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Scaling a Fat Startup: MongoDB CEO Max Schireson (Part 7)

Posted on Tuesday, May 20th 2014

Sramana: It sounds like your thesis is that you want to get adoption and your assumption is that your free customers are eventually going to monetize. Is that correct?

Max Schireson: I suspect that most of them will not. That is OK because a lot of them will. The big banks and government agencies pay. We have built offerings that are compelling to them and that are worth paying for. Revenue has not been our top priority while choosing between adoption and revenue. However, when investors look at the company, they see we have a business model where unit economics makes sense. The cost of customer acquisition makes sense. The customer is likely to remain a customer for a long time and grow as a customer. It is a huge market that we have in front of us. It is not just a dream of “if you build it, they will come”, we are proving out some of the unit economics. We are focused on optimizing adoption to capture the market.

Sramana: What is your read on the competitive landscape?

Max Schireson: I think that we are sitting in the middle. There is a big gap between where we are as a company and where our reach, scale, and maturing of our offering is with respect to companies like Oracle, Microsoft, and IBM. At the same time, we have opened up a wide gap between us and the other challenging companies. Over the next few years, we will be closing that maturity gap and ecosystem gap with our more established competitors.

Sramana: Are there any of the surging companies that you think is more formidable as a competitor than the rest?

Max Schireson: We see Oracle in deals far more often than we see small companies. We are going after different pieces of the market than the other smaller companies. Some people are very focused on availability and for those customers, DataStax is a formidable competitor. The other interesting offering is HBase because it has a lot of momentum from the Hadoop ecosystem. If people really want the tightest integration there, then they are a great choice. If you look at all the third party analysis, those are the two next most popular NoSQL databases.

They are very different than MongoDB, so we don’t spend a lot of time thinking about those competitors. We spend our time thinking about what we have to do for our product to give a broader set of customers a better experience using MongoDB. There are some specific use cases and niche areas that those other companies have targeted and we have not focused on just one niche area. We are looking to address the greater market and achieve ubiquity for MongoDB.

Sramana: Fantastic. This has been a great interview, thank you for taking the time to share your story.

This segment is part 7 in the series : Scaling a Fat Startup: MongoDB CEO Max Schireson
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