Erica Brescia is used to growing things from the ground up. She received her bachelor’s degree in business administration from the University of Southern California before setting out to take on the start-up world but recalls originally having very different plans.
“I studied investment finance and I wanted to run a hedge fund,” Brescia shared in an interview. “[My startup] Bitnami was the result of my being open to an opportunity that fell in my lap.”
Famous first words for any entrepreneur worth their salt and ones that have guided Brescia’s career through two successful startups and her new role as chief operating officer with Microsoft’s code-sharing service GitHub. As with her earlier beginnings with Bitnami, the chance to work with GitHub came along unexpectedly.
“Originally, I was taking some time off but this was an opportunity I couldn’t pass up when I started talking about it,” Brescia said in a Business Insider interview. “It’s really the developer love of GitHub. It’s very rare that you find a company that’s so beloved by its users. There’s a lot of opportunity for improvement and growth.”
As the company’s newly-appointed wise and fearless COO leader, Brescia’s job is going to be a little bit different. She didn’t build GitHub herself but she plans to use her founder skills to help them scale through this period of accelerated growth. Brescia admits that it will be an adjustment to work within a company she didn’t have a hand in creating but feels there’s enough similarities to her startup experience, that she can help them be successful.
But to understand where Brescia is now, it is important to know where she started – and that was at a chance meeting with someone named Daniel Lopez over fourteen years ago. She recalls that she had been attending a convention at the time: “I had been reading up about Linux and open source. My now co-founder Daniel was a member of the Apache Software Foundation and he was speaking at a conference I was attending,” she said.
“We were introduced by a mutual friend,” Brescia remembered. “I had a sales and operations background and he was an engineer. Since our skills were so highly complementary, I started helping him on the side. And now we’ve been working together for almost 13 years across two businesses.”
Their first business foray was with BitRock – a company that provided software installation and packaging tools for different operating systems and platforms. Brescia reflected that they learned a lot about how software vendors and platform providers operate and it was those experiences and relationships that gave them the basis for Bitnami – “a platform that would enable people to acquire, deploy and manage any server software, anywhere.”
In 2011, Brescia and Lopez launched their second startup and made a successful run of it until cloud-computing giant VMware acquired their company last month. Brescia reports that she was happy to find a good home for her startup.
“It is a great home for everything we built…where they’ll continue to grow and thrive as part of VMware.”