Lew Cirne Talks Software with VentureBeat

New Relic founder and CEO Lew Cirne appeared on VentureBeat’s What To Think podcast this week, telling VentureBeat editor in chief Dylan Tweney that “developers are now the primary engine upon which companies differentiate themselves… can their developers build amazing products? That’s what’s driving the top line for businesses in every vertical, not just the software industry.”


That salient truth—just one of many incisive observations Lew shared in the 20-minute discussion—helps explain New Relic’s success. In his talk he said, “Often the developer is the person that… is the champion of New Relic” in the business. “Because if you build software for a living, you have an interest in that software working in production. If you don’t like getting called at the 2 in the morning to fix an error in the code,” Lew continued, “New Relic is the developer’s best friend.”

Perhaps even more importantly, Lew pointed out, “Once you’ve got a connection to your software in production, you take more pride of ownership. And so you get developers actually taking a proactive stake in the software’s success in production, and that’s a cultural change that our customers really value.”

Beyond the developer

But winning over the developer is only the first step. Understanding how your software works is increasingly critical for everyone in the company. Lew asserted, “Software is no longer just about automating back office functions… It’s the primary channel through which businesses are interacting with their customers. So if your online banking app is 5 percent better at what it does, that’s going to have a meaningful impact on the bank’s bottom line.” That means other stakeholders, including the application owner and the operations team, also have an interest in looking at the information New Relic provides.

The coding CEO

As followers of New Relic know, these aren’t theoretical conjectures for Lew—even as CEO of a company with more than 500 employees, he still makes time to code. He told VentureBeat that, “Just last Friday, I was running a query in [New Relic] Insights and I wanted it to answer a question that I couldn’t in Insights. I wanted to see how much revenue we were getting from customers who were using a certain programming language. So I coded up the feature over the weekend and I checked it in this morning.”


Beyond individual features, though, Lew noted that “it sets an example within the company that we’re not going to stop innovating and building. That we’re going to be a scrappy startup even though we’re 550 people.”

“I don’t want people to think I’m the sole source of new ideas in the company,” Lew said, “But it sets a cultural tone. If your CEO invests in it—then the company knows it’s important.”

To hear more of Lew’s thoughts on New Relic Insights, the importance of software design, leadership changes in Silicon Valley, successful second acts for software companies, and much more, listen to the entire podcast on VentureBeat or subscribe to “What to Think” on iTunes.


Fredric Paul (aka The Freditor) is Editor in Chief for New Relic. He's an award-winning writer, editor, and content strategist who has held senior editorial positions at ReadWrite, AllBusiness.com, InformationWeek, CNET, Electronic Entertainment, PC World, and PC|Computing. His writing has appeared in MIT Technology Review, Omni, Conde Nast Traveler, and Newsweek, among other places. View posts by .

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