A Technical Founder’s Story: Jake Warner on Cycle.io
Welcome to the first in our series on The New Stack Makers about technical founders, those engineers who have moved from engineering jobs to running a company of their own. What we want to know is what that’s like for the founder. How is it to be an engineer turned entrepreneur?
I host the first four interviews. The New Stack’s Colleen Coll and Heather Joslyn will co-host the following shows we run in the series.
We like to ask technologists about their first computer or when they started programming. We always find a connection to what the engineer does today. It’s these kinds of questions you will hear us ask in the series to get more insight into everything that happens when the engineer is responsible for the entire organization. We’ve listened to feedback about what people want from this series. Here are a few of the replies we received to my tweet asking for feedback about the new series.
If they have kids, how much work is taken on by their SO? Lots of technical founders are only able to do what they do because their partner is lifting a lot in the background — they hardly ever get the credits tho
— Anaïs Urlichs ☀️ (@urlichsanais) August 4, 2022
“You know, I had to apologize to my Dad for needing to do a full reinstall on the family computer,” Warner said. “But it was the fact that someone through just the use of a file could cause that much damage that started making me wonder, wow, there’s a lot more to this than I thought.”
Warner was never much of a gamer. He preferred the chat rooms and conversation more so than playing Starcraft, the game he liked to talk about more than play. Warner met people in those chat rooms who preferred to talk about the game instead of playing it. He became friends with a group that liked playing games over the network hosted by Starcraft. Games that kids play all the time. They were learning about firewalls to attack each other virtually, between chat rooms, for example.
“And because of that, that got me interested in all kinds of firewalls and security things, which led to getting into programming,” Warner said. “And so it was, I guess, the point the to get back to your question, it started with a game, but very quickly went from a lot more than that.
And now Warner is leading Cycle, which he and his colleagues have built from the ground up. For a long time, they marketed Cycle as a container orchestrator. Now they call Cycle a platform for building platforms – ironically similar to the story of a kid playing a game in a game.
Warner has been leading a company that he described as a container orchestrator for some time. There is one orchestrator that enterprise engineers know well. And that’s Kubernetes. Warner and his team realized that Cycle is different than a container orchestrator. So how to change the message?
Knowing what to do is the challenge of any founder. And that’s a big aspect of what we will explore in our series on technical founders. We hope you enjoy the interviews. Please provide feedback and your questions. They are always invaluable and serve as a way to draw thoughtful perspectives from the founders we interview.