Why I Joined Upbound.

The short answer is that I dream of a world where there is 'One Cloud to Rule Them All' and a single Cloud API for everything.  The real answer is a bit more involved.  Upbound, the Enterprise Company behind Crossplane, is solving a problem that has existed internally at every company I've worked at for the past twenty years.  I believe it is time for the industry to finally rally around a standard way of building internal platforms for their developers to build, deploy, and operate their services.

Wait, What?

I join companies that have products that solve real problems. The fact that platform engineers keep building internal platforms with similar functionality at thousands of companies has always struck a chord with me.  Engineers should focus on delivering value that will accelerate the business' core competency versus yet another set of cloud APIs, developer dashboards, build & test pipelines, provisioning tools, and the hacky shell scripts to glue it all together.

Six years ago, I wrote a blog post simply titled 'The Curious Case of Linux Containers.' It sparked a considerable amount of online commentary, landed me several speaking engagements, and even had the subsequent Hackernews thread.  Containers were gaining popularity, but my hypothesis was they alone were not enough to solve the problem.  Containers are an implementation detail and only step one of a thousand in building a full-featured platform.

Crossplane is the other 999 steps and moves beyond container orchestration and management.  It leverages Kubernetes and the power of its control plane, extensive open source cloud provider coverage, and custom resource definitions to easily compose infrastructure into a custom platform for your engineers.  And you can do it in under a day.

It doesn't just stop there because now that you can represent anything with an API as a resource, Crossplane lets you compose complex multi-cloud and SaaS configurations and manage them as simple as the equivalent apt-get install.  Thomas Watson famously said he thought there was market potential for maybe five computers.  Crossplane can make that a reality and reduce the cloud into a single interface.

Now Product Vision wasn't the only thing that brought me to Upbound, but it was a tremendous driving force.  There are four criteria that I use when evaluating opportunities and what allowed me to see how amazing this was:

  • Strong Product & Vision
  • Interesting Engineering Challenges & Strong Team
  • Organization Growth & Leadership Opportunities
  • Compensation Upside

While I've already elaborated on Product & Vision, I'm an engineer at heart.  I started my career writing code and coming up with technical solutions to interesting problems.  Even as I moved to engineering management, that urge did not disappear.  The Crossplane open source project and Upbound's Enterprise Crossplane Distribution are two enormous opportunities to attack a pretty significant problem space across all clouds and from an engineering perspective we have only begun to scratch the surface.

We tend to learn the most when challenged, which is why it's so important to find companies and opportunities that have ample room and space for you to grow.  An easy way to accomplish that is to join a fast-growing startup like Upbound.  As we scale the company, there are so many exciting organization and technical challenges to solve, and it's one of the best ways to gain the knowledge, skills, and abilities to accelerate your career.  This is especially true because you're working with a strong team of leaders, managers, and contributors from which you can learn and grow. The dividends of betting on yourself will always pay off over the long term.

This brings me to the last criteria in my evaluation framework, Compensation Upside.  When you join a startup, you're taking on a considerable amount of risk, and if it pays off, you should be rewarded.  Startup life means that the work you do will be more critical to the company's success and why I think this is a fair tradeoff and why the upside can be so significant.   The upside is realized at many larger established companies already. You're gambling in a sense, but more on yourself and your team and your ability to execute. I'll take that bet, especially if the product fit is already there.

So here I am today.  At a fantastic company with a great vision for its product, helping scale the engineering organization as we grow and tackle some exciting organizational and technical challenges with an enormous upside if we execute well.

The Upbound Vision is 'All Clouds under a Universal Cloud Platform,' and I get to be a part of making that happen.

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