Back in 2008, an engineer named Jeff Hammerbacher quit his fancy job at Facebook and started a company called Cloudera.He is Cloudera’s “Chief Scientist.”
You’ve (probably) never heard of Cloudera, but it’s really important to big Internet sites like AOL and Groupon.
Cloudera builds something called Hadoop, which is a software that makes it easier for application developers to access and use huge amounts of data.
We caught up with Hammerbacher to ask him what life is like after leaving one of the most successful startups on Earth to do his own.
SAI: What did you learn working at Facebook?
Hammerbacher: How to collect, store, and analyse petabytes of data; how to create and contribute to open source projects; how to hire and manage a productive team of dozens of engineers; how to remain consistently productive during the ups and downs of a startup.
What did you learn from Mark Zuckerberg specifically?
The importance of having a stable and lucid vision at the core of an organisation.
Why didn’t you start your company at Facebook?
Facebook is a consumer technology company; Cloudera is an enterprise software company. I wanted to help all sorts of organisations manage and analyse their data, and that’s just not part of Facebook’s core mission. In a sense, I’m still helping Facebook fulfil its mission, as Cloudera contributes to a number of open source projects used internally at Facebook.
How is your company like Facebook?
We’re most like Facebook in that we’re building the company for the long term, with an expectation of remaining independent for many decades. To that end, we’ve put a disproportionate amount of resources towards building the best possible team and work hard to keep our employees challenged and learning. We’re growing rapidly, we contribute to open source software, and we prefer pragmatism to perfection.
How is your company not like Facebook?
We’re much lower profile since we build enterprise software for large corporations. Because we ship enterprise software, we have more of an investment in testing our software and automating our build and release process than Facebook had in the early days. Our hires tend to be more experienced than the early team at Facebook and both our CEO and CTO spent a significant chunk of time in doctoral programs in computer science, so there’s a bit more focus on systems design at Cloudera.