We are the Yankees… If you want to bat, go join the Devil Rays

- By Avi Cavale

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2010 was a fabulous year. We had just shipped a massively successful product called ‘Kinect’ and my team at Microsoft was busy celebrating with no thought to what the future might bring. 

I was celebrating with everyone else, but I had one more reason. In 2008, a CVP (corporate vice president) had told me – “Don’t dream too big. Microsoft is like the New York Yankees – the starting 9 have already been decided. You should be glad to just be a part of the team. If you want to bat, go join the Devil Rays.” I had proven him wrong by dreaming bigger and advancing my career quite nicely in the Kinect team.

And then it happened in early 2011 – a massive re-org that took more than 4 months to settle down. Re-orgs can reset a career, and they happen a lot in Microsoft. I was not ready to do it all over again for 3 more years try to prove him wrong yet again.

I thought long and hard about what I could not do at Microsoft and what my next steps would be –  open source had finally proven itself to be a viable technology for the Enterprise and the writing was on the wall for proprietary software. In December 2011, I resigned from my cushy corporate job and decided to join a small startup in Redmond/Romania based on open source PaaS. 

My first few months were tremendous at Uhuru. I learnt programming again from scratch. I was introduced to the wondrous world of open source. I went to Romania multiple times during sub-zero temperatures and worked and partied with the team there. I was like a kid in a candy store learning Linux and unlearning Windows. And as kids often ask the most insightful questions, I had one of my own – “If code is moving to the cloud (GitHub) and the app is moving to the cloud (EC2, Heroku, CloudFoundry), why is integration testing still done on premise? Why are we spending the time to set up & manage servers?” I couldn’t find a convincing answer, so I wanted to build a service for integration testing and offer it in the cloud.

I have a lot of ideas on any given day, and I initially thought this was just one more. But it kept coming back. While I was eating, sleeping, even showering! Finally, I acted on it. I pitched it to my then CEO and explained the pain point and our great market opportunity. It took him less than an hour to shoot it down. I realized that these were two immutable facts – he wasn’t going to change his mind and I couldn’t stop thinking about a CI service.

I resigned from Uhuru and decided to build it on my own. This was late last year.

What has happened after that is something of a fairy tale. We have created our own Devil Rays where each of us gets to bat. Not just that, we are directly responsible for our performance since our reviews are done by our customers. We have re-invented our core platform 3 times in desperate search for product market fit, and have now found it. We graduated from Techstars Seattle 2013 class and raised over $2M in seed funding. We have over 2000 developers using our platform and we are the first company to support Docker natively.

We have come a long way from where we were and there are two people who are directly responsible for that. Manisha Sahasrabudhe, my co-founder and Ragesh Krishna, our VP of Engineering. They have endured the stress of creating something out of thin air and more importantly endured me.

2013 – what a year for Shippable! Fittingly, we had our 1st birthday party on Friday the 13th of December.

Here’s to an even better 2014!

Team Shippable (aka Devil Rays)

  1. Manisha Sahasrabudhe
  2. Ragesh Krishna
  3. Devashish Meena
  4. Sharat Madhuranath
  5. Vamshi Suran
  6. Swati Goyal
  7. Vidya Raghavan
  8. Keith Oster
  9. Avi Cavale