Eugenio Pace was destined to be a tech entrepreneur. He just jumped the gun.
After earning a degree in electrical engineering and a master’s in computer science in Buenos Aires, he launched a startup in his native Argentina. Young, inexperienced and lacking mentorship from other tech leaders, he thought that it was going to be enough to have a great idea for a new technology.
“Building a company is so much more,” Pace said. His enterprise failed.
But from there he landed a job with Microsoft, first working as a consultant in Argentina, and eventually moving to multiple management roles at its Redmond, Wash. headquarters, including senior architect evangelist. He stayed there nearly 13 years, and became a U.S. citizen.
In 2012, he turned 42 and decided it was time to make a decision.
“My life could take two different routes,” he said. Remain at Microsoft, which was comfortable and where success was likely, or take another gamble with a startup.
“I always wanted to build something from scratch,” Pace said. So he became co-founder of Auth0, a Bellevue-based business that provides a way for developers to easily set up authentication and identity verification. He gave himself a year to play out the idea.
Nearly six years later, he’s CEO of the company. The business recently raised $55 million to help fund its international expansion and hire hundreds of employees. Auth0 has raised $110 million since it launched.
While it was hard at the time, Pace is grateful for the experience decades ago of trying to create a company in Argentina.
“There wasn’t VC or investors back then. There wasn’t any community to reach out to and learn from. It was very hostile in that sense, but it taught me to deal with adversity and challenges,” he said. In that situation, “everything is more difficult. It’s like running a race with a backpack full of stones.”
The current hyper-growth phase at Auth0 is another heavy load, Pace said.
“The best recipe that I have is just surrounding yourself with the best possible people,” he said. And, “don’t assume what worked in the first year of your life as a company will work in the second year and the third year. Each year is a different beast.”
We caught up with Pace for this Working Geek, a regular GeekWire feature. Continue reading for his answers to our questionnaire.
Current location: Bellevue, Wash.
Computer types: MacBook
Mobile devices: iPhone X, Kindle
Favorite apps, cloud services and software tools: For work, I use Slack, Confluence, Google Apps, Zoom, Github and Sublime. I have a lot of side projects and for those use Github, Heroku, Twilio and Amazon Web Services. I love all software stacks, but lately I’ve been hacking in Node.js, Express, MongoDB. I occasionally work on small hardware projects. For those, I’ve used Mbed and Tessel. For personal use, I love my iPhone camera.
Describe your workspace. Why does it work for you? We just recently moved into a beautiful new office space in the U.S. Bank Plaza in Bellevue. Not only does this represent a huge milestone for the company and our growth, but we also designed the space to be open, airy and very collaborative. I really enjoy going to the office to feel the energy of the new space and work with our team.
Our offices are more than a workplace. As a “remote-friendly” company, we don’t require people to work in the office all the time (or at all!), and we continue to hire first for talent and culture fit, second for timezone. Zip code is less important for the vast majority of our positions. Our offices are also a place for customers, partners, community engagement and events. Our new Bellevue and London offices were designed with these purposes in mind.
Your best advice for managing everyday work and life? I don’t believe in life being separate from work. I love what I do. I believe that work is part of life, sometimes it is a bigger part, sometimes a smaller one. I seek fulfillment, enrichment and enjoyment opportunities in everything I do. To me, eating well and taking care of my body and mind are requirements for being productive at work.
Your preferred social network? How do you use it for business/work? I like using Twitter and LinkedIn, primarily to share the great things that are happening at Auth0. But I occasionally might throw in a photo of a canoe-in-progress, or me and my son at a gaming convention.
Current number of unanswered emails in your inbox? 56,726
Number of appointments/meetings on your calendar this week? I have an average of 10 one-on-ones every week, at least one staff meeting, a couple company-related meetings (all-hands, new employee orientation, etc.), a few customer meetings and a couple of interviews.
How do you run meetings? Face-to-face whenever possible (either in-person or via Zoom), and as efficiently as possible. My default meeting time is 25 minutes. I like doing walking meetings, especially because Bellevue is such a beautiful city. Some meetings are very structured (e.g. staff meetings, offsites, planning, etc.), others I like to be more open. I like doing one-on-ones with people at all levels and in multiple teams. It helps me stay connected to the whole company. My chief of staff is a great help in running productive meetings.
Everyday work uniform? Mostly jeans and an Auth0 t-shirt, unless I have a meeting that warrants more than that uniform, then I’ll throw on a collared shirt. Occasionally I wear a suit. Last time I did that was for Halloween, and it was pretty scary.
How do you make time for family? No matter what is going on with work, I always make time for my family: my wife, two sons and my dog. They are my No.1 priority, so I carve out time to enjoy with them.
Best stress reliever? How do you unplug? I am a voracious reader; that is a huge stress reliever for me. I also love to work with my hands, whether it’s remodeling a car or working on something in the house. Recently I decided to build a wooden canoe from a kit. I still have a long way to go, but it already looks very nice. I also go to the gym three times a week. I do high-intensity exercises at the end of the day. Love working out with a group. I find my mind focusing on just that for 45 minutes is super helpful to reset.
Daily reads? Favorite sites and newsletters? I check my Twitter stream, LinkedIn and the BBC.
Book on your nightstand (or e-reader)? “Discipline Equals Freedom” by Jocko Willink, “The Hard Things about Hard Things” by Ben Horowitz, “The Advantage” by Patrick Lencioni, “High Output Management” by Andrew Grove, “Meditations” by Marcus Aurelius, “A Guide to the Good Life” by William B. Irvine, “Sapiens” by Yuval Noah Harari, “Minority Leader” by Stacey Abrams, “The Messy Middle” by Scott Belsky and “Antifragile” by Nassim Nicholas Taleb.
Night owl or early riser? Early riser. Love taking naps (mostly on weekends though).
Where do you get your best ideas? Walking with Kate (my furry daughter, a 4-year-old lab) in Marymoor Park and working out at the gym.
Whose work style would you want to learn more about or emulate? There’s no single individual that I look up to, but rather an eclectic collection of people who have shaped my life. I wrote a blog post some time ago about “self-made men,” and how we are almost always the product of countless people who have cared about us. Some of my role models have been dead for hundreds of years, but their work has survived and influences me today.