The making of a $5 Billion dollar company

I always thought that once you build a successful company that everything just ends up working out for you. I thought the world would beat a path to your door to give you money, work for you, and buy your product.

Well, it turns out that’s not the way that always works. Today’s guest came up with an idea, brought it to life and took it public. It recently sold for $5 billion dollars.

And yet when he sought funding for his next business idea, his past actually worked against him.

Gaurav Dhillon is the founder of SnapLogic which is the leader in self-service application & data integration.

Gaurav Dhillon

Gaurav Dhillon


Gaurav Dhillon is the founder of SnapLogic which is the leader in self-service application & data integration.


Full Interview Transcript

Andrew: Hey there, freedom fighters. My name is Andrew Warner. I’m the founder of Mixergy, where I interview entrepreneurs about how they built their businesses for an audience of real entrepreneurs. And I always thought that once you build a successful company, things just kind of work out for you, that the world beats a path to your door to give you money, to do deals with you, to work for you, to, you know, but your product. It turns out that’s not the way it always works.

Today’s guest actually did it. He took a company public, came up with an idea, brought it to life, took it public. It actually ended up selling most recently for over $5 billion. We’re not just talking about a little like penny stock thing or anything. And still when he went out to raise money for his next idea, Ben Horowitz of Andreessen Horowitz said that it worked against him that he made it before. I thought, “Wow, that’s so interesting.” And meanwhile, the idea is pretty similar to what he did before.

His name is Gaurav Dhillon. He is the founder of SnapLogic. SnapLogic and I’ll read the one sentence description and then we’ll talk about more what it means. SnapLogic is the leader in self-service application and data integration. Basically, you know how you’re using lots of different pieces of software and they all feel like they have data in them and there’s no way for them to talk to each other, SnapLogic makes it really easy for the software to communicate with each other. It’s basically the same thing that his previous company did, Informatica. Informatica, right, am I pronouncing that right?

Gaurav: Just like the Spanish, Informatica.

Andrew: Informatica. I just realize this as I read it, I was reading tons of stuff about you but all of the like I only heard your company names and your name in my head, this is the first time I get to actually say it all out loud. This interview where we find out about how he’s building the second company, what happened with the first company and what you guys can learn from it and frankly, what I could learn from it. Man, there’s so much I want to get out of this interview. It’s hosted by two companies, the first will host your website right. It’s called HostGator and the second will help you hire a phenomenal developers. It’s called Toptal.

Gaurav, good to have you here.

Gaurav: Pleasure, Andrew. Thank you for having me.

Andrew: Do you remember that blog article where Ben Horowitz explained why he was resistant?

Gaurav: I do.

Andrew: Explain to people, why was he resistant?

Gaurav: Well, I think the thing is, what is it that someone said once? It is difficult to make predictions especially about the future. Right? So it’s kind of a Yogi Berra thing, I think. But for venture capitalists and for entrepreneurs, it’s the name of the game. You basically have to bat that this thing that you don’t know a lot about, this human who knows a lot more about the thing they’re going to work on is going to be successful. And then you’ll look at some of the issues and you question the motivations of someone who has had prior success.

I mean nobody questions Richard Branson when he does Virgin Media, Virgin Airlines. I don’t know what’s he on to next Virgin Vacations. Is that taken? Anyway, but the point, you know? So I think the thing is there’s until you sort of established that you are going to go to bat and go try to make things big over and over again there’s a bit of like, look, you know, if you won the lotto, wouldn’t you live on the beach. Like what’s your motivation?

Andrew: That’s the phrase that if he already made it, if he said something like rich people don’t work on hard things, they do what they love, and starting a company is hard. By the way, before we go any further, we have to explain to people what SnapLogic is. You have me a great example before we started from Box, one of your clients. What are two pieces of software that they connect and that you guys help them connect?

Gaurav: Right, so we connect many things for them, but in the very early days we started by connecting. And this is very, very common by the way. This is Box. This is Adobe. This is GE. This is, you know, USAA, Clorox, very typically, you buy a certain set of applications to manage your human capital, your payroll, your employees, their bonuses, and you have different, and it’s not software anymore, you have different SaaS, different webs, different websites that you rent, also called cloud or SaaS apps for managing your sales force. So Box in the traditional manner sells stuff through salespeople, right? So if a salesperson closes an order in Salesforce, which was the sales CRM for Box, they now need to reflect some way of getting commission check to this person, or they’ll be very disappointed in work day, in the human capital management system.

Those two things need to be connected and, oh, by the way, if you add an employee, you need to add them into the email system, you need to take their photograph, that needs to then be reflected in the human capital system, in the payroll system, in the healthcare system and so on and so on.

Andrew: And all these different pieces of software are created by different companies, managed by different companies, and, yes, there are APIs, but understanding how to connect them is tough and so that’s where you guys come in.

Gaurav: Precisely.

Andrew: You glue them together.

Gaurav: If I give you a book on German grammar and say, “Here are the nouns, here are the verbs, here’s the past tense, future tense,” that doesn’t mean you can have a conversation in German. An API is like the grammar of an application. It tells you how to, you know, make sentences, but it doesn’t tell you how to have a conversation. So what we do is, in a sense, we provide that conversation amongst APIs, amongst applications, and in our business, Andrew, which is typically on the enterprise side, you know, I’m looking at a couple of names here that I printed out as an aid to memory, Illumina, Amgen, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Clorox, The Gap . . .

Andrew: These are all your clients.

Gaurav: These are all clients.

Andrew: You’re not, by the way, I asked you before the interview, can we talk about revenue? You said no. Can we say over $10 million? You said nothing. Can we say over one million? Nothing. I’m not going to ask you, but I do get a sense of your size with that . . .

Gaurav: How about less than $1 billion? [inaudible 00:05:31]

Andrew: Okay. So I get a sense of what you guys are doing now. Let’s understand how you got here.

Gaurav: Sure.

Andrew: Going back to, you told our producer, Informatica, this company that I was in awe of, I spent a lot of time researching, it’s very similar to this. Isn’t it?

Gaurav: Yes and no.

Andrew: Tell me?

Gaurav: First of all, I’m going to have a shout out to a great entrepreneur, you know, Aneel Bhusri and Dave Duffield are on their second run. These are the people who build PeopleSoft. It does HR software in client-server, and they are also the cofounders and now Aneel is the CEO of Workday, who does the same thing, but different. What happens is every 15, 20 years and if you start young, you have a chance to go to bat again. Every 15, 20 years, the computing platform changes so much that you can do things radically better with a new computing platform.

When we built Informatica, the world was going away from the mainframe into client server computing. This is the day of Windows and Sun Microsystems and Hewlett Packard. And now what’s happening is the world is going into cloud computing.

Andrew: So you are connecting that software from back then together, and now you’re connecting cloud software, but there’s a difference. And . . . ?

Gaurav: And we have built SnapLogic using cloud software. So we’re born in the cloud platform. I’ll give you two examples. One, in the days of client-server relational databases ruled the earth, Oracle, Sybase, Informix, some of the listeners might not even know these names, you know? These are row and column. They look like sort of a spreadsheet, except there’s a relational database. There’s rows and columns stored somewhere on a disk typically in a computer nearby. Those kinds of data were flowing around the world, and the way you connected applications then was you were basically addressing rows and columns.

Now, when we think about business applications, actually we don’t even call them business application. If you talk to somebody and say, “Hey, how’s that thing going, the Workday thing?” And they go, “What do you mean, Workday?” “You know, the HR stuff.” “Oh, our HR website, we like it.” The keyword is it’s a website.

Andrew: They’re not even thinking of it as software?

Gaurav: No, They think it is a website, and truly, right? As Marc Benioff famously said, “No software.” So, basically, what’s happening now is the data types are different. They’re more like the web. That if you open a web browser by mistake, you hit the wrong keystroke, all the squiggly brackets point out at you. That’s the exhaust from a website that was coming off your web blogs, that was coming . . . your browser is talking to the website using that protocol, which is very different than rows and columns. So that data type has a profound implication on how you connect things (a).( B) your network diagram is very different. You now have things here and there. So your data gravity is split between your cloud apps and your on-premise apps.

Andrew: Okay. Let’s go back and just get to know you a little bit better. You’re a person who you said you cared so much about this business. You cofounded it. You built it up. You took it public. You said you spent 12 years of ignoring your personal life. Give me a sense of what you gave up over those 12 years that burned you out as you told our producer.

Gaurav: Oh, boy, trips to Cuba, learning how to play golf, you know?

Andrew: Is there one [inaudible 00:08:51] did you give up family I think Ben Horowitz in his book, “The Hard Thing About Hard Things,” said he gave up a family.

Gaurav: I did.

Andrew: Give me an example of something family-wise you gave up?

Gaurav: You know, I had a marriage that didn’t work out.

Andrew: Because of this largely, giving so much time?

Gaurav: Because when you fly, you know, I think cumulatively in my life I’ve flown about 3 million miles, guess what, you typically are going to go through a bad personal time when you’re just away from home that much.

Andrew: Did you know at that time you’re giving all the up? Was it a conscious decision?

Gaurav: I didn’t know.

Andrew: You didn’t. It was just so what? What was it about work that captivated you so much?

Gaurav: You know, some people think of these things as missions. It’s almost like, you know, duty about self and it’s a value system, it’s . . .

Andrew: Gaurav, I don’t understand that. I read Ben Horowitz’s, he said it’s a mission. I go, “Why is it a mission to connect software together?” Let’s go back to your earlier days. Why was that such an all-encompassing mission that Sundays you would give up for that? What was the mission?

Gaurav: Here’s why. You build a team. You have a dream. A number of people believe in you, your employees, your customers, your shareholders, in whatever order you want to look at it. And then you have a duty to them. Look, if you think about it, why do people die in battle? Is it for God and country all the time, or is it for their team? So when you go on a mission, you want to make something happen. You sort of commit to it and you can’t . . . I’m not the kind of person who commits halfway. You know, either, you’re doing it and you’re going to go do your absolute best for as long as you can to go make that happen or you’re not.

Andrew: Are you about that with everything? I noticed that before we started the connection was okay, I told you it was okay, but you saw on my face it wasn’t perfect. You said, “I think we’re going to hardwire in and make it perfect.” Are you that kind of person about everything? You start a business, you have to do perfect?

Gaurav: No. I’m not a perfectionist.

Andrew: Okay.

Gaurav: You know, this is a Ben thing. We’re in a board meeting and we’re trying to get something done and we have this conversation and then we said, “You know what, it’s like you could do cuisine. You’re the big chef.” He does the most amazing barbecue. “Man, that is the best beef brisket I’ve ever eaten.” But he said, “Look, it’s like, if we had all the time in the world, we’d make this like a Michelin Star thing. Well, we got to microwave it.” You know? So I think knowing which. So in this case we’re going to lay down a podcast with some video capability, and I know from experience that because we are near the window, the Wi-Fi may drop.

So my thing was that’s unacceptable. I could have done with some dropouts, but if the signal breaks, it’s just really not fun for the listener. And because I hope that the good judgment from that bad experience I want to make it so. But I’m not a perfectionist. Ask my wife. I mean, my gosh. She’s like, “Spring cleaning, Dude, spring cleaning.” I tend to be, you know, sort of, I think I have an instinctual sense of what to make as good as I can and what to just ignore. It’s that, it’s an inherent quadrant two type thing that we used to talk about the last century with Stephen Covey, you know?

Andrew: Okay. So what you’re saying was . . . sorry, go ahead with Stephen Covey. You were making a point. I interrupted, please.

Gaurav: Yeah. Sorry. But the thing is, and this is by the way entirely missing and all the time management, get the milk, forget the milk, whatever. [inaudible 00:12:03] yeah. Like, really, “But which milk should I add?” You know, the sort of planning of it. And Stephen Covey had this. I give you the short, short version. He used to say, “What is the urgent but not important stuff? That’s quadrant two?” And it takes a lot of discipline to get out of quadrant one, which is all the urgent stuff in the inbox into quadrant two. And so I’d say my gift of any is that I have an instinctive sense of quadrant two type stuff like, “You know what, this is urgent and it’s important and I got to do it.” But the stuff like, you know, look, I’ve got all sorts of backlog of honey-do lists that will get to someday, chances are never, you know?

And then, you know, you also learn to be open about your strengths and weaknesses as you grow in your life, and people who come into your life accept you as you are. So, okay, he’s probably never going to go get that one last window shade pinned up or get the tradesman in here. Either I’m going to do it, or it’s just not going to happen. And that’s okay because there’s the other things that he does.

Andrew: Okay. So Informatica workout beautifully. You’re burned out. You take a year off. You’re in Argentina. You’re watching these art-house films in Argentina, and you say to yourself, “The world needs to watch this.” I went back and looked at articles about this business that you launched. What is the business that you launched based on that world needs to watch it vision?

Gaurav: You know, it was called “Jaman” and it was sort of almost I would say The Wall Street Journal had it right, like this is too noble an idea to be business-wise successful, and it was a noble idea. It was almost like a nonprofit idea, because my thinking was how does my family, who lives in India, in the north of India, north of New Delhi, how do they ever get to listen to this music which was sort of cocooned or hidden under the dictatorship in Argentina and became a closed society or these films or this culture? How do they get exposed to that? And if it’s not a megahit, it doesn’t cross boundaries. But there’s so much art, there’s so much stuff that is made that is worth looking at, and to me, and this was a good and bad about that experience, is I saw that as a data problem.

Andrew: How?

Gaurav: Because if you think of a movie, it’s moving big data around. What you’re going to do is you’re going to move data from a website into somebody’s viewing experience. You’re moving data.

Andrew: So you saw the problem as moving data problem. It wasn’t the studios weren’t allowing it. It wasn’t that there was an infrastructures that . . .

Gaurav: I didn’t see it quite that way. I saw it more like a technological problem but . . . ?

Andrew: And so you came up with what, a peer-to-peer solution from what I read?

Gaurav: Yeah, basically. It was a combination. It started peer to peer and then we said no. The bandwidth just kept getting better and better and better and became very much like what Netflix and [Crew 00:14:49] are today. But I believe what we didn’t recognize and the learning from that is that really it’s about rights. Cross border rights are a very tricky situation. You know, in fact, Reed invited me to come speak to his management team about some of those experiences. This time it’s done. Some of the team went to work for him post-2008. He said, “Why don’t you come on down and talk to us? We’re going to go to India and China.” And my thing was, “Watch out for rights,” you know, because that’s the stuff that we wish we knew when we got into it.

But as a technology it was very successful, and even today when I’m talking to SnapLogic customers, you know, they say, “Wow, we have a lot of data.” I’m like, “How much data do you have?” They say, “Oh, well, it’s so and so.” I’m like “Well, that’s the HD movie you would stream last night. It was less than that.” And they go, “Oh, that’s right.” That’s right, between cloud and edge caching and all that, everything had changed. Everything is different.

Andrew: I think I read that Wall Street Journal article. They called you guys, “A princess.”

Gaurav: Really?

Andrew: I think so. Oh, no, no, I take it back. They said . . . No. YouTube was starting to offer “A princess” was one of the examples of the movies that you guys were trying to bring out to the world and then YouTube was starting to bring it out.

Gaurav: That’s right. That’s right.

Andrew: But what I’m trying to understand is you’re a smart guy. You dedicated about a decade of your life to this business. It didn’t work out. You clearly know what it takes to make things work. Beyond the rights, what was it about your analysis of the business? What was it that we can take away when we analyze the business we should be aware of?

Gaurav: So I think the two things to take away from that is a certain kind of business has a certain set of capital requirements. Post-2008, capital was not available for that kind of business. That was one analysis. The other analysis was that business is much better served with an awareness of rights (a), and (b) you have to really understand that the best economic model, and this is what Reed and Ben got right subscription.

The reason Netflix is more valuable than Comcast today is they got subscriptions right, they got analytics right, they knew what . . . and they tried red envelope and everything and read many conversations about this. He was like, “Look, we tried the red envelope stuff, and what we found is people automatically don’t rent art-house films. They still want the hits.” And they had analytics and data that showed them the hits business is what was the real business.

So the learnings I think are three-fold. You have to, you know, I’m fairly a humble guy when it comes to things, but sometimes we can have our intellect give us some confusion about what’s really going on and we have to examine the problem with humility and say, “What’s the real value to someone?” And, you know, there’s a new book out by Seth, the guy from Google, “Everyone Lies.” He looks at the data on Google . . . besides in front of your search engine, his premise is everybody lies, but when you’re typing stuff into your browser, you’re not lying.

Andrew: That’s Seth, “Everyone Lies”?

Gaurav: It’s Seth Godin I think. It’s a hyphenated name. “Everybody Lies” the title of the book. He’s a data scientist.

Andrew: “All Marketer are Liars,” Seth Godin.

Gaurav: That’s right. That’s right. Yeah. And it was a really fun book, but the point was that was a really important insight that we now have, which is people want blood and gore. So the content library, the licensing, and then finally I would say understanding that a subscription model is superior to a video on demand. Video on demand it’s almost like the movie business in theaters, all the money is in the popcorn. You know, we just went and saw “Incredibles 2.” Our 10-year-old really wanted to see it. It’s summer. We went and saw it on Sunday, you know.

But I was looking to myself, I was laughing. I’m thinking they’re probably not making anything on the movie tickets. Almost all the money they made from the four of us going out to do this was in the popcorn, in the drinks, in the candy the kids got . . .

Andrew: Because I think they have to turn over something like 80% to 90% in the first week of . . .

Gaurav: You’ve got to find the popcorn.

Andrew: . . . movie ticket sales to the creators.

Gaurav: You’ve got to find the popcorn. So in a [inaudible 00:18:29] business you’ve got to find the popcorn, which is hard to do as a small company. Apple can do it because they can make money on Macs and iPhones, and even if they don’t make money on iTunes, movie, video on demand, they still make money on the hardware. But Netflix figured out a subscription model, and they could with DVDs do a bang-up job of building a company on a certain level. Now, Netflix nearly died going from DVDs to streaming. Remember that?

Andrew: Yes.

Gaurav: And hats off to Reed, you know, this is a guy who’s basically built two companies. They both happened to be called Netflix. But there was a near-death experience for Netflix. In fact, who was it? It was Jay Hoag and them, his investors from the private days, TCV, bailed him out. He loaned him $200 million at that very low cash point when they were trying to get out of DVDs and get subscription. Actually, he’s never got out of DVDs. They were trying to taper one business down and taper the other up. But the cash cow from DVDs gave him the pump to go out and build this franchise that people look at today and say, “It’s obvious.” But, you know what, it wasn’t. It was a feat of entrepreneurship and bravery and vision and all of the subtle drama that goes into any successful start.

Andrew: I just got finished reading the book, “Netflixed,” about the creation and growth of Netflix. It is so well-written. It goes beyond all the headlines that are supposedly true to the reality that’s a little harder to explain. Fascinating read.

Gaurav: Fascinating, yeah. It’s just everything. He and Barry put in a data warehouse. They spent millions on analytics, kind of the business SnapLogic is in, at a time when no startup would, but they did, you know, and kudos to them.

Andrew: Okay. Let me talk about my first sponsor. Then I want to come back and understand where the idea for SnapLogic came from and then what happened as you’re getting it going. So my first sponsor is a company called Toptal. What do you guys do to hire, because hiring is realty tough, right? Hire developers specifically. Let me ask you specifically.

Gaurav: So we have lots of people who work very hard on that. In our case, the key thing we find is within reason and the Bay Area may not be the same reason as some other parts of the world, people want to work on challenging problems. So what we do is we articulate as openly as we can on our engineering blogs the problems that we’re solving, because the right kind of problem attracts and repels the right kind of person.

Andrew: Is that why so many companies now have engineering blogs to show here are the tough problems we’re solving and . . .

Gaurav: That’s right. It’s you’re playing, you know, you’re playing that internet date of here’s our values. This is what we do. That’s great, but that’s culture, but then the other part is, “Okay, what am I going to work on?” And the more open you are about the challenges in front of you, the more likely you are to attract and repel the right sort of person for you.

Andrew: You know, that explains something. So there’s a fan of mine who runs a company says, “I’ve got a big developing team. I never used Toptal even though you keep talking about them as a place to hire.” But he says, “My developers are constantly on their website. They’re learning new stuff from them.” And I said, “Why does Toptal spend so much time on their blog?” And I think this is part of it. They’re showing the challenging problems that their team, their developers help solve, and they’re also obviously teaching, which then brings other developers in and then they say, “Hey, to their boss. If you need to hire someone, go to this site where I keep reading.”

Gaurav: That’s right.

Andrew: All right. If anyone out there is not looking to set up this deep blog, deep developer blog to try to teach other developers, to try to show the tough challenges that they’re working on because they’re busy working on their business. Well, guess what, Toptal does that right now. In fact, you can go to and not understand almost most of it. You will not understand because it’s sort of so geared towards developers. Here’s what you will understand though. You’re going to want to hire the types of people who are writing these posts. You’re going to want to hire the types of people who are reading these posts. And when you’re ready to do that, you can go on this big campaign, write your job listing, recruit, and go through the calls and all that.

Or you can say, “You know what, I’m just going to pick up the phone and talk to Toptal. I’ll tell them what my culture is like. I’ll tell them what we’re working on.” And they could go to their network of people who’ve been responding to their blog posts, who’ve been taking their endless tests, and they could then say, “Here are two or three people from our network who would be a good fit for you. Talk to them.” If they’re a good fit, you can hire them, often start with them within a matter of days. If they’re not, nothing ventured nothing loss. You could just move on with your old system. But if you do decide to work with them, let me read a statement from the webpage that I’m going to send you to because Toptal is making an offer to Mixergy listeners that they’re literally not making to anyone else.

I should say, it’s top as in top of your head, tal as in talent, here it is. Mixergy listeners will get 80 hours of Toptal developer credit when they pay for their first 80 hours in addition to a no-risk trial period of up two weeks. To just be really clear about this, if at the end of the period you’re not a 100% satisfied, you will not be billed. They know that they’ve done good work for Mixergy people and frankly Mixergy interviewees and Mixergy listeners too. They know that they can produce phenomenal results for you. If you’re looking to hire, go to That’s

What good is me spelling it if I just talk so fast? You have a really crisp, good . . . you weren’t even born in the U.S. How are you articulate like a professional speaker?

Gaurav: I don’t know. I mean it’s just, that’s just a gift. I [inaudible 00:23:41] electrical engineering, you know? I will give a shout out to somebody who helped me be a communicator.

Andrew: Who?

Gaurav: He’s a gentleman by the name of Jerry Weissman. He’s used to be in the business of teaching people how to be better at acting and so on, and he then famously became the IPO coach, you know? He had like Andy Grove went through Jerry Weinstein [inaudible 00:24:01]

Andrew: He’s the guy who wrote the book “Presenting to Win.”

Gaurav: “Power Presenters,” a power presentation “Presenting to Win.” But taking a course with him is worthwhile, so a huge shout out to my mentor and friend, Jerry Weissman, great guy and he really taught me. This is for the Informatica IPO. He taught me how to tell a technical story and, boy, video watching yourself on video, this is before it was so common, is a humbling experience. You realized how often you “um” and “ah” and all those things. Jerry is great. His books are totally worth it.

Andrew: I just added it to my shopping cart. So where did the idea for SnapLogic come from?

Gaurav: Right. So, you know, very typically if you are fortunate, you have an idea, it works out. In my case, it was good 12 long years, and I was doing, I had some capital in Indie film thing for a couple . . . it wasn’t that long. We started in about five or six, by 2008, three years, four years, it sounds like it was over, so I basically I’ve created out. I sold my interest to a friend, but I stayed on as a chairman to make sure that . . . and he was more looking at it as a nonprofit. And subsequently it becomes something different, but it was worth a good three-year run.

Anyway, so that said, I was also doing pro bono work helping out other entrepreneurs. So some amazing people helped me out. You know, I was 20 something. What did I know? Jerry Weissman, how to do a business plan, you know, if we had all night, I could tell all the things that you have to learn in transitioning because I’m not a trained business person. I’m a trained technologist [inaudible 00:25:27]. Anyway, so with SnapLogic, I started helping people getting on boards pro bono and so on. I was an LP in a couple of venture firms. And then got added to a couple of boards, helped to recruit Mark Andreessen to one board and so on, but that long story short is I’m helping these two guys who started a company in their apartment in Tel Aviv, and they’re talking about websites and how a third of the websites use this programming language called PHP and I’m thinking to myself, “Huh?” And I started shaking my head involuntarily in the board meeting.

And the meeting kind of slowed down. They’re like, “Everything . . . ” I’m like, “Yeah, yeah, yeah. Totally okay.” But I was thinking to myself I could never in my old job with the technology that I built in the ’90s connect these new things. I couldn’t do it. You know, the data types are different. It’s a generation different, the technology, the fact that it’s faraway, it’s not irrational, all those things, like someone should think of something to do to make that happen. And it took me about 24 hours to say, “Heck, I should do that.”

Now at that time I was still working on the Indie idea, so I came up with the idea, recruited a couple of people, and wrote them a check. And I said, “Look, if you can write a business plan that shows to me, you can snap things together,” so kind of a research phase from 2006 to about 2010. It’s kind of a research phase, can you snap things together, in particularly legacy stuff. You know, we know we can connect web stuff because it’s modern, it has good APIs. The hygiene is much better. But can we do legacy stuff? And if you can prove to me that you can do it, I’ll write you a check for a million bucks. We’ll set up a company. I think we called it “Quick Brown Fox” or something, because the quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog. Look, if it doesn’t work, why waste time coming up with a name, you know? Let’s just call it something.

Andrew: Yup. I think Netflix was called “Kibble” because you got to eat your own dog food.

Gaurav: That’s right. Working title is a very common name, so let’s come up with a working title. And then if the project takes off, then we’ll fund it and we’ll get proper sales and marketing and venture capital, Andreessen Horowitz, and others to come in and we’ll go make a go of it. So the idea came out of that realization that the world is totally different. It’s going to be not just buying your books on the web but balancing your books on the web. How do you do that?

Andrew: How do you know that anyone would even want it in the new world?

Gaurav: You know, this is where being in the business comes in handy. To me in a sense what we did at Informatica is much of the stuff that used to exist on the IBM mainframe. When people came off the mainframe into client server computing, they realized they needed to connect all these apps. So they have to go buy new stuff, and to me it was very clear, as people went from client server into these websites, AKA, cloud apps, SaaS applications, they’re going to need to connect them and they’re going to need to buy new connectivity to make that happen.

Andrew: But you didn’t call around to see do you really need this connected or . . . ?

Gaurav: No.

Andrew: You just said, “This needs to happen.”

Gaurav: Look, it’s a problem, immemorial problem.

Andrew: You know what, it does seem like with every new technology you need to bring a whole new set . . . all the old stuff needs to be modernized to that, and I’m trying to think of an example with mobile phones that’s going to come to me after we . . .

Gaurav: It’s the same thing, right? When you had plain old telephone service, you had exchanges.

Andrew: Actually, I got a good example. Here’s a modern example. Tell me if you agree with this.

Gaurav: Okay.

Andrew: We went from desktop software to web-based software.

Gaurav: Yup.

Andrew: Microsoft did not move their spreadsheet to the web, and Google came in and they did that. They created the web version of it. Right? With each new one, we need it. Am I right or am I just forcing my . . .

Gaurav: Well, yes and no. Microsoft then did Office 365 and, boy, they’ve done a good job not to take it away from Google. We use Google every day. But I also have all my Microsoft apps open. Many of them are in the cloud Office 365. But the analogy . . .

Andrew: But they did it after.

Gaurav: They did it after, right. They didn’t instinctively do that first. The disruptor did it first, and then the dominant player, in this case though Microsoft was swift to react and I think the Office group for Microsoft did a bang-up job, as did some of the data people [inaudible 00:29:16] did a bang-up job of moving to the cloud. But the analogy I was about to use was 30, 40 years apart. In the days of plain old telephone service, if you call somebody else, you dial some numbers. It went to an exchange and the exchange called them. That’s kind of an integration of multiple phones. Otherwise everybody calling everybody it’s like, can you imagine the amount of cable you have to lay? Or FedEx, hub-and-spoke, right, things fly to Memphis, from Memphis to go to your house.

And similarly in the cell phone world, you have exchanges. It goes to some back office exchange and then back out to your cell phone. So but it’s totally different. It’s built in the radio spectrum. It has to have cells so as you’re moving around it can handle over form one to the other. But fundamentally, you’re connecting two people who are in conversation for that moment in time.

Andrew: I see. All right, and so you told our producer like the first version, essentially the guts were the same, but it wasn’t anything like what we see today. Can you describe what was similar in those guts and then what wasn’t in the design?

Gaurav: You know, it was like the bones were good. So I realized this team has done a great job. It’s a technology team, a bunch of guys in a [inaudible 00:30:17] building, not many windows, bright guys, but they were fascinated by this, and they figured out how you could snap things. But the go-to-market at that time was constrained by the thinking of that time. So you could see that this could be a business, but you could see that the economic model and the technology wasn’t disruptive enough. But we could snap things together. So when I came in, along with some of the capital and, you know, Ben, Marc, and others and then a variety of other folks joined us . . .

Andrew: I should say when we’re talking about Ben, Marc, we’re talking about Andreessen Horowitz, some of the early investors.

Gaurav: Yeah, they were. I think it was just Andreessen and Horowitz at that time. So basically, what we saw happened is . . . so going back in time a little bit, so to me what was clear is the problem existed, therefore there was a large market opportunity. We could solve it. So we had done the research to build a product, but that product was potentially not going to be a great company because the way the product would be installed and run it was on-premise. It wasn’t really born in the cloud product. It still had open source elements to it.

The UX wasn’t that good. It was still a very technical UX, and I wanted to do what Apple had done to mobile phones. And I said to myself, “If Apple were to do integration, what would they do?” They would have awesome industrial design. The UX would rock, and thank you for the kind words about it, our custom experience, user experience. They would have a lot of scale. This thing could really zig and zag. You know, like FaceTime does a wonderful job. Though here we are at Skype, but similarly. It has to scale. Skype scales really well. It has to be easy to use, it has to scale, and it has to be something that sort of multiplies the market opportunity by going away from being in the basement sort of a geek software to self-service software.

So our radical break from the old platform to the new platform was going from something that was geeky, you download at Open Source, each customer had their own version, do a born in the cloud product like Google Chrome or something Apple would build, you know?

Andrew: So why do you think they did Open Source at first and download and all that? There was a reason for it.

Gaurav: Yeah. I think it was just convenient at that time. The company was basically, I’ve written checks for it and we didn’t raise a bunch of capital in 2010. So we’re just purely engineering, and the easiest thing to do was to do that. Also, you have to realize that it wasn’t easy to do infrastructure or a platform as a service for many years. So you could do software as a service, but you really couldn’t do platform as a service because there wasn’t enough cost benefit to do it. Right?

We got SnapLogic on to AWS in 2008 or 2009, but it wasn’t economical in 2003 or 2004, right? Or actually, no, I was [inaudible 00:33:00]. It’s 2006 or 2007, it wasn’t by . . . by 2010 it was very clear that you could do this on AWS and, you know, those bills could be afforded and, you know, Netflix went on AWS I think in 2012 and 2013. Until then, you had to have your own data center and all that stuff. So it’s just is a moment in time and we got that move to the cloud right. We got that move to self-service right. But, boy, we had to repot. We had to replatform the technology.

Andrew: Yeah. Well, you mentioned earlier about your explainer videos are so freaking good.

Gaurav: Thank you.

Andrew: There’s one woman who is just talking into like a screencast. You can actually see her email address because you’re just showing her screen. But in two minutes very succinctly she said, “You have this data source. Here’s how you grab it.” And I’m . going, “I could do this. This is easier than editing a video.” You want to sort it. Here’s how I’m going to try to sort it. See how there’s an error? The error is we didn’t do this thing and tell it how to sort it. Boom, now, let’s look at the output. The output is going to be right on your desk. You can see, it’s just a freaking map. You go, “This is super simple.” For an enterprise software to be that easy to understand is amazing. Who did that?

Gaurav: I thank you. Well, we had to do some things radically, right? We hired people from Google. The guy who did the UX came out of Detroit. He used to design dashboards for cars.

Andrew: Dashboards for cars are horrible though.

Gaurav: But, you know what, that’s not just him. You go submit a design and somebody at one of these car companies has to approve it and so on and so on.

Andrew: Okay.

Gaurav: But he was into the human computer interface.

Andrew: Yeah.

Gaurav: Human interface in real object world. It’s like, you know, Dieter Rams at Braun when he was doing shavers and clocks. He was thinking about industrial design going back to Bauhaus and now, you know, we have people at Apple following in his way and so on, Jony Ive and others. But our thinking was you have to bring in an industrial designer. An industrial designer should dictate the look, the feel . . .

Andrew: Why industrial designer as opposed to just a software user experience designer?

Gaurav: You know, I don’t think . . . software people tend to not be what is called anthropomorphic. It’s a $5 word. It should look and work like the physical object. So it should snap together. When I interviewed people, you know, they would come in, they would have this insight or that insight, but then it would just look like everything else that came before. So I’m like, “You know, we have to bring in someone who’s actually come from outside the world of software and the world of integration.” We have to bring in somebody who’s worked on various projects at Google in the AdTech world. And we have to think about how Google Chrome was built. Our early product management people came out of Chrome and so on.

So we brought in these kinds of people and gave them this challenge and this ultimately is it, right? Yes, they wanted the company to succeed and they wanted all those good things. But to them the challenge was like, “Wow,” because nobody lets you switch careers, right? All these people go to business school, “Oh, I’m going to get an engineering degree. Maybe I don’t want it. I want to get intro perfumes. I’m going to go get a business school degree.” Guess what? They ended up being a product marketer in a technical company after year or two of getting their MBA. Very few people have a chance to really work on something different because very few people have the belief that you can actually bring it down from the outside in the software industry.

Andrew: It also goes back to the name. It’s called SnapLogic. You wanted things to snap together.

Gaurav: That’s right.

Andrew: You had a visual from the beginning.

Gaurav: Yes.

Andrew: I’m wondering why. Why do you know? What do you know about your client that makes you understand that they’re going to want it simple?

Gaurav: Right. So we find that the millennials are computer savvy, but enterprise software, boy, you’re right, it’s terrible. You know, it’s just not built in a way . . . it’s almost embarrassing. The nature of enterprise software today, by and large, is an embarrassment. It’s too clunky. It doesn’t work the way everything else works. It’s sort of like, you know, you’ve parachuted into North Korea or something. I mean, “Oh, my god,” like the water doesn’t run and all that. So it’s . . . we look at that not as a problem but as an opportunity. If we could only do what Apple has done into this otherwise dull world of integration, we could really built a product that could change that world.

Andrew: It’s not that they were confused by the previous version. You just said they accept it, this is their lives, but if they could have something more beautiful, they’d be happier with it.

Gaurav: They were. Look, I’ll give you an example.

Andrew: Yeah.

Gaurav: We, I’ll name names, so Wendy’s, fantastic customer of ours. Very early on they became a customer. They became a customer very similarly to Box to connect to a variety of applications. And those guys had legacy products, which I won’t name. And the people who had legacy products said, “Oh, you know, why are you bringing this new thing in? You know, why don’t we just use what we have? Like there’s 54 of us trained on it, what are you calling us, you know?” And the person bringing in SnapLogic who prevailed said, “Why don’t you come look at it yourself?” They looked at it and then they go, “How come we don’t have that?”

Andrew: Because it looks so good. It made sense.

Gaurav: Yes, because the best salesperson for the product, if you do your work right, is the product itself. You know? Apple had Apple stores not because they like to pay a rent, but because they build epic products and they want to get that in the hands of a buyer. You know, if you have to do Harvey Balls of Apple versus this versus that, you may not buy it, if in a traditional analysis of how, you know, people bid on bridges and roadways. But if you use those devices, you’re like, “Yeah, I want to use this,” or “Yeah, I want to use that.” You know, Microsoft Surface stores for that same reason because they built something very awesome and if you could experience it, it’s so much different than reading about it.

Andrew: All right, let me talk about my second sponsor, and then we’ll get into how you got the early clients. My second sponsor is a company called HostGator. And earlier today I was supposed to interview this guy who founded a company called Gadget Flow. I never heard of Gadget Flow, but I get lost in . . . I sit there on the couch here in my office and I’m getting lost in the site because I love looking at gadgets. There are all these different things that you could do with your iPad, old like tactile keyboard for it, there is something that would let me have my iPad in the shower. There’s like all these stuff, right? Like, I don’t know who needs it, but I couldn’t stop looking at it. And then I look at the numbers and the numbers are phenomenal. He’s making a few million bucks a year with this, selling advertising because gadget people love to buy more, and all he’s doing is showing this stuff beautifully, clearly, and then linking to where you could go buy it.

So I get on a call with him and I say, “Can we do this interview?” And he says, “No, man, I didn’t know you’re going to do it by video.” I go, “Yeah, it’s going to be video. What are you doing?” “Because Andrew, I’m in Greece right now. It’s basically the end of the night. You don’t want to see what we’re looking like right now. Let’s record the interview another time.” I said, “Heaven, are you sure because I think we’re okay. This isn’t a beauty pageant.” He goes, “Yeah, yeah. I’m about to open up a whisky.” So we’re going to do it another time.

Gaurav: Good.

Andrew: But the thing that stood out for me is not just how well he’s doing with just a simple content site because he picked out what people like me love. It was just a simple WordPress site when he started out. Just go get a WordPress with an idea that it appeals to a specific group of people, build it up, add revenue to it, and I know I’m making it sound simple, but you know what, it started out for him as just this little experiment and it’s been growing and growing and growing.

I’m saying this now as part of HostGator’s ad because if anyone out there has an idea, you owe it to yourself to spend about an hour just playing with it, toying around with it. And if you go to HostGator with one click install, you could get WordPress, another couple of clicks and you’ll have a theme that looks really nice. Yeah, you’re going to want to futz around with it and make it yours, but I’ll tell you what, as soon as you get it up and running, you’re just going to creatively want to experiment, creatively want to play around with it. That’s what happened with Evan. He then turned out. He had this whole other business. This thing was so much fun. It started growing that he’s now focusing just on this. Well, that and also having whisky in Greece.

Gaurav: Aren’t you supposed to drink something else in Greece besides whisky? But anyway.

Andrew: Yeah. There is.

Gaurav: What is their national drink?

Andrew: Arak. That really, the hot thing.

Gaurav: Arak, yes. Fennel, the fennel thing.

Andrew: Yeah. You know what, every time when I was a kid if I was a little sick, my dad would, that was our home therapy, having a little shot of that.

Gaurav: Yeah. It smells like fennel, doesn’t it? It’s got that fennel smell.

Andrew: It does, it actually does.

Gaurav: Yeah, it does.

Andrew: It’s just like a murder on the mouth, at least for like an 19-year-old, 18-year-old. I must have been at 15 actually.

Gaurav: Unfortunately, those things we remember is that [inaudible 00:41:13] taste.

Andrew: Right. Then when I moved out, I went to that too. I got a little sick, a little cold, I had some and I realized it has no power over you when your dad’s story and the whole thing built behind it isn’t there and when you built a tolerance for alcohol. All right, anyone out there who wants to start a website or frankly doesn’t like their hosting company and need a new hosting company, go check out HostGator, if you want to get 62% off their already low price. You’re going to get, you know what, I’ve said this many times. You don’t need me to tell you all the things you’re going to get. Just go to It’ll be a little bit better than going to their home site and bring your ideas to life there.

All right. The first of your customers came because you have about what, 50 customers, using the Open Source software. Forty of them said, “Yeah, let’s shift over to the cloud software.” How did you get the next batch of customers?

Gaurav: So almost all the existing ones converted. And the next batch of customers is interesting. So this is when there’s a disruption going on in the world. Right? New cloud companies are coming up, and as you can suspect we’re based in Silicon Valley. I’m looking at the intersection of 92 and 101 freeways here. And, you know, obviously, many of the companies that are growing and changing are here in Silicon Valley. So some of the customers that were early were technical, like Box, Adobe, and Adobe to us was a remarkable success. We’ve already talked about Box. But Adobe was interesting because they’re a true enterprise, and this is an enterprise that is basically betting its future on cloud. They’re going to go from a download software company to a cloud company and boy, was it a brave, and, boy, was it a good move. We talked about Netflix, but I think Adobe is an amazing story as well, similar things.

Andrew: Switching from one type of business completely to another before someone else steals their market.

Gaurav: Replatforming. It’s not for the faint of heart.

Andrew: Replatforming. I didn’t know that was the word.

Gaurav: Yes. It is not for the faint of heart, but, boy, if you do it right, is it worth it, right? So at Adobe they had all the legacy products. They had Informatica, they had TIBCO, all the ’90s products. I happened to be involved in one of them and so on. And they were like, “You know what, we’re going to the cloud. Our technology is going to be mostly cloud. We’re going to have subscriptions in the cloud. We need to find out how to connect all these things using modern products.” They’re very adept. And they did a bake-off. They spent three weeks looking at all the products in the market. Some of the incumbent products had huge presence, some of the executives on the board of some of these companies and so on, and we still prevailed and Adobe became a flagship customer for us. And I love the San Jose skyline, so whenever I fly in to San Jose, I love that logo, you know? And then it caught on from there. And then in Silicon Valley and then cross pollination into other industries . . .

Andrew: You’re saying that at first it was . . . well, how do they even know that you guys are part of the bake-off? How does the enterprise work that way?

Gaurav: Yeah. So look in the enterprise industry there’s this thing called Gartner Group, Forester, all these people. So they started talking about SnapLogic because they liked our vision. They liked out boldness about, in a sense, replatforming integration, taking it from the old century to the new century and doing it right. And what they learned from talking to our customers was that this stuff really works. It’s really truly a balance of easy to use and powerful. It’s very hard. It’s that built to last thing. It’s like Toyota is affordable and high quality. It’s really hard, the power of “and” is really hard. And that these guys seemed to have cracked the power of “and.” It is easy to use and it is powerful, you know? So once we got reputation, we started getting into bake-off . . .

Andrew: And Gartner helps you do that?

Gaurav: Forrester, Gartner, a variety of analysts in the industry, constellation, others.

Andrew: You want to know sometimes? So I’m on SnapLogic’s page on First of all, the number one competitor in their list to you is Informatica. Were you guys competitors, or they’re just putting you in the same list?

Gaurav: Well, they started adding cloud products because they have to stay relevant in the new century, and so in some places particularly when somebody has a lot of on-premise stuff, you might look at Informatica and that company and they’ll look at us versus them. But most people who are going towards the cloud tend to favor our products over some of the other products out there, whether it’s Informatica or Milsoft or any of these companies.

Andrew: You have phenomenal reviews on there.

Gaurav: Thank you.

Andrew: But if you know that that is where your customers are going when they’re considering a tool like you, what do you do? How does that part of the market work?

Gaurav: Right. So in the enterprise business it’s surprisingly easy and difficult. You know, I used to listen to books on tape on my commutes so if I had a long journey on Excella when opening up in New York Office or something. And one of the books that I had listened to on tape was “Made in America,” the Sam Walton story, you know? And he said something quite profound in it, and basically what he said is, “I’m in the product business. If people get good products, they come back. If they don’t, my products comes back.” Right. So it’s really in the enterprise I am going to oversimplify, it’s that. If you build awesome products, you know, they’re . . .

Andrew: So what’s your feedback loop to understand whether your products are good, to see whether what makes sense to you and your designers actually makes sense to your end-user? How do you guys work on that?

Gaurav: Usage, it’s very straightforward.

Andrew: You’re just watching how they use it.

Gaurav: Yes. We look at the telemetry into the product at an aggregate level. We don’t look at their data. That is sacred. That is their data, but we look at how many things are they moving and connecting. So, you know, not quite a thousand people coming from Adobe and AstraZeneca every week into the to self-service. This industry which is like [propellerland 00:46:38] has self-service to the fact where hundreds of people from these companies come in and self-serve their data to themselves. So that’s usage on a number of users in some of our customers.

Then aggregate across our install-base, we moved a trillion Json documents objects. A trillion objects in the past 30 days. That’s up from 10 million objects in the same 30 days two years ago.

Andrew: So the data shows you whether you’re doing well or not. It doesn’t show you why. Do you then go and call up your clients? Do you sit at their offices? Do you do any of that?

Gaurav: Look, it’s customer success. So what we have is a business review quarterly with some of the customers, where someone from customer success shows up and says, “How are we doing? What are the challenges you’ve encountered?” And then there’s the other metrics, right? And just as people don’t lie to the web browser, they don’t lie to their finance organization. They renew 97% of our customers. We have some of the best in SaaS renewal rates. Our expansion on our customer base has grown and grown and grown. Some of the customers might have been, you know, five-figure customers became six and then seven.

Andrew: Customer success is the person who their job is to call up the customer, make sure they’re using the software and make sure they’re using the software and make sure they’re getting results with it.

Gaurav: Are they getting the value?

Andrew: Are they getting the value? And then do you guys then, how do you bring that back to the developers, to the designers, to the team and say, “Here’s what’s missing. Here’s what’s working”? What’s your process for that?

Gaurav: Yeah. So typically, the challenges are at the edges. Right? The core, because of the growth that companies had and the global footprint that we have is solid. But at the edges we find that somebody might be using a particular kind of SaaS application which is very obscure. We don’t have a good snap for it. We got to improve the snap. So a lot of the issues that we encounter, not that many, but the ones that we do encounter are around sort of the long tail of snaps, and dealing with them I think we’ve gotten better and better at it.

Andrew: And your customer success people bring it into the developers. How? Do they have a meeting? Is it a software that they use?

Gaurav: Yeah. There’s two meetings. There’s a meeting for revenue and a meeting for customer success happening at the same time every Friday.

Andrew: Every Friday?

Gaurav: Yeah, those things. Those things pipe into our [inaudible 00:48:46] meetings, my staff meeting on Monday and those are the issues that we look at like how to build . . .

Andrew: And they sit-down and they say, “Look, I’ve talked to all our customers. Here’s the big issue right now. It turns out this new piece of software is really big. We’re not supporting it or they’re trying to do this. It’s not clear enough.” Or “I know what, people don’t know when it’s done processing, can you do something?” And the designer say, “We’re going to make these snaps turned green when it’s done.”

Gaurav: It’s added to a sprint. So we ship the software all the time. Our born in the cloud product is shipped all the time. It renews . . . our customers, they’re all on the same version, so we manage to build this in the cloud and make it work on-premise as well in the feat of engineering that we’ll get to some other day. But basically, what is happening is we’re tracking these issues and I’m also keying to my mind it’s not just the problem. Look, if somebody bought a car and they had a problem, they bring it back to the dealer to fix it. But what if they have a rattle in the car and it’s bugging them, but they’re probably not going to recommend that car to their brother-in-law when their brother-in-law is shopping for a car, right?

So our job is not only to fix the problems, like the car had this issue or that issue, but to fix the rattle, the annoyances. And I feel one of the ways to do that, it’s not trade secret, but I’ll tell you, is one of the ways to do that is to keep your consulting footprint low. You know, if you build the right product and you’re maniacally focused on making that an awesome product, you don’t need that. You don’t need to darken the sky with consultants. Like legacy enterprise software companies that product sucks so they fix it by giving you a bill for a consulting. Right? So you’ll end up with the general contractor model. Our model is, again, what would Apple do, what would Adobe do, what would Microsoft do. So we do those sorts of things in a way where we keep our consulting low. We want to teach our customers to fish. We don’t want to feed them.

Andrew: And if they don’t know how to do something, then you have to go back to the software and find a way to make it easy for them to do it.

Gaurav: Yes. You’ve got to make it easy. Did we miss this? We talked a lot about of what is this surface area of our user experience? How big is the design skin? It’s very easy to . . . no. The Steve Jobs quote that I love is, “Complex is easy, simple is hard.” Right? It is very difficult to make something that is an enterprise level problem to simplify. It’s very, very hard to simplify an enterprise problem. And so we have to constantly check ourselves. I mean we go on to midnight some nights just literally at blows about why are we adding the mode into the product. You should be modest.

Andrew: Give an example of something you go to almost blows about?

Gaurav: Yeah. So as the company has grown we initially started connecting our customers various endpoints, you know, Workday, Salesforce, SAP on-premise, or connecting them. And these are mainly applications. As we connect to the applications, we had some . . . the data under management starts to grow. So then we’re evolving products to connect their data and the data is big data. It’s at scales, tens of terabytes. It is not what we used to do in the ’90s with Informatica where, you know, if you had a terabyte, I would fly in to shake your hands like “Hey.” You know? Not anymore, right? Everybody has that. So things have changed because of the web scale and so on and so on.

So as you do that, as you have a single product that solves multiple problems, how do you make sure that it’s solves them well and powerfully without stepping into a modality or a weakening one or the other? This takes a lot of thought. It takes a lot of debate. Right? So what we found is that by taking the side of that self-service customer, taking the side of that person from AstraZeneca coming into who may not have Java programming skills or SQL programming skills, how do we make her successful and what is she struggling with? Having the community where people tell us, “Look, I stubbed my toe on that thing.” “I stubbed my toe on that thing.”

We’re like, “You know what, you can’t just tweak it.” It’s like a bad document. At some points you have to rewrite it. That snap needs to be rewritten. We need to redo this thing. There’s a sharp corner people are getting, you know, the elbows scraped on all the time. So those are some of the debates that go on for example.

Andrew: Was it a really a period when people weren’t . . . where VCs weren’t going to invest in this because now it makes so much sense?

Gaurav: Yeah. Well, you know, the thing is it’s an acquired taste, you know? It’s an acquired taste. It’s not sort of like a community where if you have a community for images, if you have some traction, people can say, “Well, Instagram could be big.” You know, although a lot of them said, “Flickr would be a disaster.” I think Flickr was a technological marvel, at that time quite a good business outcome as well. But, you know, a lot of people said, “Ah, image sharing.”

Andrew: So then why did they . . . I get it that you are looking roughly 2008, where getting money was tough in general.

Gaurav: It was.

Andrew: What was it that made, beyond Andreessen Horowit,z that made others balk at investing in this business and investing in you?

Gaurav: You know, I don’t know. The truth is nobody tells you why you didn’t get the job, right? I mean nobody ever gives you the real reason. And I don’t know. I think also, look, I hate to say this, I have some friends in the venture industry, but the average venture capitalist is supposed to be an independent thinker, but it’s not. It’s really following the herd mentality, and if the herd was looking for whatever, sexting apps in 2008, 2009, 2010, or not willing to make investments in good solid infrastructure, then they weren’t going to do it, you know?

Andrew: And there was no herd saying, “We need to connect all these different apps together.”

Gaurav: No. They weren’t. The common view by a number of VCs was, “Well, you know, this is SaaS. It doesn’t have the integration complexity.” And my thing was, “Yeah, but in the enterprise, the enterprise doesn’t just . . . it doesn’t die. It fades away.” So all that stuff from the ’90s and the ’80s is going to be around, and you’re got to have this new, like the Grand Canyon, the next layer of the sediment. This next SaaS app is going to come in and you need to make all of them work to each other and to the stuff that came before.

Anyway, it’s, you know what, but look we hired people. Sometimes we make mistakes. I have to look at it, I look at it and go . . . It’s like for a VC to make a decision on a business plan, it’s got to be fit their portfolio. They’re looking for a certain kind of strength at a certain point in time. Sometimes it’s their partner dynamics. It’s not to do with you, but if their partnership doesn’t believe in the concept, it’s not going to happen.

Andrew: You’re very philosophical about it. You don’t have like a chip on your shoulder, frustration, got it.

Gaurav: No, it’s not personal. Look, I made mistakes on hiring. Right? If I didn’t hire that man but I hired this woman, why? You know? Was there something wrong with him? No, it was just, at that point it just seem like this person would be a better fit for not only where we are, but where we’re going. And you can’t really in the interview determine that. So it’s an inexact science. That’s fine.

Andrew: But, you know, this interview went really well. I’m surprised to hear that you’re the kind of person who feels like you’re not comfortable talking about your product because you feel it’s too self-promotional. Don’t you?

Gaurav: You know, it depends on who we’re interviewing, right? If this was an interview about the product, then I’d be happy to tell you about the product. If it’s an interview about being a better entrepreneur, then I feel I have to be true to my audience. And, you know, we promise them that they will learn more about entrepreneurship, then the best thing I can do is talk about my mistakes.

Andrew: And you seem okay with it?

Gaurav: It’s fine.

Andrew: You’re learning to be good about that from what I understand.

Gaurav: Yeah.

Andrew: You never used to want to talk publicly about yourself.

Gaurav: Yeah, it’s, you know, it’s an upbringing thing. It’s almost self-effacing to a fault. I think as we get older, we start to say, “You know, this is something that I want to tell the world about, you know, now, I have children,” which I didn’t have, and, you know, hopefully one of them will listen to this podcast someday and say, “You know, maybe this guy who, you know, always loses iPhone in the house was not bad after all.”

Andrew: Well, I’m glad this would be a part of it, and if your kids do listen to this, even if it’s like 20 years, 30 years from now, I’d love for them to let me know that.

Gaurav: Who knows? Maybe that thing . . . there’s hope after teenage.

Andrew: I loved that this is like a historical record here on Mixergy.

Gaurav: It is.

Andrew: All right. For anyone who wants to go back and check out the website, it’s, but I’m actually going to recommend you don’t do that. Here’s what I’m going to recommend you do. If you’re at all curious about what we’ve been talking about, go to freaking YouTube. Don’t be intimidated by it. Their YouTube videos, the two-minute ones are so well done, especially the ones that look homemade. They just . . . like it clearly explains it. I was so intimidated by having you on. I go, “The hell enterprise never does well here. I never fully wrapped by head around it.” I went and I watched one video, and I actually opened it up in something called CornerTube on my iPad so I can watch them on the side while I did something else because I didn’t think I’d get lost in it, and I just watched it in full screen in the end. It was just so clear. It was really well done.

Gaurav: Well, thank you.

Andrew: Yeah.

Gaurav: And thank you for having me. Thank you for doing your research, Andrew. You know, when I do these podcasts, I don’t know, I mean sometimes people are like asking me to tell me stuff that’s so obvious on the web. You know, thank you for doing your homework.

Andrew: I get it.

Gaurav: It really makes it more fun for me as well.

Andrew: For me too. All right, SnapLogic. Thank you guys for listening to the interview. Thank you to the two sponsors who made this happen. The first is the company that will host your website. It’s called The second is a company that will help you hire great developers. It’s called And finally, if you have a smart speaker, just shout at it whatever its name is and say, “Play, Mixergy podcast.” I think you’ll be impressed by the results. Thanks for doing this interview. Bye everyone.

Who should we feature on Mixergy? Let us know who you think would make a great interviewee.