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***l.com (hint: huge search company’s mail service). I’m also on Twitter at @lancewalley.

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

  1. 1 Vivek Sharma April 26, 2009 at 7:29 PM

    Lance, a big thanks for building Engine Yard up to where it is today! It’s not easy to build a company with such a great brand reputation and customers who are truly passionate about us. You and Tom have done a terrific job so far and we owe you our gratitude.

    We’ll make sure our customers stay delighted and our shareholders are rewarded for getting behind the huge vision that lies ahead.

  2. 3 Joe Arnold April 26, 2009 at 10:36 PM

    Thanks, Lance, for all that you’ve done for Engine Yard. We’re well on our way towards reinventing Rails deployment… again. Thanks for having trust in the team. It shows that you have great faith in our ability to deliver world-class products and services for our customers. We’ll serve you well!

    -Joe Arnold

    • 4 Lance April 27, 2009 at 2:09 AM

      @Joe, you came along right when we really needed someone in your position, and all the way from SF to India and back to SF. Cool to have worked with you.

  3. 5 greg nokes April 26, 2009 at 11:43 PM


    Happy/Sad moment. It’s been a wild year, and thanks for giving me the chance to prove myself. It will not be the same with out you, but I am sure you’ll be on to do more great things.

    Good luck!

  4. 7 Reuven Cohen, Founder, Enomaly Inc April 26, 2009 at 11:43 PM

    Looking forward to seeing what you do next. Best of luck!

  5. 8 Brian Ford April 27, 2009 at 12:15 AM

    Best of luck, Lance. Engine Yard, the Rails and the Ruby community owe you a big debt of gratitude. Personally, I want to thank you for believing that we can make Ruby a world-class platform. I expect to continue to hear from you about how we can make programming better by improving Rubinius. And for all the books out there and yammering on about Agile development, that revolution hasn’t hit the Enterprise yet. I don’t know what your plans are for QHI, but I’ll put that bug in your ear.

    I still hope to make it down to the Bay area with my bike so don’t forget about that ride.

    • 9 Lance April 27, 2009 at 1:59 AM

      @Brian, we definitely need to ride mcycles sometime. Let me know if you bring your SV down here. We have a few other mcyclists at EY, too.

  6. 10 Nick French April 27, 2009 at 1:34 AM

    Lance, it’s been a real pleasure working with you and I’ll be sorry not to see you around the office or grab coffee at one of your favorite joints. You guys have done a truly amazing job building Engine Yard from a small group of people to what it is today. Thanks for the opportunity and guidance, and best of luck in your future endeavors!

    • 11 Lance April 27, 2009 at 2:01 AM

      @Nick, maybe we can arrange to have a pic of me somewhere in the office :-). And we can still get coffee, but it will require a little more planning – at least a tweet or something about getting coffee.

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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.


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