Cloudkick Founder Alex Polvi on the Experience of Getting Acquired by Rackspace in Startup Year One

3/31/11Follow @wroush

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how to launch things and about customers, so that was extremely valuable. And one advantage of doing YC as an infrastructure company is that you have all these other YC companies to work with, because they all use infrastructure. So before we even launched, we had a lot of these companies on our system. And we still sell to a lot of YC companies. Heroku uses us.

X: Is Rackspace integrating Cloudkick’s management services into its own cloud offering? When customers sign up for the Rackspace Cloud, do they automatically get access to Cloudkick’s tools, or do they still have to go over to Cloudkick and sign up separately?

AP: Right now they have to go separately. The acquisition only happened three months ago and they were different products from different companies. As we go down the road, we are building products that take Cloudkick and apply it more directly to Rackspace customers. The next version of stuff that we release will be Rackspace-branded.

X: In the big picture, how do you think cloud computing is changing the environment for early-stage startups?

AP: They all use Amazon or Rackspace. Everyone uses Google Apps—there is no Exchange anywhere. They all use Salesforce or some startup version of Salesforce. Everything is SaaS. What happened is that you now have all these building blocks that you can base stuff off of. Pre-cloud, you have to go to a colocation facility and put a server in, or to somebody like Rackspace who could do it for you. That’s opened up an opportunity for Y Combinator, because the low-funding model actually is feasible; you can use so little money and get so much.

One of our advisors does this great presentation on “Building a Startup for $500.” Google Apps is free, you can get a logo on 99designs for $20, and so forth. All the plumbing is getting taken care of, and server infrastructure is a big part of that.

X: Do you have the entrepreneurial bug? And if so, do think Rackspace is a place where you can be entrepreneurial, or do you see yourself moving on to build the next thing?

AP: I’m an experience person. I was really interested in the experience of raising money and building a team and acquiring customers. And getting acquired is an amazing experience—I recommend going through that. Now I really want to see what it’s like at a bigger company. This is my first corporate job. To be able to be part of a company this size, with a strategic role, at this stage in my career, is phenomenal. We want to go from $5 billion to $50 billion, and it’s an amazing opportunity to be able to see that and be part of it. Another startup? We’ll see. It’s all about the experience for me.

Wade Roush is a contributing editor at Xconomy. Follow @wroush

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