First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Durga Gokina: We are doing fine. COVID-19 brought tough times for everyone. But I think this pandemic also brought families together and spending more quality time. Since COVID-19 started, I see a lot more couples and families on neighborhood streets & parks going for walks, cycling, skateboarding, etc.
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded Macrometa.
Durga Gokina: My background is mostly in building distributed systems dealing with data & compute. I worked in multiple startups over the years, with some becoming big like LoudCloud (Opsware) while others failed. It provides a good perspective.
I met my co-founder a few years back in his previous startup, i.e., Atlantis Computing, which deals with hyper-converged storage. A couple of the technical problems that fascinated us during that time are:
- How to make data available in close proximity seamlessly around the globe to the user (or Apps & APIs) of data with various guarantees on data consistencies. The solution to this problem enables a database and stream processing to be like a CDN with blazing performance & ultra-low latencies.
- Another is typically for cloud projects; a developer spends 85% of their time building glue code to integrate various services and 15% of the time on solving the actual business problem. So we were fascinated by how to simplify and dramatically improve the “time to value” for R&D organizations while not requiring deep & expensive expertise.
- Another is on how to build a geo-distributed service running in 10s of locations around the work but can be easily programmable for the developers as if it were in a local system.
Eventually, we figured how to do these and decided to start Macrometa to pursue further. We were a bit ahead of time when we started, but I think now the market is coming around to this with the proliferation of IoT, 5G, and remote working.
How does Macrometa innovate?
Durga Gokina: Innovation is one of the core strengths of Macrometa. We innovate both in our product as well as in our operations. Our platform, i.e., Macrometa Global Data Network (GDN), is a fairly different way to build a global real-time converged data platform compared to most NoSQL databases and stream processing systems out there currently.
While there is no one standard formula on how the company innovates, there are a couple of building blocks that allow us to innovate better.
- One of these is looking at problems from a first-principles perspective. First Principles are atomic, universally true statements that don’t need to be broken down any further. This provides a unique & fresh perspective on the issue, and we start solving from there.
- Another is being humble and honest to seek contradictory perspectives, being open about mistakes, blind spots, etc., and learning from them.
How the coronavirus pandemic affects your business, and how are you coping?
Durga Gokina: Right from the beginning, Macrometa is a decentralized team spread around the globe right. So in terms of day-to-day operations, it has not changed much for us. Initially, when the pandemic started, things became a bit slow, but later it recovered. We also started seeing more awareness & interest in the problems of our global data service solves.
Did you have to make difficult choices, and what are the lessons learned?
Durga Gokina: We made several difficult choices in the past. For example, early on, we decided to go wherever the exceptional talent is available instead of restricting ourselves to certain geographical areas. This also allowed us to have a low-cost structure in R&D while not compromising on talent.
Similarly, we focused on maximizing our talent density, which allowed us to focus our money, efforts, and time on what is important for the business.
How do you deal with stress and anxiety? How do you project yourself and Macrometa in the future?
Durga Gokina: Stress happens when we want a certain outcome but producing that outcome is not fully in our hands. Similarly, stress happens when we resist what is in the “now” and wanting something else. One simple solution but also hard is to just accept the “now” and do our best. Similarly, let go of the tight grip on what we want & do our best with whatever the outcome may be.
Some things like the above are easier said than done. In those cases, the best stress and anxiety buster for me is my dog (Happy – a mischievous Golden Retriever). Sometimes I wonder who saved who.
In addition, other things I found useful in dealing with stress are regular physical activities and spending quality time with family.
Our future plan is to continue to innovate and maximize value to our customers, stay true to our values, and enjoy the journey along the way.
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Durga Gokina: Our primary competitors are in-house solutions and lack of awareness that there is an easier & better way to solve the problems compared to the current status quo. I think we are currently 3 years ahead of others in terms of technology. So our plan is to capture the market & mindshare of developers & enterprises while continuing to innovate.
Your final thoughts?
Durga Gokina: Be “honest,” “humble,” and have “heart” in what you pursue. Opportunities come from chaos, just like innovations come from necessity. Better to go with the flow and enjoy the journey along the way. We have only one life.