MapR Appoints New CEO, Preps for ‘Hypergrowth’
MapR Technologies today announced that Matt Mills will take over the CEO position for John Schroder, who will remain with the company he founded seven years ago as executive chairman. In a conversation with Datanami, Schroeder and Mills describe what the changing of the guard signifies, and whether it will impact MapR’s strategy.
Mills previously ran a $4.5-billion division of Oracle (NYSE: ORCL) before joining MapR last year as president and COO. While MapR is several orders of magnitude smaller than Oracle, Mill’s experience managing 8,000 salespeople will help him guide MapR through the next stage of its growth, or what Schroeder is calling “hypergrowth.”
“This is something that I feel like I’m hugely prepared for,” Mills says. “I did 20-odd years at Oracle. I was telling John I got my PhD in operational excellence, so I’m hugely prepared for it, in my mind.”
Mills will take over the day-to-day management role from Schroeder, who is stepping back from the front line to focus on more strategic initiatives, including business and product strategy, investor relations, and meeting more with partners and customers.
“To be honest, it’s a tough choice,” Schroeder says. “I’ve been a CEO for 16 years. This is the third company I’ve run. I love the role. But I also look at what the relative strengths and weakness are, and if I look at scaling to hypergrowth, execution, excellence in operations, Matt’s got….history there.”
The two executives talked about their complementary skillsets, and how they’ll use those skills to take MapR to the next level.
“I’m not going anywhere,” Schroeder continued. “MapR is my baby. I started it over seven years ago. I’m going to continue full time with the company, as well as being chairman of the board. But … to have one of the best guys in the world to run operations at scale–not just go to market, but how do you execute at the highest level…”
Schroeder envisions great things for MapR under Mills, such as what Godfrey Sullivan brought to Splunk or what Frank Slootman brought to ServiceNow. “He’s the right guy to drive the company over the next, who knows, 10 years,” Schroeder says.
There will be no big change in overall product or business strategy for MapR under Mills, says Schroeder, who looks to maintain his role in shaping the future of the company, if not being the top executive to actually implement it.
“We’ll continue to do about half our engineering in open source and about half in our own proprietary technology,” Schroeder says. “That allows us to have a highly differentiated product and have a high value to our customers…The vision has always been to be this converged platform, but have a strong presence in open source technologies like Hadoop and Spark, and now going forward, Mesosphere, Docker, and container-based technology.”
Mills agrees that this strategy makes sense. “John got it right,” he says. “I think 100% open source is a bit of a hill to try and drive sustained growth. And I think what we’ve seen thus far in the market is indicative of that. At the same time, when you sit here and say, ‘We’re going to start a company, I think this is how you do it with an open source component of which you then build your IP around…’ I think he got it right, and I think it resonates with our customers.”
Handing day-to-day duties to Mills will also free Schroder to work with the investor relations folks in preparation for a long-planned initial public offering (IPO). Only after the internal controls are in place and the company has a clear path to profitability will MapR declare it’s ready for an IPO. That could happen during the fourth quarter of 2016, but it’s more likely to happen in the first half of 2017, he says.
“We’ve set a pretty high bar for ourselves with regards to the checklist,” Schroeder says. “I’m always very careful to say we will not to commit to a date for an IPO…. By the time we IPO, we want to be one or two quarters from being cash-flow positive.”
Taking the helm of a soon-to-be publicly traded technology firm is a role Mills says he’s ready for. “It can be a little nerve wracking, because you have huge responsibility, not only to guys like John but you’ve got a bunch of employees who have been here five, six, seven years,. so yeah I take it very seriously,” he says. “But at the same time I’m hugely excited and grateful about the opportunity. I think it’s the right thing for the company and I think we’ll really accelerate and take the company to the next level.”