Executive Q&A with Chet Kapoor, Chairman and CEO, DataStax

DataStax is the company behind the cloud-native NoSQL (no structure query language) database built on Apache Cassandra database management system

DataStax is the real-time data company, helping enterprises mobilise real-time data and quickly build the smart, high-scale applications required to become data-driven businesses. 

Chet Kapoor is Chairman and CEO and a proven leader and innovator in the tech industry with more than 20 years in leadership at innovative software and cloud companies, including Google, IBM, BEA Systems, WebMethods, and NeXT.

As Chairman and CEO of Apigee, he has led company-wide initiatives to build Apigee into a leading technology provider for digital business. Google (Apigee) is the cross-cloud API management platform that operates in a multi- and hybrid-cloud world. Chet successfully took Apigee public before the company was acquired by Google in 2016.

Kapoor joins Technology Magazine to discuss the Santa Clara, California-based DataStax and his own story there so far.

Can you tell us about your role and responsibilities?

Chairman and CEO. My role is to operate at all levels, inspire teams, and move the human heart.

What is your point of difference as a business?

DataStax powers the data that matters most, delivering in-the-moment customer experiences, immediate intelligence and fuels machine learning. We do it by providing an open data stack that just works.

Our open stack for real-time data applications is built on the world's most powerful and scalable open source database and streaming technologies that industry leaders like Capital One, ESL Gaming, Verizon and many others rely on to activate their data. Over the past two years, the DataStax team focused on making this technology easy and accessible for every developer so that they can build the applications that matter in our lives now and for years to come.

We deliver an open stack that unifies both data at rest and in motion, enabling enterprises and developers to mobilise all real-time data and build smarter applications, faster. This uses developer-ready tools, APIs, and a pay-as-you-go serverless architecture and scale without limits on an open, cloud-native architecture 

What technology are you most looking forward to using more of?

I - like every consumer in the world - love real-time apps that meet me at the speed of life.  When I order Starbucks from my mobile app, I expect to know in advance if my order is in stock and when it will be ready. When I search for a hotel on Priceline, I expect that the deals suggested to me will match my needs and preferences, while saving me money. 

These are examples of real-time data at work, powering instant digital experiences. We enable every business to harness real-time data and deliver these immediate, highly personalised experiences to customers.

What has been your career highlight prior to your current role?

The whole journey has been a highlight—from starting out at Steve Jobs’ company NeXT, to creating an API industry with Apigee, to spending time at Google. I recently interviewed Steve Wozniak for our internal speaker series. That brought everything full circle for me. 

One impactful experience was my time as CEO of Gluecode. This is where I really became passionate about open source communities. It was awesome to see people from diverse geographies and different companies coming together. That process of collective invention and creation is powerful, and it’s a huge part of DataStax today.

What has been your highlight in your current role?

Serving customers. There is nothing better than seeing the products you deliver help developers change the trajectory of the enterprises they work for. To sum it up, it’s about really smart people, solving hard problems while having fun. That is why I am excited to get up and go to work every day.

What is your leadership style?

Three words: Believe, Inspire, Execute. You first have to believe —believe in the mission, believe in the people, and then inspire them to change the world. Then it’s about putting one foot in front of the other and executing like crazy.

I have always drawn inspiration from a quote by Warren Bennis and James O’Toole who said, “Real leaders, in a phrase, move the human heart.” The best leaders inspire people to execute by moving their hearts and aligning them to something that is far bigger than their job. It’s about being on a mission.

What exciting plans do you have coming up as an organisation?

We plan to keep partnering with enterprises and developers because when we activate data in real time, customers and companies get smarter together. 

The good news is that we know how to help our customers get there. We’re excited to keep delivering on our NoSQL database that’s optimised for customer context and instant access. Astra DB already helps many enterprises solve for complexity and get to market fast at 50% of the cost.

Our best-of-breed streaming and messaging platform makes customer behaviours and actions visible to all of your applications. Astra Streaming connects analytics and storage together to make this happen. And we have an API layer that lets developers build with freedom of choice. With Stargate, developers can build apps with the APIs they love and a limitless data stack that just works.

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