Designs on capacity

Published: 7 Jan 2015 by Raj Dutt RSS

It started as a crazy idea, but as some crazy ideas do, it became less crazy over time.

My co-founder Anthony has been really concerned about design and UI since day zero of raintank. He firmly believes that our “frontend” will make or break us, and that it’s often a differentiator that commercial products lord over open source alternatives.

My other co-founder Torkel shares the sentiment; he’s gone out of his way to make Grafana as intuitive and beautiful as possible over the last year, precisely because he thinks it’s so important. I think the results there speak for themselves.

I’m in 100% agreement, and I’ve definitely been guilty of paying lip service to design, UI, and UX in the past.

In short, all of us were committed to growing our design capabilities within the newly formed raintank, and we started debating just how to go about doing that. What kind of people? Completely in-house? Contractors? Do we augment with an outside agency?

I started talking to Matt Toback and Trent White at Capacity about our situation a few months ago. Maybe they could at least help us with a skeleton website, I figured. If it wasn’t too much trouble to squeeze us in.

I’ve known Matt for 16 years. We were roomates at RPI (but he actually graduated), and he became employee #1 at Voxel back in 1999. He went on to be Voxels COO and later CEO of our Ubersmith spinoff, all while slowly building his passion for design. This would lead him to found Capacity with the super talented Trent White, where the two made a killer team.

I quickly realized that the ideal thing would be to have two people “just like them”, but as full-time raintankers. These people would own up swaths of user experience, marketing, and branding, but could approach things with a strong product focus. But I knew these guys, and the relationship we’d forged in building Voxel and years of battling worthy competitors like AWS, Rackspace, and Softlayer was hard-won.

A crazy idea began to hatch in my head, and I began pitching them.

Fast forward to this week: raintank is acquiring capacity, and Matt and Trent are joining us full-time. I’ll leave it to those guys to explain their rationale and give further thoughts on what just happened..

Matt Toback is now our VP of Customer Experience

Trent White is now our VP of Marketing and Branding

Personally speaking, I feel both humbled and excited by all of this.

Humbled because they had a growing design business, a respected brand, and more work than they could handle. Somehow we convinced them to give that up and join a motley crew with zero customers and zero revenue, and help build something.

Excited because the team that is building this product and company is really coming together, and Matt and Trent really help supercharge what we’re creating here at raintank. They’ve already started to contribute to the imminent Grafana 2.0 and raintank alphas, and got our skeleton site launched in a few days to boot.

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