But mostly thank you to our customers who said more about Percona than we ever could have.
There are many milestones in the life of the company, and being included in the Gartner Magic Quadrant is one of very significant ones! I’m very proud we have now reached that milestone and have been recognized as a challenger by Gartner in the Magic Quadrant for Operational DBMS.
Looking back at Percona’s 9 years in business it is interesting to remember the naysayers we met along the way who did not expect us to stay in business so long, or to grow to more than 100 full-time staff members from almost 30 countries and reach over $20M of yearly sales bookings… let alone be recognized in the Magic Quadrant. I thought it would be interesting to revisit some of those claims, so if you’re facing similar ones you won’t be swayed by them.
“You’re just a Geek.” My role in MySQL AB was mainly a technical one, which had many people saying to us (and our prospective customers) that this makes me unfit to run any real company. They thought I would play at a small consulting operation for a few years and, when bruised with challenges of running a business, take a job with an existing company.
In retrospect this is perhaps the most misleading concern you can run into. Leaders of many well respected technology companies come from fairly technical background. This includes leaders of mature companies such as Bill Gates (Microsoft) and Larry Ellison (Oracle), as well as Mark Zuckerberg (Facebook), Elon Musk (Tesla, SpaceX) and Larry Page and Sergey Brin (Google). I believe as long as you know your strengths and build a great management team to support you where you’re not as strong, you do not have to come from business, finance or sales and marketing to run a technology company. In fact, it is probably good if you do not.
“It’s impossible to bootstrap a technology company.” At this point we have not taken in a single dollar of external equity funding. Vadim and I also did not have the deep pockets to invest any significant personal funds in the company, which makes us very much a bootstrapped company, which people have been telling me for many years is impossible to do. As our story goes, it is not impossible, but perhaps, harder. You have to accept a slower growth rate than many venture-funded companies achieve, and you have to develop a lot of discipline in making hard choices to keep your expenses aligned with revenue. This also can be a good thing as it really forces you to put your customers (rather than investors) first, as it is customers who are funding your growth when you’re bootstrapping. Ultimately you have to commit yourself to complete customer focus.
“It’s impossible to build products with a purely open source model.” This is another concern I heard from many people when starting and running Percona for the first few years. I was told you can’t keep your products completely open source; that you have to really have some trick to force customers to pay, whether this be an open core model, such as with MySQL and MongoDB, or a subscription for enterprise builds and updates, such as RedHat and MariaDB – you have to have something to ensure vendor lock-in with your customers.
Our model at Percona has been releasing all our enterprise-grade software such as Percona Server for MySQL, Percona XtraDB Cluster and Percona Xtrabackup as completely open source. When we acquired Tokutek, releasing all their “enterprise” software as open source was one of the first things we did. A lot of our customers find this commitment to open source very attractive, because vendor lock-in is exactly what many of them want to avoid. We strive to pair our products with great services, such as Support for MySQL, Support for MongoDB and Percona Care, which are so valuable for you that you will find them worth the price.
And that last point is key – we always strive to put the customer first at Percona. At every phase of this journey we have always been, and will continue to be, very grateful to the customers who took a chance by going with a small bootstrapped company run by tech geeks. Being mindful of that, we always do our best to go above and beyond for our customers. In talking to Garter during this process and in reading their report, this is what I am most proud of: we scored the highest of all vendors in our customer surveys. Higher than Oracle, MariaDB, MongoDB… all of them. Our customers said that if you want great support Percona is the company to go to. Knowing that we got that right is truly gratifying.
I want to thank all our customers, users of our open source software and the open source community at large for helping us grow Percona to be worthy of such recognition!
I also want to thank Gartner for the recognition. We’ll do our best to prove you right.