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Exclusive - GoodData Founder Roman Stanek Talks Analytics and the Sights of Prague

Roman Stanek has over 20 years of technology experience and is the Founder and CEO of GoodData, a “BI Without the BS” SaaS business intelligence company. Prior to starting GoodData in 2008, he founded over 5 tech companies including Systinet Corporation that was sold to Sun Microsystems and NetBeans, Inc that was acquired by Mercury Interactive and later HP.

The Systinet sale in 1999 was heralded as “one of the best exits in the web services/SOA space.”

icrunchdata News talks with analytics leaders and technology company founders about their careers in data and we explore personal interests outside of the data. We recently sat down with Roman to discuss the 7 year journey at GoodData and the changing perspective of the cloud, his history of successfully starting up tech companies, and his interests in cycling and photography.

Roman, thanks for speaking with us today. Let’s get going…

You founded GoodData in January 2008 with the vision of changing the way people experience business intelligence. Now, 7 years later you have over 30,000 clients, have received over $100M in VC funding and remain a privately held company. In the last 7 years, was there one defining moment or tipping point that you can point to as the most important factor in the success of GoodData?

There is not one specific moment that I would point to in order to best illustrate the success of GoodData. Instead, it is the whole journey of those seven years. It is the changing perception of the cloud as customers and the business community more broadly began to take cloud seriously. That change is what really increased the momentum of the company.

So, what is the moment that made people take cloud seriously? We recently closed one of the largest deals ever with a leading credit card company. When I see one of the largest technology companies in the world that has some of the most demanding requirements choosing and thriving with our cloud solution, I know that the technology has truly taken off.

GoodData is headquartered in San Francisco and has offices in the Czech Republic and Australia. Are you eyeing any other countries to expand into with offices?

Given that we most recently opened our International Data Center in the UK, England and Ireland are at the top of the list for countries in which we are considering office expansion.

There has been talk over the last couple of years that you are targeting a 2016 IPO. Is that still the timeframe that you are considering to take GoodData public?

As a private company, we do not comment on IPO timeframes. We are building a great, high-growth company for long term sustainability and strength. It is unknown what the IPO market conditions will look like in one month, let alone, one year.

The last two companies that you founded prior to GoodData were Systinet Corporation and NetBeans, and each company was sold to Mercury/HP Software and Sun Microsystems. What are the top factors that you consider when selling a company versus taking it public?

It is important to weigh the combination of the product and the market. Some companies create point tools that are one or a few components of a larger set of tools necessary to address a problem. These companies are not meant as stand alone solutions. Systinet and NetBeans were always meant to be one of a set of tools accessible to a developer.

In fact, it was exactly that utility that made those large enterprises approach me to acquire the companies. My companies fit into and added value to those companies’ portfolios. I don’t talk about selling my companies -  I talk about how my companies were bought. The difference there is huge. With the right offer, someone can always say yes.

What is the one industry that you think is long overdue for technology to disrupt it?

At the end of the day, I think government is the sector most ripe for disruption. Technology has the potential to directly impact democracy, improve transparency, efficiency and fairness.

You started on Twitter @RomanStanek with your first tweet, “Blogging in London” on May 20, 2008 and since then you’ve tweeted over 14K times and have nearly 12K followers. In 140 characters or less, define your use of and strategy on Twitter.

Twitter makes you like people you don’t know and Facebook makes you dislike people you know.

It looks like your schedule keeps you traveling a lot. What is favorite airport in the world where you don’t mind having a 4 hour layover?

The airport in Madrid would be my favorite spot for a 4-hour layover. It is the most architecturally stunning airport out there. As a child, I dreamed about grandiose edifices like that and when I actually arrived in the airport there, I remember feeling as if I had entered my childhood dreams. Also, given my interest in photography I have to say that I would adore the opportunity to take hundreds of pictures there.

You were born in Czechoslovakia and earned your MS in Computer Science from the Czech Technical University in Prague. If I were to visit Prague, what are the top 3 sights that I need to checkout that will give me the best sense of the city and the people?

First, I recommend you wander around the Old Town. This will give you a sense of the history and culture of the city.

Second, I recommend you familiarize yourself with the high tech scene in the Czech Republic. Visit a company like Seznam.cz. Not only is the company one of GoodData’s customers but they also successfully compete with Google in the Czech Republic. While they are not known internationally, understanding the company will help you understand just how good the Czech people can be.

Finally, you must go and have a Czech beer and spend time with Czech people in a pub. One such pub is U tygra.

One of your interests is biking. Road or Mountain and describe the best ride that you have ever been on?

I like both road and mountain biking. In the summer, when the roads are dry and the days are long, I prefer road biking. In the winter, when the sun sets earlier so it’s harder for drivers to see bikers and the road is perhaps slick from rain, I prefer to traverse mountainous terrain.

My favorite route to ride is King’s Ridge in Sonoma, California.  It is an amazing route with gorgeous panoramas where I can bike for hours without meeting anyone.

Okay, I’m saving the toughest question for last. Your Instagram page @romans is pretty incredible and packed with 681 pictures that you’ve taken. Which one is your favorite?

This photograph from Old Town Square in Prague is my favorite: https://instagram.com/p/zw5y2UG0iA/

Roman, we have to end on that incredible photo. Thank you for speaking to us today.

Article published by Todd Nevins
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