April 14, 2023

Episode 239: Ajay Kulkarni, CEO of Timescale

Ajay Kulkarni is the CEO and Co-Founder of Timescale, creators of the industry-leading relational database for time series, built on the standards of PostgreSQL and SQL.

With a focus on time-series data, his extensive experience has helped shape Timescale into a company dedicated to serving developers globally, enabling them to build the next wave of computing.  

Timescale is backed by Benchmark, NEA, Redpoint, Tiger Global, Icon Ventures, and Two Sigma Ventures.

Julian: Hey everyone. Thankyou so much for joining the Behind Company Lines podcast. Today we have AjayKulkarni, CEO of Timescale. Timescale are the creators of the leadingcloud-based data cloud database platform for the time series events and morebuilt on Postgres. Ajay is so excited to chat with you, not only because.

Of your background, your experiencebuilding Starbucks, but also time scale and what you're working on now. Andreally kind of a lot of the, the, it seems like the development and changes in thedeveloper ecosystem are so fascinated to really, kind of tackle issues, whetherit's around productivity, access to resource information, time to actuallycompleting a certain, objective.

So many things that we see a lot ofcompanies offering for developers to kind of speed up the overall process oreven just make it more efficient, more. Before we get into all that, what wereyou doing before you started the company?. What are the, what are the manythings?  

Ajay: Yeah, yeah. So, Imean, I've been an, I guess in startups, an entrepreneur for a while.

I probably 14, 15 years ago, I startedmy previous company it was in the mobile space. It was like 2008, 2009. This isright when the iPhone was new and we were actually on Blackberry. So inhindsight, picked the wrong platform, but at one point we were no leadingaddress book on, leading address book app on Blackberry devices.

It had like hundreds of thousands ofdownloads. Ended up being an okay success story. We were acquired by anothercompany, which was then acquired by Skype, which was then acquired byMicrosoft. So I find myself resting, investing in Microsoft feeling verycomfort. But also feeling like I was too young to feel comfortable.

It was probably like early to midthirties. Yeah. And my, in parallel, my co-founder Mike, who I've known forlike 25 years, we were roommates at mit. He went down a different path. Hestayed in academia. He got his PhD from NYU slash Stanford. He also sold thecompany along the way. And then he became tenured, a tenured professor ofcomputer science at Princeton.

So, pretty prestigious, but at thatpoint I think he also, Like a little too comfortable. Yeah. For comfort. Yeah.So we teamed up to work together and then we started off working at a differentcompany around iot, but that, that then led to Timescale. And then werelaunched this Timescale early 2017 six, so nearly six years ago.

And the company has felt like a rocketship since then.  

Julian: Yeah, it's incredibleto think about in the, the journey that you, that you've had. And just curious,I always like to ask founders about, the acquisition story in, in respect to,when you received the offers you were receiving, what was the decision makingprocess?

And essentially, because you probably hadmaybe a few people who were interested, or maybe you did, and maybe there wasone particular party, but what made you go with whom you did at the time? And,and would you have done it Differently?  

Ajay: I think in hindsight Idid, I think we did it perfectly, but that's not because we were brilliant.

I think we were like smart, but I thinkwe also got a little lucky. No. So we saw, so this is probably early 2011.Yeah. We were probably in this business for like a couple, two, three years andwe could tell by 2011 that we'd picked the wrong platform and, and I kind likeBlackberry versus iPhone and, and and I have this great.

God, so many like lessons learned. Likeone was, I remember talking to my dad, who also used to be a tech entrepreneur,and my dad was like, why are you building on Blackberry? Like, feels likeyou're building in on, on like Unix in a Windows world. That's what he grew upin. But I also like remember thinking like we're the bleeding address book onBlackberry, but like I learned that it doesn't matter if you're the tallestperson on the sinking ship, you're still going down with the ship, yeah. And sowe had a few off offers. The company that we. Accepting the offer from wasactually pretty small. It was another startup a little bit bigger than us.Maybe we were like two people and there were like 20, 30 people, but we couldtell that it was in a group messaging space. We could just tell this was gonnabe.

Like, like a great, a great company,great success and what's wild. So that's why we picked it. Yeah. But in, and Ithink, and in hindsight, like we timed it so well. Cause I remember the day wesigned the term sheet from them was February 14th. Yeah. 2011, six months laterBlackberry stock at crater by 75%.

Wow. Wow. So like, like I knew, I knewBlackberry was like the wrong platform. Unexpected to, to go down that quickly.Yeah. But hindsight picked a great company.

Julian: Yeah. Yeah. What wasthat transition period like? Because you, you, you signed the papers in 2011,but you were on for another, I think three years working with the company.

Were you transitioning kind of the, theteam into the new organization? What was that relationship during thattransition period?  

Ajay: Yeah. Initially wethought our Blackberry would be the foundation for their black. They were agroup messaging company called GroupMe, but then we quickly realized that itdidn't make any sense to be on Blackberry.

But, but I think, my, my co-founder atin that company was another old friend, and he's a, he's a great softwaredeveloper named Andy. And then, with my background engineering and, and kind ofproduct we just naturally fit into the larger company. Yeah. And I ended upeventually heading up all mobile applications for the company.

So iOS, Android, windows, phone,although I. Built part of the Windows phone app. Yeah. But it's prettyseamless. I don't know, like I think we picked a company where we're just like,like we just loved the, the mission really respected the founders. Yeah. And Iremember thinking like, we had a few other companies we were looking at at thattime and I remember thinking like, if I had to buy stock in one of thesecompanies, I would buy it in this one.

Yeah. Yeah. Even though it's like alittle bit riskier cuz it's a startup, I'll like buy it in this one cause andit was end up being the right.  

Julian: Yeah. And what, what,what was the, I guess, the, the signals that you were seeing to, to feel soconfident in the decision that you made? Anything in particular that youthought, in comparison to the other companies that could have, could haveacquired you or that you could've worked with, yeah. Obviously with AC was anaquire or was it just. You were acquired, you were transitioning. What was thatprocess like and and what were the signals that you saw  

Ajay: for that company?Yeah, I mean, I think it eventually ended up becoming an acquihire. I think theidea was that they were also buying the assets and it would be the foundationfor their Blackberry app ended up being an acquihire because we didn't developthe Blackberry.

But after a while I'm, I'm like, I was alot less experience than I am now. This is like sure. 10, 12 years ago. Butlike I just knew it was a company called GroupMe. Have you used group?Mm-hmm.  

Julian: I, I, yeah, back inthe day I did.  

Ajay: Yeah. So it was, itwas GroupMe, so group messaging app. Yeah. Yeah.

And and I remember the first time I usedGroupMe, this is before they had apps. It was just text based. And I had spentthe last 10 years in mobile. I actually worked for a, in the mid two thousands,I worked for a mobile search company called Four Info, which was one of thefirst companies to do mobile search.

It was all text based, so I had a lot ofgood experience in, in texting in the S world. In fact, one of my old coworker.Was Garth was actually an advisor to group me. So what is BR connection? Yeah.Using this product for the first time and it just felt magical. Yeah. It justfelt magical. And, and, and I don't know, like I, I felt like we were tryingto, like, we both did the same mission, which was like to turn your contextinto relationships, like your real social network Right.

Was the people you actually talk to. AndI remember. We're like, oh wow. Like we, we try to do this with a betteraddress book. But they did it with a better form of com communicating like abetter communications medium. Yeah, yeah. And I'm like, oh that's so powerfulcuz it's so fundamental. And that was like one of my early lessons was like,Hey, like whatever you're thinking, think bigger.

Like what's better than an address book?How about a better way of talking? Yeah, yeah, yeah. Exactly. And so I rememberusing it. I remember just being blown away. I'm like, this is just magical. Andthis is still pretty early.  

Julian: Yeah. Yeah. Now, yeah,nowadays it seems like, the, the better experience is what everybody's strivingfor with all companies as they build, but it seems like at the time they were alittle bit of, ahead of the curve in that respect.

But, I guess more so towards Timescaleto shifting, shifting the conversation. Yep. So you were, you were, you were,where was your head at and what in particular, what were you interested? Interms of, realtime data series, was that always kind of the way you were gonnago? Or where did you come up with the idea what, what ideas were precedingTimescale, what it is now, and, and yeah, how did it evolve to get to where it'stoday?

Ajay: Well, it definitelyevolved because as I loaded, like we ended up pivoting to Timescale. Yeah. We,we actually started off building an iot company and the inspiration forTimescale was. We needed a special kind of database for iot company. We wantedsomething that offered SQL and scaled and offered the relational databasemodel.

And no one was building it. So kind ofas a last resort, we were like, I guess we had to build it ourselves, so webuilt it ourselves and then we realized that everyone kept asking us a lot morequestions about the database we had built. Yeah. Then about the IOT product.Like I remember being in a meeting with this large a hundred year old logisticscompany.

Yeah. And I remember talking to. Somesoftware architect about our iot platform and his eyes are glazing over andhe's like, okay, how are you different than the other 500 iot platform? He'slike, oh, we built this database and offer SQL and IT scales. And Amber, helike literally leaned forward in his seat and he was like, can you tell me moreabout that?

Because that actually sounds interestingCuz reason Cassandra, he's not really scaling and, and like at that point, likeI'd already gone through my, my previous adventure with my, my previouscompany. So I kind of learned how to listen for. Yeah. And if someone says, oh,that's cool, that means it's not cool.

Right? Right. But if someone is actuallylike, like leans in and they're like, wait, wait, can you go back to that?Yeah. That's when you're like, oh, okay. So there's something there. I'm notsure what it is, but it's definitely more than this iot thing. And so werealized that this database where building was solving was a, a bigger problemthan the iot product.

Relaunched as Timescale in early 2017.And yeah, I mean, it was just, it's been like a rocket ship.  

Julian: Yeah. And what werepeople using before Timescale and what was the biggest, I guess it sounds likescalability was the biggest headache for a lot of companies and, and, and whatwere companies using before that time?

Ajay: Yeah, I mean, if you,if you look at the database history I think the, the relational database cameabout in the late seventies, let's say maybe eighties and nineties, with theage of the relational database, the rise of Oracle and SQL Server, and thenlater Postgres and MySQL. The two thousands were probably 2000, thousand 10 wasprobably the era of like people saying, Hey, sql, the model is a scale.

SQL is a scale. We need no SQL and therise of Cassandra on Mongo and a lot of other companies that don't existanymore. Yeah. And so by the time, like we came around and we're buildingeverything in 2015, the, the general accepted I don't know. Practice was, hey,relational databases are great, but they don't scale.

And so if you want some of the scales,you have to switch to something that's non relational, which is kinda likethrowing the baby out with the bath water. Cuz you're like, oh, like do youwant something that's easy to use and versatile and works with everything? Ordo you want something that has none of the above but scales and you're kindalike, like, I want both.

Like can I have both? And we were usingactually an off-the-shelf timer database at that time. Didn't offer us both,and it was really frustrating. And so we were like, I guess we have to buildit. It was literally like being reluctantly like pulled to build this thing cuzno one else was doing it.

And I actually remember meeting with oneof the founders of one of the database companies and, and meeting with them andrealizing, oh, they're not gonna do this. So we have to, we have to do onlybecause we have this problem. We weren't even try to sell it. Yeah. Why didn'tit scale?  

Julian: Why didn't it scale?

Yeah. Just said for, for thenon-technical yeah. Audience,  

Ajay: there's kind of, yeah.It was kind of like this theory. Here's what happened. What happened is that in2000, some of the early internet giants, like Amazon and Google. They were likesome of the first companies at True Internet Scale.

And so they built their first, theybuilt the first real kind of non-relational databases. I think Google had, Ithink it was Big Table. And Amazon had the, I think the essentially what becameDynamo DB essentially. Mm-hmm. Mm-hmm. And And, and every company was like, oh,I wanna be in Amazon. I wanna be at Google, so I'm gonna adopt these things atscale.

Yeah. And and then like by 2015, mostpeople realize, hey, like you are not gonna be the next Google. Yeah. Like,it's like you can still be a huge success story, but you're pro not gonna havedata at Google Scale. And even Google was like, Hey, This, we were wrong. And,and they actually, Google built something called Spanner, which relationdatabase had scaled.

So essentially it was almost like Googleand Amazon were on the cutting away at cutting edge. They're like, oh, we haveto do this thing and it's non-relational. And then I think, and Amazon was alsofor a long time, a huge Oracle customer, I think. I think the market then waslike, oh, we wanna be the next Google.

And then by 2015, Google and Amazon hadkind of switched back. Yeah. But the market hadn't yet. And, and I rememberwhen we launched like the top, top comments in Hacker News. This is a stupididea how much you wanna do this. And like, you, you can't scale Postgres. Andwe would say, no, you can. It's just really hard.

But you can, and, and we did it. And I,and I think, I don't know, I think that's been the key thing, is like, not, notaccepting things to be impossible, but like tackling the things that reallygonna move the needle.  

Julian: Yeah. Well, it soundsfascinating. Based on your previous experience and kind of expanding on ontowhat possibilities are out there, or even that you can kinda think of and canconceive, even if the technology's not built, you get to this position withTimescale before, obviously you named it Timescale, and seeing that everything,everyone.

Has been saying about, these databasesaren't scalable, finding a way to do that. It sounds like that kind of, thatthat was the precursor to the, the, I guess maybe the perspective you had atthe time when you kind of made the transition into, into expanding it. Whatwas, what helped you?

I'm curious cuz you had a conversationwith the, the database. Why weren't they building it? If they had kind of seenthat that was the next evolution of their product from, all the, the customer,conversations that you've had and all the people you've worked with in your ownexperience, what was, what was the reason why they weren't focusing on buildingthat and, and focusing on other things?

Ajay: It, it's a goodquestion. I mean, I think, I think the reality is that as software applicationshave become more complex mm-hmm. I think they're just a new crop of datachallenge. That were happening. Yeah. One thing we'd like to talk about at timeskilled is the future of computing. Yeah. And so, in the beginning we werelike, oh, hey, this is a database that doesn't exist.

We need to build it. But as soon as welaunched, like the immediate response was way bigger than we expected. Yeah.And in fact, every year, like company keeps growing and growing. So like ourunderstanding of the problem and our vision has grown as well. Yeah. And solike, like I think what we saw that maybe other people did not see is that,Like the future of computing.

It's not just big data. It's like, cuzbig data kind of applies like data warehousing and things like snowflake.Mm-hmm. Mm-hmm. It's kind of like these data intensive applications, likeapplications that are real time, that are built on large data sets. And what youneed for those is like, you need Postgres and you need.

Yeah. And, and so what we talk about nowat Timescale is like, Hey, we exist, like to help build the future ofcomputing. Yeah. And, and what we, when we say future, does that make sensewhen I say future of computing or should I kind of go into Yeah. Go into Yeah,for sure. Yeah. I mean, so, so like at our core, like at our heart atTimescale, I like to think we're, we're optimists.

Yeah. And we're especially optimisticabout like the power of technology to like solve problems and to make a world abetter place. My co-founder Mike, has this great. His is great. He likes to saythis thing, which is like, Hey, like banning plastic straws, like won't solveclimate change. Yeah. Like that's, I mean like, okay, sure.

Like we can do that if you want, butthat's actually not gonna solve the problem. Like, yeah. Like we have to buildour way out of the problem to the solution. And, and that's how we viewTimescales. We, we want to help build for the builders. And today we have over,a thousand customers, six years later, a thousand customers are all we say,building the future of computing on Timescale.

In case it helps, I can go through a fewof them. Yeah, yeah. I'm gonna ask. Yeah, yeah. Like, yeah, some reallyawesome, I think stories, in my opinion, which is also what makes this fun.Cause every time I learn about a new customer, it's like, so exciting. Or oneof them is a company called ever. They make battery less sensors, so sensorsthat are extremely low power, that harvest, like ambient temperature, kineticenergy to self-power themselves, it's like, it's wild, but they actually, theyactually build these sensors to help companies like Pfizer and Siemens.

Reduce energy wastage and carbon emissions,and that's built on Timescale. You're like, oh, that's, that's really cool.Yeah. There's a company in India called Blue Sky Analytics that's, that's builtessentially the Bloomberg for environmental data. And they essentially offerthat to people to, to drive sustainable decision making.

That's built on Timescale. Yeah. We evenhave like a major US record. That collects kind of realtime signals fromSpotify and SoundCloud. Mm-hmm. Which, which is a great example of, I think,software, even the world, every, whatever you wanna call it. Because as, asmusic consumption has moved from offline to online, from like records and CDsto like Spotify and SoundCloud, the amount of data you can collect and theability to make decisions on that data has increased.

Right? So I'm talking about dataintensive applications. They're essentially collecting signals from Spotify andSoundCloud to help identify. Breakout artist. Yeah. And and I don't know, like,I like to think that. Great music makes the world a better place.  

Julian: Yeah. Yeah. It's sofascinating thinking about the, the amount of, use cases that the product is,is valuable for.

And, and, and this whole kind of, Iguess, obviously it's been, it's been over the, the past few years, but evenmore so, companies are focusing on, on data, whether it's, creating betterformats for data labeling, creating better, databases to actually collectlarger bits of information, better analytic tools.

What does, what does that Essent.Obviously you gave us some examples of, of those customers, but I guess on agrand scheme, what is gonna be. What are we gonna see in terms of not only dataconsumption analysis but this whole collection, this whole ecosystem arounddata, the more knowledge that we have, the better predictions we can make.

Where do you think we're going in thatdirection in terms of, as data gets larger, more accessible, there's moreinsights gathered? Yeah. Yeah. What, what are some of your predictions or whatare, what are some of your optimisms around, the evolution of it. I like thatword optimisms.  

Ajay: Yeah. I like optimism.

Optimistic predictions, maybe. Yeah.That's cool. I like that. I'm gonna steal that. Yeah. So number one, we believethat every company today, It's either a software company is becoming a softwarecompany or is getting replaced by a software company. So like in music,Spotify, SoundCloud, software companies this record labor customer talked aboutis becoming a software company.

And then anyone who has not embraced asoftware is getting replaced by software company and great software is built ongreat databases. And as long as software's been around, they've been powered bygreat databases. But what's happened lately and they kind of. The musicexample, even the other examples, hopefully, like kind of, illustrate is thatwe like to say data is eating software.

And in fact, like modern applicationsare extremely demanding of their database. And so like back in the day youmight have had these crud apps, create, read, update, delete, kind of basedlike, oh, like, well what's, what's Julian's account? Okay, let's update hisemail address. Okay. Done. He bought something.

Okay, cool. Transaction done. And, and Imean, and a lot of applications like that today, but you have the rise. Thesedata tens of applications, which a very different workload pattern. Yeah, it'sa workload pattern that doesn't have a name internally we call it. Awesome. Itstands for append update, scan materialize.

But the idea is that like, I mean likesensor data is a great example. Sensor data. You're generally writing data inorder. So you're app pending? Yeah. You might update every now and then. Okay,cool. Cuz you may be able to correct a reading but when you're actuallyanalyzing data, you're not looking up like one value.

Like what was the reading at this point,point in time? You're doing a scan, you're sensing hey, like what was theaverage, I don't know. Temperature in this room? Yeah. By five minutes for the.I don't know, 24 hours, and that's, that's like a scan, right? And then you'rematerializing that into these like, kind of these aggregated views as well.

And, but this is, maybe that's a supertechnical way of just saying that like, I think the nation's workloads aregetting very complicated. Yeah. And one of my optimisms, if you will, is thatlike, Software developers. I, I mean, I think software developers are alsofundamentally optimists. I think they're just, pushing like this.

Compute gets more powerful, storage getscheaper, they keep just pushing the envelope of what's possible in order tobuild these great data driven data intensive applications. And I think thefuture is more of that. And I think like, Like, I don't know, like we've oftenthought about this. It's like big data feels so cliche now.

Cause like every, everything's big data.What do you mean big data? Everything's big data, yeah. But, so, I dunno whatyou call this new thing, but this new thing is like big data times 10 or timesa hundred. It's like, cuz it's a constant, it's like, time series data is wesay is the highest.

Fidelity of data you can capture. Yeah.So I think there's gonna be more of that. And I think, I think that's gonnahelp us just build better applications, build better, help us understand what'sgoing on in music consumption, in the environment. Help us build better things.Help us build, help us better understand the world better Center software andour ourselves and any kind of wearable.

Is generating this type of data. Yeah.So every company's becoming a software company. Software companies are built ingreat databases and data is eating software. Yeah,  

Julian: yeah. Thinking aboutwhether it's external or internal, what, what are some of the biggest risks as,as a company faces today being that, you have so many use cases, you have a lotof adaptability.

It, it, it's a very flexible product interms of where you can plug it in. So everything sounds great on. But in termsof, the overall environment, what kind of keeps you up at night? What, what doyou think about in terms of, what kind of risk that the company can take on orcan face as you move forward and as you scale and as you go and have more,  

Ajay: Adoption?

Yeah, I mean it's yeah, hopefully itdoesn't come across as a cliche answer, but I, I truly believe it. We have agreat opportunity, so the opportunity is unbounded, unbounded. Everything ishuge. We have a great team. We have enough runway for a while, so not worriedabout that either. We have a great growing healthy business, not worried aboutthat either.

What keeps me up at night is, and Ithink our biggest risk is that we lose focus, yeah. That we lose as we getbigger, that we lose our sense of urgency, that we become internally orientedas opposed to customer oriented. Yeah. I think and, and you can look at everycompany, like I think this is natural entropy that happens.

Yeah. That every company experiences itgets. Right. Like when you're small, it's really easy to be nimble, focus oncustomers. And this is why I think startups often are like, Davids to like theGoliath kind of take down larger companies, right? Because as you get larger,it's just tempting to spend all your time in internal discussions, building,right?

I don't know, Google slide decks, and,to, to just debate things that don't really matter, that don't really matter,right? Right. And I think the best companies still act like, and think like asmall company even when they're large, right? So, yeah, so I think what I, whatI tell our team is like, like, hey, this is our game to.

Like we're in the driver's seat, we'rein control of our destiny, but it's our game. Like we can still lose it. Right.Right. So we need to stay focused and, and and I believe that, any problemsthat come up, we have to tackle these problems with boldness, optimism, andurgency. Yeah. And how do you combat that?

Julian: Is it, is it teamvalues? Is it keeping certain structure in terms of re reinforcing those?Keeping the structure in terms of the conversation, how do you combat that as aleader? Making sure you don't have the, I guess, the first world problems of,of a company which are, focusing internally and building things internallyversus, keeping things in, in terms of customer motivated.

Ajay: Yeah. I, I think youhave to hire a great team and then kind of, embed them in a great culture.Yeah. And you have to constant. Make your team better, uplevel your team anduplevel yourself. I'm constantly trying to uplevel myself. Yeah. And try touplevel your culture. So an example of that is like, our, our company valuestoday are they include things like, Hey, let the best idea win, no matter whosays it.

Yeah. And one thing I like to, I love totell new people is like, Hey, if I'm wrong, call me out on it because I'm nothere to be Right. I don't care about my ego. Yeah. I don't care. I just wanna,I just wanna make sure we get to the right. And if I'm wrong, then I'm wrong.Like it's, there's no like, yeah.

And if at any point, like, likesomeone's seniority or some, someone's like, they're the loudest voice. If, iftheir answer won because that not on the merits of the argument, then we'relosing. So love, love to instill that. Another thing we'd like to talk about isnarrow the focus. So again, it's like as you get bigger, you often do more andmore.

But actually as you get bigger,everything gets harder. So you actually have to narrow your focus. It's almostlike counterintuitive. As you get bigger, you have to think more narrowly. Andthen we're constantly narrowing our focus and thinking about things to cut. Andyeah. Another one is shorten the cycle, right?

Like, I'm like, Hey, like I'm assumingif you're a time scale, you're, you're a great individual and you'rehardworking and you're probably working as hard as you can. So I'm not lookingfor you to like, Work 24 7. Cuz that just leads to burnout. It's notsustainable. It's not sustainable. Right.

Right. But it doesn't mean we can't movefaster. Okay. Then how do you move faster where you shorten the cycle? You'relike, Hey, this decision that took us a month, could we made it in a week?Could we made it in a day? Right. Like if there's some decisions that arereversible, then make it and then reverse it.

Yeah. If it's irreversible, okay, let'sdebate it. But, and, and, and like, I remember one time my co-founder called meout and he's like, Hey aj, like if we. And we get it wrong. What's thedownside? And I'm like, nothing. He's like, then we have to do, we have todebate this. I'm like, no, we don't. Yeah.

Yeah. It's a total, such a good culture

Julian: no, I was gonna sayit's such a good culture and kind of orienting around, figuring out what thebest solution is and, and making fast and quick decisions. And how, how do you,how, how do you find the right talent that kind of continues to come in andmaintain those values, maintain that culture, because talent is a huge headachefor so many founders.

And, and it's not about the skillsetbecause there's a bunch of people in this world who have, the exact skills thatyou. But it's about, it's about the intangibles, whether it's the, thepersonality, whether it's the how they would tackle a, a problem, right? Thecritical thinking component.

What are ways that you've maybe learnedalong the way as a founder in evaluating the right person for your team, ratherthan just the right skills that you need for, for a certain project, and whichis I think, the downfall of a lot of founders when they. Thinking of themomentary needs versus bringing someone on to upscale and learn and, and tacklefuture needs of, of the team.

What have, what have been some thingsyou've learned in, not only attracting talent, but, evaluating them and, and bringingthem on and, and incorporating them into the team that other founders can kindof think and, and maybe, maybe  

Ajay: utilize to, to,to.  

Yeah. I, I think one thing we knew fromthe beginning is we wanted to hire people who were really smart but had lowegos.

Yeah. Because we didn't want egos to getin the way. And, and I think we're kind of lucky that my cofounder and I haveknown each other for a very long time. We knew exactly how the other personoperated. And then our, our earliest hires, our first three or four hires werepeople that either he knew or I knew.

Sure. And so we kind of knew what wewere getting. But I remember in the first couple years, like I had a,personally, I interviewed everybody mainly to like screen people out. Sure. AndI remember like having a couple engineers that like, Or really great, reallysmart. But like even in the interview process, you could tell they're a littlearrogant.

Sure. And you have to assume the peoplearen't on their best behavior in the interview process, yeah. Yeah. And itoften, I think it almost takes a founder to be like, Hey, we're not hiring thisperson that you all love. Because, and I remember the first time I did it,people were like, oh, thank you.

Cause I didn't want to say it. Yeah,yeah. I'm like, oh, okay. Yeah, then, but you can say it, yeah. But, but then afunny thing happened. I. A couple years in where I think we started publishingour values online and we also built a certain remember like maybe 30 peoplewhere I think we started just naturally attracting people who kind of fit ourculture.

Yeah. So like, like, so like one thing Ilike to say is, is I think culture is like a flywheel. Mm-hmm. And I think whenyou have really great people, I think it tracks more great people, but you haveto be careful. Cause it also becomes a flywheel the other way where like if youhave bad people, It actually will, like the great people actually leave.

Yeah. And then you'll end up attractingmore and more bad people. Right. So it's a flywheel both ways. And so I thinkif you're not really careful about it and you don't keep a high bar and raisethat bar over time then I think you're gonna you're gonna suffer. So I thinklike, yeah, I mean, I, I care more about I, I may hear a lot about not just howsmart you're, but how you be, your attitude.

You're hungry and hardworking and, butalso humble and, high quality. I've also learned to bet on there's this saying,I think as a Princeton professor, not my co-founder, one of his colleagues hasthis saying that like, a little math, little nerdy, but I think hopefullyreaders will appreciate this, that the slope is more important than the yintercept.

Yeah. Does that make sense? It's kind,it's kind of like, hey, Like someone on a high trajectory will very quicklysurpass someone who comes with a lot of experience, right. And end up having tolearn that the hard way. In the beginning. In the beginning, I'm like, oh, I'mnot really, it's my first database company that I built.

I don't really know how open sourceworks. I'm bringing some experts and then I realize that like often experts arepeople who like, like in a fast moving industry, if you're an expert,experience can be a liability. Yeah. Right? Because the thing you knew is nolonger true. But if you haven't adapted a new reality, then you're, you knowwhat I, what I realized is, What I really wanted was like really high qualitythinkers, and, and that's what, I think that's what I equate with high slopethinkers.

Julian: Yeah. Thinking about,Obviously you, you, you've done, many rounds of funding, you've had a lot ofgrowth, a lot of success. The team is growing. If everything goes well, what'sthe long term vision for Timescale?  

Ajay: Yeah, man, I love thisquestion. Generally, like new hires will ask me, Hey, like, what's your exitplan?

Is it like an ipo? Is it an exit? I'mlike, no. Our goal is to build like the next great database. Yeah. One day,maybe we'll go public. I think that's the other path we're on. But, but that'snot a, that's just the step on the journey. That's not the destination. Thedestination is to build the next great database company, the power of thefuture of computing.

Right now we have a thousand customers,I think we could do a lot better than that. We could have. A hundred thousand,right. Yeah. How many, how many software companies are there in the world? Wehave a ton. We want to be, like the, a Mongo or a Snowflake when we grow up.

We have very different cultures in thosecompanies, but I think that's the type of impact that we want to have when wequote unquote grow up. We actually share investors with each of thosecompanies. Yeah. So we're on that path and we've made a ton of progress. Wehave a lot of work ahead of us.

There's actually a great book called TheInfinite Game. Have you heard of it? No, never. No. Okay. So this by thisauthor named Simon Sk, and, and it was really instruments to my thinking aboutentrepreneurship. The idea is that like, hey, like most games have a 10, let'ssay you're playing basketball or soccer or something, like, time runs out,there's a score.

Either one or you lost, right? Yeah. Butlike, like in business and in life, There's no end and especially, okay life,maybe you died, right? But like, but like in business, like, like a companylike done well will surpass you, a whole thing, right? So like what's the end?Like how do you keep that thing going?

I mean, that's the, how you play thatinfinite game. And the idea for the infinite game is you can't be motivated bylike, by revenue or market share. Cuz those things are like, they're likesugar, they burn off. Yeah. You need to have like this deep mission. And, and Ithink for us, our, our mission is to. Help build the future of computing.

Help build for the builders. Yeah. Andwe started off in time series data and in industries like IOT and crypto ITmetrics, manufacturing, finance, logistics, shipping. Yeah. But now we've,we've expanded way beyond that and we realize there's actually an even largeopportunity today to actually completely re completely reinvent the database inthe cloud.

Completely reinvent Postgres in thecloud. Yeah. And I mean, it's just like the cloud today is such a huge, like, Imean, I think we're still in the beginnings of it. It's kind of feels crazy.It's like it's the dominant form of software distribution and consumption. Butlike to me, I feel like today's cloud database is like Amazon rds, like theystill feel like, like the horseless.

Sure, sure. It's kind of like applyingthe, the previous paradigm, but for in a new world and, and, and like one thingwe've been asking ourselves, and I think we have a good answer to it, whichwill we'll announce soon, but like, is like, Hey, what if you actuallyreinvented the database in the cloud?

Like, what could you do? And we're like,oh, well, we could build the first. Automobile, so, yeah. Yeah. That actuallysounds pretty cool. Right. And, and and like, doing that won't be easy. But Ithink, again, going back to like what I was saying earlier, we do that bystaying focused on our customers and not like you don't do it, but like travelto like capture a market.

You do it by solving customer problems.Right. But sometimes solving with solutions that they could have had, theycouldn't have even imagined, yeah. Yeah. Like there's a, yeah, go ahead.  

Julian: What does thereinvention of the database.  

Ajay: Oh man. Oh man. It,it, I think a lot of things we take for granted in the cloud, sorry, we keepfor granted, for databases don't need to exist in the cloud.

And I think Snowflake was like an earlyindication of that when they decoupled compute from storage. Mm-hmm. Mm-hmm.Now a lot of people take that for granted, but back in the day you would likehalf the provision like a server in the cloud and now it's like, hey, you killthose two independently. I think the future, you shouldn't even have to think.

Yeah, and I, and I think serverless islike V1 of that approach, but it's like super expensive, right? I think V2 willlook a lot more seamless and automatic. Another book, another book that I loveand I philosophy is prescribed to is the, the Jobs To Be Done Philosophy is abook called Competing Against Luck by Clayton Christensen.

And he always talks about, Hey, Have youheard about this theory? Mm-hmm. No. I, I, I love it. I mean, I think maybe ithas some like gotchas, but I think it's a great foundation how to think aboutlike building product and solving needs. Yeah. Yeah. The idea is that like,hey, like, like when someone goes to a store to buy like a drill, they'reactually not looking to buy a drill.

They're looking to buy a hole in theirwall. You know what I mean? Like that's the job they're hiring it for and theydon't really care about the drill. Maybe some people really care, but mostpeople don't care about the drill. They just want a hole. And if you thinkabout that, you're like, oh, well maybe instead of selling drills, we couldsell holes in the wall or whatever you can sell, yeah. And I think what realizefor us is that like most developers actually don't want to think about thedatabase. Yeah. Right. Like the database, it's kind of like, I don't know, it'skind of. Your wifi connection, mm-hmm. Like if you're thinking, if you and Iright now in our call are thinking about our wifi connection, then something iswrong, right?

Like, we shouldn't think about it. Now,databases are different cuz they're very heterogeneous, WiFi's commoditized.But like, but it's a similar idea. Like if I'm building an application, if Ihave to even think about the database, like, like if I, am I adequatelyprovisioned? Do we have enough scale or whatever then something is wrong.

And so what we realize is that like theideal database. Not having to think about the database. Yeah. So you can thenfocus on your application and, focus on your core business. So I, I think thefuture of, I think the database re reinvent in the cloud will require datadevelopers to think even less than they do today about their database and theyfocus on their application.

Yeah. We'll share more soon, but I, Ithink it's really exciting. But, but, but I, but again, I think. Again, it's,being fueled by solving customer problems and power, the future of computecomputing and being driven by boldness, optimism, and urgency. Yeah, I, I feellike this is what allows us to, to think big, dream big and, build the nextgreat database company.

Julian: Yeah. I love this nextsection I call my founder faq. So I'm gonna hit you with some rapid firequestions. Let's do it and we'll see where again, so I always like to open itup with this question. Particularly hard about your job?  

Ajay: It constantly changes.Yeah. I have to reinvent myself every six months and typically like things thatwere best practices like six months ago or 12 months ago mm-hmm.

Suddenly no longer become like antipatterns, yeah. It's like, oh, this thing I used to do that used to be helpful.Now it actually is. Not helpful, you know what I'm saying? Stop doing it. Andsome ways it's exciting cuz it keeps me on my toes and it keeps me from gettingbored. But it is challenging because no one tells you when things change that,you just find out when people become unhappy and you're like, oh, okay.

I need to stop doing that.  

Julian: Right, right. I wouldlike to ask this question. I know this question will be whether it, it, maybeit's a footnote in time or it's just a fad, but because of the growingpopulation of, AI with chat gbt, a lot of companies are incorporating it. A lotof companies are coming out that they've been using, ML models to build ai.

Kind of, technology in their softwarebefore it became popular. Where are you sitting in that revolution in terms ofthe capability for it to do the more mundane, monotonous tasks a little bitmore automatically and even leave more time, like you said, for people to focuson, the things that are important.

Less so on the things that arefundamental. It's almost like a Maslow's hierarchy. Software development,having the lowest form to create the highest form of, of enlightenment or, orthought. But in terms of, artificial intelligence, that whole movement, is thatsomething you are thinking about and considering and building, or have youalready started building with that type of technology into Timescale?

Ajay: Yeah, no so we're,we're essentially like a, like a foundational building block for applicationslike that. Yeah. AI is another example of data intensive applications. There'sa lot of. For example, in model training and obviously in, and actually keepingtrack of, of model scores and there's, and, and also the models themselves.

There are a lot of, some of ourcustomers are actually building AI applications on top of Timescale. Sure. Idon't know if there's still. A user, but at one point I know Open AI was usingTimescale. Mm-hmm. So it's kind of like, yeah. I'm like, we're database in thefuture of computing AI is part of that.

And I, I think it's a great example ofkind of the trends I was talking about. But, but dude, like I, I am likegenuinely, this is where I have to really have to lean into my optimism. I'mgenuinely curious about like what the future's gonna look like with, with thefeature, because it. Yeah, man. It's Sup Chachi.

BT is really, is Disarmingly powerful?Yeah. But no, but we're here to build for the builders. I am fundamentallyoptimist and yeah. And that's where we stand on that stack.

Julian: Yeah. Yeah. It's, it'scrazy to think about how Timescale can really I guess fundamentally change, notonly open AI and, and the ability for them to operate those highly intensive Idon't know if the pieces of software or the piece of technology.

To operate at the skill that they're,that they're moving at. But back, back to you as, as a founder, before we getinto a, a tangent here. But something that you spend a lot of time on that youwould like to spend less and something that you spend little time on that you'dlike to allocate more to.

Ajay: Oh my God. I, I wouldlove to spend more time with customers. Yeah. And as the company's gottenbigger, I capones a lot of internal meetings. Yeah. And, and I, I mean, Iunderstand why I need to do that as a ceo, but I'm like, anytime I spend with acustomers infinitely more, it's, it's so rewarding. I, I love it.

I mean, first of all, it's inspiring tome. Cause I'm just like, oh man, you're doing that. That's so cool. You'redoing that. That's so cool. And like, oh, and, and like customers, like a happycustomer can. When you've had like a little rough day, it can be a super like,helpful antidote to be like, oh, like they're really happy with the board doingcool, great.

Right, right. This is worth, this isworth the effort. Do less of I, I, I think we talk about earlier, it's like themore I get pulled into these internal meetings about decisions that don'tmatter, I'm kind of like, Hey. Make the decision. Yeah, yeah, yeah. And I thinkpart of that's on me.

It's like, okay, maybe like I couldcreate a culture, could, that's more tolerant of experimentation and failure.So I think about that, because it's like, hey, so if sometimes I feel like ifdecisions are coming to me, I'm like, okay, like you could make this decision,but you're not. That probably means you're afraid of getting it wrong or you'reafraid of like the company seeing that you got it wrong.

Right? And some things are irreversibleand foundational. Okay, cool. I get that. But other things, Yeah, so I thinkthat's the thing, but you know, again, that's probably. To again, raise the barin our culture.  

Julian: Yeah. I always like toask this question. You alluded to some books that you, you, you have foundsuper enlightening and super helpful for your business, but let's leaning moretowards people, whether you were thinking about it early in your career or now,what are some of the people who have been highly influential in, in your careeras a founder, and what in particular did they kind of instill in you that, thatyou've.

To, whether it's to fall back on interms of it's philosophical or, or even strategic, what have you used in themoment to be able to move things forward, or move the needle forward in thatrespect? Yeah. Who are some people who have been highly influential in, in yourlife? And, and what in particular do they instill in you that other founderscan, maybe use in, in their lives?

Ajay: Yeah, and I mean, I, Imean, I try to be a constant student. Another one of our company values is be alifelong student. Always be learning in, in work and personal life. And Ialways try to be learning and grow. So I feel like I've tried to absorb a lotof best practices. But I think the most influential person is, I mentioned himearlier, is my father.

Yeah. Who is also a tech entrepreneur.He started off in the, in the eighties and the, the PC revolution, and. Andhe's someone who, if you think I'm high energy, he's more high energy than me.He's more youthful than me, even though he's like 30 years older. And what Ilearned from him, these things I talk about and you'll hear me say these wordsa lot.

Boldness. Yeah. Optimism and urgencylike I get from my dad, yeah. And I think he, he's incredibly like all of us,having perspective and thinking about creative solutions and always finding asolution and having this innate optimism. Yeah. And. I, I think what I'verealized through experience is that it's almost like, do you ski at all,Julian?

Julian: I, I, I try tosnowboard, but I mean, honestly, I just end up hurting myself for a week andthen yeah.  

Ajay: Okay. And then icingit off, so maybe not. Yeah, so, so I, I've been skiing probably past 30 years,and I, I love skiing through the trees. Yeah. And and one thing I've learned,like in the beginning, I would always look at the tree to make sure I didn't.

Right. And then I learned that I becamea lot more successful going down the mountain Uhhuh. If instead of focusing onthe trees, I focused on the gaps. Mm. Interesting. And I think about that a lotin life. I'm kinda like, I can think about everything that could go wrong. Yeah.Yeah. But then I think I'm skiing at the tree.

Yeah. I think about everything thatcould go right. No, that doesn't mean you're blind to reality. You have torealize, hey, you're in this trees, like, and you can Yeah. Seriously, like,like, get hurt or whatever. Right? But I think by focusing on the gaps, that'swhat I found. It's like then your whole body just focuses on hitting that gap,yeah. And you naturally just gravitate towards that gap. And so that's how Ifeel about optimism. I don't think it's blind. I don't think it's about like,pretending something that's not true. I think you have to accept reality. Yeah.But when you think about how do you get out of it, you have to.

This mindset where you're like, Hey, alot of things that could go wrong, but I'm gonna be focusing on the gaps. CauseI know if I focus on the gaps, I can, I can better manifest the, the realitythat I want to man to happen.  

Julian: Yeah. Yeah. I lovethat, that that's, I mean, that's a great sound bite for sure. But last littlebit is I know we've covered quite a few different topics.

We're coming to the end of the showhere, but I wanna make sure that we didn't leave anything on the table. Isthere any question I didn't ask you that I should have? Or anything that youwould have liked to. Anything that, have we left on  

Ajay: the table here?  

That's a good question. First we'rehiring so times cause hiring always hiring great engineers. We also havegrowing sales and marketing teams as well. We're fully remote. And so, if this.Mission, helping build the future of computing. This type a problem, try tobecome the next great database company, serving developers and a fully remoteculture.

Sounds good to you. Please look at ourwebsite and imply I yeah, and if you're a software developer, if you have timeseries data events or kind of other types of kind of data intensive workloads,please check out Timescale.com. And then stay tuned for more in the next fewmonths. As we kind of talk about our bigger and bigger vision.

Julian: Yeah. I love that.Ajay, it's been such a pleasure learning about your early experience as afounder and kind of what you've learned from your acquisition and what wentwell and, and honestly how that kind of trickled into Timescale and, and howyou not only approach building the company, but also how you approach.

Thinking about, the industry and theimpact that you can have, it's exciting to see what the long-term strategy forthe company will be and, and how really change the, the, like you said, thefuture of computing and, and allow more companies to do, or, and insights totheir data and, and make exceptional predictions or utilize it in differentways that, that we're or different from, from traditional means and having thatalmost supercharged power.

The last little bit is tell theaudience, where can we find you? Where can we support you as a founder? Yourcompany? You mentioned Timescale.com, but give us your LinkedIns, your Twitterswhere can you be a supporter of, of you?

Ajay: Yeah, so, soTimescale.com. Our Twitter handles Timescale DB. My personal Twitter handle isacoustic, but with a K at the end.

It's a C O U S T I K. I think on, onLinkedIn. I'm just a JCO Carney there are quite a few AJ Cole Kearneys, but,but I think I have the Ajay Carney, like l but I, I am most active on, onTwitter.  

Julian: Amazing Ajay. So beensuch a pleasure chatting with you. I hope you enjoyed yourself on BehindCompany Lines, and thank you again for joining

us today.

Ajay: Thank you for havingme, Julian.

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