Why do I come to work at Sumo?

I have been asked by one coworker in particular at Sumo — why are we doing what we are doing?

Something happened last week — that made me more contemplative than usual. One of our coworkers who just had a bypass surgery passed away unexpectedly. Events like this remind you of your mortality, remind you that life is short.

And, today I saw another excellent post by Mark Suster — which had a very similar tone.

That got me thinking — why do I do what I do? It’s a saturday and I am in my office — working. Why?

For me it’s really about being the best at what I do. This is something that has been inculcated in me by my dad since was seven years old. That’s how old I was — when I remember him saying to me for the first time — words that he said again and again over the years — Do whatever you want, but be the best at it.

And, that’s what makes me so passionate about Sumo.

I have spent almost all of my last 15 years trying to extract insights from data. The volume has grown tremendously. I started out working on a system that ran on one server. Today our production system at Sumo runs on thousands of servers, and we are just getting started.

And, we are nowhere close to where the state of art should be.

But if I could be the best at something — I have the best shot at building a system that allows people to extract insights from data. At a massive scale. With such ease that hundreds of thousands of people should be able to do it. Most powerful, simple, smart way to do that — that’s what I want to build.

This challenge, this pursuit excites/motivates me at three levels — technical, product and business. On a purely technical level — this domain presents a rich set of challenges. How do you cost effectively crunch terabytes of data in real time to deliver results in seconds? We have made a lot of progress, but there is so much more to do. On a product level — how do you imagine people would want to ask questions of all of this data? How can we make it intuitive for people to explore the data, to get value from all their data? On a business level — what problems can we solve with this capability? How do we turn that into a billion dollar company, 10 billion dollar company, and going even beyond that.

I am a PhD dropout, I dropped out — because even though it was challenging, it was not very motivating. Over last 5 years, I have realized that I have found a true passion. It is like being in love. And, that is why I find myself in office on weekends…It is why I come to work every day at Sumo.

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