Adrian Cockcroft, the chief architect of Netflix’s cloud services and possibly the most visible man in cloud computing, left the streaming startup last week to join Battery Ventures, where he is now a technical fellow. Cockcroft, who had worked at Netflix since 2007, helped develop the influential Chaos Monkey architecture that Netflix uses to keep its applications running in Amazon’s cloud even when Amazon’s cloud hiccups. He has also led teams that helped refine Netflix’s movie recommendation engine, but in the last year has spent a lot of time on the road promoting Netflix and its architecture to engineers and big companies.
As a web-based business Netflix is famous for having little-to-no IT operations of its own, instead offloading its entire streaming service and much of its enterprise IT to Amazon Web Services. This ability to scale out a huge computing enterprise in the cloud has made Netflix a poster child for startups and giant companies alike, and Cockcroft is the face for many of these efforts at a variety of industry conferences.
Prior to Netflix, he was a distinguished engineer at both Sun and eBay, where he worked on scaling, research and mobile projects. Indeed, at our Structure conference in June 2013, I sat with Cockcroft as he showed off his Google Glass and apps he had built for the device. His role at Battery will both help the firm’s portfolio companies scale, but also allow him to delve into his passion for mobile and other low-power and personal computing platforms.
Cockcroft says that in the last year he has been informally advising several venture firms who’ve asked for his opinion on scaling in the cloud and evaluating the status of the overall enterprise IT industry, and he knew that venture capital was his likely next role. Things came to a head in late December when Mike Dauber, a principal at Battery Ventures reached out to Cockcroft with a role developed especially for Cockcroft. In an interview with me, Cockcroft said the whole deal was decided in a week with his first day being Friday. As a technical fellow, Cockcroft is at the same level as a partner and is a member of the permanent staff, Cockcroft said.
“One of the things here is I have a much broader base of things to work on,” Cockcroft said. “At Netflix I was limited to cloud and media and developer things that related to Netflix, and there are a bunch of things I’m interested in outside of that scope at Netflix.”
At Battery he’ll be able to indulge in those interests. And when asked about his replacement at Netflix, Cockcroft says that for the last year he’s been mostly externally focused so he’s confident the company has strong people in place to handle Netflix’s continued cloud development and scaling. He points to Jeremy Edberg, a reliability architect at Netflix and the former chief architect over at reddit, as one of those who will take over his work.
He joins a number of high-profile cloud and scaling experts who have left their jobs to join venture capital firms including Mike Abbott, who left Twitter to join Kleiner Perkins, and Jonathan Heiliger, who left Facebook to become a general partner at North Bridge Venture Partners.