Episode 15: From Open Source to Paying Customers, with Mitchell Hashimoto, Co-Founder of HashiCorp

Mitchell turned his hobby into a business that now serves 100 of the Fortune 500 companies. In this episode, he talks about how he grew the HashiCorp open source community, monetized an open-source product, and decided to bring on a CEO.

Mitchell Hashimoto is best known as the creator of Vagrant, Packer, Terraform and Consul. Mitchell is the founder of HashiCorp, a company that builds powerful and elegant DevOps tools. He is also an O’Reilly author. He is one of the top GitHub users by followers, activity, and contributions. “Automation obsessed,” Mitchell solves problems with as much computer automation as possible.

Highlights from the episode:

3:31 How did you get to where you are now?
5:30 How did you know when your hobby should be a company?
6:55 How did you find your co-founder? Why did you think a co-founder made sense? What are the positives and negatives of being best friends with your co-founder?
9:07 When you left your job, what was your vision for the company and how has it changed to your vision today?
10:05 How did you nurture and grow the HashiCorp API community?
12:08 How did you transition from an open source project to a commercialized one? How does it change your job as a founder?
14:06 Within your open source customer base, how do you identify which customers to monetize?
17:08 How did you and your co-founder decide to bring on a CEO?
21:01 How do you run a distributed business? What are some of the challenges and how have you dealt with that? What are some tools you use to overcome the lack of proximity for people?
24:21 Tell us about your user conference. Why did you decide to doing an annual conference so early in the life of the company and what benefits have you seen from doing it?
26:08 As your company has scaled from 5 to 300 people, how has it changed your relationship with your customers and what burden do you feel?
28:15 What is your product philosophy and how do you share that with the product and engineering teams?
30:35 Favorite book, blog, or piece of content?
31:04 What do you believe that not many others believe?
31:39 What is your hobby? How do you recharge?

If you have any questions you’d like us to ask our guests, or founders you’d like to hear on this podcast, feel free to email us at founderrealtalk@ggvc.com. If you like what you hear, please rate and review us on the Apple podcast app to help others find this podcast.

GGV Capital is a global venture capital firm that invests in local founders. As a multi-stage, sector-focused firm, GGV focuses on seed-to-growth stage investments across Consumer/New Retail, Social/Digital & Internet, Enterprise/Cloud and Frontier Tech sectors. The firm was founded in 2000 and manages $6.2 billion in capital across 13 funds. Past and present portfolio companies include Affirm, Airbnb, Alibaba, Bitsight, ByteDance (Toutiao), Ctrip, Didi Chuxing, Grab, Gladly, Hello Chuxing, HashiCorp, Houzz, Keep, LingoChamp, Namely, Niu, Nozomi Networks, Opendoor, Peloton, Poshmark, Slack, Square, Wish, Xauto, Xiaohongshu, Yellow, YY, Zhaoyou and more. The firm has offices in Beijing, San Francisco, Shanghai and Silicon Valley. Learn more at ggvc.com, @GGVCapital or GGVCapital on WeChat.