Today I’m announcing my departure from Docker, the company I helped create ten years ago and have been building ever since. A founder’s departure is usually seen as a dramatic event. Sadly, I must report that reality is far less exciting in this case. I’ve had many roles at Docker over the years, and today I have a new, final one – as an active board member, a major shareholder and, I expect, a high maintenance Docker user. But I will no longer be part of day-to-day operations. Instead, after obsessing for so many years over my own ideas, I am rediscovering the joys of putting myself at the service of others – my friends, my family, and the brilliant entrepreneurs I’ve been lucky enough to advise and invest in over the years. Over the coming months I plan to use my experience to help them in any way I can.
This transition is simply another chapter in a long story of change, growth, hard work… and a lot of luck.
Ten years ago, I quit my job, returned to live with my mother in Paris and, together with my friends Kamel Founadi and Sebastien Pahl, started a company called Dotcloud. Our goal was to harness an obscure technology called containers, and use it to create what we called “tools of mass innovation”: programming tools which anyone could use. I was 24 and had no idea what I was doing. We needed a CEO, so that became my new role.
Five years ago, Dotcloud reinvented itself as Docker, around a battle-hardened core of five people: Eric Bardin, Sam Alba, Jerome Petazzoni, Julien Barbier and myself. Soon growth was off the charts, and we hired an experienced CEO to help us sustain it. I was 29 and eager to do my part. Docker needed a CTO, so that became my new role.
Today, as I turn 34, Docker has quietly transformed into an enterprise business with explosive revenue growth and a developer community in the millions, under the leadership of our CEO, the legendary Steve Singh. Our strategy is simple: every large enterprise in the world is preparing to migrate their applications and infrastructure to the cloud, en masse. They need a solution to do so reliably and securely, without expensive code or process changes, and without locking themselves to a single operating system or cloud. Today the only solution meeting these requirements is Docker Enterprise Edition. This puts Docker at the center of a massive growth opportunity. To take advantage of this opportunity, we need a CTO by Steve’s side with decades of experience shipping and supporting software for the largest corporations in the world. So I now have a new role: to help find that ideal CTO, provide the occasional bit of advice, and get out of the team’s way as they continue to build a juggernaut of a business. As a shareholder, I couldn’t be happier to accept this role.
As a founder, of course, I have mixed emotions. When you create a company, your job is to make sure it can one day succeed without you. Then eventually that one day comes and the celebration can be bittersweet.
It’s never easy for a founder to part ways with their life’s work. But I realize how incredibly lucky I am to have this problem. Most ideas never materialize. Most software goes unused. Most businesses fail in their first year. Yet here we are, one of the largest open-source communities ever assembled, collectively building software that will run on millions of computers around the world. To know that your work was meaningful, and that a vibrant community of people will continue building upon it…. can any founder ask for anything more?
I want to thank from the bottom of my heart every member of the Docker team and community, past and present, for making Docker what it is today. Thanks to you, this founder’s bittersweet moment is mostly sweet. We have built something great together. I look forward to seeing where you will take it next.