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Episode 42: Opsware (with special guest Michel Feaster)

Episode 42: Opsware (with special guest Michel Feaster)

Sat, 05 Aug 2017 00:33

Acquired dives into the legendary acquisition of Ben Horowitz & Marc Andreessen’s “second act” software company Opsware, from a perspective never before heard—HP’s side of the story! Our heroes are joined by Michel Feaster, who led both the acquisition for HP and then the Opsware product as part of the integrated company afterward under Ben Horowitz. Today the tables have turned: Michel is the Co-Founder and CEO of Seattle-based startup Usermind, and Ben Horowitz sits on her board on behalf of A16Z. This episode is not one to miss!
Topics covered include:
  • Opsware’s early history and origins as Loudcloud, the “second act” of internet wunderkind Marc Andreessen and Netscape product manager Ben Horowitz
  • Ben’s first person telling of the Loudcloud/Opsware history in The Hard Thing about Hard Things, as well as the great Wired "period piece” covering Loudcloud’s launch in August 2000
  • The importance of timing, and Loudcloud’s too-early vision of—essentially—AWS before AWS (including eerie parallels between the metaphor Andreessen used to describe Loudcloud during the company’s first press briefing, and Jeff Bezos’s description of AWS at YC nearly a decade later)
  • Creation of the “Opsware” tool inside of Loudcloud to automate deploying and configuring servers within Loudcloud’s data centers
  • Loudcloud's meteoric rise, crash following the burst of the internet bubble, and hard pivot as a public company into Opsware—now an enterprise software company selling datacenter tools
  • Michel’s role in HP’s evaluation of the company as an acquisition target, and process leading to its $1.6B acquisition in July 2007
  • Integration of the company into HP’s culture and sales channel
  • The creation of Ben & Marc’s “third act”, the VC firm Andreessen Horowitz, and what it’s like for Michel now having Ben as an investor on her board at Usermind
The Carve Out:

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So we also grade acquisitions. Yeah. David and I will each give it a grade and our guests can opt to either grade or not, especially since you were part of it. I'm happy to grade. Yeah. All right. Welcome back to episode 42 of Acquired, the podcast about technology acquisitions and IPOs. I'm Ben Gilbert. I'm David Rosenthal. And we are your hosts. Today we are covering the 2007 acquisition of Opsware by HP. We have with us a fantastic guest, Michelle Feaster. So David will give Michelle's full bio in a minute, but I want to say I'm personally very, very excited to have Michelle with us. A lot of people know the story of the deal from the Opsware side as told in Ben Horowitz's The Hard Thing About Hard Things. So Michelle was the director of products for the division that purchased Opsware and is going to share the story from the HP side of that acquisition today. So David, can you tell us a little bit about Michelle's background? Yeah. So Michelle today is the co-founder and CEO of User Mind, which is a unified customer engagement hub based in Seattle and that she founded in 2013. But as Ben was alluding to a decade ago before User Mind, Michelle was working at the opposite end of the tech spectrum from a startup. She was the director of product for a division of Hewlett Packard's Enterprise Software Business where she led the acquisition of Ben Horowitz and Mark Andreessen's legendary company, Opsware, for $1.6 billion. And most fun, flash forward to today and the tables have turned. Ben Horowitz is now on her board at User Mind on behalf of Andreessen Horowitz, his mentor capital firm. And we are honored to have Michelle on the show to cover this deal. So thank you for joining us. Thanks for having me guys. Really excited. Yeah, we appreciate it. We appreciate it. So before we dive in, we want to mention to new listeners of the show, we've got a slack and we are over 800 strong that is at on the sidebar. You can join us in the slack and talk all things, M&A, tech news, and anytime there's something pretty exciting that happens like the whole food acquisitions. That's when it really shines and there's lots of great speculation in there. Second is we love reviews. So you can help us grow the show by leaving a review on iTunes. I'm sorry, on Apple Podcasts. That's what we call it now. And tell your friends, our presenting sponsor for this episode is not a sponsor, but another podcast that we love and want to recommend called the founders podcast. We have seen dozens of tweets that say something like my favorite podcast is acquired and founders. So we knew there's a natural fit. We know the host of founders. Well, David Senra, hi, David. Hey, Ben. Hey, David. Thank you for joining us. Thank you for having me. I like how they group us together and then they say it's like the best curriculum for founders and executives. And really, as we use your show for research a lot, I listened to your episode of the story of Akyo Marina before we did our Sony episodes. This incredible primer. You know, he's actually a good example of why people listen to founders into acquired because all of his great entrepreneurs and investors, they had deep historical knowledge about the work that came before them. So like the founder of Sony, who did he influence? Steve Jobs talked about him over and over again if you do the research to him. But I think this is one of the reasons why people love both of our shows and there's such good compliments. On acquired, we focus on company histories. You tell the histories of the individual people. You're the people version of acquired and where the company version of founders. Listeners, the other fun thing to note is David will hit a topic from a bunch of different angles. So I just listened to an episode on Edwin Land from a biography that David did. David, it was the third, fourth time you've done Polaroid. I've read five biographies of Edwin Land and I think I've made eight episodes of them because in my opinion, the greatest entrepreneur to ever do it, my favorite entrepreneur personally is Steve Jobs. And if you go back and listen to like a 20 year old Steve Jobs, he's talking about Edwin Land's my hero. So the reason I did that is because I want to find out like I have my heroes. Who were their heroes? And the beauty of this is the people may die, but the ideas never do. And so Edwin Land had passed away way before the apex of Apple, but Steve was still able to use those ideas. And now he's gone and we can use those ideas. And so I think what requires doing what a founder trying to do as well is find the best ideas in history and push them down to generations. Make sure they're not lost history. I love that. Well listeners, go check out the founders podcast after this episode. You can search for it in any podcast player. Lots of companies that David covers that we have yet to dive into here on acquired. So for more indulgence on companies and founders, go check it out. David, do you want to take us through the acquisition and history and facts? Yeah, as always. So as Ben alluded to, we're going to try and focus mostly on that HP side of the story with Michelle because much ink has been spilled about the ops where side. And if you haven't heard about ops where we totally recommend reading the hard thing about hard things by Ben, it is such a great book. And there's also a really great sort of period piece that Wired did in August 2000 right before the tech bubble burst all about the company and about Ben and Mark Andreessen and this being Mark's sort of a second act after Netscape. So we'll link to that in the show notes and that provides a really good full history of ops where. But to sort of set the stage, we're going to take sort of five minutes and do a quick truncated history just so we're all on the same page and can then dive in with Michelle about how HP viewed things. So the company that ultimately became ops where was founded as a different company called Loud Cloud. And it was started in September 1999 by four people, Mark Andreessen, who had been the co-founder and CEO of Netscape and was famously the Internet's Golden Boy on the cover of Time Magazine among many other press outlets. Ben Horowitz, who was the CEO of Loud Cloud and Ben had been a PM for Mark at Netscape. And two other folks, Tim Howes. Howes was the CTO of Netscape's server division and he was a total expert in sort of Internet infrastructure and plumbing. He created LDAP, the Lightweight Directory Access Protocol which if you use any sort of internal company directory service or log on service these days, it's probably based on that. Pretty amazing. And then the fourth person was a guy named Sick Re and Sick. I believe had briefly been part of Netscape. But when Netscape got acquired by AOL, he was CTO of the e-commerce platform division within AOL. So that was the division and this becomes important for Loud Cloud that when companies back in the day did deals with AOL to be part of the sort of walled garden and sell things on the e-commerce through AOL, they needed to spin up sort of microsites to do that quickly and re was kind of in charge of helping them, helping Nike or whatnot do that at AOL. And so the idea for what Loud Cloud would be, it actually comes from Sick from Re and the idea was basically that it would be AWS before AWS. It was going to be an infrastructure as a service product. And the idea was that just like these companies who didn't have software developers or internet infrastructure teams, Nike or LLB or whomever needed to spin up websites to sell on AOL, they would also need to do that on the broader internet. And why would they go build their own teams to do this? They should just use a service to do the infrastructure for them. And that was both David, that was the human power as a service as well as the actual servers as a service, right? Well, I think it was mostly the servers as a service. Because remember the idea of the Cloud doesn't really exist in these days. If you wanted to build a website, the first thing you had to do was go buy a bunch of servers and stick them in a closet somewhere. Yeah. And so that's what Loud Cloud was sort of designed to be your virtual servers. But by the way, that is why they partnered with EDS. So later there's a big transaction they did with those guys and that was for the managed service offering. So ops were sold. AWS element and they partnered with EDS to provide a full managed service. And that will be a chapter in the later element. Yeah. Two, two, come. But there's this great Mark Andreessen quote from the first press briefing that they do about the company when they're and there's so much buzz around this company before they even launch because these are obviously sort of early the first generation of tech celebrities. And this is their second act. And the quote from Mark is that it's like providing the electric power grid and companies can plug in. And I just thought this was so awesome because we'll also link in the show notes when Jeff Bezos launches AWS later in the mid 2000s. He goes and he talks at Y combinator and he uses this exact analogy for AWS. So he's literally I didn't realize this. I don't know if Jeff realized this if he came up with it independently or not, but he is literally using the same analogy that Andreessen used when he was launching Loud Cloud. Wow. And so Michelle, I mean, we'll get into this in tech themes, but clearly AWS huge successful business right now, Loud Cloud, not a huge successful business. Then why, you know, obviously timing is the issue, but what was it about the timing? Well, I mean, I think, you know, look at the readiness of the internet for enterprise cloud adoption. I mean, the reason to me, Bezos is so successful today is one, you know, development is so much more pervasive. So the number of people who could leverage AWS is exploded. Number two, the cost of starting a company has gone to zero, so the number of targets who would be, you know, leveraging something like AWS is so much greater now. And three, I think security privacy, I've evolved enough that companies are actually willing to build. So you, you know, the number of kind of target enterprises, your deal size, all of these elements around kind of go to market have finally matured to where AWS is not an idea. It's a business. And there's also, there's another really big piece of this, which is that the whole concept of virtualization, server virtualization didn't really exist yet. Like it sort of existed. The company VMware, which listeners may or may not be familiar with, but it's one of the largest enterprise software and infrastructure companies in the world. It's it's majority owned by EMC these days. What they do, they created a product that was just starting to take off around the time, but wasn't widely used, that essentially let you take physical server machines and slice them up into multiple virtual machines. So one box could serve multiple customers essentially. And that was a big key for making something like AWS work because without that, you needed, you know, essentially a separate box for everybody. And that was not yet a paradigm that existed in these days. Yeah, it feels like that would hamstring Amazon these days. I don't know. Well, you know, we're on the containers, right? That whole technology is emerged. By the way, you know, on our side, when we were doing the deal, virtualization is a key reason why HP needed to buy. Ops were so it's not really just about, you know, do you need virtualization to be able to run an effective, you know, AWS offering hits what, what problem does that create in IT? And so one of the central reasons to me for ops where as growth is that as virtualization exploded in the IT infrastructure, the old human way of managing servers and networks and storage couldn't scale. And so, you know, one of the single biggest reasons for their success was the exponential growth and complexity that virtualization drove in IT. So if you look at, you know, ops where's, you know, as it went from loud cloud later to become ops where, you know, it's growth from, you know, whatever, four, 10 million to, you know, 80 or 100 million in its exit, you know, virtualization was the technology that drove the majority of their market opportunity. And it was a big factor in our belief that we needed to be and own the technology, right? That this was a key control point in the future of how IT was going to work. Yeah. And, well, we'll come right back to that. But for the, in the meantime, this isn't really what, what loud cloud is trying to do. They're trying to be AWS and, and there's so much type and we'll just run through really quickly sort of the, the corporate timeline and, unfortunately, Ben Horowitz himself made a nice little truncated version in a, in a blog post that we'll, we'll also link to it in the show notes, but this is, this is 90s bubble era internet at, it's, at its finest. So November 99 before launching the product, loud cloud raises 21 million dollars at a 45 million dollar pre-money valuation and Andy Rackliffe at Benchmark led that round. January 2000. So just a couple months later, they raised another 45 million dollars in debt from Morgan Stanley of all places. They haven't even launched a product yet. A few months after that, June of 2000, they raised 120 million dollars at a 700 million dollar pre-money valuation. And then things go start to go a little rocky. And, but nonetheless, the company sort of perseveres. They, they do end up going public in March of 2001. They list on the NASDAQ. They raise another 160 million dollars, but the valuation goes down from the last private round. Echoes of this happening again today. So they've about a 480 million dollar market cap. And then the whole world just blows up the tech world. And, and all of the customers for loud cloud were these, you know, era startups and they just go out of business. And so there's essentially no business left for, for loud cloud for the AWS managed service product. So in August of 2002, as, as Michelle was alluding to, they sell that business to EDS, which is Ross Perot's software company. And what is EDS stand for? Is it electronic data service? I think it's electronic data systems. They sell that for just over 60 million dollars. But that's the whole business. Like there is no other business within the company and Ben writes about this at length in the book. But what they do have is this technology, this sort of internal tool that they'd created called Opsware. And Tim housed the guy who invented LDAP previously at Netscape. He had created this tool within loud cloud that was basically an automated way to provision and then deploy and manage all the servers that they had in their data centers. And they sort of have this idea that like, okay, loud cloud isn't working at all. Let's get rid of it. We have this tool. We use it. We think it's great. Maybe other customers who have big data centers would want to use this. So they essentially completely pivot as a public company after the tech bubble burst. And they start down this journey to build an enterprise software company selling data center technology. Michelle's shaking her head over there. Yeah. What's going through your head right now? Well, I mean, that's an almost impossible task. I was hearing it read about, you know, I obviously got to know Ben much later in his life. But you know, it's hard enough to build. So think about how hard it is to build shrink rep software that you're going to sell and install at a customer when you know you're going to do it. And this is before SaaS, right? So his stuff was all on Prem. And they had to take basically tooling that was built for internal ops people to manage customer environments and turn it into a shrink rep product. And so, you know, you just think about like the usability of stuff you would build for like, you know, internal use versus the UI for customers. And, you know, in the level of complexity you tolerate. And so just, you know, the amount of heroic effort that it must take in to get that product to be, you know, a real product, I think, pretty huge. On the flip side, if you think about it, you know, they built something that was ahead of its time because their business was so complex. And, you know, to my earlier point, as enterprises start to adopt virtualization, they start needing something that looks very much like what they built for their own internal management. So, you know, is it, is it crazy or genius? I don't know. But talk about, and I can't even imagine doing that public. Like that would be incredibly hard as a pivot if you're, you know, a private venture-backed company. Never mind. You're on the stock exchange. Right. Right. Yeah. So just for context, or you go ahead, Ben. Yeah. I mean, we'll get into tech themes later. But thinking about, you know, my job all day and working on an early stage idea and doing customer validation, you have to always find a proxy for your customer and figure out, you know, would someone use this, is this feature useful, trying to get inside their head and be into it what the customer might want. But, you know, the, you know, Michelle, you said on the flip side, like they were their own customer. And they were years ahead. So they were kind of, you know, building something that was going to be valuable a few years in the future once all the dust settled with absolute perfect information on what the necessary components of the thing were. Yeah. I mean, the perfect, you know, the perfect scenario there is they had the persona 100% right. Right. They were building tooling for server admins who were needing to manage environments at scale with multiple applications in there. And that, that's the way I T began to look five years after they started selling that software. So you're, you're dead right. You know, probably their biggest advantage was they were ahead in kind of the kind of software operation they were building. And they had the persona a thousand percent dialed in because they had lived that pain right all day every day trying to run that service offering. So, you know, with the challenges came huge advantages that they were able to parlay into a incredible software company. Yep. And I'm wondering, I mean, given that you, you both saw this when you acquired the company from the outside, but now, you know, you're a founder and CEO of an enterprise company. I mean, what, when you founded user mind in 2013, how long did it take you and how long did you work on building the products before you felt that it was ready to ship for customers? You know, you, you, you knew the customer persona when you started, but, just so we have context and our listeners have context like, how hard is this task? Oh, it's really hard. I mean, we spent four months interviewing. So for me, just to think about and define the persona, the use cases, the product, four months of interviews, probably 300 interviews. Just to kind of get to a set of requirements. And then we went through multiple iterations. So probably it took us two and a half years to go from an alpha or prototype alpha beta to launch the software publicly and begin selling it. And, you know, look, necessities, the mother of invention. So they, they had to do what they were doing or fail. And I'm sure that was, you know, that gritty determination was another, you know, big part of their later success. But that's a pretty hard turn to make, right? To take that software and figure out how to package it up. And, and I would imagine a lot of their challenges were UI related, right? Where how do we now, how do we now expose this tremendous tooling and IP into an application, right? That users can use who are not, ops were employees. And oddly enough, by the way, I never really talked to Ben about that part of their history. And I didn't never spent a lot of time talking about this particular moment in time. Well, what's funny is, you know, you'd imagine, I think if I went through this, I'd probably never want to talk about it again. But Ben went and wrote a whole book about it. Yeah. Yeah. Thank God. Right? I mean, I feel like he's the first, not investor, but first CEO, who essentially exposed the myth that it's all perfect all the time. And kind of gave, I think, CEOs and leaders permission to talk about all of the hard things, right? That really make, or what he calls the struggle. I remember when I was going to found that he told me, you know, your hardest challenge is going to be managing your own psychology. And it's he's, you know, dead right. And to me, his book gives people permission to talk about what that's really like. Yeah. I never, I never attribute it to that, but you're right. The last few years, it does seem like the, the climate of OK-ness to talk about these things has dramatically increased. Yeah. I think he was a big part of it. I don't remember. And, you know, and I wasn't an entrepreneur. You know, Ben is the person who changed my life and kind of got me out of Mercury and into startups. But, you know, I think, at least in my mind, that permission from someone like him to talk about the truth, he's a great gift. So you mentioned Mercury just for context for, for our listeners. So you, the way you came to HP was you had been at Mercury Interactive, right? Which HP had acquired shortly before the Observer acquisition. Yeah. Sad day. Sad day when HP acquired Mercury. Yeah. I love Mercury. I mean, we weren't looking to be all all acquisitions are hard on all sides. So what, what was was Mercury and how did you come there? And what ended up being the fit that you saw between what Observer became and Mercury? Yeah. Well, so one, so I was at Mercury for almost eight years. I was originally in the pre-sales organization. So I was in for people who don't know. It's like technical sales, right? You're going out installing software and you're kind of the technical half of the selling motion in an enterprise software company. And I joined Mercury, probably about 200 people or 250 employees. And I stayed through 3000 through almost a billion in revenue. So it was an incredible experience. I bet. Really amazing. Yeah. And I spent half my time there in the field and in New England. And in fact, you know, started out really just, you know, POC and selling technology. And I was very blessed as the company scaled. I ended up owning more strategic accounts from a technical pre-sales perspective. And so when you're selling to GE or Fidelity, they'll say, no, you know, we want a three year roadmap with Mercury. We want to talk about how to partner strategically. And so I started to work very closely with the product organization and eventually moved out to the California and took my first product role. And I was very blessed. So I was the product, the second product manager of a product called Load Runner, which when I took over that product was already a $250 million business. It had 65% market share. Customers loved it. The product worked. And so I learned product management or how to think about product strategy, you know, taking over it and like an incredibly successful business. And so I was given such freedom to put it in tele sales, put it in partners, innovate on the product. And I can't imagine a better school of product management. And I, you know, rotated around, I basically managed all pieces of the testing business. And then when we got acquired by HP, my boss called me and said, hey, you know, there's this really broken business. So this is now the time when virtualization is just exploding in the enterprise. Opswars probably is the market leader in data center automation competing with Blade Logic at IBM. You know, HP had a business. This is kind of five years after the pivot. And as you said, virtue, we're in 2007 now virtualization is, it's finally a thing. It is. And you know, when you look at that, what that really means is that all these kind of human methods, right, the manual ways of now automating data center management end to end start, you know, to break down essentially. You can't scale human beings indefinitely. And so there's this incredible froth and excitement over this automation market. And HP had acquired a couple companies. They acquired a company called Radia. They had acquired a company which did, you know, serve kind of like Opswars serve automation, but they did client desktop management as well. And they acquired a storage product called App IQ. But really, you know, after spending probably $100 million having 200 engineers on this problem, we're fifth in the market. And so, you know, my, you've all said to me, my boss, the head of products at Mercury said, hey, you know, there's a lot of heat in the sales organization about this. Customers want a solution from HP and we're losing a lot of deals. You know, you're kind of my glass breaker. You want to go in there and figure it out. And it'll be a great opportunity for you, great exposure. And so that's, that's kind of how I got in a position where I needed to think through a strategy which ultimately led to acquiring Opswars. Yeah, did you, I might be skipping ahead here a little bit and then David could take us back, but this is a perfect T.F. For how did you do that build versus buy? How do you do that calculation? How is that done in a company like that? Yeah, you know, this is kind of interesting. So I took over the grid to do it, took over the business and two weeks later we had this, I don't even know what we call it, quarterly business review, QBR. And I'm supposed to be updating, you know, the head of software, Tom Hogan and Deb and you've all kind of all the execs of software on our strategy. And I don't, I just took over like, I don't know what strategy is. And so I, I just kind of went back to first principles. And so to me, first principles are what all users want to do and what's happening in the market. And so I kind of interviewed everybody in the team and I talked to the analysts and I got some basic data. And the math to me was incredibly clear. So when I looked at it, you know, we had 200 engineers on something where we were, you know, generating whatever, 20 million in revenue, we're fifth in the market. And when I looked at the first three players, so to me, there's either emerging markets or consolidating markets. And it's important to know what market you're in. And when I looked at that, I thought, well, gosh, you know, between optsware, market leader, blade logic, second player, IBM, who'd done an acquisition, 80% of the market is in the hands of three vendors. Well, that's not an emerging market. That's a consolidating market. And, and I, so that's kind of question one is where are we at in the market evolution? And question two is who are we as a company? And, you know, there are companies who can disrupt a market that's consolidated. They're, they're, I mean, that's, you know, at Mercury could have done it if we wanted to. But my point of view is that, you know, HP at the time and still, by the way, probably is, is a channel company. And what they really have is just like IBM is an incredible channel. And what they're great at is selling good software to companies who trust them and delivering it. And what they're not good at is building new things from scratch. And so the second part of my calculus was, you know, Sunsu says, you know, if you know yourself and you know the enemy, you'll be victorious in a thousand battles. We have big fans of Sunsu on this podcast. I'm a huge fan. And so my second rationale was in a consolidated market, there is no path for a company like HP to build its way to victory. So you're only left with buy or exit the market. And you think if it was an emerging market, then HP would have had a chance at building their own, but still would be typically worse than than a startup. It would have been almost impossible for that to happen. But yes, I mean, in theory, we could have had a chance. And you probably would have taken a different strategy in that context, right? But so that, I mean, I actually was given a very simple problem. There was nothing really complex about answering that question. I mean, there's more to it, but that's essentially the math. And so, and you know, and even more, if you looked at it in the context of the whole portfolio, you know, why would you invest so much engineering for so little return? Because, you know, the other part about software, which we all understand in valuation, is that the only players that make any money are the number one or number two player in the market. So, so even if there was a path for HP to become from five to four or take out IBM and five to three, profitability goes to the winner. And so you lose money indefinitely on a software business, unless you become the dominant player and then you make insane profit. And to me, if there's no path to the number one or number two for you based on who you are, you know, that's really why you need to look at a buy solution. And so that was really, I think I presented five slides. It was very concrete. I probably, I also, by the way, spent a bunch of time interviewing salespeople and trying to understand how important this was, meaning, you know, we're, you know, how often was it coming up and deals? You know, what was the channel relevance? Right? Because the other piece of it is if we did a deal, can we monetize? Are we talking to the people who'd buy it? Are, do we feel like we could have gotten that money that went to optsware IBM? And that was maybe the last piece of the calculus was the channel fit was very high. So, HP at the time had many brands open view being one of the most famous ones that we were selling to the operations teams. So we had a very experienced channel selling to the same buyer that would be buying optsware or buying Blade Logic. And when you, when you really step back and look at that math, it's pretty obvious that it has to be an M&A scenario or you should shut the business down. Right. But that was phase one. But you probably did enough calculus on what is this market look like in five or ten years where it was like we can't afford to not play in this market? Yeah, I mean, that's all the obvious math. I mean, yeah, I guess I was implied in my head. I mean, I think probably if that didn't make sense, HP wouldn't have already been in the space. Right. So maybe that's why I didn't reference it. You know, I think it was for a future of the data center, right? I mean, virtualization is now, I mean, I don't know that there's any data center probably in the world that doesn't at least have some degree of virtualization. Oh, yeah. Oh, and by the way, now it's become containerization. So if you had won this battle in theory, you have a very strategic control point. So to me, that goes to the now you're in the second question, which is, okay, if it's either go by the winner or shut your business down, you've asked the next question, which is, do we, is this strategic land? Do we have to own this land? Is it a strategic control point to owning the future disruption of the enterprise or does it, does it, is it strategic to the buyer to the point where if I don't have this, I undermine other businesses and you've kind of and the buyer being the end customer here, the business operations person. Yeah. And so, you know, you guys have already made the argument. It's pretty clear that, you know, our actual uber theory at the time was that for IT operations folks, automation and monitoring were ultimately converged. And so the winning vendor for IT operations wasn't just the winning vendor who had HP OpenView, but it was the one who had the best automation and the best monitoring. And, you know, and when you think about it at that level, by the way, then your competitors are very few people. You're competing with HP and with a BMC and CA. And so the number of people who could actually, if that's really the winning strategy and IT operations, you know, how many people are positioned well to compete with us. And so we really thought that if we did this deal, it was us and BMC competing to dominate IT operations. And, you know, in light of that, you can see why the buy decision became very clear, that we felt it was strategic land, not just because of the immediate opportunity around, you know, virtualization and kind of the core automation problem, but our hypothesis that it would become a converged solution and that that would actually strengthen our already dominant OpenView business, right? And that it would be a OnePlus 1 is 3 in the broader IT operations business. So you can see what drove, you know, from our point of view, we called it a coveted asset. We felt that Opsware would be, you know, not just bringing the Opsware business, but it would be affecting a much larger existing business within HP. Yeah. So, so you do end up buying it in July 2007 for $1.6 billion. And after the pivot five years earlier, in the public markets, the public market pivot, what then became Opsware was trading for $28 million of market cap, which was $40 million less than the amount of cash that they had in the bank. So they had 60 million, there's 70 million of cash in the bank and they're trading for $28 million. So five years later, you know, incredible turnaround and, you know, achieve an exit that's 50 times that. What was it like after you bought them though? I mean, from an integration process and a culture, I mean, this was a team that had been through the fire twice. And now the part reached me. Absolutely. I want to know that. And Michelle, one thing I've really been like with holding back from asking is, okay, so you make this presentation and it's five slides and you make the decision like, what logistically happens after that? Like you shoot an email to like, you know, Ben at Opsware, like how does that happen? Yeah. Yeah. So there's actually two interesting thing that happens if you don't mind before we get to the integration. So the process, obviously the executives have to kind of come to some consensus that they agree to that. And there was, you know, quite a lot of discussion that I wasn't part of, but where, you know, the head of software talked to his head of sales and so kind of validating, hey, this is important. You know, hey, we're seeing them and all the deals. So, you know, the executives needed to go and both think about it as well as kind of validate the data I put forward to them about how important this was going to be. So, you know, it took, it took some time for us to get kind of organizational alignment on the state of the market and, you know, how key this could be. And, you know, honestly, that was, there was not that controversial. I think, you know, it's really clear that we needed something that customers wanted us to have a product. The interesting discussion was then, who do you buy? So kind of before you get to the buying Opsware, there was an alternate, you know, a vendor. And so, blade logic, right? Blade logic, right? Yeah. So, which BMC did buy? Which BMC did buy, right? So, you know, the interesting thing about that is, you know, you don't email. So, what happened is someone from CorpDev was assigned to us, right? So Sandeep, a jewelry at the time, was running corporate development and he kind of took ownership of the project on the CorpDev side. And I wasn't, you know, actually that involved in that, not in that piece of it, but, you know, I wasn't on all the email chains where they're emailing Ben. I was in most of the meetings. I did all the technical due diligence. So, you kind of start these threads and we ran our threads in parallel. So, we were talking to both Opsware and Blade logic. And, you know, that involved, you know, financial due diligence, customer reviews, technical due diligence, it was pretty fascinating. In fact, once we had decided our vendor, I was actually on site, we were on site during their sales kickoff, which was a little known fact. And I, in fact, couldn't leave the room. So, everybody else is allowed to leave. But there was so many mercury people at Opsware that people were worried that if I left, everyone would know who I was. So, there was more, there was quite a lot of drama to that. But, but look, the, the net of, you know, how do you, why, why, why HP versus, or why Opsware versus Blade logic, you know, to me it boiled down to what do you need to buy and how many acquisitions can we execute? So, there's kind of a little known wrinkle here, which is while they started as a server automation company, that was the loud cloud heritage. You know, Ben's vision was to automate the entire data center. So, they did acquisitions to acquire a runbook automation technology from a company called I Conclude that was based in Seattle actually. And they bought a network automation company, actually believe that one was based in Seattle as well. So, they made a couple acquisitions to extend their product line from server automation to what they called data center automation. And our theory was actually slightly bigger than that is we felt that what customers wanted to do is deploy services end to end. And so, the winning vendor would be executing a product strategy to bring, you know, desktop server network storage, all of the automation elements into a suite to automate application deployment so that, you know, servers on some level are just one tiny piece of an end to end IT service. So, that was the strategy we were executing. And when you look at that, we had a client product already at HP and we had a storage product from these acquisitions we had. And so, really what, you know, there was a lot of differences from a market share perspective. Clearly, Opswer was head of Blade Logic. And that's very attractive. You kind of de facto always want to buy the market leader. However, at the time Blade Logic had a better product than Opswer. So, that is the downside of this kind of loud cloud. And I would say better product in the sense of usability. So, where they lost deals, it was on usability. Where they won deals, it was an enterprise scale. So, there were product implications to this kind of pivot that they did. We don't know. To preview tech themes a little bit. I mean, this is something that for listeners that aren't as familiar with enterprise technology, you know, it's just such a hard thing initially to get your mind around. Steve Jobs talked about this that like in the enterprise, it's not always the best product that wins. You know, Opswer was the market leader, but as you're saying, they didn't have the best product. They had the best sales motion. Yeah. Well, and at least in server automation. So, you know, their strategy was to basically move to the suite motion. So, they had the best suite. Blade Logic did not have other products. They had partnerships to solve that problem. So, you know, if Opswer could, you know, could move the buying criteria to being data center automation, they won because it isn't just head to head product to product. So, you know, our assessment was number one, we wanted to buy the market leader and that having the, you know, first mover in our channel, best best current position in what we thought was one of the best channels in the world is the best combination. But the second piece of math for us was that if we had gone after Blade Logic, we would have had to do three additional acquisitions and we felt that the risk, even though if it would have been cheaper, we didn't, we thought that actually the likelihood of our ability to successfully acquire four companies was significantly less than one. And if you look at big companies buying, you know, small companies, in many cases, the medium size ones do the best, you know, they're big enough that they can be put in the channel and it works. And in many cases, these little technology tuck-ins, you know, a $10 million acquisitions harder to make work than a billion dollar acquisition because there's not critical mass of people and ideas to teach the rest of the company how to sell. So the two pieces for us on Opswear were, I guess, three strategic alignment, they had the full suite, they were the market leader. And even if they had some product efficiencies, we felt that we were much more likely to be able to execute that successfully than Blade Logic plus three others. And so that's kind of the math that led to the end of us saying, you know, our preference, our top partner, you know, our top target would be Opswear versus Blade Logic. And you know, we continue talking to Blade Logic to the end. So if we had lost Opswear to BMC or to whomever, you know, we would have had a fallback plan, but we had a clear preference. I paid a premium for it, frankly. So now I want to jump to the culture and the people piece now. I mean, that all makes, that is bullet proof logic there. But you know, you're eat hard thing about hard things, are you listen to ban or you look at Andrews and Horowitz and, you know, the first thing that comes to mind is not, you know, HP. What was it like, you know, integrating this team? Well, you know, interesting. So, you know, one, if you've read the book, Ben has a management technique called Freaky Friday. So I thought, hey, I'm going to run the integration and they're just going to give me some special projects and send me off in the sunset. You know, I didn't have a product, I wouldn't, I didn't expect to have a product ownership at that point. So Ben actually swapped me and his had a product at the time, Eric Vissria. So Eric took over ITSM. Eric is now a benchmark capital as a BC and found that his own company kind of in between his stinted HP and that, and big joining benchmark. But, you know, Eric joined the ITSM team and took it over and Frank Chen, who was the product management half of that partnership. Now it is now, it is, and as now Andrews and Horowitz moved into engineering to help under Jason Rosenfall, who was the head of engineering there at the time. And so Ben gave me product and that was an incredible. So he calls it Freaky Friday where he swaps executives. Oh, like the, like the Jamie LeCardis movie. Yeah, that's what's one of his management techniques that he wrote about. And I think, so, and then, and I worked directly for him. So that was pretty amazing as an opportunity and experience. I think a part of why it worked is that I was at HP. So, you know, I was a Mercury person where the DNA is much closer to Opsware. You know, many, many by the way, like that sale, that silly sales kickoff story, there were many Mercury people at HP. You know, Mercury was a very Israeli company, very, very aggressive, very direct. You know, we were, you know, very customer focused and winning was incredibly important. So a lot of external values that I think mapped really closely to the Opsware teams. So I think one piece of it was, you know, he, he put someone in charge of the integration who had the same cultural values as his own team. And I think that made things easier. But, you know, for sure, there's culture friction. I mean, you know, as an example, we're, we're going through the integration, the formal integration process. And I remember being on the phone with the IT organization and the IT organization is insisting that we have to shut down all these non-approved apps that Opsware has. And one of the non-approved apps, I'll give you two that are just outrageous. One of them happened to be the licensed key generator for all of the Opsware software. And we had to shut it off at the time of acquisition, according to on IT. And I forgot, someone helped me understand why we would, you know, spend $1.6 billion and then basically be unable to sell and turn on any of them. You know, or the other one was, they were like, Grace, period of like we should spin up something else. Day one. So you know, you're in this like, you know, six month, whatever it was for a month, I don't even remember. It was kind of like dog years. You're in this integration, which is super intense, but you have this deadline. And you know, IT had very strict objectives. I mean, Mark Kurt was running HP at the time. So that was Mark Kurt's HP. Second, you know, they had a source control standard within the company. And of course, they were like, well, you don't have to migrate all the source control in source code into this new. And like, as you- This is pre-git hub. Yeah. And as you know, like, you know, in that time, you know, that was just almost impossible. So there was a lot of these kind of weird operational hurdles that I wouldn't have anticipated. You know, that's kind of a whole class of problem that you have to deal with. You know, again, I feel like I was very lucky because, you know, I was kind of a liaison between- I probably absorbed a lot of that weird cultural friction for those guys in that sense, least, during the integration. And actually at the time Scott Cooper was my partner on the opposite side. So he's now the, I guess, COO, you know, running all the operating arm of injuries and horowitz. But, you know, he was a great partner on the opposite side. So I found- for me working with them was very easy. And a lot of my job was basically trying to prevent the big mechanism of HP from, you know, making unnatural things happen. But, you know, you know, once we had them integrated, I think, you know, then there was- then there was a lot more interesting. So you kind of get this middle period where you're dealing with all the organizational and ministeria that's frustrating. You know, I think one thing we did well in that period was we took market share. So we kind of, you know, really sold the heck out of Opsware in that period and gained a pretty good advantage over Blade Logic because of the time, you know, BMC hadn't yet announced their deal with Blade. And then, you know, as we formally integrated them, we had all of the challenges you can imagine. So the software, the sales organization, you start to break up the teams, right? So instead of being Opsware now, engineering's part of Ben's organization. So Ben took over products and engineering for HP software. And so, you know, on some level, that's a little safe. You know, the sales organization got put under some of the sales leaders as overlays. And to be honest, that's an area where if I look back, gosh, I wish we had done a better job. So, you know, the good news is we had these experts, these black belts, and an Opsware was global. So we immediately got traction globally. But, you know, overlays are a hard thing to make work. And I feel like, you know, and you say, you say overlays as in there is HP management on top of each of those sort of, sorry, not being clear sales overlays. So, so generally speaking, when you, you know, put a new product that's hard to sell, there's a lot of IP and how to sell it. And so you take these sales organization of Opsware and who used to just sell Opsware. And now they're basically what we call overlays, they work with the HP people because the HP people already own all those accounts, and they sell this huge portfolio of software, but they don't know Opsware. So you have this kind of digestion period where you're having, you're trying to disseminate the expertise of the acquired company into your sales organization. And eventually you want the motion to be that it's fully absorbed and everybody's fully trained and you can sell. But, you know, that's the biggest question is how do you train and enable that sales organization to be even half as effective as an Opsware person was in, you know, objections and challenges and competitive landscape and so forth. And so that presents just a whole own set of challenges. I'm sorry. Oh, I was going to say I think this is a, this is a big thing for listeners to understand, you know, when it's easy to look at this from the outside and say, you know, okay, like each, you know, enterprises about sales channels and sales motions, like I sort of get what that means, but like, this is it in practice. I mean, the Opsware sales team was, you know, sort of a finely tuned machine to sell data center, you know, automation and management, but the HP sales team is selling all sorts of things, whole portfolio of everything you can imagine to CIOs at companies and, and so now Opsware is going to be just a small piece of that portfolio. And so you need the HP sales team to digest that and understand how to how to sell Opsware best, but it's not just about selling Opsware. It's about selling everything. Yeah. So you have a huge enablement challenge. And that, you know, that was, I love that, you know, I ran, I ran the product management and product marketing organization for the combined business, what we ended up calling BSA. So it was business service automation. We kind of did away with the DCI term, but it was, you know, phenomenal challenge. I mean, we did so much training. I actually flew in the year after that acquisition. I think I flew 350,000 miles worldwide. You know, visiting customers, doing deals, trading reps, you know, it's pretty phenomenal. And we saw huge growth. You know, it's been a long time for me. It's been a decade, but, you know, I don't, I don't remember. I think, I think by the time I left, we'd seen, you know, 350% growth in the business. So from that perspective, you know, talk about a huge, you know, it's at least a huge early down payment of success on your, on your vision of, of kind of the value of that technology. Yeah. And you know, we've got a format to this show that at some point we'll move here into, into categorization. But I'm curious looking back on it all, where the state of, you know, data centers are today. And with the rise of cloud services and the major players being Google, Amazon, Microsoft, or, you know, you can make arguments about that. But you don't often hear HP thrown around in there. And what do you think happened in the last decade from the world of, you know, data center automation into business soft business center automation, business service automation into the world that we have today. And, and, you know, why is an HP one of those big three big four? Yeah, interesting. Well, I mean, I, I look at the natural successors of Opsware and I think of companies like Puppet and Chef. And by the way, how, how fascinating, you know, one's local in Seattle here, but they're both going to be public companies. I don't remember if Puppet already filed, but, you know, it's pretty clear that those companies are, are, on their way. Yep. So, you know, the, you know, the inheritors of the problem in the market opportunity are those companies. And in fact, it'll be very interesting to see, you know, whether, you know, Dockerization brings a new generation, a third generation, or whether Dockerization just accelerates Chef and Puppet, they're able to capitalize on that motion. But, uh, why, you know, why not HP? Look, it's very hard for big companies to innovate. And here's the reason why, you know, innovation number one is a people thing. So you have to have a really high quality of thought. And that's, that's all people. And at least at the time I was at HP, it was interesting. It was a very, you know, herd had a very manufacturing mindset. And manufacturing companies look at people is very interchangeable. Software companies have this idea of the 10X or where, you know, the 10X developer can do things that no one else can do. And the 10X product person can see things, no one else can see. And it's really true that there isn't a scalableness to the way software works inherently. Like, you can't replace Steve Jobs with, you know, a hundred other people and get the same work as Steve Jobs did, right? It just doesn't work that way. So, you know, when you, when you look at kind of our, our software organization or a software business, one, you need to retain those top people. And I think big organizations have just an incredibly hard time doing it because of a culture mismatch. You know, my level of patience for the HP culture was very low. And by the way, my culture fit with them was very low. You know, I swear to much for HP, for example. But, but so you, you get that like we're DNA mismatch. So, that's kind of one big challenge. I think the other big challenge is that institutionally you need courage. So, actually, I think Mercury is an example. There are big software companies that can innovate and can, you know, not have a disruption, you know, destroy their business, but take advantage of it. Maybe chef and puppet will as an example. But, you know, Mercury went from, you know, zero to 3000 people, zero to billions. You can do it. And I think the second thing required besides, you know, these 10 X's in your key roles in product and engineering and sales is you need the courage to basically bet before the data's obvious. So, you know, ops was an unusual situation where the product, you know, by the way, their vision was, you know, whatever 10 years ahead of its time release. So, timing might have been a problem for them. But the visions were dead on and the product was close enough that they could go monetize it. And they ended up, their timing was right on virtualization. So, talk about the confluence of events. You know, I think when you're in a big company, the second challenge that's really hard is that disruptions often sneak up on you. So, if you're HP and you own ops where are you've won, do you really have anyone in the company who can feel that Docker is coming and know that ex-estentially Docker is a threat to your control or that, you know, whatever it was. I don't know, I wasn't close enough to the business around the chef and puppet timeframe. Yeah, I actually probably was DevOps, right? So, the fact that like development and ops were converging represents an existential threat to your business. So, you know, the second challenge a big company has is not only do you have the right person, but that person would see that threat coming and be able to mobilize the leaders to move. And so, you know, how do you, in a big company, you need that, the geniuses, you need them to see far like with almost no data, you need leadership who bet based on that. And that's, I mean, to be honest, you know, most executives and big companies are used to waiting until the entire PowerPoint deck is 50 slides and all the data is there and the decision safe and you have Microsoft and not under Satya, but maybe that's Balmer's Microsoft, and you miss the entire market. And so, I think that's probably why it's not HP and it is puppet, because it's much more than the software is the outcome of the people and the process, the leadership used, right? And that once that falls apart, it's almost impossible to replicate. Oh, man, I'm just... My two cents. You can hear this is so... It's going to fit in so perfectly with my tech theme. Should we move along to get there? I do, I definitely want to come back and talk about what it's like now having been on your board at usermind, but let's finish out, ops were at first. So acquisition category, for me, this seems pretty clear. It's a product that you bought to put into the HP sales channel. So to me, this is a product acquisition. Yeah, and I've been torn between product and business line and we sort of define business line as self-sustaining, independently functioning product that comes with sales and vision that just may not be independently broken out to shareholders as a separate line item, but basically functions as its own independent business. It seems like after hearing you talk and after David asserting product, I'm closer to product now and I'm thinking there's much tighter integration much more quickly and it was not really an independent business, but would love to hear your thoughts on that. Yeah, no, not really. Ben took over the whole HP software business. He became the head under Tom Hogan of product and engineering and we definitely had the ops were organization separate for a short period of time, but no, the integration was incredibly rapid. And the purpose of that was to inject the DNA into the broader organization. So there was a larger transformation happening within HP software at the time, right? The acquisition of Mercury was I think the first and then, you know, ops were and they did others after I left, you know, autonomy not being a great example, but there was a bunch and there was an Uber strategy and overarching strategy there that they were trying to transform the culture and transform the software organization. So the integration strategy was very much driven by this overarching vision that they had about kind of bringing in a bunch of fresh DNA. So no, it was not run as a standalone business except for the, you know, period during the integration when that's required. Cool. Moving to David, go for it. Well, I was going to say, then we have what would have happened otherwise. I actually, I think we probably covered that pretty well with the discussion of BMC and blade logic. Yeah, I have one thing to sort of posit on that and Michelle, if you guys have made the decision that, you know, what we're not going to buy, we're not going to build, we're just going to be done in this market. Would HP be in a significantly different position today? Well, you know, I've been gone so long. It's a very, very hard question to answer. Look, I think, I mean, I guess if I had been there and the answer was we didn't want to do ops where or blade, then I think I would have proposed that we take all the engineers, I would shut down the DCA business and I would have proposed essentially shooting for the next product and taking that engineering team and building a converged automation and monitoring product with every engineer from the team and basically give up the land for the current iteration and wait for the next disruption and bet that we'd be on time. I don't know if that would have happened or if it would have meant successful, but I believe I wouldn't have gone down without a fight. I would have fought for what I thought was the right thing for the company. Right. Yeah, it's a very interesting tech theme where, you know, we've seen this multiple times with multiple companies, but when you miss one hill, it really gives you an opportunity to see the world from a different perspective and be better at taking the next hill and be better at, you know, targeting exactly what customers want and there's a little bit of desperation there. I mean, Apple on the iPhone. There's tons of examples of mother of invention. Yep. Yep. We miss this war and we miss the battle, but hopefully we hit the next one. Yeah. I mean, loud cloud into ops where. Yep. So we jump into tech themes? Yeah. Yeah. Ben, you want to kick it off? Well, that was the main one that I wanted to point out. So when do you go for it? Okay. Well, I just loved I was filing grinning ear to ear, Michelle, when you were talking about timing and management and this is for me what this story just illustrates so well is like the absolutely critical role of timing in technology, both consumer and enterprise. I mean, loud cloud was 100% the right product. You know, I mean, it was AWS before AWS and AWS is one of the probably top three biggest and most important products in technology today, but the timing was wrong. And and I think about, you know, I heard I can't remember where I heard this, but I think Sequoia, the venture capital firm did a study, you know, a number of years ago about what is sort of the most important factor for for their investment partners in how the quality of their decision-making and the quality of their investments and they concluded that it was it was timing. It was getting the timing right in a market. But what I think you you said that, so that was what I had down as my theme for this episode, but I think what you said, there's more to it than that. And that's that the role of talent in technology, both from a product and a management standpoint is managing that timing. Like, you know, it would have been so easy at loud cloud to say like, well, we got the timing wrong. We're done. But what Ben and Mark were able to do was say, we got the timing wrong, but we're going to get the timing right on this other piece of it and we're going to pivot into that. And I think that's what like, you know, talking about 10X folks in tech, that's like what it's having that vision and being able to manage timing in a market that's really, you know, what it comes down to. I think both in consumer and enterprise. I mean, yeah, look, I think timing is just, it's it's the one law you just don't control. You know, I think it's interesting. I don't I think Mark Andreessen talks about it, you know, you know, good market bad team. They do all right, you know, terrible market great team. You kind of screwed. And so like what Trump's what, you know, you've got, you've got kind of what is the idea good enough? How big is the market? You know, timing and then people. And so I always say like, what's the what's the why? Why what's the idea? What problem you're solving? Why? The second question is why now? Why isn't inevitable now that this idea should matter or be more relevant or actually be a business? I mean, the third part is where team is in is like, you know, what's the likelihood you have to execute into that? And then it's it's interesting, you know, I think on the people front, it's, you know, if you go into Ben Horowitz's office within Andreessen, he has people on the wall, pictures of people, and it's scientists on one wall and boxers on the other. And we're both a big boxing fans. But he would summarize it this way, which he says entrepreneurship is the intersection of intellect and courage. And so I think it's not just seeing that the that the thing is happening, it's having the courage to fight for the deal, you know, in the case of an acquisition or fight for, you know, the strategy or fight for like your life in the company if you're failing. And I think that is that can't be underestimated, right? Is that is the level of grit and kind of I call it a little bit of irrationality that's required in that human capital to be successful. Yeah, I mean, I love the phrase. It was it was that right that took a a negative equity value public company at the time of the pivot to, you know, a 1.6 billion dollar acquisition, right? Yeah, I think that it's a great man. There's no question about that. And and one of the most genuinely humble and nice people I've ever met in my life, which just is doubly incredible. That's awesome. All right, should we grade this? Yeah, yeah. So Michelle, we were talking before the show and you said yes indeed, I will I will help great. So I'm curious, you know, looking back on this and sort of taking yourself out of the equation. Yeah, you know, how to go. I would probably give it a B. You know, I think we we were able to get, you know, a huge revenue boost, you know, we essentially accelerated the market dominance of ops where I think the reason I wouldn't give it an A is I don't think we saw the strategic long-term vision come to fruition the way it certainly could have. And I think the biggest differences people, you know, you lose Ben, you lose me, you lose Mark Cranny, you know, those are the people who would have made that next wave of value creation happen. So that's my my perspective. Although I guess maybe it's an A plus in the sense that if we hadn't acquired ops where Mark and Ben wouldn't have founded Andrews and David wouldn't have founded user mind. And I think they've disrupted the valley. So, you know, maybe it's an A an A from that point of view. David's pulled that card before where the actual financial outcome for the company was something but the goodness for the world was something else. I think David, you're. And maybe I meant B from HP's perspective, you know. Yeah, and that is that is how we great on the on the show typically is how good of a decision was it for the acquired decision. Great. And David, I think the time when you pulled that was PayPal Mafia. Yeah. Well, and it's like I think it's completely relevant here again. I mean, there is an ops where Mafia, you know, you talked about Eric at Benchmark and you know, the whole practically the whole Andrews and the Horowitz team or at least the initial team. You know, you and and we're sitting here in the in the beautiful user mind office looking out over the the skyline of Seattle. So, um, well, and you know, locally in Seattle, obviously, aptia was their first investment. So that's where I was there had a product of that company as since IPO'd and you know, setting up to that CEO, Ben had acquired his last company I conclude. So I mean, there's many more right, you know, their initial investment in Okta and, uh, you know, now signal effects where that's one of the CTOs of ops where is now the co-founder there and Carthic Rao Eric Fisher is roommate is the CEO and it just and we goes on and on and on. Wow. Yeah, it's pretty crazy. Wow. It's totally crazy. Well, I can't argue with those grades. Yeah, I mean, I have no, I have far less perfect information. So B sounds great to me. Let's, um, but before we jump into Carvettes, you know, I'm sort of dying to talk about, you know, given all that like what's it like now on the other side of the world where, you know, Ben's at Andreessen Horowitz and he's on your board. Well, um, well number one, I mean, Ben's an incredible board member. So, you know, taking away user mind and just my personal journey, um, he's phenomenal. You know, I think their whole philosophy. So now, you know, obviously at aptia, I was a, you know, in the leadership team and I was part of the board meetings and would present to the board. And so I got to see that board. And, you know, now I've got my own board, but, you know, it's really striking to me this thesis that they have even more broadly than Ben that operators, former CEOs make better board members. And for me, you know, I don't know if that's true broadly because I'm working with Ben, but I feel that Ben's experience as a CEO helps me, you know, every day every week, every month, every board meeting. He's been just incredibly, you know, just been invaluable in my development as a CEO and helping me kind of think about how to grow the company on every level. And, you know, you think about board members as being really valuable in the context of a board meeting, you know, reviewing financials and helping you think about when to scale what function and when do you add what executive and, you know, kind of how are you doing from a customer attraction point of view? And he's phenomenal there. But, you know, Ben to me is as or more valuable to a CEO in your one-on-ones where I might be talking with him about a management challenge or how do you run a staff meeting as you grow the company or, you know, how do you think about different inflection points in your own leadership style and the way the business is changing. And where do you spend your time and think about hiring your first exec, you know, how do you do that and what's what are you looking for? There's so many more ways that a board member adds value to a CEO's both decision making and growth as a CEO than the board meetings. And I found him to be, you know, and part of it is our relationship. I'm sure because I trust him and he knows me very well, but he's just an incredible sounding board with such a wealth of talent, you know. I remember asking him as an example to share advice. I asked him when I was hiring my first executive, my first non-co-founder executive in the company, kind of like, what's the central thing I'm looking for? And I'll just generalize it because I don't need to talk about the specific role. And his answer was an executive is someone who gives you leverage. I'm like, okay, that's the, actually, that is the ultimate trueism. So if you're hiring as a CEO, a person, one of the things is they probably know more about their function than you, which means that it's very hard to interview them and know you're slightly the way person. But on the flip side, it also means that if that person joins and doesn't give you instant leverage, you've hired the wrong person. And talk about like, I've never in my entire life heard anyone in like a single word. To steal it so simply. So succinctly articulate how to evaluate a hire and how to both pre both before hiring them and as they've joined the company. And those, though, that's just a simple example of like one question I've asked him and the kind of response that I get. So I don't know if that's the type of information you're looking for, but yeah, I feel blessed every day. Hey, I learned something today. Yeah. Yeah. Me too. Yeah. Well, and it's just a, I mean, this is something I've been reflecting on a lot recently, as being an venture myself and Ben and I've been doing this together too. You know, really, this is making the case for, as a venture investor, there's this concept of being a company builder and contributing to the building of the company. You called it adding value Michelle, but you know, and I really think like if you're not doing things like that, you know, then you're then what are you? You're you're a stock picker, right? And does that even make sense in startups? Like you can't pick stocks instead of said. And if you want to, you know, earn returns for your investors in yourself, the only thing that makes sense really is is to do, you know, approach this this craft like bendos, you know, and like Eric does a benchmark and you know, like many, many good VCs do, which is, you know, there has to be and for you, I would imagine, that provides a hugely compelling value why you would want them on your board. Oh, yeah. I mean, well, you know, there's so many kind of elements to how you think about your board composition and I think what you're looking for. But, you know, if you can get a person who is, you know, that level of genius, right, who can contribute in such a fundamental way to value building, you know, let's not underestimate when, you know, kind of the value of the brand as well. So not just Ben Horowitz, but in Dreson Horowitz. I mean, I think, you know, I remember in the early days of the company, engineers would say, you know, I'd be like, why did you take the meeting with us? And they'd say, well, you're an Andreessen Horowitz company. So, you know, the brand is also something that helps you build the company and separates you from other startups that, you know, helps you kind of be competitive in this war for talent, right? Which is happening all around us in Seattle. And then, you know, I think just the particular expertise that that board member brings is something extremely unique. So I, I don't, I did not know Ben was going to leave and start a venture capital firm when, when, you know, he left HP, but it's shaped my life. I mean, he's the person who said to me, you need to go be in a startup. He's why I went to AppTO and joined, and in fact, at the time, he said, you know, you should just found. But I had never worked in a startup. So I wanted to go work for a serial CEO and learn something. And I'm glad I did. I mean, I think it's the right choice for me. I knew the right choice for me. But, you know, he fundamentally shaped my life trajectory. So if I shaped his by kind of changing his trajectory by the acquisition, he's profoundly changed mine. I mean, I, I wouldn't have done. I'd be a CEO. I wouldn't have thought I would end up in startups. You know, I love product. Absolutely. A product person. But I didn't wake up at 23 thinking that's what I was going to do. So. Well, what a great perspective. Great. Great note to wrap this one up on. We do have our last final segment of Carvouts. And actually, this is a really good T up for mine for the week. Mine is Jimmy Iovine, the record industry executive and co-founder of Beats with Dr. Dre, who he produced as a music producer, was on the Bill Simmons podcast on the Ringer last week. And it's wonderful. And you know, it's the music industry and the record industry and lots of great stories there from all the artists from all genres that Jimmy worked with. But he talks about kind of just that what you were talking about, Michelle, and like the sort of courage to go and do his own thing and blaze his own path in the business. And he he talks about this concept of like having fear and like fear can be sort of paralyzing. And for a long time, he was paralyzed until he found like this this thing and that was music in the music industry that like the fear kind of motivated him. The fear was like, you know, I fear that I'm going to miss out if I don't go, if I don't go and I capture this opportunity, he's the analogy of like, you know, when you're playing baseball and like either, you know, you're in the outfield and you could think like, don't hit the ball to me, you know, you could be fearful of it or you could say like, you know, hit the ball to me because I'm fearful like, you know, I'm going to make the play. You know, if it doesn't come to me, I'm not going to make the play. Right. It's like opportunity to succeed rather than an opportunity to fail. Yeah, it's great. I highly recommend. Huh. Man, I love the Ringer podcast. If like, if you're listening to this show and you're thinking, I've listened to a lot of shows and, you know, I've listened to a lot of episodes of acquired. If there's any that was particularly good where I was like pumped up and like you felt like I was on my A game, it's because I listened to Bill Simmons before and I got this voice in my head and I was ready to go. So, you know, that's your carve out. You can take that one by also recommend you listen to the Ringer podcast. Mine is a software package called Starstacks and I've been, it's, it would be overselling to say I've been an amateur photographer. I've enjoyed taking pictures for a long time and especially I do these big backpacking trips every summer with my dad and this time I decided to carry the extra weight and bring about a two and a half pound tripod out with me and try and do some some star photos. And so this is super hard and I was bad at it four out of the five nights with either crazy blurry photos or like, you know, it was cold and the lens fogged or the clouds rolled in but one night or I kind of nailed it. And the process is wild. You like leave your, with the camera out on a tripod, you go to bed, you set an alarm, you wake up in the middle of the night like three, four hours later and you go collect it and you cross your fingers and hope for the best when you imported all later. And Starstacks is this incredibly cool piece of software on your computer that will take hundreds of long exposure photos that are taken over several hours and overlay them all on top of each other kind of automatically. So you don't have to do it all manually in Photoshop and really produce some cool star trails. So if anybody's interested, we can link to that from the show notes and I highly recommend Starstacks. That's all we've got. Michelle, thank you so much. Where can our listeners find you? Are you on the socials? Yeah, so Michelle, Feast or Twitter, we're at user mind ink. Both easy ways to meet, make, you know, kind of meet my acquaintance. You know, we're also on Facebook obviously as user mind and I'm Michelle Feast or pretty much everywhere socially or Michelle, use your mind. You know, if people are out there and you're an early founder and you're terrified, you don't take every meeting because I'm super busy. But I feel like I've only gotten where I've gotten because so many people have helped me. So, you know, easy, easy to get me and, you know, if I could make time to help folks, I definitely will. Awesome. Well, thanks again for coming on listeners. Yeah, thank you, Michelle. Listeners, check out the Slack, and we would love, love, or review on iTunes. So, thank you so much. Have a great day. We'll see you next time.