Blog Post

4 tips for budding tech startups from New Relic’s Lew Cirne

Stay on Top of Enterprise Technology Trends

Get updates impacting your industry from our GigaOm Research Community
Join the Community!

By any measure, New Relic is a hit. As one member of President Obama’s tech team said last year: “If you’re not using New Relic … you’re doing it wrong.”

lew cirne verticalFounded in 2008 by Lew Cirne, the San Francisco application performance management company now has 330 employees and is on track to hit $100 million in revenue next year. And, perhaps more to the point here, it has become synonymous with “hot startup” that can back up the hype.  I can’t tell you how many new companies pitch me with: “We want to be the New Relic of X,Y,” (I really can’t, but it’s a lot.)

So what Cirne has to say to would-be startups bears a listen. Here are four tips as an appetizer; I’ll be asking Cirne for more words of wisdom during our Structure: Europe chat on September 18.

1: Take on a real problem

This should be a no brainer, but it’s surprising how many startups seem to pitch a solution in search of a problem. Not good, said Cirne. “What worked for me, anyway, flies in the face of conventional wisdom. I don’t research markets or look at IDC reports. I try to solve a problem I have. If I have it other people do too.”

2: Don’t be afraid to hire proactively

If you come across a high-quality candidate that fits in with your group, go for it, even if you don’t have an opening. “If they have high integrity and is a great fit, if we do things right we’ll grow into them. Never pass on a great candidate just because you think it’s too early. We hire ahead of our needs.”

3: Stay young at heart as you mature

Even as companies grow, they need to keep the entrepreneurial fervor alive. “Fifty percent of my job is building a startup inside New Relic years before we need it. We’re coalescing around a new idea internally and there’s great excitement about it,” he said. Maybe we can pry more details out of him in two weeks.

4: Hire mensches

The smartest guy in the room is not necessarily someone you want to work with. It really helps if you like your colleagues — even as you fight with them — so make that a consideration.

One of Cirne’s litmus tests is how he feels after a challenging conversation. “If you disagree (with that person) do you exit that conversation with a higher or lower degree of energy? You want people who energize you even as they challenge you.”

If the super-duper MIT engineer sucks all the air out of the room, maybe he’s not a good hire for you.