Why I Joined WSO2

On Tuesday, it was announced that I joined WSO2 as its CEO. This is an exciting and proud moment as it creates an opportunity to work with the (almost 500) geniuses employed by WSO2 and to engage our customers, partners, and competitors that are collectively contributing to making the massive and growing middleware segment better.

I joined WSO2 because I was inspired by the challenge to help us become a #1 provider in a competitive and technically challenging market.

My first experience with middleware was in the 90s while working at BEA, now owned by Oracle. It was an amazing experience to witness BEA’s transformation from C-based platform (Tuxedo) into the Internet, Java and JavaEE leader with Weblogic. Scott Dietzen, then the BEA CTO and recently the CEO that put Pure Storage (NYSE: PSTG) through its IPO, lead BEA’s transformational efforts to create a strategy that leapfrogged BEA ahead of alternatives.

Due to:

  1. The rapid rise of cloud, and;
  2. Rapidly changing consumption models for developers with containers, microservices, serverless, and APIs, and;
  3. The rising complexity from streaming and analytics of real-time event-driven architectures attached to exabyte architectures connected to millions of systems, and;
  4. Corporate core competencies tied to an ability to transform data into insights with machine learning,

we are on the precipice of witnessing a new wave of cloud-scale, cloud-native middleware emerging that will be as significant as the C to JavaEE transformation we witnessed in the 90s. Scott’s achievements are personally inspiring and have no small influence on my choice to undertake this mission.

Leading WSO2 through this transformation is an ambitious, challenging, and exciting opportunity that is something worthy and respectful to the ridiculous talent we have already assembled.

I led Toba Capital’s first investment into WSO2 in 2011 and have been on its board since. Through that time, it became apparent that WSO2’s innovation engine was world class and repetitively produced intellectual property that was faster, easier, and safer superior to alternatives. These advancements are a reflection of WSO2’s internal culture of constant improvement combined with its advanced talent development with university rotations where we now have 132 people (27%) that have or are currently pursuing multiple degrees, master’s degrees, or PhDs.

The rate of innovation combined with an open source business model, customer-first experience, and all delivery functions (support, consulting, training) delivered directly by our engineers has let us establish meaningful relationships with 400 world-class enterprises that represent amazing cross-sections of the global economy managing 5 trillion transactions each year with our technology. Impressively, 25% of our customers come from financial services like BNY Mellon, Credit Agricole, HSBC, and BNP Paribas who have stressed our technology stack to meet expectations imposed by a dizzying array of regulations, security, and performance requirements.

In spite of these achievements, we are the lesser known vendor. While we have near zero churn with our customers who shout our praise and have us as their strategic platform, most describe WSO2 as ‘unknown’, which is a polite way to imply ‘misunderstood’. WSO2 has not conformed to mainstream positioning, go to market, and delivery and most regard us different.
This non-conformance creates tremendous advantages WSO2 passes along to our customers, but not fully appreciated by the rest of the market:

  1. Our team-based, non-commission approach to sales ensures that our customers are always first placed ahead of compensation or the company’s bottom line;
  2. Our 100% open source platform ensures broad community participation leading to better performance, stability, and advancement;
  3. Our delivery through our engineers ensures that customers engage with experts that can fix anything instead of working through layers of management and support abstractions delaying resolution and satisfaction;
  4. We have an efficient operating model that does not depend upon cash from investors, debtors, or the public markets giving us freedom to grow in ways beneficial to our customer’s interests;
  5. Our no-politics and open culture have lead to an industry low employee turnover and rich diversity with 33% female employees and 34% of our leadership positions are held by women.

My most recent venture was Codenvy, which we sold to Red Hat in June. The people at Codenvy made it special and transformed us to the #1 vendor in a highly competitive cloud IDE space. The Codenvy journey was one where we rode the container and cloud-native wave, as the marriage between container-services and hosted developer workspaces were a combination that allowed the growth of cloud IDEs to effectively compete with desktop alternatives pushed by JetBrains and Microsoft.

Containers and cloud-native concepts are redefining the consumption models for how developers work with and deploy middleware. These technologies are causing a middleware rethink, especially in a world where orchestrators like Kubernetes and chaos monkeys scale and destroy unpredictably while the system maintains constant resiliency. For many vendors, talking cloud-native is great marketing fodder, but overlook the reality that their platform will require a reset. Our competitors with proprietary licenses and huge cash burn will struggle to demonstrate true innovation in this space.

With WSO2, we’ve been building a new cloud-native technology stack. Our open source projects include Ballerina (a programming language for integration), MSF4J (a low RAM microservice framework), Carbon (an instant boot server framework), and Siddhi (a streaming SQL framework). Collectively, they are compelling building blocks to create cloud-native middleware for integration, API management, analytics, identity and access management, and IoT.

If you are container-first, serverless, microservices, cloud-native, or developer-first … or you are an enemy to mega cloud lock-in and proprietary business models, then we will demonstrate to you middleware services that can run in any cloud, outperform any vendor, provide rock-solid stability, and backed by our customer-first, engineer-delivered business model. Please engage our team and discover why we are a hidden gem in middleware.

With the amazing people at WSO2 as the backbone, we can and will do with WSO2’s transformation that BEA did with Java.
And for those reasons?—?the people, the challenge, the technology, and the fun?—?is why I joined WSO2.