At the time, he was the CEO of MongoDB, a New York-based database startup worth over $US1 billion. Under his watch, MongoDB grew its sales 30X and raised over $US230 million in funding.
But being the CEO of a New York-based company required a lot of travel. Schireson and his family live in Palo Alto, California, where his wife is a professor and doctor at Stanford University. Instead of moving his family, he decided to fly to New York every 2-3 weeks, which made him “miss a lot of family fun.”
That led him to that impassioned resignation letter, where he wrote, “the only way to balance (work-life) was by stepping back from my job.” Now he serves as MongoDB’s vice chairman.
We checked back with Schireson to see how he’s been doing in his new job.
“I’m very happy – two weeks into not being CEO and I’m loving it so far,” Schireson told Business Insider. “I think Dev Ittycheria will be a phenomenal leader for the next phase of our growth, and I’m just happy to stay with MongoDB and help it grow.”
He said he wasn’t expecting the letter would get the level of coverage it got, but he’s happy that it helped raise awareness of the long working hours men have to endure in the tech industry.
“I think, even more broadly than the tech industry, expectations of fathers is much lower in terms of their participation in family. I just felt the desire to point that out,” he said.
In his resignation letter, Schireson wrote that as a male CEO, he was asked what kind of car he drove and what type of music he liked, but was never asked how he “balanced the demands of being both a dad and a CEO.”
“It’s been that way for a long time. These things change slowly, but they do change,” he said.
When asked how people who don’t have the luxury of leaving their jobs could achieve better work-life balance, Schireson offered a simple yet powerful advice.
“When you’re not working and spending time with your family, just try to put the phone away for a while and really be present in the moment with your family. Work is always in the back of our minds, but the more we can just try to be more present and make the most of that time, I think that makes a big difference,” Schireson said.
Schireson pointed out that even though he’s no longer the CEO, MongoDB is continuing to see massive growth. It’s growing so fast, he says, it’s now taking away a lot of the clients that used to rely on Oracle’s more traditional, SQL databases.
MongoDB offers database that’s designed to let developers write applications. But it’s a different kind of database, called NoSQL, which is better for handling things that Oracle and other traditional SQL databases don’t do well. Unlike the SQL, which relies on neat and structured data, NoSQL database can work with messy data like documents or tweets, and be applied to low-cost computer servers.
So basically, MongoDB is easier to use, more flexible, and more scalable, compared to traditional SQL databases. In fact, DB-Engines, a site that tracks database usage, says MongoDB is now the fifth most popular database and the most widely used NoSQL database.
“The traditional relational databases used to be the only name in town,” Schireson said. “But they’re absolutely being disrupted and we’re definitely taking away some of their business.”
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