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Interview With Luke Kanies on $40 Million Funding of Puppet Labs

by Matthias Marschall on Jul 30, 2014 |

Puppet Labs recently closed $40 million funding round. Five investors including VMware, Google Ventures and Cisco want the company invest into talent, technology and global expansion. This fifth round nearly doubles the company’s venture capital to $85.5 million.

InfoQ has talked to Luke Kanies about growing his company so fast:

Where do you see Puppet Labs five years from now?

We’re undergoing one of the biggest periods of change in enterprise IT we’ve ever seen, and in environments like this, I try to adapt to the future rather than predict it.  That being said, our customers will continue adding servers and services, and those services will continue to get more important to them and have stricter needs.  This means their need for great management, and for help moving faster without increasing costs, will continue to increase.  We’ll be right there with our customers, helping them adapt to widespread changes by helping them focus more on shipping great software, rather than on firefighting or doing repetitive tasks.

You’re also going to see Puppet used to manage the entire datacenter — not just compute, but networking and storage as well. That will make collaboration between different data center admins that much easier, and let companies move even faster. The Puppet Supported Program that we just announced is part of this developing ecosystem, where we’ll manage devices from a multitude of vendors in different environments.

How do you maintain a healthy and innovative culture while growing so fast?

We're evolving all the time, and you're right, the speed of change is really rapid right now. That definitely has an impact on the culture, and it's important for us to evolve our culture consciously so we'll still be the company we want to be in five years, 10 years or 15 years. One of the most important elements of culture is hiring and retaining the right people — the kind of people who can work well together. We also have to create and continue to evolve an environment that nurtures creativity, collaboration, and open, constructive feedback. By building a culture that rewards these behaviors, we foster the right conditions for continuous learning and continuous improvement. We want to make sure that people continue to come to work every day glad to be here and ready to work hard on creating the technology that will help our customers ship better software faster, plus all the other things needed to help them, like great documentation, support, professional services and education.

How do you structure your teams and departments to keep the high pace of releases as well as the high quality?

It’s not necessarily the way we structure our teams and departments that enable us to iterate quickly. I think it’s more reflective of the type of people we hire. Puppet Labs employees are driven to continually improve their work, and thus the business. Going back to your previous question, that’s why it’s so important for a fast-growing company to get its hiring right and be very careful to observe the culture and make any needed corrections as new people are added to the team.

How will the open source community benefit from the latest round of investments?

The open source Puppet community is an amazing group of people who have helped to evolve Puppet over the years. After all, they're users, too, and they help us better understand what customers need and want. Our latest round of funding gives us the ability to keep investing deeply in the software, which benefits open source users, too. Our entire community — open source and Puppet Enterprise customers — will continue to play an integral role in the development of our software, through their code contributions, feedback and suggestions. Finally, the funding will help us continue hosting community events, like PuppetConf, Puppet User Groups and Puppet Camps, where community members can meet to learn the latest about Puppet and talk about the big problems they’re trying to solve.

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