Smart People IoT: Building a better cloud

David Politis of BetterCloud

IoT: How do you build a better cloud? That question has nagged David Politis, founder and CEO of BetterCloud, ever since he first grasped the concept of distributed computing.

Iot Smart People: David Politis Bettercloud - Smart Industry 1/2018

In the early years of this century, buzzwords like SaaS (software as a service) had been around for some time but the concept was struggling, essentially because businesspeople didn’t trust it. “The rise of the SaaS-powered workplace is transforming the role of IT,” Politis said in a statement. “What was once a behind-the-scenes department is now becoming deeply integrated into the business. But the explosion of SaaS offerings from thousands of providers brings a new and signifcant set of challenges for IT, including a lack of visibility across applications, manual processes that don’t scale, and lack of awareness around operational risk.
His idea is to create software that lets IT departments manage employees’ cloud-based applications at a glance. At frst, BetterCloud focused only on Google’s productivity suite. In 2015, Politis decided this was proving to be a cul-de-sac so he decided to start over again. The company laid off much of its customer-facing staff and spent $35m retooling over two years. Politis rebuilt the product so that it could manage any software used in business, from Salesforce to Slack, from Dropbox to Zendesk.

BetterCloud empowers IT with the solutions it needs to operate and scale today’s SaaS-powered workplace.

David Politis


 The resulting SaaS management platform now allows users to monitor any SaaS application connected to its dashboard via application user interfaces (APIs), thus enabling IT to monitor usage and user privileges and to create custom rules to automatically perform actions if specifc conditions are met. The idea caught on among investors such as Accel and Flybridge Capital Partners, who provided more than $47m in seed fnancing. The company has now turned the corner, Politis asserts, and in 2017 BetterCloud reported revenues of $21m. Growing up in Salt Lake City, where he attended Brigham Young University, Politis is the son of an entrepreneur and this probably made it more or less inevitable he would become one, too. At least that’s what he believes. “My dad had a lot of different businesses, including real estate development in Harlem and the South Bronx, and project fnance in emerging markets like West Africa.
“Because he was working and traveling so much, he often would take me with him. From the age of eight, I have memories of going to Harlem and going to building sites. He taught a real estate class at NYU [New York University], and he would take me to the class when I was nine years old, give me a pad of paper and say, ‘Just take notes’.” Simply creating an innovative product isn’t enough, Politis maintains.

There are a number of things we do in terms of transparency that are crucial,

he told The New York Times recently. “I share everything I can with the whole company. And, when we discuss it during company meetings, everyone can submit questions beforehand, anonymously, and I’ll answer them. We also send monthly emails that explain what every department is working on that month, and what they achieved the month before.” People want to make a difference, he believes. “When you give them an area of the business that they can affect, the amount of stuff that gets done and the pride in their work is amazing. People make mistakes, but they learn from them and they continue to improve.” Giving people ownership of certain areas in the business is the key, he says: “It’s amazing what happens when you do that.” Politis has also managed to convince some pretty heavy guns in the analyst community that he can improve the cloud. Influential analyst frm Gartner, in its frst-ever market guide on Cloud Ofce Management Tools, wrote enthusiastically: “BetterCloud is the only vendor uniquely able to provide all functions, support multiple SaaS apps, and offer IT workflow automation for SaaS apps.” The future for BetterCloud, it seems, looks bright and sunny.

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