Join THE HOSS Matt Yonkovit and his guest Laurent Doguin (Developer Relations and Strategy at Couchbase) in the Hacking Open Source Business Podcast as they explore various aspects of the DevRel role in the Open Source space. From transforming into a developer-friendly organization to the vital connection between Developer Relations (DevRel) and Sales, they discuss strategies, challenges, and future trends. They highlight the importance of understanding different types of developers, optimizing recruitment, integrating technologies, and collaboration between departments. The podcast also covers topics like community management, technical understanding in sales, and measuring value and metrics.
Laurent's LinkedIn Profile: https://www.linkedin.com/in/ldoguin/
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Laurent's role at Couchbase
Matt: Hello everyone and welcome to another Hacking and Open source business podcast. I am your host. The host. That's me, see, uh, Matt Yonkovit. And today I'm joined by Laurent Doguin.
Uh, Laurent, how are you doing today? Hello.
Laurent: I'm doing very
Matt: well, thank you. All right. Uh, now Lauren, you are the director of Developer relations and strategy at Couchbase. Yeah. Such a big name. That is a big name. So, yeah, I, I am always curious when I see strategy in the title, what does strategy mean for your role?
Laurent: is weird. Like this could be anything. We're in there. Right? So this could be content strategy, which, which there are people that are content strategists and that's a full-time job. There's could be, could be out, probably other things. What it means for me is, uh, um, It Iser strategy at Couchbase globally.
Uh, and it started out like this, uh, about a year ago, and there's some specific reason for that. Uh, the main one being, uh, Couchbase now is all about defer, which was not necessarily the case. Three or four, five or six or seven or how old are we? 12 years ago? Uh, because it started out as a database targeted towards.
Architects and, um, and, uh, and DBAs and absences and all, and, you know, usual suspects of people using DBAs. Um, Maybe, if you don't mind. Uh uh, Couchbase, uh, started out in 2011 as the, uh, uh, uh, merge. Some people would say Fork of CouchDB and Membase. Um, so it's nothing to do with CouchDB anymore. Uh, you had two companies, basically, one at the tech, one at the sales.
They have merged and created Couchbase that, that was in 2011. Uh, Couchbase should. Document store, you can store stuff. Uh, and of course you can do SQL because we're in 2023 and now everybody does sql, even if no one wanted to do SQL 10 years ago, uh, because we learn. Um, and so Couchbase for a long, very long time was, uh, all about, uh, um, DBAs and, and architects and CIS admins.
And, and I actually started working at Couchbase in 2014. In 2017 as a, as a developer advocate. In 2017, I went to my studio and said, I'm not talking to any developer. Something's wrong, uh, what's going on? And, and. At the time, uh, the answer was be a database company. Uh, um, you know, you want, you wanna be a pm, come be a pm.
And I was like, eh, not really. I'm gonna join my friend that are willing a platform as a service. It's fine. Small developer friendly. Small developer. That's what I want to do. So I left. And then, um, about a year ago, I, I, I met my former colleagues at conferences that said like, dude, it's all about the developer.
Now you have to talk to the new cmo. There's a new sheriff intern, there's a new picture of engineering. There's like, it's all about the developers. I was like, ah, well, I'm unemployed. Happily, I'm brewing beer. I, I could, you know, I could, I could be, you know, could be happy with a new job and, and, and the money that comes with tech job instead of the money that comes with, uh, beer job.
So I feel like, sure, let's, let's chat. And that's why I rejoined, uh, Couchbase because John Frache, our cmo, convinced me that it was all by developers now, but we don't know what to do. And, and, and I, I know was the guy that was screaming six or six, six, well, five or six years before that, he was like, where are we not talking to developers?
That should be our main job. And so now it's my job to turn the company into a more DevRel friendly organization. It's not my sole job and not, and I'm not the only one that has to do that, but, you know, uh, it, it falls on me and that's good. I think Darl is, uh, uh, uh, first and foremost a concern issue. And, uh, and I'm gonna start by saying the, um, somewhat weird thing that DevRel I think is gonna disappear one day.
Uh, because as a culture, not the dev jobs don't, you know, we still need that, but I think that people will learn to talk to developers because developers are really just. Gen Zs before Gen Zs, which is, which is the other weird thing. Like we, we, our whole life has been created by the search box. That's, well, that's Gen Z Life, like anything you want go on Google or Spotify or whatever or stack overflow and in two seconds you have your answer.
And as people working in tech, we add access to that before Gen Zs. We not born with this, but you know, we embraced that before everybody. Yes. So we are a little specific target to market too. Because of course we can be marketed too, just like Gen Z and you know, in a sense that's, uh, that's what there is.
We need to learn how to talk to these people. And then one day I think everybody will have the culture and the known to actually talk to or market to. Us, we are people that have been born with a two second search box for anything, and it's gonna get so worse with, with AI and, and, and, you know, all those things.
The divide between DevRel and Sales
Matt: Wow. Yes. I'm just speaking too much. Yeah, no, no. And here's the thing, there's like 12 different items that I want unpack in what you just said. Okay. There there is, there's so much to talk there. So let's start though with. The concept of talking specifically to developers because this is an interesting concept because everyone that I talk to is all in on talking to developers and, and quite honestly, the mindset is, If you convince the developers, you'll get the gra grassroots movement for people to adopt your technology, especially if it's open source to start with.
They'll adopt it for free and then all of a sudden their bosses will eventually have to pay or something for it. I mean, it, it's kind of that thought process where it's like the more adoption you can get with the developers, the easier it is for them to purchase something eventually, because let's be honest, we all work for companies that are selling something.
I mean, that's,
Laurent: well, that's the thing. Like if, if, if there's some DevRel say, no, I don't want to talk with sales because it's, it's, it's not what we do. And it says, well, I'm mean someone's paying your salary. Right. So that's all what you do.
Matt: Yeah. And it, and it really is that, and it's, there is a divide between those.
But what's interesting is I, I have a deep background in the database space, just like you. It's difficult sometimes to do that transition from infrastructure to developers. Right. Because from an infrastructure standpoint, we, we've been bombarded with cloud offerings and things where it's like, don't think about the database, don't think about your data, don't think about the infrastructure.
How Serverless. Serverless, yes.
What resonates with developers from a database standpoint
Matt: How do you view that and, and have you had that challenge where as you go in and talk, What, what sort of stories have you found that resonate from an infrastructure or database standpoint with developers? Where have you seen success and maybe where have you seen some difficulties?
Laurent: It's, I mean, there's so much things to say about this. So before in my, between my two jobs, I went to Clever Cloud platform as a service. This is a, an infrastructure product completely dedicated to developers. And, and removing, like the people I used to talk to from the equation, basically, except DBAs, uh, uh, one could argue that DBAs still provide, uh, business value more than infrastructure value.
Mm-hmm. Because you have, if you wanna be a good dba, you have to business with the company. So, maybe not DBAs, but like most, you know, ci, I mean, uh, uh, sre, uh, Platform ERs now, because if your platform mean you're building your own platform, which is what we're doing, which is what Heroku has been doing for, you know, years.
Uh, so I sort of removed those, those people from the equation or let's say give them back some time to think about the stuff to provide value and not infrastructure. And the problem with database is that for a long time we are not necessarily infrastructure, but now it's completely infrastructure. As a verb, we've been structured, we, we've disappeared from people's radar, uh, because they expect, expect to use higher level services.
Um, and so that's where we want to go. That's where everybody's going. If you, if you, that's very interesting. Actually. If you look at MongoDB strategy right now, they, they have the same messaging that I used to have in the platform as a service world. It's basically from IT to production is not even talking about data database anymore.
It's a developer platform. Mm-hmm. Yep. And, and, and, and there's very good reason for that. The longer you are in the market and you survive in the market, everybody survives in the market. And then you have this platform musician, think everybody ends up having the same set of features and then you need to go always higher level because that's what DevOps wants.
They want to go higher level of traction. They want to have more things automated because they don't want to care about the infrastructure. And we are in this interesting crossroad between with cloud and, and databases. Where, what are you, are you infrastructure? Are you business value provider? What, what, where it is that we are doing?
And it depends on the company, depends on the other process. It's so complicated and it's fun as well. Cause I enjoy that. Um, and if you, one other thing that we could, we could put in that equation, um, it's an about open source and about locking people in. Um, the former way of locking people was, was, uh, licensed because everybody was hosting things themselves anyway.
And because of the cloud and because of certain cloud providers, which should not be aim, uh, there's been some changes in licenses in the database world. And then, uh, and, and, and the reason for that is that the new way of locking people in is, uh, and basically went, uh, open source software, API and services cloud.
If you are cloud, you are locked in the cloud and you use the thing in the cloud and then, and at the same time, no one's gonna argue about that because it's just infrastructure now. It's not providing any value anymore. So you are probably locked into your electricity provider and you never think about it and it's probably gonna be the same.
Yeah. Yeah. So, so yeah, A lot of things you went back as well in there, but, um, Yeah, that's amazing Cloud. Um, interesting. I'm not sure if I answered your question correctly, but that's, well, I digress too much.
Matt: No, no, it's cool because I think, again, there is tons of interesting, you know, topics in there. You know, when you talk about that cloud lock and I've seen that over and over again as well, where.
You know, you do get in and it's, you know, the, the Old Eagle song, the Hotel, California, you could check in, but you can never leave. Um, you know, and that happens, especially because as we've moved away from understanding the infrastructure stand standpoint, a lot of those skill sets are lost in organizations.
So they don't have the skills to necessarily even spin up or the desire or the, you know, setup to manage that large infrastructure anymore.
Laurent: I think that's an interesting point, is that the, it's, it's. At the same time, you see, you see those skills disappeared because it's a, it's the results of a digital transformation, the transformation, the digital transformation is getting real, of real, of all the stuff that you internalized before and that you don't need to, because now the market is mature enough to, so you don't have to care, and so you don't have those resources anymore internally because you've been successful.
Agile digital transformation. I think that's quite interesting.
Matt: Yeah. Yeah. So you're the, the cost of your success. Right. You know, so you gained some and then others, and I mean, I, I, I do it, I'm doing a talk in a, in a few months on a problem that we had with, with, with our cloud provider and it, and it was, you know, we run a database of service.
Uh, or, or have a database as a service provider for one of our products. And we had this third party app, um, that we set up and it just went through and it indexed or, or looked for the data and, and tried to summarize and do some things. And we found one month it accidentally went against this table. It shouldn't have.
And the queries that it ran racked up like a $20,000 bill for like one query. Right, because it, it, you know, and it was not intentional. We didn't even need it to do it. But how this was set up was, you know, the, the tool that we used automatically went to the, you know, the, the serverless database. It, it, you know, went through it, checked all the data, it tried to summarize, you know, what was in there, build some, you know, uh, some catalog on, you know, the different values.
And because it was doing that on a regular basis to refresh it on this one table, destroyed the cost.
Laurent: Yeah. That's, that's, that's tough. Fin ups is, is, is a thing as well that you have to talk about in 2023. Yeah. And, and several less threshold effects. It's managed, but then you don't know what's gonna happen.
Yeah. It's it's
Matt: hard. Yeah.
Hiring different types of developers
Matt: So back to the developer topic. One of the things that I've noticed in, in this, and I don't know if you've seen this, um, especially when I talk with folks in non like DevOps or developer relations dev rail space, is I hear a lot of people, we just want developers, but they don't understand that not all developers are created equal, right?
So there are. Multiple types of developers. A front end developer is very different than a full stack developer. Very different than a DevOps engineer or a backend developer, right? Different levels of developers, and I think that the thought process, especially depending on where Dev fits in an organization, tends to fall in, get me all the developers.
Um, versus get me the right segment of developers. And so for you, I'm curious, what are your thoughts on that and how have you kind of refined, which developers are the most interesting for you at Couchbase? It's
Laurent: interesting. So we, we do have, uh, person as, but then the first thing I wanna say is that setting a database is, is such a different thing than selling a SaaS, uh, because it's such, it's such a sticky choice when people choose a database that, you know, you, it's, it doesn't matter.
Like I. I understand the bottom top approach that in theory gives you, you know, grassroots adoption and then, and then you take sandwich, you take the media layer in the sandwich with the C level because your cells go and talk to the, ideally to the C level. And then you, you take the media management layer that doesn't like changing the, you know, that's literally what happens.
Um, I'm a almost a middle manager as well, so not, not gonna say too much bad thing about this. Um, so yeah, it's, um, You can, you can talk to every dev operator if you have a database for sure. Uh, but, but we want to, uh, we have four different persons, uh, that we are refining as we go. But we started with those four.
We used to have basically architects and s and DBAs with the Google, Google target, basically. Uh, and then the helpers. What do we do, uh, as a uses, uh, a database? Not really how many, it depends because. The re the, the reason we've made those personal is not necessarily for their various, for the rest of the company, it's for marketing mostly.
How do you, how do you nurture your leads? How do you select your leads? How do you qualify them? Those people, and, and there's so many different job title and other person that your person has sort of have to engulf some of those, and so, Uh, we, we, we kept, we kept our architects, sea level people that have the money and the decision power.
We kept that because we were database and those people still. Decide which for that most databases might sense when serverless becomes ubiquitous state. Full serverless, when every, every database has some, some, some state full serverless offer, uh, it might, might diminish a bit, but we, we still talk to these people.
We still talk to our ops and our DBAs because there are, uh, uh, important users as well. But what has changed, uh, at Couchbase ? It's, uh, uh, uh, we want to talk to more developers as well. Uh, it has changed because we went from being a pure software vendor to being a, a cloud provider, to being a database service provider, and so being a database service provider.
Apps and DBA somewhat become less important because, because you moved the infrastructure part the way, and then so if you went ups, well, it's managed already. I mean, of course we don't do everything automatically and people should not do all the things automatically because this can leads to terrible effects, like an increase of your invoice or domino effects.
Because if you automate failover and, and, and provisioning and then something doesn't work, you're gonna have some very weird, uh, um, activities on your cluster. So, We still need ops and DBAs. Maybe less so they can do more interesting things. Like no one wants to manually do a backup thing cuz, cuz you know, you remember the time when they had this list of this is the, that the backup procedure and you have to copy paste the thing.
And we all know what happens when people copy paste things doesn't work. So you are told me that that's what I did. That Clever Cloud platform as service, that's what we do with Sketch Capella feedback brain, you know, important time for people. Um, so yeah, uh, DBA still super important. We have this, this cool query intervention.
They can, you know, they can have, uh, they can run, explain on the SQL Query to set any SQL database. You know, DBA is still important, but the thing is, uh, uh, that's just one very specific, uh, and less important parts because it's gonna be less, less dba, more people that build the stuff. And so more backend, more mobile level, because we do have a mobile offering and, uh, uh, more full stack.
And then what the hell does full stack mean?
Matt: Yeah. Well, that's a good question, right? Because I mean, yeah, from a full stack developer perspective, um, you, you almost mix in several roles in a lot of cases because, you know, it, it, it's like you're baking a cake, right? And you add a little bit of what a DBA used to do.
You add some of that s r e capability, you add some DevOps, you know, you add some front end, you add some, you know, of the glue from, you know, that kind of like middleware API type of, you know, focus. It's a bit of everything. And you start being
Laurent: funny when you change the size of the company. Because if you are in a startup with four developers, then you know you are full, full, full stack.
And if you are in a massive company, then your, the scope is a bit different. So we, we chose them. Most person has, mobile is a bit of a different story. We have to have mobile developer. And mobile developer. They are very different from most of us. Uh, they expect somewhat different things because we have catch based mobile, which is that this offline synchronization, you know, you have a database on your phone and it syncs to the cloud database.
So people that build apps basically. And then we want to talk about the people that build that mobile app. But everything else, everything else. If you're a big company, you're a backend developer, you do all the meter away, you do all the microservices, you do all the, you know, all that stuff. And then we decided that full stack was not necessarily about the number of stacks of people know, and the, the, and the, the different level, but more about, um, Uh, training and, and, um, uh, when you, when you do boot camp, people tell you, well, now you're a full stack developer.
Um, or when you, when you, when you do any, what's the word? Not training, but like any school, any boot camp, any certification and any, okay. Yeah. You end up having the full stack, you know, job because that's, that's what people want to do now. Okay, fine. You are now, now Gene, a full stack developer and you know how to do everything.
I mean, at least they've seen, they've seen, uh, how to do most of the things. They're not necessarily expert in that. And that's fine. Our, our goal as, as is to stay at school for the rest of our difficult career. So I'm not, I'm, I'm okay with that. I'm okay with people saying, I've seen a little bit of everything and I know you have to learn on the job, and that's fine.
I will, you know, we'll help you learn on that. So we ha we are gonna have. Because it's not there yet. But we want to have a very strong focus on education, on education at cash basis, to to, to take those full stack developers, and it's gonna be more and more of those, um, of them and, and, you know, teach them, this is how you do basic database stuff.
This is how you build apps, this is how you build things. We, we really want to care about what people built because again, as a data base, we are, you know, we are this, this small bridge and, and, and it's gonna be an even smaller brick because it's probably gonna be abstracted by. Higher service value. Uh, like if you get the success of super base and fire base and all those backend as a service or application platform, like at last train to do, I admit we're a little late on that, but we are really looking forward to, to doing things like this because that's, that's where the market goes.
And, and this is where we need to go as well. And this is where they'll over go. Like they, I don't wanna write blue anymore. Uh, I want to, you know, be efficient and. Maybe that's where that G P T and AI will help us as well, uh, be more efficient. I'm not expecting it to dramatically change the way we do things.
I'm expecting it to be a huge productivity boost for all the boring tasks that we have to do.
Matt: And this is where it's interesting from a developer perspective, I think that it's more, um, emphasis on making things easier and making things more collaborative with other technologies now and more partnerships.
From a technical perspective, it's about. You know, people don't think about necessarily just, you know, choosing the database. They choose their application framework and then does it have the right APIs? Is it easy to use with their database? You know, if, if you're a React shop, how do you interact with React?
If you're, you know, next Js if you're, you know, like whatever you are, you, you almost need to cover all of the boxes and decide, and there's so many different boxes you could have. Deciding is difficult.
Laurent: It's all about stacks. Like that's what you said, people through stack and you have to, to enable them to, to product in their, in their favorite stack.
Uh, so what happened Couchbase , uh, and the reason, one of the reason I came back is that we rebooted on the marketing. Now, the reason for that is that we had thec, they were reporting to product and engineering, and the DA team now is really focused on developer integration. Like most of their job is to make sure that Couchbase is usable in your favorite stack.
So, um, When, when is this gonna be published? I'm assuming not today, but we should be, we should be announcing some cool integration tomorrow, which should be,
Matt: it might actually be published tomorrow, which is today, but anyways.
Laurent: Right. And so and so, uh, well go on catch base.com and look at the letters integration that we have, but we've been working on, on, on, uh, uh, our odm, uh, our Mongo, it's called Ottoman.
We've been working on spin data. We've been working on auto cloud integration. Like it's already online. You can, you can, you can Google it. Maybe us tomorrow, I think. Well today, um, you know, uh, they are working on this and, and part and the, the, because it's so important, the DA team now is, is almost fully full-time doing this.
And, and our CFO said, well, that's the perfect opportunity to restart on on the marketing, which is where I came in.
DevRel as part of the Marketing department (Marketing vs. Engineering)
Matt: Okay. So outta curiosity, now that you've worked with both marketing and engineering from a dev perspective, it's a debate in every company where, oh, no, that's
Laurent: no debate. Marketing has money, go to marketing.
Matt: Okay. It's easy. Well, and I mean, but does that mean that from a dev perspective, you end up being more. Aligned with the business then because you're under the marketing department. Um, and let's, well, I think you, you,
Laurent: I think you have to, uh, and it goes back to what we said earlier is that, I mean, you can't expect to be that, that pure little thing that is for the, you'll pay for that job, you know, so whatever you do, You are, you are, you are in the business.
And, and, and I don't think that you, if you think that people pay you just to be nice with people, I mean, the, the end game of being nice with people is growing the funnel of the, of the, of the, of the company. Today's community is tomorrow's funnel. Yeah. That's like, it is what it is. And so yes, you, you have
Matt: to, well, in a lot of startups, this is what an interesting trend that I've started to see is before any marketing person's hired a dev rail person's hired, Right.
Um, it's almost like Dev Rell replacing marketing as a function early on.
Laurent: Yeah, I, I, so I think there's a couple traps in there. Uh, I actually wrote an article, but that is called Dev Lie. It's on my, my blog post. I'll send you the link. Uh, there's, there's different links that, the different, different stages where they hire you and they think the, the first one is we are startups.
You are dev, you know how to do a little bit of everything. You're gonna be one of the first employee because you can do a little bit of everything. And so you end up doing, If you marketing, you end up doing product you up doing like sure. Everything. And, and, and like if, if you are, if you are that good, just go and build your own company, honestly.
Yeah. So, so I think that's, that's part of the reason why.
Matt: Well, and you mentioned that you, you know, I saw the talk you gave a couple years ago. Dev Re is a lie. Oh, yeah. Forgot
Laurent: about that. Yes, I did. I did
Matt: do that. Yeah, you did. And that was, you know, dev re is a job. Uh, it's a jack of all trades, master of none.
I remember that as the first lie that, that, that was told. And that's so true because, um, it, it, it, it is something that, especially early on, It's like the expectation is go connect with developers and just grow this audience. And it's interesting because a lot of what you do, especially early on, but in any dev role, it's dependent on the product being easy as well and accessible and integrable.
Um, there is this collaborative nature between all the different departments that needs to happen, and I think that's often overlooked. Right. You know, it's, it's something that, you know, it's like, just go, just go get lots of developers interested. Well, if the technology isn't there or if it doesn't resonate, it doesn't matter how good your dev rail program is, it's just not going to get adoption or generate interest.
And I think it's missed sometimes.
Laurent: I mean, if you'll never gonna use your product and what's the point of building radiation with I agree. The, it's, it makes complete sense. Um, uh, so, and it sort of ties back into how their values, their role. I'm in the dev team. There is a DA team and there is a community team at Couchbase .
I, I've seen Dev as, as this, this practice, this cultural thing. Uh, the dev team at Couchbase that we put into marketing is mostly focused all outreach. So we could say we are the evangelist team. I'm hiring for Dev pro evangelists. That's what we do because the DA team is in very strong ties with the product, uh, uh, cause of, of their integration they work on.
And then community also important to marketing. They have to budget, which is great cuz you know, swag and all that stuff. Uh, and they really work hand in end with field marketing as well. So, so now it's not just, there's the DevRel brave events and there's the sales events, everything is the same. And that, that's, that's actually quite cool.
Um, I don't remember where I was saying this, but anyway, uh, uh, this is how it's organized at catch base and, um, yeah.
The split between community and dev
Matt: Now outta curiosity, why, what's that split between community and dev? Like what, what's the functional
Laurent: split? Right. We are the technical people mostly. Uh, uh, we do all the technical stuff.
They care about the community. They give home to the communities. Basically, my job is to give them more stuff to do and pure outreach. The DA team measure that when people came in, they don't leave because the product is bad, and the community make sure that they have a place to stay and they take care of them and they, and they manage the ambassador program.
They manage to meet the program they manage. All those things that is, uh, you know, discard and John Discard, you know, all that things.
Matt: Yeah, that's very similar to how I've set that up in the past with, you know, the, the evangelists, the community. But we've also had an osbo where it's more on the code contribution side.
So from an open source perspective, there's a little kind of something that I've also done, but I, I see that split. And a lot of times people mistake having an evangelist do the community side, which is that jack of all trades thing. And they're very separate skill sets. And sometimes for somebody who is very outgoing, doing that administrative type stuff is very time consuming and it's draining, drains a lot of their energy.
So it's a good, you know, thing to have those separated in a lot of cases.
Laurent: Yeah, it, it's, uh, all, uh, uh, about, uh, um, well thanks to Loki. She used to be our committee manager at Kave years ago, and she really made me realize completely different jobs. Completely different. And she's great at what she
Yeah. Yeah. Completely different. Big mistake that I think a lot of companies make is kind of treat that as one and expect the same results. Um, now Interesting.
Laurent: And, and they give that to a junior person, would you say, well, hey, we are a small startup. We don't have enough money. Just, Hey, junior, I let let them do.
Matt: Yeah. Yeah. So the, the other lie that you said, um, or one of the other lies was that Derell was a decoy. It's, it's not, you know, it's, it's, Kind of a, the fake it till you make it. We're gonna pretend to be a developer first company, um, and make it look good for, from a developer perspective.
Mm-hmm. Um, but it's, you know, I, I think that if a company's product lines and everything isn't aligned to that developer outcome, that's something that is not a. It, it, it's not going to work as well. I mean, I think the whole company needs to be aligned towards that developer mindset. And, and, and I think that's often overlooked as well.
You can't just bolt on and say, go make us popular with developers.
Laurent: So actually that's a great point. Uh, um, CEL in February, encourage cel go, first of all to talk toks and open the, the, the, the conference after. Our, our, our VP of in engineering, uh, was, uh, uh, the DevRel End community team. Like we were the first to, to do a proper talk, not just in introduction, just this is Hower is important, which of course started with Steve Bama screaming developer er to our, our, our field team because that's, that's how aligned.
The companies towards, uh, getting developers. So it is, it is, uh, prime module. Uh, we are lucky enough to be really supported by the, uh, uh, uh, exec team at Couchbase . So that's, uh, it's a pretty good position to be in. Uh, they. Um, actually funded part of the, uh, dev program, uh, because as, uh, as an se they have been hired with a specific set of skills, which is mostly targeted towards architects and, and DBAs and ops.
Uh, they realized that the more they were doing, uh, uh, sales activities, the more they required their knowledge. And so they, they, they realized that they, they needed to shift. So while the more developer friendly culture than, than used to be, Um, partly cause of product shifted there, partly because that's what you do.
Now when you sell a database. You don't have to talk too much about us because you've been attracted. Now you have to talk about the value. You have to talk about the superpowers that you give to developer with your database. That's, uh, um, vendors, uh, uh, metaphor. You know, don't talk about the flow. Just talk about throwing fireable.
That's what people want to hear. And so our essays were really used to talk about the flower. Uh, look at a product. It's amazing. Uh, now they need to talk about the rat stuff that you can do with. That product. And so that's partly why, um, uh, the de well renewable Couchbase has been actually asked and funded by, by the sales team.
Hmm, cool. A hundred percent
Matt: alignment. Well, that's good. I mean, like if Yeah, if they see the value in it because not it, it's not always the case. And I think that, especially in the open source community, sometimes that kind of like sales focus makes some people in this, that space feel. A little weird, right?
Um, I, I, I, I often pull out my hat when I talk anything sales related or marketing related to evil, super villain hat because, uh, yeah. You know, like, like, but it's, it's needed. Um, you know, it really is. I, I've been,
Laurent: uh, I've been interviewing for a couple role. I'm still, I'm still hiring by the way. I'm still hiring, uh, uh, someone in the TV region, uh, uh, Turkey meal, uh, Africa and Israel.
Uh, Patient television, if you are looking for a job. And, and during those interviews, every time I, I met someone new, I started by the red flags, which were really popular to marketing and we get to work with sales quite a lot. And that's fine. I think that's fine. And I think it's not, not something for you.
I think you, you, you wouldn't be a good fit in that team. Probably also team, you know, the DA team that don't talk to sales, but we as, as, as field people, We, we work with sales. We try to enable sales to be more friendly. That's super important.
Matt: Yeah. And I mean, especially when you're at conferences, you might be manning the booth, you might be working with, you know, uh, folks on, you know, trying to figure out, you know, new ways to, you know, present the technology in a way that is packageable and interesting to people who are looking for a solution.
So, I mean, there, there, there's a lot there and there's a lot of crossover. Um, I, I actually do a presentation where I have a slide where I have like classic. Dev, like, you know, expectations versus like the sales and marketing and they don't align. Right? Because, you know, you think about like a pure community play, it, it, you know, and it's like, you know, oh, I'm getting developers in the door where sales is like, how does that translate into actual sales?
And you need to connect those two dots. Otherwise
Laurent: they should align. Yeah, yeah, yeah. It is. We have the, the, the values, uh, uh, one of them is, is trusted advisor. And, and it's, it's one of the thing that was, uh, very interesting to me when I came back talking to the team, the trusted advisor thing, is that, you know, if, if the asset team, the sales team, the people that are incentivized to selling more, they've been, they've been told.
If it's not a good match, leave it be, it's fine with market's big enough, just go and talk to someone else. And it's a DevRel practice to, to do that. And so, I mean, there's no reason why SES couldn't dev. Well, no reason at all. We shouldn't be doing gate keep DevRel gatekeeping. And so this is just a DevRel thing.
It should, shouldn't be. Should. And and that's also why I'm saying that maybe some of those job will disappear once everybody's and understand Hower works and, and there's, you know, there's no reason why it should just be us and really, Really, really working with the, the, the, the asset team to make them more friendly.
The skillset of a DevRel
Matt: So, outta curiosity, do you think that part of the reason why that, uh, dev team specifically has arisen is classically 10 years ago, 20 years ago, whatever, from a sales perspective, the, the, the, the, the teams there needed to be more. Um, focused on those higher level people, so it wasn't a technical discussion.
Now we're reaching a point where you are selling or discussing things and you almost need a technical sale where it's like you need to understand the technology and understand how it works in order to be more effective at it. And until we get to a point where we have a generation of, you know, people who are interested in doing sales, but have that technical understanding and ability that we're going to have to have.
Kind of that, that partnership between the two.
Laurent: I think there's a skill part and the mindset part. I think the skill part is still very much needed. And, and, and of course you, you have to have the skills and because, you know, they'll see that you don't have them, so they will, you know, go and talk to someone that has them or go on.
Ask Judge g pt, maybe in the future we'll see. Um,
Matt: code me this. Yeah.
Laurent: Yeah. Probably a lot of boiler plate stuff that can be automated. That's another, uh, discussion. So I think the skill part is, is that this is, this is like, you have to have the skills. If, if, yeah, this is also why DevRel are using in some cases.
But this skill gap is being matched by, uh, TST master hiring more. Uh, development minded people. And the reason they can't do that is because we are not about self hosting Couchbase and self managing Couchbase anymore. We are selling a, a, a managed service. And so the discussion is shifting technically towards the people that build the stuff with, uh, and that's, that was a mistake.
Like we, we, we missed that. Yeah. And Mongo didn't, you need to talk to both. Mm-hmm. At the time, and now we only need to talk about to the people that build stuff. And I think it outlined sort of the mistake that we've made by, by mostly focusing on the people that was, that were, uh, uh, um, hosting the thing and managing the thing.
Part of the reason is we had a very different market in Mongo, or, or, or meta. So database we are, uh, specialized in, in critical, uh, use cases for scalability and performance. So basically if Couchbase goes down, Your ability to make money goes down so people take, you know, they, they're happy to pay a support contractor.
That's where we come from. That's the market that we had. And, and because of that, most of our faults in, in presale and post sales was making sure that those stuff doesn't go down, because that was, Hmm, because that's, that was completely linked into how people made money now selling a, a, a, a managed service, uh, database as a service.
Well, it's not the case anymore because that's, that's our problem. Like, we are the one that woke up at night. If something goes wrong, start your team anymore. Uh, so we focus on the value that's after that. And that's, that's how do you get, or what superpower do you give to, to people? And so we leave and Jason and all that stuff.
Matt: Yeah. It's making it easier for those developers, right? It's the easy button. It's how, how to get them more productive
Laurent: quicker. That's, that's what we always want to do. And, and, and that's what we've been trained to do. And that's, that's also the story of transformation and digital transformation. It's always, look, you've been internalizing this for so long and now someone does it better for you on the market for so cheap.
That doesn't make sense anymore. So you just use that and then you go the, you are above. And above. And above and above.
Matt: All right, Laurent, do you know what time it is? I have no idea. It's time for me to ask you my metrics question. Oh,
Laurent: I So I thought you were gonna ask me that earlier. I don't remember why, but I thought this was coming.
So that was, you said showing value. I think that was the thing. How do we show
Matt: value? How do we show? So from a dev rail perspective, a community perspective. One of the things that I have seen is, um, you know, everybody's like, yes, we want developers, but then when the business doesn't necessarily grow at the rate, they're like, well, how do we know that developers like this, this focus, the devel teams are actually producing value?
So I'm curious, first and foremost, what sort of measurements are you tracking? What are you looking at on a regular basis? Sure.
Laurent: I hate metrics so much. Like I think it doesn't make any sense. I think it, I think it's, I think the reason why there's a, a metric conference at each each dev conference is because it doesn't make any sense.
That's why we're talking about this every single year, every time we are that how do we do it? And it's just, the thing is as a culture, As a as, as a, as a, you know, an agent for change. Your role is to make every other metrics better. Every other team's metric better because your always to help every other team.
That's why I have the field marketing team. That's what be modern. That's why I have, uh, the, the, the Phil engineer team. That's what we do. We make other people better. But being friend, more friendly with developer, that's, that's our role is to make other team better at talking to developers. And as at building those, the regulation, so what metrics do you have while you have the same metrics and everybody else?
So you sort of have the CEO metrics, which is weird. Uh, and which is of course now it's been implemented at Couchbase because, because that wouldn't make any sense to the ball. So we do have to come up with our own metrics. So what is it? Good question. Um, so that was just my personal opinion. Uh, let's move that aside.
Uh, um, we do, uh, I guess what, what most people do, uh, you know, we look at the growth of our community and so we have several metrics. We use a wonderful platform called Common Room for that, uh, common Room, although it's like a, a community CRM sort of, but that's, that's, that's much more intelligent than that, uh, you know, in other ways to, to.
Um, of all the information we centralized about all our different, uh, uh, presence, uh, on the internet or others, uh, because you can embed your own metrics as well. So, you know, uh, stack Overflow, uh, discard our forums on discourse, uh, you know, all those, those those places. So we look at the growth of active users, uh, because that's important.
Um, that's mostly community metrics. But again, if it's your metric was to say that it's your doing or, or the global marketing team's doing. And that's why I think, you know, those metrics are really hard to do and hard to get right. It's can really know because again, your role is to make everybody else's metric better.
If the whole company's allowing to be more friendly, if you are a small business inside a bigger business, then that's your metric and that's a bit of a different story. Um, so committee wise, we use that on the dev side of thing. On the a evangelist side of things, uh, uh, anything that's powered by Couchbase is important to us.
So we keep track on what is powered by Couchbase. Uh, it's mostly open source project. We don't really know, you know, what happens behind, behind closed world. But, but we track, we track, uh, project being built and supporting Couchbase . If there's something new that's support cash makes, that's great. We're happy that, that, that's, it's easier for us to use this as a metric, uh, because we are not first on the market or we're not the default choice of people.
So we, we, we have some room to grow and we have a way to see land goes up, which might not necessarily be the case if you are, uh, Mongo bores because you are sort of the default choice. When someone, someone builds something, usually they start by this one or the other. Uh, so, so, you know, we are not a default choice.
We have to be this ourself or to wait for other people to build it. So we try to keep tab on what people do with Couchbase, and that's super important, and that's what we want in the end. In the end, we want to people to use Couchbase to do rat
Matt: shit. Yeah, no, I mean, that user growth metric is a really important one, right?
So the number of actual users of your product where it's being deployed, I, I think that's a great metric for a lot of people.
Laurent: But the thing is, we are not assessed, right? I mean, Now we are, we use database and service, but, but, but we also still a software vendor and it's, and it's really hard to know. And as a community edition, of course there's an enterprise edition because, you know, those bad cloud people that made all the database go somewhat not open source anymore.
Um, so we, you know, we open core, just like Fred is just like Mongo, just like elastic, just like all those, those databases that choose the, uh, uh, business server license. Um, so we don't really know everything. But we have SDKs, people use them, people, we stuff with them. So that's what we are looking for.
Matt: Okay. Yeah, I mean that's, I think that user growth is something that a lot of people are looking for. I talk to a lot of venture capitalists as well, so for startups, they're say, you know, Hey, what sort of actual users, what sort of production users are you seeing? And I think that that goes a long way as well to approving the value of the team.
Laurent: I, I think it really depends on the business, right? If you are, assess for sure, like if you are, if you are pure, pure sales player, that makes complete sense. If you are infrastructure as a service layer. That is very sticky and, you know, sticky choices. Uh, I like to see what people build more than the number of, of, of, uh, new users we have on the platform or the number of cluster we have.
Because this is the test cluster, is it? Yeah, like there's, there's many thing that I think everything's interesting. We choose to focus on, on, uh, what people build. Because, because as evangelists, that's where we have the most control over somewhat. Okay. So that's what we, that's what we're going for.
Rapid fire questions
Matt: Okay, so now we have reached what I call rapid fire question time.
So, so Laura, this is to get to know you a little bit better. Okay? I, I have a random sampling of 173 questions that I'm gonna ask you and got 10 minutes to do it. Uh, is it a yes or
Laurent: no question?
Matt: No, no, I, to be honest, to be fair, I don't think I've ever gotten beyond 11 of the questions. So, um, you know, that's okay.
Um, you know, so I, I'm curious, uh, what sort of laptop are you using right now?
Laurent: Oh, so as a ThinkPad X one carbon, uh, my Google X one carbon, I have, uh, my old one just right there as well. Uh, I've been using X one carbon for the, for, for the moment they existed.
Matt: Ah, awesome. Um, what are, are you running, um, a Linux distribution on it or are you running Windows?
What are you running on? Oh, you wish I'm, I work
Laurent: in a public publicly traded company. Uh, uh, security is important, so of course, uh, I've been, uh, told to use Windows and I cannot have trouble booth, so I have windows. Okay.
Matt: And so, um, do you have, what was the first Linux distribution you've ever used, like in the past?
Laurent: um, So that's a long time ago. Uh, uh, uh, being French Montre was a thing. Uh, Maverick was a red, a Red Hat fork, uh, and it, it's been renamed to Mount River afterwards. Uh, so I've been between, uh, Montre and, uh, at the time, coral. Wardrobe. They had a Corollas, uh, uh, uh, that worked pretty well. I was amazed. I was, I was like 13 or 14 and, oh God, the, like, the, the, the windows showing function works and, and like we are in 1998.
That was, that was huge at the time. Uh, and then, uh, and then, uh, I went to, uh, tu like everybody else, and then Arch, and now I'm, uh, endeavor, which is an, an opinion opinionated Arch Clinics distribution, uh, that I have on my biggest machine outside. Uh, but, um, yeah, uh, NS is amazing. I've been using a lot of Ns, uh, on the side as well.
Uh, but arch
Matt: Awesome. Awesome. And if I was to look at the back of your laptop, what stickers are you rocking right now? What, what's that? What's on there? Uh,
You get the, you get the old version. Okay, let's look at the old
Laurent: version. But the new one is very similar, right? So, uh, we have what this used to be Clever cloud, uh, my from a company is rust. Ah, yeah. This gi uh, uh, clever cloud. Clever cloud. Uh, what do you have? This is Reddis. This is why is the most amazing VPN technology you should use.
Okay. This is Toto Totoro. Love to Torah, uh, as well. Okay. Uh, . Uh, this is Firefox. Uh, like the Cool Make Firefox Mecca. Oh, yeah. Uh, uh, more Clever Cloud. And this is my brewery. Uh, what is it? It's here. My brewery
Matt: Que Okay. And, and so at, at, at your brewery, what, what, what kind of beer do you generally brew? Is it all kinds or is it a specific, which
Laurent: change recipe all the time because it's, if not, it's boring.
And also we are a small, small, small, uh, uh, brewery, so we wanna resell to the same people. They want to, you know, there's beer. Nerd's everywhere. Now there's micro, so you wanna be, you wanna offer some, some choices. So we change all the time. The most common traits that they share is usually very dry. We don't like sugar and we don't like alcohol.
So it's, uh, pretty, usually pretty easy to drink only in 75 cent liters or, uh, one that five liter because we like to share.
Matt: Okay. And is there a weird like, Flavor or, you know, a weird kind of like style that you tried, like one that you're like, Ooh, I, I thought this might be better than it was. No. Oh,
Laurent: that I tried personally?
Yes. Sure. Uh, uh, because micro broy do do so many stupid things these days. It's like a race to what's the most triple dry half or double dry whatever, or cryo hop or that like said the, uh, the race to the most happy beer. And that makes me sad. Uh, so I thought I was gonna, you know, like it like everybody else.
And then, no, I cannot. Drink, uh, IPAs anymore. Cause it's, it just, it's too much.
Matt: Mm. Okay. And so if I was going to, you know, sit down with you after a conference talk and we were gonna have a drink, what would you order? What, what, what would be the drink of choice? So
Laurent: last time at Devox uk, uh, we had a local beer on the booth from, uh, the Colonel Brewery.
The colonel is a local London brewery, and, uh, and it was the table beer. Uh, so it's like a, a session, uh, Uh, very light, yes. 3% of alcohol. Uh, uh, very fresh, very, very. Drinkable. Mm-hmm.
Matt: Okay. I'm a stout person myself, so I like the dark. Like that's just me. I'm, I'm a dark, dark beer.
Laurent: I'm of a porter than stout, I think.
So that's interesting. I think people go through IPA and then, and then they, they, they, they, they go there or there. This is Stout and Porter and dark beer. And this is, uh, farmhouse, uh, season. Um, and all those, those weird, uh, uh, uh, beer. And in France right now, there's a huge broom in what we call vier, which is on VA and, and vier.
So wine and beer. And so basically it's beer that's, uh, starting to ferment over, uh, uh, wine. So it's sort of weird
Matt: mix. Hmm. I've never heard of it. Uh, we'll have to try it. Um, sometime it, it's a, that, that, that, it sounds odd, but I'm willing to try anything. It's weird.
Laurent: Yeah. It's really weird. Yeah. It, it, it's really love by the people.
I love Nashville wine as well. And I'm a big Nashville Wine. Uh, uh, uh, love us. So, Sort of my thing. All right. I get it's weird. Ah,
Matt: yeah. Yeah. So, um, I always like to ask this question because this is an interesting question. It, it dives into the psyche of everyone that I ask this, and I'm, I'm spending way too much time introducing this question.
Um, but the question is, at a conference you're gonna go up and they say, what music do you want to play? As you walk up to stage, what's the song that you choose to walk to stage on to give your conference talk? It's your walkup music, it's your introduction.
Laurent: Um, I never really thought about this. Uh, so I'm gonna tell you what happened at Couchbase Connect in, uh, 19, in 2017, I think 16 it was, uh, Def Bank, uh, okay.
France. So dbu, okay. Uh, around the world. Around the world was the biggest single, first single, uh, so that would be nice.
Matt: Yeah, and I ask that to a lot of different people, and I'm gonna put together a playlist of everyone's like choices. Oh, that'd be fun. Very eclectic mix of different types of people and walkup music.
Laurent: It's really what I want people to, to listen to before I show up and not what I listen to usually. Cause what I listen to usually is heavier and, and, and,
Matt: and, yeah. Oh, what, well, what do you listen to usually?
Laurent: Metal, like lot, lot of these different, different variations of metal. Uh, uh, I, I didn't really like the latest metallic album, but that's, that's not gonna surprise It wasn't that good.
It wasn't, unfortunately it wasn't that great. Uh, mastered on, uh, stone a lot. Uh um, so Master's quite nice. Um, I Al Alto Bridge in the, in the more published style of things. Uh, I listen to lot of grunge music. I listened to Ali Chain and Song Island quite a lot. Okay. Old school there. Yeah. Yeah. Old school.
Old school. Grunge is great. Uh, in most recent bands. Uh, not metal. Um, highly suspect. It's pretty good. Oh yeah, I like that. Yeah. Nice. Nice make. And then, um, yeah, uh, in Modern Metal, I'm not a big fan of, uh, the, the new. The YouTube bands like, uh, uh, Pia is not pretty my thing. Um, so yeah. Chance, A bit of chance per fury.
I like per fury a lot.
Matt: Yeah. So I, I personally, I, I, I'm, um, I like five figure death punch disturbed, you know, so I, I, I like, you know, the metal scene as well, just maybe a little different, but, uh, um, always great. Very, very white. Yeah,
Laurent: very white. So many different metal. Yeah.
Matt: All right. Well Laura, I wanna thank you for coming on and chatting with us today.
I really do appreciate it. This has been great. Hopefully this has been great for you. Um, and, um, wanna let everyone know, uh, to like, subscribe this, but Lauren, thanks bunch. Thanks
Laurent: Rodney. Pleasure to be here. Uh, reading commission as well. So, so thanks for the invitation.
Matt: All right, well everyone, don't forget to like and subscribe and follow us, and if you do have questions for either myself or Lauren, feel free to put them in the comments.
Absolutely. Until next time, we'll see you later. Cheers.