Tobias Kunze began as a classically trained musician and composer. It was his interest in digital sound synthesis that attracted him to coding.
But it may have also been his ability to understand harmony and counterpoint that enabled him to recognize the complex interdependencies of modern computing—and the underlying problems that needed to be solved.
“The success of your entire service landscape no longer depends on the code… it depends on how all these systems interact,” Tobias says.
On this edition of Founders Journey, Tobias talks about forming these early realizations and how they led him to create Glasnostic, a tech startup that actively monitors and manages interactions in the cloud, allowing problems to be resolved in real time before they take down systems.
More information: https://glasnostic.com/
As CEO and co-founder of Glasnostic, Tobias Kunze is on a mission to make enterprise cloud architectures reliable and secure. Before founding Glasnostic, he co-founded Makara, the enterprise PaaS that became Red Hat OpenShift.show more
Glasnostic provides reliability and security engineers with runtime control over their cloud architectures. This allows teams to tune and shape how their systems interact, automatically and in real-time.show less
DISCLAIMER: Below is an AI generated transcript. There could be a few typos but it should be at least 90% accurate. Watch video or listen to the podcast for the full experience!
Tobias Kunze 0:00
The success of your entire service landscape does no longer depend on the code. It depends on the platform on an Eve. It depends to a large degree on how all these systems interact.
Alexander Ferguson 0:15
Welcome to UpTech Report. This is our founders journey series UpTech Report is sponsored by TeraLeap. Learn how to leverage the power of video Teraleap.io. I’m excited today for our guest Tobias, who’s based in Menlo Park, California CEO and Co- founder at Glasnostic, this is part two, excited to have you back to is good to have you. back. Now, definitely go back and listen to part one, because we’ve dug in a little bit more about their platform itself, which makes cloud applications resilient and the paradigm shift that comes along with that, of how to say, well, we don’t need root cause we understand high level observability over cross specifically for enterprise situations. But now twice, I want to get a bit more into your journey, specifically, this you’ve had this organization for for four or five years, I guess, I think, but I’d like to go back. Before that, let’s go back to like just the beginning of how you got into tech technology itself.
Tobias Kunze 1:10
Well, that’s an interesting story. Because I’m actually my background is in music. Classic, I’m a classically trained musician. Most you know, more specifically, composer then got sucked into digital sound synthesis, that back in the day involved quite a bit of programming. And that was a straight line for me into into the software industry. At first, at first did audio at a company called Silicon Graphics. But then very quickly went into startups did the.com boom, and bust and ever since been in startups, right? And yeah, the my previous company was a platform as a service, where we were kind of a Roku behind the firewall. And this is my car. That was makara. Yeah, we were acquired by redhead. And that became turned into openshift. So what’s the platform as a service space for a long time for a number of years? Always thinking? Isn’t it odd that we do platform as a service? When, as a developer, and as an architect, I want to have maximum flexibility of what I can do. I see Oh, it’s kind of, you know, reaching a scaling limit towards this set of services over there. I want to be able to, you know, instead of cash, my cash, and not just what the platform offers, right? So I always thought it was a mismatch between what platform does and what the need of the developer actually is. And always thought that, hey, the platform, the past to beat is actually AWS 500, Lego blocks at that time. 5000. So, always thinking about, and the applications that we are writing increasingly, not these little dinghy, web servers, web server plus database things. But aren’t they actually way more complicated than that? Right? And became very apparent that yes, we still see these two to things, but they’re all connected. Because guess what that application calls into that application, each of these applications is just simply a service. That is even you know, before microservices, and kind of lightbulb went off. But it’s not as you continue that. It’s no longer a matter of writing the code. That’s your success, the success of your entire service landscape does no longer depend on the code, it depends on the platform underneath. It depends to large degree on how all these systems interact. That’s really the reason why we found a dynastic.
Alexander Ferguson 4:03
So it’s a fascinating journey. I don’t think I’ve heard anybody else tell me a similar story of starting music. And then and then being able to go into programming because your audio programming, but then being able to start your own first, company makara. But then seeing this opportunity of where things were headed. Obviously, when you’re starting a company, though, there’s one of the first things you need to do is is get funding be able to it’s You see, the vision is to be able to grow that now this is the second company have done for both times, did you get VC funding and just reach out and be able to share your vision effectively?
Tobias Kunze 4:38
Yes, and I think both times are totally different. I think times. Most people who read things on the internet, look at the date when it was fun. Don’t if you look out for funding don’t look an article from 2018. It’s like the environment has changed dramatically. And there’s so many companies In the world now, not just Silicon Valley, but in all kinds of places. There’s so many, frankly, sales has changed, right? There’s too much, there’s, in a certain sense, there’s too much suffering in the world, in particularly an enterprise. Right? So there’s a saturation going on. And that requires a different way of selling. So the physics of how, where, you know, how, where, and where startup operates, and has dramatically changed, and I think continues to change every two quarters,
Alexander Ferguson 5:32
if you had to give a word of advice, based off of your experience, but also the knowledge that it does change, when it comes to funding and be able to get investors and folks on board with the vision. What what would that be that word of wisdom you’d share?
Tobias Kunze 5:47
I think ultimately, in funding or in sales, you’re looking for these wild moments. So you need to be able to get a wild reaction, not from everybody. But from 1% of people you talk to, and that are meaningful for your audience, venture capitalists, or customers. And then you need to see rain on these wild moments. Why is it well, so if you there needs to be an opportunity, not just for the venture capitalists, but for the customer? Right? Oh, this sounds interesting. What are you talking about management?
Unknown Speaker 6:27
Tobias Kunze 6:28
I haven’t thought about this yet. Right? Or, this is amazing, right? I wish I had this last year when we had this, but you know what these kind of moments you look for, and then you need to see her in there. I think ultimately, that’s the that’s the recipe for for success.
Alexander Ferguson 6:47
It’s almost a temperature check that you may be excited as much as you want to be. But if you’re if you’re not getting that same Wow, excitement, when you’re sharing the vision, then there’s something wrong and you need to, you need to adjust. It’s not wrong with your vision necessarily. It’s just you don’t know how to express it. Right. It’s the being able to tell the story properly. That one one thing is getting the funding the next Oh, is selling it to the customers? And you’ve in both cases for for both your companies. Is it always been enterprise?
Tobias Kunze 7:18
Yes, yes. And very Think about it. We started doing this four years ago. And definitely the world was a different place four years ago, not just because of the pandemic, but the kind of systems people were running. And our target audience, then we thrive on complexity, right? If you throw us as a customer that has five services, there’s nothing we could do it, right. It’s just, you know, you write these things like you always did. But enterprises have complexity, right? massive amounts of complexity. And it’s a different thing, a different complexity than what we think of when we think Netflix, Google or Twitter, Facebook, right? at a certain level, Netflix, Twitter, these companies have simple applications. It’s one application and on pause, you can optimize one application. Exactly, or as good as he can for this one application that you’re doing for the one purpose. It’s a chat application, right? Yes, there’s a bunch of other stuff too, but it’s a chat application. enterprises on the other side, have generations of systems, and 1000s of applications that are weirdly interconnected. Many teams don’t even live anymore who wrote these applications? Right. Some of them are modernized, some of them need to be modernized. There’s like integration points that change all the time. It’s crazy, how complex is this? And enterprises faces and pressure. One more things get deployed, more and more things are connected to other systems because you need to bring data together in order to create new value, right? It’s not you’re not running a, an algorithm in a single memory space. anymore, right? So the enterprise is our prime us audience.
Alexander Ferguson 9:16
You, you really honed in and realize that they need this type of service, it’s only gonna get more complex specifically for them. How, speaking of earlier, you’re saying getting that wow factor? How do you first get in front of the right people? And what tactics Have you used that have worked well to get in front of those right people to then give the pitch and get the Wow, from the
Tobias Kunze 9:41
I wish I knew, I think just be resilient. Again, I think one well in 100 is a great place to start. So don’t get discouraged by 99 blank stares or people who just think it’s offensive that he didn’t talk to them. Right Same thing in sales. First thing you need to learn is that everybody likes to look for a reason to say no, that’s just human nature. I mean, think about how you go through your inbox every day. I can I can delete, delete, delete, delete nothing, right? That’s your mode of operations. Because otherwise, you know, your day would be over. So it’s a lot of this is circumstantial. It’s not under your control. Like, what kind of day this person had today, not under your control. Certainly warm intros, getting other people to spend social capital to get other people to talk to you, is a great way of getting stuck. But it’s not scalable either. So ultimately, you need to get and you need to get people to come to you. At least to some degree. And because you can’t keep reaching out. It’s just too much noise. It’s too difficult. And you can even learn from that. Because you don’t know why these people say no. So I think it’s that’s just that’s something you need to get. You need to get this tip line scheme. It’s being was difficult question is, How much? Are you insane? And how much is it’s just being persistent?
Alexander Ferguson 11:18
Yeah, like, forever? And then yeah, that doesn’t always turn out. But the the first few customers that you got, who were Who were they? And how did you get them?
Tobias Kunze 11:28
Warm intros. And one big customer, frankly, at a conference, I talked to the right guy at the right coffee table. And that’s how it happened.
Alexander Ferguson 11:42
Just that the right spot, right place, right time. But you weren’t not going to conferences. We were trying and not trying to meet folks. But it was the effort. But what you’re saying is a lot of effort at the beginning. But you want to get to the point where they are coming to you how then obviously, people do you have to have a team to be able to continue to build it and grow it out what have been learned as far as building a team and managing a team that really brings about a tough environment, places that your customers or clients say they want to work with you,
Tobias Kunze 12:17
your team. I’m a big believer in having one engineering team in one place in one room as a startup. Because ultimately, you get nothing. When you when you start out, there’s nothing but hey, let’s try this. And so you need absolute conviction, to the point that it says it’s not grounded in anything, it’s just they would like to do that. Right. And otherwise, you can’t make forward momentum. And then I think the world has fundamentally changed in enterprise. And that’s you need to build ahead of the target market. If you today build a solution that’s already evident. That’s where the need is palpable. It’s already filled with homegrown solutions, whatever, every pitch is being scratched. So you need to be before that edge to some degree. Of course, the art is not a bit not too far ahead about edge, right. So but you need to build ahead of time. Also, five years ago, you could sell something that was just a slide deck doesn’t work in enterprise anymore. Very clearly, you need to have a working product. If it’s not if I couldn’t deploy today, come back when you have it because you’re wasting my time. Everything changes so fast. So a slide deck. Why should I think about a slide deck, I have 1000 other priorities today and this quarter? I need to you know, I can’t waste my time with that by the time this is done, the world is a different place. So you need to take that risk as an entrepreneur, you need to look at the drivers, what is your thesis and build it out? When once you have it go into the enterprise and do it. And that’s opposite to what this Yes. opposite to what the Lean Startup movement preached five years ago, okay, 10 years ago, 12 years ago, but even five years ago. And what I found it doesn’t work. It does no longer work. For the kind of stuff that we’re doing. It may work if you have a, you know, an ancillary application that fixes some issue that you have that’s not that important to whoever you’re talking to. So it’s easy to be easy to purchase. But even though we are touchless as a solution, we don’t really touch any existing systems. We really just we just a bump in the wire, we’re looking at wireless signals and manage that way. It’s fundamental enough that it’s an involved purchase process. Like, it always involves a PLC that requires time on the on the buyer side or in, it’s a multi month process. And that kind of stuff is not being done with just a slide deck. Of course, we also worked with design partners, that’s the other side of it, right? You have to have friendly partners who might become customers, but really interested in a solution like that. And because you can’t just sit at home and like think of these things
Alexander Ferguson 15:37
defined as the how you use the design partners a bit more.
Tobias Kunze 15:41
So design partners are people who are really excited about what do you want to do? And said, Yes, I want to spend personal time, that’s how it starts personal time on trying this out, and our whatever crummy under the desk environment, right? In the person that you’re in your target. target company, right? You don’t think about the fact that this might become a customer at some point. But you’re trying to apply this to what they’re doing in their in their business. And then you learn without you don’t Oh, that is not really helpful. This is helpful. This is good. This is a while. Okay, let’s focus let’s let’s let follow the while. And that way, you just build these guys up. Now. That takes time. And of course, anything anytime something takes time, the world is changing, your champion may be leaving, like somebody else comes in some other business problem comes up there’s 1000s of distractions every month might. So not every design partnership informer design partnership works out. But it’s essential for you to building it.
Alexander Ferguson 16:50
How long did it take you from from getting the first funding round to getting it built? And and that process in between what was what did that look like?
Tobias Kunze 17:02
Two years. And I think that’s a function for how much money you throw at your idea. And what your read of the market is in terms of how quickly you can scale sales. If you feel you’re still in the early adopter phase, you, it doesn’t make sense to throw a lot of cash at it. You just want to identify who are your most important customers and work on converting them one by one. And then, once you’re past the early adopter phase, that’s when you scale up. Because if you don’t, you’re going to run out of cash. Right? So it’s very, I think managing time is the most critical skill at that point. Right? Ultimately, it’s a market hypothesis. You need to measure how the market reacts
Alexander Ferguson 18:01
or for for you as a leader, how have you continued to grow and learn and any books, podcasts audiobooks that you enjoy? recommend?
Tobias Kunze 18:13
Um, it’s very eclectic. I’m reading books, and reading blog posts like everybody else. I think YouTube is a fantastic resource for you know, hearing other luminaries talk or whatever, by developers might there’s so many conferences going on now these days? So it’s you can’t have a dedicated conversation in a podcast, but I think it’s, it’s an amazing source. And yeah, it’s, it’s, it’s really very eclectic. There used to be a lot of coffee meetings with trusted advisors, and friends and acquaintances. That’s kind of gone. But this zoom now, but I think it’s important, important to be diverse
Alexander Ferguson 19:07
for you. How does your typical day look like because I’m always curious, you mentioned earlier, there’s time is that our one of most precious resources? So in a typical day, what does it look like for you?
Tobias Kunze 19:19
Tip of the Day is our engineering r&d is all in Taipei. So 15 hours ahead. I’m catching up on the day what they did, that takes a chunk of time, so that’s kind of my maker time, then, or the pre mega time, then I’m trying to get some mega timing, blackout time for things where that require thinking. I mean, deep thinking. And then in the middle of the day, I’m trying to have a break, because then towards the evening, towards the late afternoon and Taipei wakes up. So that’s another touch point, and then a It continues into the evening. But that said, I think it’s so easy to fall into a habit to actually having I have set aside 15 minutes a day where I review whether what I’m doing is actually what I should be doing. Right? Because otherwise, it’s a certain habit that you get into, oh, I wake up, I do email, blah, blah, and whether it’s worth worth your while or not. Right? So there’s a review process that I’m trying to pretty much religiously every day to go through. So they’ll be like the beginning the day you say, is my regular routine of today actually accurate? One? Should
Alexander Ferguson 20:39
I be spending my time here? Or just it?
Tobias Kunze 20:42
Yes, I think I should do this at the beginning of the day. Most of the time, don’t get to it till the afternoon.
Alexander Ferguson 20:50
As to the reality of just life, as it sets in for you is if you had to look back to either the beginning of this company for four or five years ago, or or your first company, and you could give yourself a word of wisdom advice thing, just go back and tell yourself something, what would you say
Tobias Kunze 21:12
to myself before first company, single word of wisdom. I think as technologists, we estimate the importance of getting the product. And like under estimating, I think we underestimate this by a factor of proof we do for magnitude.
Ups. As coders as developers, it’s a very comfortable place. Right? You get to your computer, nice, beautiful large screen, crisp funds. you’ve set up your terminal, like your living room, right? You live in your ID, every day is the same. It’s totally predictable. You need to get out of that. Right? You need to I think the same thing our developers need to look at, what is the most important thing I’m doing today? Right? Yes, there’s this ticket. I don’t have to do this ticket because I think this is more important. And then think about how can we get this to market today? I think in a company, this is the most important thing. We completely demand constrained world. It’s everything is oversaturated. And it’s very difficult to get anything to market.
Alexander Ferguson 22:51
As a powerful word is invisible, looking at your day of what do you actually spend your time on, but also maybe getting out of your comfort zone to realize, don’t just stay in a rut, you have to actually look at the bigger picture. And the focus is getting into the market. Getting the product to market that takes realizing it takes more more time. They may may realize Thank you so much, Tobias, for sharing this this exciting journey. I know it’s just probably an ounce of what the many other stories that you could share, but I appreciate the time. It was wonderful.
Tobias Kunze 23:21
Absolutely. Thanks for having me. It was a pleasure. Thanks Alex.
Alexander Ferguson 23:24
Definitely goes online, go back and listen to Part One be able to dig in a bit more about the product itself. Glasnostic, and you can go to Glasnostic.com to dig into that. And for more episodes, go to UpTechReport.com. We’ll see you on the next episode. That concludes the audio version of this episode. To see the original and more visit our UpTech Report YouTube channel. If you know a tech company, we should interview you can nominate them at UpTech report.com. Or if you just prefer to listen, make sure you’re subscribed to this series on Apple podcasts, Spotify or your favorite podcasting app.