This Week's Changes at Engine Yard, With More Detail


I was on our weekly customer call this morning and I heard directly from customers that we haven't done the best job of communicating some changes that happened earlier this week at Engine Yard.

First, let me apologize for this. We've tried to be open about important things, but sometimes it's not always clear how much or how little detail is right.

To our customers, partners, and the Ruby and Rails communities at large, I want to reassure you that we are financially very sound and we intend to be here for years and years.

Our new CEO and everyone at Engine Yard are making the company better and making our long-term goals more attainable.

I hope the following timeline will help clarify things:

  • Tom and I started Engine Yard in 2006. We brought in Ezra and Jayson as founders #3 and #4 a little bit later in 2006.
  • Tom and I shared the CEO role in 2007.
  • I was CEO alone in 2008.
  • During 2008, we took investments from Benchmark, New Enterprise Associates, and Amazon. We were growing fast and this sped things up even more.
  • By the middle of 2008, all 4 founders agreed that Engine Yard was growing so fast that we needed someone with the experience to grow the company WAY beyond my/our abilities. I have experience running companies with simple operations in Support, Finance, Sales, etc. Engine Yard grew to 80+ people by the end of 2008 and the organization has grown more complex right along with our customers and the market.
  • Someone with prior experience scaling a business from small to medium to large can benefit Engine Yard and its customers a great deal, and I can learn a lot from such a person. Thus, I see this as a good problem to solve.
  • We started a search and interviewed a number of fantastic candidates in the Summer, Fall, and Winter of 2008.
  • The 4th quarter of 2008 saw a lot of change and analysis. We brought in some great consultants to help us better understand our market and the internals of our business (how to run a financial organization in addition to bookkeeping, where we could operate more efficiently, etc). Add to this the changing landscape with things like cloud computing and we found ourselves needing our first formal budgets and plans for the coming year.
  • The overall plan encompasses everything from slightly changing our support, sales, and account management organizations; to bringing out new AWS-based services; to open-sourcing our Vertebra software. The plan took months of input from every part of the company. With regards to layoffs, we decided it was best to wait until after the holidays.
  • Back on the CEO search, we were getting into the holiday season and John Dillon stood out as a superb candidate. He's a great guy and has fantastic experience. At earlier points in his life, John was CEO of, CEO of Hyperion, and he held sales & engineering positions at Oracle & EDS. John earned a degree in engineering from the U.S. Naval Academy at Annapolis and an MBA from Golden Gate University.
  • We made a deal with John over the Christmas break and it was decided that he'd start when the holidays were over.
  • Which leads to this week. We did the layoffs on Monday - the same day John started. I want to clarify that there's no connection between John and the layoffs, nor between my stepping down as CEO and the layoffs. The timing is simply because Monday was the first full work week in 2009.
  • Some have asked about my role moving forward. My role is supporting John as he learns the details of Engine Yard, its customers, and its community. I will define a new role for myself where I can use my 3 years at Engine Yard to help us make the best possible decisions.

I hope this helps!

If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to email me at: lwalley (at) engineyard (dot) com