SM: What did you do when the company was sold? Did you stay with it and work for CA?
DD: Yes, I stayed on and did some strategy stuff for CA. I then moved to India to start the India Technology Center.
SM: What year was that?
DD: That was back in 2003. I had never worked in India before that, so it was a very interesting process. I grew that company from zero to about 1,400 people in about a year. That was not fast enough; we wanted to grow even faster.
SM: How do you absorb 1,400 people with any degree of coherence?
DD: It was tiring. Just hiring that number of people with strict quality standards was a huge challenge. We had a huge interview panel of very good people who would go to various cities every week. We would have large classrooms of people who take written tests. The tests were evaluated that same day, and those with scores high enough were then able to go through the interview panel the next day. That is how we ramped. It was definitely a huge operations challenge.
SM: Did the team you founded AIM with stay with you at CA?
SM: What was the composition of that team, and how did you find them?
DD: Most of us were engineers. The only non-engineer person who did not stay after the acquisition was complete. All of the engineers stayed on. Some of them later heard about us starting DimDim and came to join us as well. Most of our engineers were from the IITs.
SM: Were they with you before, when you were working as an employee at the networking company?
DD: I sent out an email to my IIT network. People saw that email and sent notes. That is how I built that team.
SM: That brings us to DimDim.
DD: In 2005 I decided I was tired of the large company stuff and wanted to go out and do something else. It was the same team, Prakash [Khot], Jayant [Pandit] and me, who got together. We were looking at a whole bunch of different ideas. Our only requirement was that it had to be big. We were collaborating using Hotmail and Skype. We knew text-based collaboration was moving to rich media collaboration because we were doing it, tediously.
Non-real-time collaboration was moving to live communication. Hotmail was all about text-based non-real time collaboration. Skype provided real-time voice collaboration. Between Hotmail and Skype was chat, which was gaining popularity. Trends were definitely moving towards rich, real-time collaboration. That is what is at the heart of DimDim. It is about democratizing rich media and real-time collaboration, and because we are democratizing that space we selected two activities that are not going to be replicated by the legacy players in the business. We are an open source company and we provide a free hosted offering.