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Thought Leaders in Big Data: Interview with Brian Bulkowski and Srini Srinivasan, Co-founders of Aerospike (Part 5)

Posted on Saturday, Jun 22nd 2013

Sramana Mitra: That is interesting. The reason I ask you about Facebook is because we are using Facebook content marketing. It is very well done. You just press one button and tell them “$10 of advertising, $70 of advertising,” and it will go advertising your content to the fans of your Facebook page – the friends and fans. Every time I do that I say: “Give me a little more control over this.” I want to be able to target by geography, for example. I like doing this. I love it and it is working great, but please give me a bit more control so that I can target it a bit better. That system could go much further technically.

Srini Srinivasan: Yes, and that is the system our customers have built on top of our software. So, yes, Facebook could benefit from this.

Brian Bulkowski: People at Jango are doing similar things.

SS: We are underneath the platform, where you can target at that level and even beyond.

SM: Tell me a bit about your company. What I gathered from before is that you already have substantial revenue. Is it a venture-funded company?

BB: We ran this company bootstrapped longer than it is common. We are a venture company at this point, but one of the pluses and minuses of being essentially older entrepreneurs – we are in our 40s – is that we have the capacity and several previous successes where we can self-fund and bootstrap to a longer extent.

SM: All serial entrepreneurs are doing that right now. I am doing it.

SS: Experience helps because you avoid a lot of mistakes and you do things faster.

SM: And you keep control over your company.

BB: I have been at companies where there was a great technical idea, and you are usually too early or too late. It is very hard to find that market timing. Part of my goal in founding the company and making sure that we both had runway enough to survive for a while was to say: “We will feel it. We will know when the market is coming. We can build the technology, work on marketing it and we will start feeling when we actually get full market pull.” When that started happening, we could go to investors with a much stronger story. That is what we did. We have been through two rounds so far, one of them led by Alsop Louie. The second round was led by NEA.

SM: How much have you raised?

BB: We don’t say that publicly.

SS: We raised enough to keep us going.

SM: You probably don’t need that much capital.

SS: That is why we did bootstrapping and selling to customers before we went to the first round of funding.

SM: What else is interesting about this story that you would like to share?

SS: To me it is the people. The thing I am really happy about is running the engineering part of the organization. I put together a couple of teams – one based in Mountain View and one in Bangalore. Essentially what I have learned is if you hire the right people – we have several world-class engineers – it can be very fulfilling.

SM: What is it like these days to do a product team in Bangalore?

SS: Brian, why don’t you answer that?

BB: Srini has great experience in running distributed teams before. He has a particular philosophy, which is this: the entire team needs to come together for two weeks every quarter. It doesn’t matter where they are, but one week is not enough. It is like vacation. If you only go on vacation for one week, you don’t feel relaxed. Two weeks is where you really get to relax, you are with people, you get to spend the weekend together, etc. We all went out to the 4th of July fireworks together over the summer. This is the process of bringing people together. If I see Srini online on Skype I feel completely comfortable calling him and saying: “Srini, how is it going? How are the kids?” The telepresence  has allowed for a lot more sharing, but it hasn’t been enough.

This segment is part 5 in the series : Thought Leaders in Big Data: Interview with Brian Bulkowski and Srini Srinivasan, Co-founders of Aerospike
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