Dear Joe: My Next Job Interview Is...

The holidays are over, and some of my best industry sources are now finalizing career moves or settling into new jobs. On Wednesday I heard from three callers -- two helped to build wildly successful SMB IT companies, and one built a Fortune 100 cloud platform. So where are they heading, and what lessons can other SMB IT veterans cull from these career changers? 

Let's start with some generic info to protect the innocent...

1. Career mover No. 1 is a cloud storage & backup veteran who is going to change the social media market. Yes, we know Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn are entrenched. And "sharing" or "socializing" insights is getting pretty darn formulaic (translation: boring). But what if somebody could change the formula -- shifting the conversation from individual to individual (I2I) up to a true business to business (B2B) company-wide social engagement? It's happening. The details are out but I'm getting a deeper dive briefing to provide my usual -- or perhaps, unusual -- spin to the situation.

2. Career mover No. 2 is an open source and IT management community veteran. His big inflection point:

  • Jump to an SMB IT company and join a dozen other people or so to try and dominate a specific region. And maybe bundle up a bunch of SMB IT back office services for peer SMBs across the country.
  • Or jump to a venture-backed Big Data startup to stretch his community skills from SMB IT toward analytics and more. 

His decision and associated career opportunities remain in flux.

3. Career mover No. 3 is the former EVP at a Fortune 100 company, where he led one of the world's most ambitious cloud efforts. Now, he's a venture capitalist focused on data analytics and software for cloud infrastructure.

Different Folks, Same Themes

These three executives are all men, but they come from completely different walks of life and worked in different IT segments to date. Even so, they shared some common stories with me:

  • The SMB IT scene, in a some segments, is growing stale. It's great to work in successful IT communities that are still growing, but the innovator's dilemma is settling in: Same conferences, same faces, same messaging, same customer market share wars... Something's gotta give. 

  • The allure of joining a very small business (10 or fewer people) to move fast and have an impact is strong. That includes joining a lifestyle business -- as long as the decision-making is fast.
  • IPO isn't always the goal. Quite a few folks spent the past decade pursuing initial public offering dreams. Now, they want their lives back.
  • IT management has shifted from things (servers, desktops, even smartphones etc.) to data. And even now, big data is shifting to deep data. The idea is to gather far higher quality data insights from fewer, more valuable streams.
  • SMB IT is bad at big data. Somebody needs to solve that.
  • If you have deep pockets and hands-on experience building a cloud (working with a range of emerging technologies) then the VC world may come calling.

The point of this blog: Career movers are breaking away from their familiar, comfortable settings. Some folks are tired of jumping from IT management company to the next, or from one cloud storage vendor to the next. But even when they jump into new markets, their old skills -- cloud, community, scrappy team management -- continue to treat them well.

I only have one request as these career moves continue: Will somebody please -- pretty please? -- go "on the record" with me about the shifts I've mentioned above? I assume I'll get my wish once a few more folks sign on the dotted line with their latest employers.

Happy hunting. 

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