Emerging cloud powerhouse Docker Inc. just named Seattle-area tech entrepreneur Steve Singh as its new CEO, turning to the former Concur CEO and SAP executive in an attempt to spark a new wave of growth at the company behind the popular container technology platform.
GeekWire Interview: New Docker CEO Steve Singh explains what’s next for the cloud container powerhouse
Singh, who was already chairman of the Docker board, will retain that title. Ben Golub, Docker’s previous CEO, will remain with the San Francisco-based company as a member of the board.
“Every once in awhile you find transformational companies, companies that can really change the technology landscape,” Singh said in an interview with GeekWire. “Docker is that kind of company.”
— Steve Singh (@SteveSSingh) May 2, 2017
Docker is the leading example of container technology, a critical component of deploying software in the cloud, allowing developers to package up an app and the components needed to run it for distribution across a variety of devices and platforms. Golub led the company through a period of rapid growth over the last several years, raising $180 million at a valuation over $1 billion and moving from 15 employees to 330.
The shift comes as Docker looks to expand further into the enterprise, with a variety of new services designed to appeal to CIOs. At the same time, competition for the important container-orchestration market is heating up, with Google’s Kubernetes and Mesosphere vying to control how companies manage their use of containers. We’ll have Docker COO Scott Johnston at our first GeekWire Cloud Tech Summit in June, where we’ll be sure to discuss the evolution of Docker and its transition to a new CEO.
Singh co-founded Bellevue-based travel and expense management company Concur with his brother, Raj Singh, and their business partner, Mike Hilton, in 1993. He led Concur through its sale to SAP for $8.3 billion in 2014. The acquisition turned SAP into one of the largest cloud companies in the world. As part of the deal, Singh joined SAP as an executive board member and president of business networks and applications.
“Steve’s success in building a software business from nothing to over a billion in revenue sets him apart, both as a strategist and a leader,” said Peter Fenton, general partner at Benchmark Capital and an investor in Docker, in a press release announcing the move.
In a blog post, Golub framed the move as part of the natural evolution of Docker. ” … I’ve seen that different leaders with different skills are needed at different stages in a company’s history. Steve is the right leader for Docker now, and I am confident that his leadership will enable Docker to fulfill its incredible potential.”
As a technology, containers have been used for a long time, but Docker’s breakthrough was making containers much easier to deploy as part of the software development process. The company has been a techie darling since its coming-out party at 2014’s DockerCon, and over the course of those years, containers began to move from skunkworks developer experiments to enterprise deployment.
“Today we have about 400 enterprise customers, and that’s really been in the course of the last year or so since those enterprise customers adopted Docker,” Singh told GeekWire. As an enterprise company adds more and more CIOs to its customer base, the care and feeding of those CIOs becomes as important as its technology, and it seems like Singh has been brought on to improve Docker’s capabilities around service and support.
So, does that mean Docker is looking to raise more money? Its last round of $95 million arrived in 2015, and “we have the capital to build the business we want to build and get to cash-flow break-even,” Singh said. There are no immediate fund-raising plans but Docker will consider offers if they make sense, and “our objective like any other great company is over time, we’ll not only build a global company but certainly we’ll look at being a public entity as well,” he said.
Editor’s Note: This story was updated several times Tuesday morning with additional information and comments from Steve Singh. The Singh Family Foundation is an underwriting sponsor of GeekWire’s Impact Series.