Archive for April, 2009

Engine Yard’s in great hands, and I’ve done what I wanted to do

I’ve thought about this a lot on my 4 weeks off. Engine Yard is in great hands and it’s time for me to try something new – something “scrappy”.

I truly believe that EY has a great exec team and a great overall team from top to bottom, and it’s going to have an excellent 2009, 2010, and beyond.

Although I won’t be in the office, I’ll remain attached thru many great friendships. It’s really been a very rewarding journey!

In bullet points…

* I’m leaving Engine Yard, effective May 1st.

* I’ve taken Engine Yard through the stage I like most and where I add the most value: the very early years, up to 70+ employees, the first 400+ customers, the days when I personally signed for equipment leases and Amex cards – the scrappy years of proving the market.

* Engine Yard is beyond scrappy now. The market is maturing and Engine Yard has a very strong executive team and some of the best investors in the world. Engine Yard will go a long way in the next few years – I’m confident of that!

* I’m going to revive Quality Humans, Inc. QHI acted as an incubator for Engine Yard and will play a similar role as I look at several opportunities.

* My experience at Engine Yard has been absolutely great! I’ve learned a lot and really enjoyed working with everyone. In no particular order, thanks to everyone I regularly interacted with over the past few years: Michelle, Riki, Corey, Ezra, Jayson, Tom, Don, Taylor, Leah, JohnH, Chris, Nick, Ben, Michael, JohnD, Marcy, Vivek, Randall, Brad, Greg, Shawn, Sunil, Nailia, Jamie, Loren, Evan, Brian, Yehuda, Joe, Ed, TimCS, Wayne, Dawn, Jash, Ronelly, Lee, Peter, Mitch, Pete, Matt, Alan, Rob, Melissa, April, Andy. (Sorry if I forgot anyone.) And of course, thanks to everyone who works hard to build Engine Yard whom I may not have known very closely – your work late at night in some home office somewhere to help our customers and/or build software is just fantastic!

* I remain a friend of Engine Yard and a shareholder. I hope to speak of Engine Yard in future years as we speak today of Apple, eBay, and Amazon. It’s amazing to think that those last two were literally smaller than Engine Yard roughly 10 years ago! Despite the current setbacks, our economic system really is the best designed so far!

* I’m going to continue my indoor rock climbing. If you’ve thought about trying it, you should – it’s fun, social, and good exercise! Go with a few friends and 2-3 hours pass like nothing.

Good luck to everyone! Have fun in Vegas! I may pop in – haven’t decided, yet.

If you’d like to contact me, my personal email is: lancewalley@g*** (hint: huge search company’s mail service). I’m also on Twitter at @lancewalley.

Fun Stuff & Business History



I co-founded Parallax in 1987 with my best friend. We were both fresh out of high school. We grew from a bedroom operation to a $3M/yr business.

I learned a TON at Parallax! We strugged for several years to find a market we fit, but once we did, were were able to "pivot" (today's term!) into that market and then execute on manufacturing, marketing, and distribution. We didn't even know the term "VC", so we *had* to make money! We took $20K from friends & family and had day jobs to bootstrap those early years.

As I left Parallax in Winter 1996, Radio Shack started carrying our BASIC Stamp computer.

I spent a few years trying to make money in the mobile-messaging space. Unfortunately, I learned lessons about how to spend all of my cash chasing a market that simply was not yet developed enough. I wish I had known about VC :-)! I closed up shop and put up a notice saying "goodbye" to my customers.

Which led to a San Francisco VC-funded startup in 1998. They were in the mobile-messaging space and were on the normal VC route as everyone else back then. Unfortunately, it didn't end pretty, but my friends and I learned a lot through the CEO, who was nice enough to tell us how things worked with his Board, the investors, etc.

I got laid off along with most other tech folks in SF in 2000. What does one do at a time like that? Start Quality Humans, Inc. as a way to offer my programming services to clients. QHI grew to employ 8 guys working around the USA.

My friend and QHI consultant, Tom Mornini, saw Ruby on Rails coming over the horizon, so we started offering Rails consulting. Within a few months, Tom noticed that Rails clients didn't want to worry about details; they just wanted to deploy their apps.

That led me to co-found Engine Yard in 2006 with Tom, Ezra Zygmuntowicz, and Jayson Vantuyl. We built a great business and then took VC after a year from Amazon, Benchmark, New Enterprise Associates, and others. I served as CEO until Jan, 2009, when we started building an executive team who can take EY up a few more notches.

I reflected on major pain points we experienced at EY, and recurring billing was one of them. That led me to Chargify.

In Chargify, I joined great folks from Grasshopper. It's been very cool working with the team as we grow Chargify in 2011.