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Ben Golub

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Docker co-founder and CEO Ben Golub is no stranger to Silicon Valley’s growth mindset. In fact, the Cupertino-native’s first Silicon Valley job was working with actual growing things, cutting apricots in an orchard that would later be paved over to become Apple headquarters. After earning his bachelor’s degree in Public Policy from Princeton in 1990, Golub pursued graduate work at Harvard. He entered both Harvard Business School and the University’s Kennedy School of Government in 1992, graduating with both an MBA and MPA three years later. He then took a business development position with Avid Technology before leaving to join VeriSign in 1997. He would spend seven years with VeriSign, working to build the infrastructure for Internet commerce first as the company’s SVP and General Manager and later as CMO.

After leaving VeriSign in 2004, Golub directed his tech industry experience towards a career in startups, leading multiple companies through successful M&A exits. He joined the first of these, Plaxo, in 2005, serving as the company’s President and CEO. Plaxo was acquired by Comcast in 2008, with Golub remaining as President until 2010. His next venture, Gluster, offered an alternative to expensive networked storage solutions. Over the course of his two years as Gluster’s President and CEO, Golub led the start-up through rapid revenue growth, product evolution, organizational build-out, channel establishment and, finally, a successful sale to Red Hat.

In February 2013, Golub met with dotCloud founder Solomon Hykes. Hykes was interested in taking the technology that formed the basis of dotCloud, a platform-as-service company, opensourcing it, and creating a company around it. As the pair talked, Golub began to understand the full potential of Hykes’s vision. Realizing that the freedom this idea would give developers could create substantial positive change, he joined forces with Hykes to make it a reality. The result was Docker, an open platform that simplifies Linux containers to make it easy to build, ship, and run distributed applications. By September 2014 their open-source software had been downloaded 21 million times, up 3 million from that June. Evolving through transparent, open-source innovation, the company continues to offer its software for free, monetizing through paid hosted and on-premises services.

By September 2014, Docker had raised $66 million in investment in two rounds, with investors including Sequoia Capital, Benchmark Capital, Greylock Partners, Insight Venture Partners, Trinity Ventures, and Jerry Yang. Theu received an additional $95 million in funding in April 2015, used to fuel innovations in security, networking, monitoring, and other new tools. By 2016, Docker had been downloaded more than 35+ million times, and was being used by companies including eBay, Baidu, Yelp, Spotify, Yandex, and Cambridge HealthCare.

In addition to serving as Docker’s CEO, Golub sits on the Board of Directors for TRUSTe. From 2010 until 2013, he also sat on the board of Fundly.

Companies and Investments

Docker (Co-founder, CEO), TRUSTe (Board of Directors), Fundly (Board of Directors), Gluster (President, CEO), Plaxo (President, CEO), VeriSign (CMO, SVP, General Manager), Avid Technology (Business Development)

Lessons Learned

I think you always want to raise money before you need it, and if the company is doing well, and if the funding market looks good, and if you have the kind of partners wanting to look at us like we did, it’s just silly not to do it. The challenge is to avoid acting like a company that has a lot in the bank. (Ben Golub on accepting funding without letting yourself become over-confident, in VentureBeat)

We've tried to be pretty transparent in terms of how we're planning to make money. We're also trying very hard to be good stewards. We know that we've got an open platform. There are going to be people who build on top and below us in that platform. Some of those things will compete with what Docker Inc. does and some won't, and that's OK, because we want the best tools to win.

A few things that I'll say that we won't do. We will never disadvantage any competitor by messing around with open source and messing with the API. We drive nice clean APIs that we use and everybody else uses. We don't have any hidden roadmaps. All the work that's done on Docker engine is done out in the open. The governance is out in the open. We've committed to not doing open core, so we're not going to create some commercial version of Docker that's better than the open source, or commercial version of Docker engine that's better than the open source engine.

With that having said, what do we plan to do? We've launched Docker Hub. We've launched commercial support, so we're offering commercial support for Docker. Docker Hub, today, has a lot of tools around content and collaboration and workflow for that CICD use case. Right now, it's delivered purely as a service. We've also got lots of people who have expressed an interest in being able to bring Docker Hub on-premise or to extend its functionality to more production type use cases, management, marketing and orchestration of containers. Those are the directions that, we're going in to make money.

Again, what we think is that, we've drawn a nice clean line between Docker and what's open source and are committed to maintaining that as a platform that will allow a lot of different tools to develop and some will compete with us, some won't. Again we think that the best tools will win. (Ben Golub on collaboration over competition in an interview with CenturyLink Labs)

Inspiring Quotes

Ben Golub's Quotes

We want the best tools to win.

Ben Golub

I would much rather be an ubiquitous platform and face competition on how to manage that platform than to be a stand-alone tool, both proprietary and unknown.

Ben Golub

Influential Books