At DockerCon 2016 in Seattle today, the containerized-software firm’s CEO, Ben Golub, responded to questions about Docker from reporters and analysts over lunch. The questions and answers below have been edited for clarity and flow.
Q: What is Docker’s capitalization, and can you discuss its revenue picture?
A: We’ve raised $180 million in four rounds, with a really large D round last year that we still haven’t touched, so we still have a lot of money in the bank. . . . Investors include Jerry Yang, Benchmark, Greylock Partners and Sequoia Capital.
We are still spending more money than we’re bringing in. We’re seeing very healthy growth in revenues — they’re growing much faster than expenses. We’ve got about 250 people at the company.
Q: How does Docker make its money?
A: By selling management tools, such as Docker Datacenter. We’re seeing really a nice progression of free, cloud Docker users becoming paid, on-premises users. . . . The list price for Datacenter is $1,500-$3,000 per node (socket) per year. . . . We’ve got plenty of customers who were $40,000 customers in Q4 who are now becoming six figures as their usage expands.
Q: Why are people adopting Docker?
A: The overwhelming reason is for agility and capital-equipment savings on the ops side.
Q: Is every application appropriate for containerization?
A: Any application written in the past 15 years can be made appropriate for containers. That will be especially true when Windows Server 2016 comes out, with its native support for Docker. We frequently see people Dockerize entire apps, to gain portability from one data center to another. Then they start to decompose the apps, pulling out the elements they share, like session managers and authentication services, and putting those elements in containers. . . . The hubris we still worry about is us or others saying, “We’ve got a magical platform, and once you adopt this everything will work perfectly on Day One. And oh, by the way, it will cost you millions of dollars and several quarters to get this running, but trust us, at the end it will all be worth it.” That’s not us. We’d much rather people approach it incrementally.
Q: Today seemed a bit like a developers’ pep rally. Are you relying exclusively on developer enthusiasm to sell Docker?
A. Tomorrow we’ll focus much more about our commercial products, used by more traditional, large companies. Roughly 25 percent of the attendees here today are ops people — system administrators or IT system architects. Docker can serve both developers and administrators’ needs. . . . Our investors understand and are quite happy that for many tech companies, the way into the enterprise is not through a large salesforce that takes people out to play golf. It’s by having things that get adopted in the enterprise and grow naturally to the point where the enterprise calls you when they want to use you to scale. . . . (But) we do have a 30-person sales force.
Q: What is Docker’s total addressable market?
A few years back, VMWare estimated its total addressable market for the software-defined data center at $45 billion. What we’re seeing is that every server is a potential target for Docker. I don’t know how large that market becomes, but if we take what’s currently being spent for things that could be done more efficiently with Docker, it measures in the high tens of billions. We can take a small portion of that, save a lot of money for the end-users and still have a nice, healthy growth business.
Q: What kind of price tag would you put on Docker?
A: If someone offered us what Microsoft offered LinkedIn ($26.2 billion), we might be tempted. I think you build a great company not by running for the exit but by continuing to add users, converting that value to commercial customers and growing our revenues faster than our expenses. There’s no need to spend a lot of time thinking about M&A.
Q: But surely there is some pressure from your investors?
A: They don’t need another quick win. The good ones are patient. They’ve said, focus on building great product, focus on users, focus on ubiquity — monetization can come. And monetization is coming.