Erica Brescia: the future of Cloud, Wasm, and Open Source

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  • examples

    TensorFlow examples (by tensorflow)

    EB Sure. I mean, you know, I think there's so many different ways to think about open source, right? Like, at its core, it really is a licensing model. But more important to me is really a collaboration model. And then an understanding about how a community of people is going to come together and work. And, you know, especially during my time at GitHub, I talked a lot about how open source is really an interconnected and interdependent set of communities, which I think makes it just a very cool and unique ecosystem to be a part of. I've given some talks in the past where I talked about, like, this one commit in a TensorFlow project ended up having an impact on, you know, 1000s of projects that all depend on TensorFlow. And, in turn, influences developers that are building on all of these other projects. And so, to me, it's a vibrant, and really texturally rich fabric of people coming together to build really cool things that really do truly change the world that we live in today, right? Open source and everything, everything we touch, you know, our cars, to medical devices, to our phones. And yeah, it's really remarkable how far the community has come. And I feel really fortunate to get to be a really small part of it.

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    Power Real-Time Data Analytics at Scale. Get real-time insights from all types of time series data with InfluxDB. Ingest, query, and analyze billions of data points in real-time with unbounded cardinality.

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  • MySQL

    MySQL Server, the world's most popular open source database, and MySQL Cluster, a real-time, open source transactional database.

    EB Yeah, there you go! We can be old together. So yeah, I just started going to like LAMP stack meetups and things like that in San Francisco. And, you know, we went on, for those of you who don't know, we started a company called Bitrock, and then we started Bitnami. And our goal really, and we discovered this while at Bitrock, and it kind of gave birth to Bitnami, was to make it easier for people to actually use open source software, like we realize that, at the time, you didn't have packaged open source software, it was just like, code, right? And you had to be able to deploy everything yourself. And, back in those days, kind of MySQL and Jaspersoft and Pentaho, and all of these companies were getting started that we're building on open source, but like, the people who might want to use SugarCRM software weren't developers, they didn't have a way to install it. And so what we did was, we packaged up, you know, built installers, this was before VMs, or containers, and cloud images and everything. We built installers that made it really easy for people to set up a LAMP development environment on their, on their laptop, right. And what we saw was, you know, even developers who could set up everything themselves didn't really want to, and these installers got really popular. And so, you know, I mentioned that story, because I think it's interesting to think about, like different ways that you can contribute, right, the way that I ended up contributing was supporting a company and building a team that was doing the work to bring open source to people. Because I contributed in the ways that I did to build the company, we got to hire a ton of developers and build really cool things, a lot of which were done in open source, and also make open source more accessible. And what I found was like, the community, and it's hard to say the community, right, because there's not one open source community, there's a ton of open source communities, and they all have different cultures and values and things like that. But at least in the places where I got involved in the meetups I went to in the early like OSCON, and the early open source conferences, like, I really never felt judged for not being a developer, I found people to be really welcoming and patient with like, me trying to understand, you know, what a reverse proxy is, or whatever it was back in the day. And like, Yeah, I think, you know, to answer your question about how to get started, like, there's so many things you can do from being helpful in support forums on, you know, GitHub or on places like Stack Overflow, to contributing to documentation. Like, I think docs teams don't get enough love and support and having great Docs is one of the most important things that an open source project needs to thrive. And you don't always have to be technical to write the Docs. Right? You can help run events. I think you can, you know, interview interesting people who aren't developers, like, there's so many different ways that you can get involved in, I think, you know, to folks who maybe have a little imposter’s syndrome, it's like, honestly, what do you really have to lose? Like, people are genuinely, generally pretty nice. Like, just, you know, pick up a pen and do something and ask questions, ask thoughtful questions, right, like, try to do your homework first. But um, yeah, there's really nothing ultimately, I think to be afraid of.

  • Mono

    Mono open source ECMA CLI, C# and .NET implementation.

    EB Whoa, wow, I could talk about this for a long time. So maybe I'll share a little bit of my own personal history. And for those who don't know me, I am not an engineer. Sadly, I've never been a developer. I actually studied Investment Finance in college. And I found open source in 2004, actually Wired published an article on Linus Torvalds, and Linux and kind of the rise of Linux. And I found it absolutely fascinating. And I was talking to a friend in San Francisco about it, who introduced me to a guy named Daniel Lopez, who became my co-founder. And Daniel was a very early member of the Apache Software community. He worked on Mono for those of you who remember it, and, you know, he was like this brilliant technical guy who obviously really understood open source and what was happening and how to build, and he didn't have an operational or sales background or like, hadn't built big teams before anything like that. And I had, and so he kind of invited me to start working with him, really, and I started by doing a few things. I remember I went and read all the open source licenses. And I was like taking notes for myself to understand how Apache compared to MIT compared to GPL. All these things just to try to understand the mechanics of that. And then, like, I just went on lots of forums and things to learn what people were talking about. This is kind of the days of the LAMP stack. But this all makes me feel so old. It goes back a long time.

  • vercel

    Develop. Preview. Ship.

    EB Yeah, it's early days, but it's not that early days, right? I mean, Wasm came out, like, I don't know, a few years ago, it does feel like the community is starting to gain momentum. It is absolutely on my radar. And, you know, I'm interested in meeting everybody building in this space. And like, there's lots of cool stuff, our friends at Fermyon or Suborbital or Second State or Profian, right? Like, yeah, there's a lot of really interesting things being built. And I think, and again, I'm not an engineer, I'm not going to go super deep into the merits of Wasm, but I'll say a few things. First, you know, everybody's eyes are on Security right now. And just because of WebAssembly, like inherent isolation and security properties, I think there are a lot of interesting applications there. And I think, you know, that's some of what, Connor is working on at Suborbital and I know, like Shopify has done a bunch of cool work to let you build, like, make Shopify kind of more extensible for their customers. I think the other big thing is this trend of apps moving to the edge, right? It's like edge and IoT, when you look at companies like Netlify, and Vercel, and what they're doing to make it easier, and how apps are like shifting data right out to the edge, I think Wasm is just so much more performant and efficient. And then, you know, even compared to containers, right? And so I think there's going to be a lot of interesting things that are built that take advantage of the inherent, like performance capabilities of Wasm. And then there's the third piece, which is just this kind of ability to translate and move different apps written in different languages, right? And I know, like for Confidential Computing, for example, for what you guys are working on at Profian, there's some really interesting applications there, too. So yeah, I think it's pretty obvious it is very much on my radar, it was one of my core areas of exploration and coming into Redpoint was trying to understand what's happening in the ecosystem. You know, to your point about timing, it does still feel like we're several years away from like, really mainstream adoption. And I think there's a lot of work that needs to be done to just add better language support to Wasm. Like, my understanding is right now, you really have to understand a lot about how Wasm works and like, build with that in mind to have it work really well. And I think, you know, longer term that needs to go away. But look, I mean, that's always the case, in the early days of a new technology. And I have been telling folks, it kind of feels like the early days of Kubernetes. To me, you know, there's some really smart people working on very cool things. And there's a lot of energy and momentum. And I'm firmly of the belief that it's going to change the way that software is built. And there's going to be some really big companies built as well, I'm still figuring out which ones those will be.

  • kubernetes

    Production-Grade Container Scheduling and Management

    EB Yeah, it's early days, but it's not that early days, right? I mean, Wasm came out, like, I don't know, a few years ago, it does feel like the community is starting to gain momentum. It is absolutely on my radar. And, you know, I'm interested in meeting everybody building in this space. And like, there's lots of cool stuff, our friends at Fermyon or Suborbital or Second State or Profian, right? Like, yeah, there's a lot of really interesting things being built. And I think, and again, I'm not an engineer, I'm not going to go super deep into the merits of Wasm, but I'll say a few things. First, you know, everybody's eyes are on Security right now. And just because of WebAssembly, like inherent isolation and security properties, I think there are a lot of interesting applications there. And I think, you know, that's some of what, Connor is working on at Suborbital and I know, like Shopify has done a bunch of cool work to let you build, like, make Shopify kind of more extensible for their customers. I think the other big thing is this trend of apps moving to the edge, right? It's like edge and IoT, when you look at companies like Netlify, and Vercel, and what they're doing to make it easier, and how apps are like shifting data right out to the edge, I think Wasm is just so much more performant and efficient. And then, you know, even compared to containers, right? And so I think there's going to be a lot of interesting things that are built that take advantage of the inherent, like performance capabilities of Wasm. And then there's the third piece, which is just this kind of ability to translate and move different apps written in different languages, right? And I know, like for Confidential Computing, for example, for what you guys are working on at Profian, there's some really interesting applications there, too. So yeah, I think it's pretty obvious it is very much on my radar, it was one of my core areas of exploration and coming into Redpoint was trying to understand what's happening in the ecosystem. You know, to your point about timing, it does still feel like we're several years away from like, really mainstream adoption. And I think there's a lot of work that needs to be done to just add better language support to Wasm. Like, my understanding is right now, you really have to understand a lot about how Wasm works and like, build with that in mind to have it work really well. And I think, you know, longer term that needs to go away. But look, I mean, that's always the case, in the early days of a new technology. And I have been telling folks, it kind of feels like the early days of Kubernetes. To me, you know, there's some really smart people working on very cool things. And there's a lot of energy and momentum. And I'm firmly of the belief that it's going to change the way that software is built. And there's going to be some really big companies built as well, I'm still figuring out which ones those will be.

  • Puts Debuggerer

    Ruby library for improved puts debugging, automatically displaying bonus useful information such as source line number and source code.

    NV Wonderful. So let me introduce you formally. So Erica Brescia is the managing director at Redpoint Ventures. She's the former CEO of GitHub, and she was also the co-founder of Bitnami. So let me start off with the first question, probably everybody starts with this question: so, what's open source to you? How did you get started? And why do you feel open source is important?

  • dagger

    An engine to run your pipelines in containers (by dagger)

    EB Yeah, that's a great question. Right? Like, I remember when people were complaining about the complexity of the AWS console. And now like, there's so many bigger problems than that, you know, especially with the rise of like containers and Kubernetes, it let us do a lot more interesting things, and serverless, and all these, you know, new ways of building and deploying software. But it also just brought unbelievable complexity to, like developer’s development pipelines. And I think it's definitely the case that DevOps teams in particular are just under like, unprecedented and unbelievable workload, right? Whether you're, like working in a company or trying to do something to support an open source project. And it's just a lot, right. And there's like, never enough people. And I know hiring DevOps engineers is the number one recruiting problem of companies, tech companies today, if there's some actual report that shares the numbers on that, but like, there just aren't enough people that know how to do this. And the ones that know, are totally overwhelmed. And so what I see in terms of trends, and I've actually, we just announced one of my investments earlier this week, Dagger, but you'll see this trend, I think, like really, really accelerating is platforms that simplify the complexity, right, and just make life easier for people who are trying to deploy to the cloud. You know, another investment I did after joining Redpoint is called Xata. And it's kind of like Airtable meets a real data layer, for folks to build these super powerful apps. But without having to do all the operational stuff. There's another investment I've made that hasn't been announced yet that is also like, again, bringing a platform to developers, it makes it considerably easier to like deploy and manage apps in the cloud. And then you have some really cool projects like Dagger, which I think is doing really interesting things to make it easier to manage things that you're deploying. So I think that trend will continue. And I think there's some really significant businesses to be built in that space that just, like, abstract away a lot of this complexity, because it doesn't really add value, right? It's like you have to do it to have a highly performant globally scalable web app. But like, you know, people right now are reinventing the wheel every single time they're building these pipelines. And then it's like, you know, you don't have real developer tools like CI/CD pipelines, like you do for building software. And the time has come for that to change. So I mean, clearly, I'm biased, right? I've invested significant amounts of money into some of these technologies. And I'm looking at a lot of others, but I'm, you know, I'm putting my money where my mouth is too, as another way of looking at it. Like, I think this is a big problem that we as an ecosystem need to solve, because there just aren't enough people to do the work. And it's not making the best use of some people's talents today. So yeah.

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    SaaSHub - Software Alternatives and Reviews. SaaSHub helps you find the best software and product alternatives

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  • charts

    Bitnami Helm Charts (by bitnami)

    NV Wonderful. So let me introduce you formally. So Erica Brescia is the managing director at Redpoint Ventures. She's the former CEO of GitHub, and she was also the co-founder of Bitnami. So let me start off with the first question, probably everybody starts with this question: so, what's open source to you? How did you get started? And why do you feel open source is important?

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