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Frankly Speaking 10.29.19

by Frank Wang
   
 
A weekly(-ish) newsletter on random thoughts in tech and research. I am an investor at Dell Technologies Capital and a recovering academic. I am interested in security, blockchain, and cloud infrastructure.

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I'm somewhat back in action, so sorry for the lack of newsletters. It's been busy over here at Dell Technologies Capital. Board meetings, new deals, and some personal stuff have been keeping me busy, but I don't want to write a mediocre newsletter. Anyway, in other unrelated news, I did switch from Google Authenticator to Authy for my 2FA solution, and it's definitely a better application and makes it easy to switch phones and use multiple devices. Google Authenticator is honestly outdated despite setting the standard for an authenticator application. Authy is so much better, so thank you Twilio.
 

LET'S BE FRANK

I've been spending a lot of time thinking about developer infrastructure and its sales motions. As a security person, why do I care about developer infrastructure? Well... in a past life, I was a developer and am amazed how far tools have come to make developer's lives easier. Similarly, the DevOps revolution is very fascinating to me because developers being heavily involved n the "Ops cycle" was something I never would have imagined 20 years ago when I started writing code.

Another major reason is that I believe more DevOps folks will do security because new developer infrastructure will require new security paradigms, especially since there is a larger emphasis on security in organizations generally. Most of the security threats and risks in applications actually come in the DevOps cycle, especially given the cycles are getting shorter. For anyone who disagrees, I will debate this with you for hours until I'm convinced otherwise. For example, with the increased use in containers, there was a stronger need for container security, and as a result, companies like Twistlock and Aqua Security took off. In fact, organizations spent more money on container security than containers themselves! Part of reason for that is that developers don't spend a ton of money on tools in general.

Developer infrastructure is interesting as most sales are bottoms up, meaning individual developers and ICs buy the tool rather than an executive buy like most security tools. Since individuals make decisions rather than an executive, it almost feels like a consumer purchase to me. Of course, developers are a very focused group of consumers, so they also are less fickle. However, developer tools companies almost feel like consumer companies because more subjective criteria like coolness, etc. create traction unlike top down sales, which focus more on company and strategic priorities.

Anyway, as an investor, that makes it difficult for me to predict whether a developer tool will get traction or not. However, I do think that these companies should be run similar to consumer companies and be engineering-focused rather than sales-focused like most enterprise companies. It's important to build a tool that a large group of developers likes and appreciates rather than one executive, which is more interested in fulfilling certain strategic IT objectives. For example, Facebook never focused on selling. It focused on getting users and their attention. Developer infrastructure companies need to do the same thing. I think in order to invest in developer infrastructure, an investor needs to spend a lot of time with various generations of ICs and developers and understand the culture and world that they live in so that they can get an intuition for their preferences. Unfortunately, that means former executives and operators have to go back into the weeds of writing code and understanding the experiences of a current developer. They have to immerse themselves in the current engineering world, which is a different mode of operation than what investors in top down sales organizations have to do. 

This is fascinating, and I'm looking forward to spending more time learning about this space because I think it'll have a substantial impact on the next generation of security companies.



TWEET OF THE WEEK

I think we're all forgetting that done is better than perfect sometimes...


 

CURRENTLY READING

I've been finding more time to read, which is awesome, thanks to the long plane and train rides. 

The Pentagon's Brain: An Uncensored History of DARPA, America's Top-Secret Military Research Agency
This is a really interesting book on how many of the most interesting projects in America were founded and introduced to the public, including the Internet. Many society-defining projects were funded through DARPA, and the initial motivation was national security. 

Prairie Fires: The American Dreams of Laura Ingalls Wilder
For those who read the children's books, Little House in the Big Woods, Little House on the Prairie, and the rest of the Little House series, this book fills in a lot of the gaps in Laura Ingalls Wilder's life as well as gives an interesting look into America's history and the value of self-reliance in America.

For more, follow me on Twitter, LinkedIn, and Medium.

 
  

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Disclaimer: * indicates a Dell Technologies Capital portfolio company or company that I have economic interest in. I am an employee of DELL and own stock directly in AAPL, AMZN, GOOGL, SPLK, T, and WMT. All opinions within are my own and do not reflect those of my employer or any people or groups with whom I am affiliated.

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