The Next Generation of Storj

March 12, 2018

As we got ready to tell the world about Ben Golub joining the Storj team, I reflected on how we got here. Storj began four years ago when I was working on a personal project using tons of data from the Twitter firehose. I needed to pull down 20-30GB of data a day. I looked at using S3 from Amazon, and Google Cloud, and Microsoft Azure. Not only would it get expensive very fast on all those platforms, but they were also not easy to use, not open source, and not commutable to what I wanted to do. 

At the time, I was doing some minor contributions to Bitcoin, and suddenly it clicked. I realized that what Bitcoin is doing for compute could be done for storage. Outside of making cloud storage better, cheaper, and faster, I started thinking about the cases and tools that could be built that will allow people to build things they would never be able to build in with the traditional centralized data storage model. 

Developers were being held back because cloud storage was too expensive, or not fast enough, or because they might be in a country or place where they couldn’t swipe a credit card for S3. Storj was born from this excitement about the potential for a new, decentralized system that could enable the creation of the next Google or Facebook or new crazy-awesome apps that haven’t been dreamed up yet. 

Milestones and growth

The Storj team has grown to 25 people in multiple offices in the U.S. and Europe. Our network and user base have grown exponentially. When we realized that our current network doesn’t scale, we decided to fix it. 

As we grew, my role changed. I was CEO, but an engineer at heart. We thought about hiring a CEO, and determined our ideal candidate would have experience with open source, cloud, and data storage companies, and someone who had led companies as they expanded from a small core founding team to an organization that could support massive growth. 

When Ben expressed interest in Storj, we knew we had our ideal candidate. He joined Docker when it was dotCloud, when Docker was a one-week-old open source project. Under Ben, Docker exploded and he led it from an open source project to a team 400 strong, with hundreds of G2000 customers, a broad partner network, nearly $250 million in funding, 3,300 contributors, millions of Dockerized apps, and 12 billion downloads. 

Ben’s experience leading Docker from startup to breakout success made him quickly become our top candidate to lead Storj, and we’re looking forward to his guidance us as we expand our team and build the next generation of cloud storage for decentralized applications. 

Ben has a proven track record of leading companies with open source products. Take Docker. Under Ben’s leadership, Docker became synonymous with containers, the tool that sparked the cloud-native application movement.

He has success leading and building teams. Under Ben, Docker grew from our current size to more than 400 people. He also led Gluster, an open source storage company acquired by Red Hat in 2011. Ben is developer-focused, experienced with storage and the cloud, understands how open source projects become products, and knows the importance of the community’s involvement. 

Ben’s experience resonated with us, because we were looking for a leader who had business acumen and also understood the value of community and open source, and it’s just what we need at this pivotal moment as we rapidly expand our team and build the technological foundation for supporting our growth. 

My vision for Storj’s growth is to build tools that change the status quo, give people better control and access to their data, make businesses faster and more secure, and allow people to build apps that don’t work in the traditional system, either because they want to store so much data that it’s cost-prohibitive, or they want to change the functionality of the storage layer. 

Having Ben in this role is helpful because I can confidently hand over organizational duties to a proven leader, the best person for this job, and that allows me to focus more on the technology, which I’m passionate about. We’re thrilled he has agreed to join the Storj team. 

By Shawn Wilkinson

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