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This CEO didn’t want a dime for his code, accidentally built a $ 28 billion startup

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San Francisco-based software startup Databricks has been in the news since investors valued it at $ 28 billion. The company, which started in 2013, only started turning a profit in recent days when Databricks co-founder Ali Ghodsi was chosen to be CEO after Ion Stoica stepped down from his job. job. Ghodsi, 42, was working as vice president of engineering at the time, had no intention of selling his revolutionary code and wanted to give it up for free.

“We were a bunch of hippies from Berkeley, and we just wanted to change the world,” Ghodsi said, quoted by Forbes. “We would say to them, ‘Just take the software for free,’ and they would say, ‘No, we have to give you $ 1 million,’ he added.

What started as a core of seven academics agreeing to set up a startup, raised $ 1 billion in February to claim the title of one of the world’s most valuable companies by February of this year.

Databricks uses cutting-edge technology and artificial intelligence to “merge” expensive data warehouses with data lakes to create what it called “data lakes,” according to a Forbes report.

“There’s little mystery about how Databricks works: you just need to feed massive amounts of data into algorithms to train AI models on how to analyze and make predictions with the data. “It’s not like some deep, secret sauce that no one knows about,” Ghodsi said.

Databricks was targeting nearly $ 1 billion in revenue in 2022, one investor noted, and according to Ghodsi, $ 100 billion in revenue is also not out of the question.

Ghodsi didn’t always have such ambitions about Databricks, and he didn’t think of such a stellar performance when he started the company. The Iraq-Iran war refugee who used to stay in Sweden and came to the US as a visiting scholar at UC Berkeley, said: for a year and see what we can get.

The company arranged an initial meeting with Ben Horowitz, one of Nicira’s early investors, who was forthright about his investment. “I’m not going to negotiate with you guys; I’m just going to make you an offer, so take it or leave it, ”he said and offered a $ 14 million investment at a valuation of almost $ 50 million. Days later, as they checked Databricks’ bank account balance, the researchers couldn’t believe what they were seeing. “Then at one point he said ’14 -zero-zero-zero-zero-zero-zero,” Ghodsi said. “We were totally blown away. I was making $ 58,000 or $ 57,000, so it was a lot of money.

However, within two years the company was not making much profit, and that’s when Ghodsi, the CEO, took over.

Ghodsi came to a time when Databricks was in a tumultuous position and immediately put three steps in place when he took over the company in 2016. First, he wanted to expand the sales force with people who knew how to pitch. idea. Second, build the C-suite with “people who have done it before”. After that, Ghodsi wanted to create proprietary parts of the software so that the sellers had something to sell.

The management team was entirely new within a year, and Ghodsi offered to offer the old executives to stay in exchange for a demotion. “If people were smart enough, they put their egos aside,” he told Forbes. Only two in seven people quit after that.

From there, Databricks was unstoppable. He only has four rivals left, according to Ghodsi. One of them is Snowflake. The other three are Google, Amazon, and Microsoft, all of whom are investors at Databricks. Its objective is to make its second acquisition of the German start-up without code 8080 Labs. Ghodsi also said the company is ready to go public soon.

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