Recently taking the CEO post at Docker in May of 2019, Rob Bearden stepped into a great big mess. Investors had poured money into the once promising software unicorn but now the company was struggling to find a sustainable business model that could stabilize their place in the container technology space. Executive turnover has been frequent and competitors were surging ahead making the uncertainty of Docker’s future even more pronounced.
In an internal letter to his employees, Rob attempted to provide transparency and encouragement, “As shared at the last All Hands, we have been engaging with investors to secure more financing to continue to execute on our strategy,” further adding, “I wanted to share a quick update on where we stand. We are currently in active negotiations with two investors and are working through final terms. We should be able to provide you a more complete update within the next couple of weeks.”
To date, Docker has raised over $200 million from well-known investors. Its last round was four years ago, where the company brought in $95 million with participation from Goldman Sachs. Existing investors also include Benchmark, Sequoia Capital and Greylock Partners. Currently the company has approximately 500 employees.
In recent years, competitors such as Elastic and MongoDB have surged with their offering of proprietary tools to get the best use out of their open-source software models. They’ve also gone public and each exceeds $5 billion in valuation.
Given Rob’s prior experiences, all eyes are on his next steps to turn things around. Rob brings over 20 years of experience in building and scaling world-class software companies, including some of the most commercially successful open source companies such as Hortonworks (merged with Cloudera), SpringSource (acquired by VMware) and JBoss (acquired by Red Hat).
As part of his initial agenda, Rob aims to accelerate Docker's enterprise go-to-market strategy while continuing to fuel innovation in the technologies and products that drive digital transformation in an increasingly hybrid cloud world.
Upon Rob’s joining the company, then CEO and Chairman of Docker had this to say, “"Over the past few years, Docker has made incredible strides, emerging as the leading container platform provider for customers across the globe, who are digitally transforming their businesses," also mentioning, "As we look ahead to the next 10 years of Docker's market opportunity, the board and I wanted to find a leader with world-class experience in building open source technology companies. We found that leader in Rob. In the time I have spent working with Rob, what has really impressed me, beyond his extensive background, is his commitment to his people and to serving customers. Under Rob's leadership, Docker will not only scale out an already wonderful business, it will also continue to change the technology landscape. I look forward to working with Rob over the next several months to help him smoothly transition into his new role."