Castles in the Sky
“Oh tell me why Do we build castles in the sky?
Oh tell me why
Are the castles way up high?”
- Ian Van Dahl, Castles in the Sky
Silicon Valley is a place built on dreams. And there’s no bigger dream powering the Valley than being part of a successful startup and building technology that changes the world.
In 2016 I joined a small startup called HashiCorp. The company was founded by two University of Washington CS majors I deeply respected, and as their first dedicated product manager it was my job to help the team build a product and company that balanced supporting the open source community while competing against some of the biggest names in enterprise security.
Five years and a lot of hard work later I had the extreme privilege of joining them and some of my colleagues in ringing the opening bell at NASDAQ during our company’s IPO.
I write for two reasons: to tell stories I think matter and should be told, and to reflect on my own experiences to try and learn something lasting from what I’ve seen and heard. As I’ve spent the last month processing this last half decade of my life, I’m surprised how the common narrative of the Silicon Valley startup dream is at times very different from what I experienced.
Being part of building something like HashiCorp is an extremely rare privilege. I’m so grateful to have been blessed with this journey, and I want to share my story: what it felt like, what I learned along the way, and how I feel moving forward.
On My Way
I joined HashiCorp as the first product manager for Vault, HashiCorp’s flagship security product. But why I was recruited to serve as Vault’s PM is due to an education and series of experiences that began almost a decade prior and an hour south on US 101.
Like most computer science students at San Jose State University in the late 00's, I originally studied CS because I erroneously thought…