My Journey to InfluxData – Evan Kaplan

Evan Kaplan — January 14, 2016

Last week was my first week at InfuxData’s headquarters in San Francisco. 150 Spear is the second office I have visited during the short time I have been working with Paul and Todd (our founders) and the InfluxData team. It’s a great space with a beautiful view of the Bay Bridge and filled with people who care deeply about building cool stuff that other developers can use to build even cooler stuff. In this case the cooler stuff is the wide selection of sensor monitoring and real time analytics that are driving the IOT revolution. Quite frankly its inspiring to see the next generation of applications that people are building using InfluxDB and the TICK stack and I am incredibly excited to join the team.

My journey to InfluxData started back in in the Fall of 2015 when I met Paul and Todd at Trinity Ventures. I was working as an Executive in Residence evaluating lots of deals, working with portfolio CEOs, and generally looking for interesting spaces while I figured out what my next adventure would be. I was introduced to them by Dan Scholnick. Dan is the Trinity partner who, among other things, is super knowledgeable about the DevOps space. Our first meeting was scheduled for an hour and went on for three hours as we connected around everything from our personal stories to CrossFit to the nerve-wracking founder’s journey.

The relationship quickly evolved. After three or four brutal CrossFit workouts (Paul has serious hops and Todd can overhead squat with the best of them, but I digress), we spent time working on product strategy and an operating plan. It became clear we worked well together. With each meeting I developed a deeper appreciation for their intelligence, their focus, their yin and yang with each other, and most importantly how committed they were to the journey ahead. Stated qute simply they are “good” people, so when they asked me to join to help them focus on building the product and the platform, I jumped on the opportunity.

I was excited for several reasons. One was personal – my last CEO role was a six year expedition executing a turnaround at iPass, a NASDAQ listed mobility company. I was pretty clear that I did not want to step into another public company again. My time at Trinity renewed my passion for entrepreneurship and early stage companies . Prior to running iPass, I started a company out of my house in Seattle called Aventail, the company that developed the first SSLVPN based on the SOCKSv5 protocol (RFC 1928). I ran it for 10 years before its acquisition by Sonicwall/Dell. My journey with Aventail was challenging and rewarding. Working with an amazing group of folks, we built one of the first IaaS businesses, running large scale extranets for Global 2000 companies and we successfully navigated the harrowing first tech bubble. Believe it or not I, was looking to do something like that again – only this time with a few more years of hard earned wisdom under my belt.

Even more important than what I was looking for was who Paul and Todd were and what they had built so far. They started the company as a YCombinator company called Errplane, focused on infrastructure monitoring, but pivoted after their open source backend, InfluxDB caught fire. At that point they realized that building an easy-to-use, scalable time series database could be the platform that great DevOps monitoring tools could be built on top of.

What I saw after working with the team for a while and attending a few Meetups was something far beyond that. I saw a successful open source project with a hyper-engaged community using the InfluxData platform in some amazing applications. I saw a state-of-the-art platform that could handle millions of reads and writes per second that was ideal for any kind of real-time monitoring and anomaly detection. I saw a platform that would be used as the foundation for IoT applications involving thousands of sensors recording millions of events and reporting results in real time (make no mistake all IoT applications eventually want to be real time). Most importantly I saw real customers using the platform for just these kind of applications. As is always the case on the best open source projects – you don’t have to figure out product-market fit. Your community and customers show you product-market fit, and ours definitely have.

Now that I have been on board for a week my enthusiasm has only grown, fueled by the quality of the people at the company, their passion for the work, and the great opportunity to be the “cool” data infrastructure stuff that allows great developers to build great applications.
A couple of final thoughts – I am honored to work alongside Paul, Todd and the rest of the InfluxData team. I am deeply committed to and love the work we are doing in the open-source community,and lastly I am excited to help build a great company around an amazing group of people. And perhaps make some gains on my box jumps and overhead squats in the process.

Evan Kaplan