The biggest milestone ever - 🎉 10 years at Elastic
Would I have been able to imagine such a thing when 10+ years ago I met Shay at Devoxx Belgium after his talk “Search, the Final Frontier”?
10 years! I have been working 10 years at Elastic. I have never working so long for a company. That’s my biggest work milestone ever!
Remember the time
Have you noticed that I’m frequently using a music in my blog posts. Well, it makes sense as I’m often DeeJaying for friends so music is everywhere in my life.
Anyway, I met Shay and we agreed that it would make sense for me to join this amazing group of talented people. When I actually joined, there was if I recall correctly 10 employees plus the 4 founders:
- Shay Banon
- Simon Willnauer
- Uri Boness
- Steven Schuurman
- Nick White
- Martijn van Groningen
- Elissa Weve
- Clinton Gormley
- Karel Minarik
- Igor Motov
- Drew Raines
- Elyse Philips
- Nooi Van Maarsen
- Rashid Khan
I loved so much joining this team. I was warmly welcomed and I knew already some of them over the Elasticsearch user group I was contributing to.
I really encourage everyone to try at least once to join a startup, ideally an international and distributed one. If like myself, you love working from a blank page, working in the mess (I mean with no real process), that’s the way to go. Your imagination is often the limit. It might be the budget as well though 😅.
The team was mostly technical. Again, lot of very very smart people. So you can only learn. It happened to me despite the language barrier. Yeah, that has been the most painful point of this experience. Not being able to understand everything, using a lot of brain cycles to analyse what just have been said, censoring yourself because you are not able to entirely express your arguments, not joking a lot because you don’t know if what you are saying could be perceived in a bad way by people coming from different cultures.
Side note: I really enjoyed the day Shay wrote the “Source Code”, specifically the “01.02, /FORMAT” part of it (emphasis is mine):
Our products are distributed by design, our company is distributed by intention. With many languages, perspectives, and cultures, it’s easy to lose something in translation. Over email and chat, doubly so. Until we get a perpetual empathy machine, don’t assume malice.
The french spoken language wide territory
French is spoken by 321 millions of people, including 93 millions french native speakers. Of course only a subset of them is speaking about IT, but that still represents a significant territory to cover:
That has been one of my goal and one of my success over the 10 last years. I enabled the community to help individuals making connections to each others. When I go to other territories which have not been covered as much, I can really see the difference. For example, when I’m at a conference booth in France, I’m getting more “What’s new in Elasticsearch 8.5?” kind of question than “What is Elastic?”.
Don’t take the community for granted
I wrote in 2019 how hard and exhausting it was to travel every week or so. I adapted that in 2019 and in 2020 the pandemic came. All of that have been reducing a lot the direct connections with the community.
Going virtual helps to build a wider audience but does not help to build stronger connections.
In 2022, I was allowed to start travelling again a bit more. At the very first, it was kind of hard. I remember being on Elastic booth at Devoxx France 2022 and have difficult times to pitch about Elastic and our products. I was kind of rusty. I was also feeling missing some energy. But after one day, meeting friends from the community, colleagues, competitors, advocates, I started to feel much better. I realized that I was actually getting a huge shot of energy by just talking to people, smiling at them, solving their problems…
I also realized that I was taking for granted that Elastic was widely known. But since I started, new engineers coming from school have been joining the IT community. It’s a never ending communication process. If you want to help users solving their search problems, you can not only rely on the blog posts you have in some places. You also need to bring that knowledge to them.
On the road again
We are collecting our activity in AirTable and then we are extracting that information, enriching it using other sources like YouTube views and sending all that information into Elasticsearch running in our cloud. A Kibana dashboard on top of this nad we can at anytime visualise what is our activity looking like. Here I added in the Search box:
presenters : "David Pilato" or hosts : "David Pilato" to only focus on my activity in 2022.
As you can notice, I started to do more and more conferences from May 2022. I’ll explain a bit later why this happened.
I was fortunate enough to go again to Devoxx MA. I remembered the first time I spoke there when it was called JMaghreb. Always good to meet the community wherever it is, also meet new speakers, learn things…
…Or just have a break, relax and enjoy! 😂
Here we go #DevoxxMA. pic.twitter.com/OQQwlqCH02— David Pilato 🇺🇦🇪🇺🇫🇷 (@dadoonet) October 5, 2022
An opportunity to meet smart alumni. On the following picture, we have exactly 20 years of ENIB history (1994 for me, Alexandre 2005, Noëmie 2016). Was funny to realize that we had some common teachers!
I told you that I needed to do more and more conferences. That was not asked by Elastic but was only my own ask. I was missing a lot the human interactions and at the same time I wanted to go out away from my house as much as I could.
Yeah. 2022 was also the year of my 2nd divorce. It was totally unexpected (like the first one) and was heartbreaking but it was the right thing to do. Because we were finding that our paths were going far one from each other, Estelle and I decided to break up while we were still having a lot of respect and some kind of love.
It was a hard decision, hard time.
My colleague and boss offered me to take a break and visit Vienna.
I’ve got (and I still have) all the needed support from Elastic and my team to get through this. I was also lucky enough that I joined Elastic 10 years ago and that I got some stock-options. It helped me to buy my ex-wife shares of the house so I could keep the house for my kids (and myself).
And then in December, our CEO announced that we “need to reduce the team by about 13%”.
That was hard because I saw suddenly many of my colleagues, including very old ones, leaving the company. But I can imagine how much harder it was for my coworkers who left… I’m really wishing them all the best for 2023.
Bye 2022! Welcome 2023
For 2023, we, as a team, need to produce more content (blog posts specifically), so that will probably be one of the thing I’ll focus on. Of course, running the meetups in France is also important as I don’t take the community for granted 😉.
So if you have a nice story you would like to share about Elastic products or solutions, nice usecases you have been able to solve, how you worked around a bug, etc. feel free to contact me. I’ll organize that.
If you are a company and you want to host a meetup, we are also looking for venues and sponsors. Have a look at the nice stuff we can co-organize!
PS: this post has not been generated by ChatGPT.