Why I Joined Rockset (With Six Months Hindsight)

Photo by Adil from Pexels
Photo by Adil from Pexels

I’ve found that every startup today fits into one of two categories:

  1. A solution that focuses mainly on enhancing a larger solution or platform.
  2. A solution that has arrived in the wake of those that have come before.

The first category is a symbiotic relationship — think of the shark and remora fish. Even though there is a mutual benefit, one of the parties has a more significant dependency on the other. Consider those companies solely found in an app marketplace (Salesforce, Zendesk, and so on).

The second category is akin to a predator taking over after another leaves, similar to how hyenas move in after the lions. There is still a significant benefit to each other, but they are more independent in their relationship. In fact, there are times where they might even battle against each other.

Neither of these categories indicate a lower quality, or that there is less talent or less of a problem in their vertical. Rather, if you are someone who likes working at startups, understanding which category you enjoy will lead to more satisfaction at work. And this is one of the reasons I chose Rockset as my next career opportunity.

I like, you could even say I thrive, in the startups that require me to be more imaginative and strategic in how I approach an opportunity. Building out processes, teams, helping companies scale, as well as directly addressing major pains in the industry are all areas that I’ve found enjoyable.

Rockset was one such opportunity.

I still remember the pains of trying to get data from MSSQL and Oracle into the same database just so I could do one quarterly job. Spending hours to optimize a query to go from 30 minute runtimes to 15 minutes (which I was overjoyed at achieving). I still have PTSD when I think about all of the messed up reports because junk in, junk out delayed reliable data. Anyone who has worked in a larger company with multiple data teams and data stacks understands the political capital that must be spent to get any momentum in a task. I even remember when I first heard of NoSQL and MongoDB and thought I’d give that a try instead, only to realize that JOINs were essential to the reports. When I first tested out Rockset, the speed at which the unstructured data was being brought in, the ability to query a JSON data set and JOIN it with a CSV dataset without need to do any ETL, and the mystical Query Lambda functionality all made me realize that this was a company with something new. This wasn’t a niche solution — it didn’t rely on other major players for it to be useful, and the time to value was immediate and obvious.

I was hooked.

It’s not often that I walk into a room of about 30 people and immediately feel like I’m one of the least intelligent ones there. But my second week at Rockset was a hack week, and I’m pretty sure everyone was just speaking gibberish to confuse me (when the Rockset chief architect was talking about UDFs in WebAssembly using C, I just smiled and nodded). It was then that I really understood the caliber of engineering talent that Rockset was attracting — Rockset even has a legit data doctor!

And the caliber of talent Rockset has is not solely relegated to the engineering team. Marketing, product, recruitment sales and every other team at Rockset is made up of high caliber players that have left nothing but success in their wake. If I wanted to be a part of the predator category of startups, I knew Rockset was where I needed to go. And as a father and a husband, I wasn’t able or willing to make a large gamble on the next career move.

Choosing Rockset was not a risk, it was me hedging my bet for success.

Rockset is the real-time analytics database in the cloud for modern data teams. Get faster analytics on fresher data, at lower costs, by exploiting indexing over brute-force scanning.

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