Jason Hoffman of Joyent, a San Francisco-based cloud computing company, announced he was leaving the game in September 2013. As one of the pioneers of cloud computing, he’d co-founded the company ten years ago.
But just as cloud computing is going mainstream, with everyone from startups to the Department of Defense ditching hard copies for the cloud, Hoffman has had enough. He’s not quite ready to give up all the reins in an industry and movement that he helped bring to life, however.
Hoffman will continue to serve as one of the company’s advisors — but what’s next on his plate?
“I’m undecided,” Hoffman told WIRED, but that might be a good thing. Burnout happens to everyone. Hoffman’s choices include taking a position at a “large company,” getting involved in another startup, or managing his own startup from scratch all over again.
He’s considering all possibilities. For such a legend, the tech world truly is his oyster.
The list of cloud companies doesn’t extend much beyond Google Drive for many folks, and Joyent has certainly labored under the monopolization of firms like Amazon and Rackspace. When it comes to mindshare, Joyent and companies like it are being pushed to the wayside.
However, just because Hoffman’s company doesn’t have the promotional backing doesn’t mean it’s second class. In fact, the software and services offered at Joyent still surpass that of some of the bigger names — and Hoffman isn’t afraid to speak up about that.
“It’s all pretty stunning,” he says about the massive changes over the pass decade. In the beginning, Joyent was a software sold as a service company. It also encompassed TextDrive, which was a complementary web-hosting company.
Simultaneously, Hoffman was a cancer pathologist, which certainly kept his plate full. When his mother was diagnosed with breast cancer, Hoffman switched his priorities to taking care of her. He used his own company’s infrastructure to watch the data involved with her drug usage, depending on the technology he helped build to care for his mother.
Do as I do
Basically, Hoffman was using “big data” and sorting it in “the cloud” long before those buzzwords became, well, buzzwords. It was clear that not only did he believe in what he was doing, he also thought it was the best way to go about it.
When TextDrive and Joyent merged, the result blossomed into a holistic cloud computing business. Well before Amazon cloud storage came into the picture, Joyent was dishing up massive storage and processing service.
There’s seemingly no end to Hoffman’s talents, which include pinpointing tech trends before anybody else and a penchant for securing the best industry talent. He oversaw the luring of Oracle engineers to the team in 2010, with an offer no one could refuse: almost complete freedom to experiment, innovate, and make things better.
Bryan Cantrill took up the offer, and with this Sun prodigy on board, Node.js was ready to launch later that same year.
What can be learned
Hoffman says he looks for technology that’s easy to use, unique, and has no barriers — pretty much what the average consumer is looking for. However, Joyent isn’t the only company with something more to offer apart from the giants. While the firm’s been using SmartOS for years, so have a number of other small groups.
No matter where he goes next, Hoffman has left a legacy at Joyent, and — as a key advisor — the business and others like it is bound to keep moving forward. Innovation doesn’t require the biggest budget or the biggest name. It’s all about the right leadership and allowing the best in the field to do what they do.