the long slow flip


“whatever good things we build end up building us.” -jim rohn

in the tech world today, value is being created so fast, it can feel like it’s just overnight. it’s exciting. from palm to twitter to sand hill road, it’s an electric time to be a builder and investor, no doubt. while the pace of value creation ticks up, i do wonder what we may lose as a result, the risk that used to be associated with joining a startup — the stigma, even. i wonder if startup jobs are the new corporate jobs, as former colleague @al3x provocatively articulated. but mostly, i wonder if the long years of pain and suffering even the successful companies of old experienced may be lost on a generation.

i’m uncharacteristically nostalgic today because i have some uncharacteristic news to share: a company that i founded in 2002 — 11.5 years ago — is finally going to have an exit (and an exit that provides a strong return for investors and a great outcome for colleagues and team members). back in 2002, i had a simple premise that the standardization of interfaces to data would enable a new layer of processing to be created — data virtualization. thankfully, i convinced other people the idea had merit: the engineers, investors, executives, and customers that would come to form the nucleus around the company. today, i’m excited to announce that composite is partnering with cisco to take data virtualization to a grander scale. building composite was the roller-coaster everyone talks about, but it was also a blast, mostly because of the people involved. since 2002, composite “alums” have gone on to big things, such as founding or being on the starting team of Adchemy, Marin Software, Ludic Labs (Groupon), Reverb, and Hortonworks, to name a few. saying “thank you” on this blog feels a bit inadequate given the blood and sweat of the engineers who worked out of my house to build the initial version, to the many advisors and friends who helped me as a first-time founder/CEO, to the investors who believed that in 2002 startups could still deliver venture-scale returns, to jim green who left his public post to become ceo when i wanted to return to doing technical work, to stephen ahuero/will lam/wilson yu who have worked at composite since it started in my house and are still employees today, to the countless employees who helped build a real enterprise business that generates real, sustainable value, and to my friends….i will be forever grateful.

i normally wouldn’t boast about an exit, as it’s not my style, but the main purpose in writing this is for the founders and future founders out there — to point out that i started composite software almost twelve years ago — 12 years! — and finally today got to the elusive exit all founders seek. it didn’t happen in one year, or within a venture cycle, or even within a decade :-)….it took a lot of sweat, patience, low moments, fear, drive. there’s a great post by ben sesser on pando, “it’s damn hard to build an enterprise business.” go read it. it strikes a deep chord with me. and it takes the commitment of scores of believers — not just the founder — to carry the company through. while it all may sound cliche, i’ve lived it, and it’s true. we all have the scars to prove it, which is why today tastes so good.

5 thoughts on “the long slow flip

  1. Michael,

    Thank you for the article mention, and more importantly, congratulations. It sounds like it has been a long but rewarding journey.


  2. hey Mike — congrats. I remember well your starting composite. You had tremendous sophistication on both the business and technical side. Great to see it’s worked out well for you.


    Matt Sandler

  3. Mike

    Thanks for having me on board at Composite, not quite from the days of your garage, but at least from the days of shipping product to paying customers.

    Mike D

    • mike- it was a privilege to work together! and thank you for your many nights/weekends to help make composite a success! let me know if you are every out in the bay area – beers are definitely on me.

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