Sramana: Oracle must have been a difficult place for you with that psychology.
Max Schireson: I liked it because I got to work with a lot of smart people and I got to learn a lot. I also got to work on a lot of different things. I think that Oracle was a much better environment for me than school. When people hear that I worked at Oracle for 9 years, the common reaction that I get is that I am too nice to have worked at Oracle for 9 years.
I know that a lot of people have had negative experiences at Oracle. They found it to be political. I personally always had good relationships with my bosses there. I had good relationships with the executives there as well.
Sramana: What was your role at Oracle?
Max Schireson: One of the things that I liked was that I did a lot of different things. I started out doing competitive analysis and was then a product manager for a while. My wife then had a residency for medical school in Boston, so I had to find a way to move to Boston. I was able to do that by moving into consulting. I worked on customer implementation of software.
At the time, e-commerce was a new idea, so I started an e-commerce consulting team to help customers start their e-commerce systems and that practice grew quite a bit. A few years later, I came back to California and ran the e-commerce product teams. I worked on some of Oracle’s e-commerce initiatives and then went to work on architecture issues in some of the new application areas where we were having a hard time getting traction.
Sramana: What year does that bring us up to?
Max Schireson: That brings us up to 2003.
Sramana: What happens in 2003?
Max Schireson: In 2003, I met some folks who had started a company to build a new kind of database. The company was called MarkLogic and they were building an XML-based database. When I looked at a lot of the types of applications that we had been doing at Oracle, I realized that a lot of the applications that had not been getting traction at Oracle would have been simplified using this new technology. I thought that perhaps we could have made some progress if we had XML-based technology underneath instead of a relational database.
I decided that since I missed the whole dot com boom in Boston, and not having done a startup while it was the fashionable thing to do, that perhaps this would be a startup worth joining. In 2003, I left Oracle and joined MarkLogic when they had just one customer.