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This former Cisco exec explains why she was so excited to join $155 million Scalyr as its new CEO (CSCO)


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  • Log-management startup Scalyr announced Thursday that Christine Heckart, formerly a senior vice president at Cisco, will become its new CEO.
  • Scalyr was founded by Steve Newman, who previously founded Writely, the startup that Google acquired and turned into the original Google Docs.
  • Startups like Scalyr that are specifically targeted at developers and help with debugging code are growing quickly, so Newman wanted to find a new CEO with experience in scaling and growth.
  • Heckart was drawn to Scalyr because of its culture and because she believes the company is creating technology that can make an impact.

It took only two meetings for Cisco's former Senior Vice President, Christine Heckart, to realize that the log-management startup Scalyr was where she wanted to work as CEO.

Scalyr announced Heckart as its new CEO on Thursday, replacing founder Steve Newman.

Newman, who will become chairman, is best known as the founder of Writely, an online word processor that Google acquired in 2006 and used to build the first iteration of Google Docs.

After the acquisition, Newman left Google and set out to create a tool for engineers to help them troubleshoot code, which would eventually become Scalyr. Customers including TiVo, OkCupid, and even us here at Business Insider use Scalyr to help debug and optimize applications — a market that's heating up in the software economy.

"What I go towards is the chance to change the way work gets done, to change the world in some meaningful way," Heckart told Business Insider. "If Scalyr can help engineers around the world, if it can help them do their job quickly, we can provide a value to the world that impacts and touches every person in every way."

Scalyr was most recently valued at $155 million at the time of its $5.5 million funding round in 2018, according to PitchBook. Investors in Scalyr include GV (formerly Google Ventures), Bloomberg Beta, and Shasta Ventures.

A 2nd chance at being a CEO

Last year, Newman started looking for a new CEO, someone with the business acumen to accelerate the company's growth while he redoubled his focus on the technology. Heckart came recommended by a mutual friend of hers and Newman's who knew that she wanted to leave Cisco and try her hand as a CEO for a second time.

"I had run a company before," Heckart said. She was CEO of a company called TeleChoice before her Cisco days. "When I had small kids, it was hard to do that, so I went back to executive positions for a while, but I wanted to go back to being a CEO of a small company."

Heckart had been approached by five or so companies about coming on as CEO, she said, but it took only two meetings for her to know that Scalyr was by far the best fit.

"After I spent time on campus, I was getting a good sense of the culture," she said. "I went home and told my husband, 'This is the one I want. Even if this doesn't work out, that comparison told me that those other companies aren't the right ones for me.'"

When Scalyr approached Heckart, the No. 1 thing that stood out to her was the culture and diversity of the company. She saw that Scalyr was more inclusive and valued cognitive diversity, meaning different styles of problem solving. To her, that was a sign that Scalyr was the right place to be.

"That wasn't an accident. From the very beginning, Steve and the leadership team built it for cognitive diversity," Heckart said. "It makes a huge difference, not only in the employee experience. It also makes a huge difference in the success of the company."

What comes next

Heckart said that although she's run a company before, this will be her first time being CEO of a venture-backed Silicon Valley startup, which comes with its own unique set of pressures, especially since Scalyr offers a niche product for developers. Still, nowadays, there's a lot of money to be made in catering to developers.

"Kind of like how eyes are the window into the soul, logs are the window into performance and applications," Heckart said. "While it sounds esoteric or incredibly tactical, the right log-management tool not only makes the engineer more successful at their job; it helps them get home and see their kids on time. It helps them solve the problem."

Heckart said she isn't planning any dramatic changes to Scalyr's strategy. The company already has plenty of momentum, so she has the good problem of making sure that it continues. From Cisco and the other tech companies she's worked at, she hopes to bring her experience in growth and scale.

"There's so much momentum here already," she said. "My job is to build on it, to help us really connect with those users, to make sure all the users know about this tool and we bring them together in a community. We have the chance to build a really powerful community and ecosystem."

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This former Cisco exec explains why she was so excited to join $155 million Scalyr as its new CEO (CSCO)

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