOps pipeline to reach all edge devices and end users. The next great frontier is the major opportunity in the world of DevOps for IoT and we are working diligently and listening to customers and partners to ensure the next stage of JFrog addresses these complex but expanding requirements.
With 5 acquisitions to date, how do you protect the company’s unique DNA while growing?
There are two major ways we ensure the Frogs retain our specific values, or DNA as you call it. The first is ensuring that any companies we may acquire are a technical fit in both pure solutions and in product strategy. This ensures a smoother transition from an engineering and delivery point of view and retains our focus on quality and addressing pain. Secondly, we look at company culture. This is just as important as the technical fit. Our Codex – our company values’ “north star” – is written by all of the Frogs collectively, not by the executive team. Culture is not a top-down exercise at JFrog. So, as the Frogs continue to maintain the culture themselves, we must ensure any potential company being acquired has the right value system. We’ve frankly passed on potentially acquiring companies that didn’t fit culturally that may have been a perfect technical fit, and I’m proud that we are able to make those bold decisions in order to maintain what the Frogs and our Codex value.
What was the Inflection Point in JFrog’s history?
There are hundreds of inflection points – maybe even occurring daily. But really, it was making a conscious decision from day one that the category of software package management would grow. This wasn’t because we were fortune tellers with a crystal ball, but rather because we chose from day one to listen to the pain’s developers had and to address them. It sounds simple, but we built our business around listening and focusing on what we’ve heard, not trying to come up with a new fad or go where winds were blowing. All of our product development and acquisitions have been strategic steps based on listening, and not on what the latest shiny object may be.
What do you miss most in an early stage company?
An army of 10 is much different than an army of 600. The alignment and agility are simple when you can lean back in your chair and just update everyone. Now, that alignment is harder. The very personal relationships are more difficult. So, that quick alignment is something I miss and that deep relationship with all the employees is no longer feasible. But, it’s all part of scaling and growing a business that can make a much larger impact in the market.
Toughest choice you had to make as a CEO
Definitely making changes in the leadership group. Sometimes you have to make tough decisions for varying reasons regarding people who are close to you and helped you build JFrog. Changing, removing or letting people go as you scale is personally and professionally very difficult.
Gut instinct and cold data, which do you follow?
Like an airline pilot, when I’m close to the ground I go with the feeling and instinct and watching the landscape from the cockpit. When you are operating at 30,000 feet, you must go with data and instrumentation. Many times, when you’re negotiating an acquisition or a partnership or developing a key strategy, the data may be redundant or unclear. In these cases, you still have to rely on yours and your team instincts.
What characterizes your executive team?
They all are “soul players.” They lead with their hearts, focus on people and make hard decisions daily to help the business scale to where we need to go. That spirit of what makes JFrog successful is something we rely on every day.
How do you see your personal growth alongside the company’s?
A lot of growth happens personally, because a lot of the things I do is something I’m doing for the first time. Every leap, every growth challenge, every hill we climb is not something JFrog has done before, or that I have done before. That makes it a humbling and educational journey.
Best tip you got?
Don’t raise money too quickly. Own the company, the business strategy and the trajectory as you build a sustainable model and goals. If you flutter with popularity and the latest trends, you will be chasing your tail and not meet your goals. The humility to listen and build a model that will succeed long term takes discipline. We’ve seen recent examples in the market of companies that didn’t take the time to build the business, and they ultimately haven’t realized the success in the marketplace they desired.
Tip you wish you had gotten
I wish someone would have revealed to me earlier on that as you grow, your options as a company actually decrease. You have more stakeholders, more liabilities, more people to take care of, more board members to answer to. You have to be more disciplined as you grow, not less. And as you expand, you’re more on the radar versus bigger competition, bigger investors and in the overall market. More products, more funding and more people apply some constraints.
One thing people don’t know about you
I am a very open and direct person. I try to be completely honest, but that doesn’t mean you lose your humanity or need to be rude. We all need the hard truths, and I am no different with my JFrog family than I would expect my family to be with me.
JFrog is on a mission to enable continuous updates through liquid software, empowering developers to code high-quality applications that securely flow to end-users with zero downtime. JFrog is the creator of Artifactory, the heart of the end-to-end Universal DevOps platform for automating, managing, securing, distributing, and monitoring all types of technologies. JFrog products are available as open-source, on-premise, and on the cloud on AWS, Microsoft Azure, and Google Cloud.