I am Mitchell Hashimoto, Founder and CTO of HashiCorp. Ask me anything!

Hey folks, 👋

I am Mitchell Hashimoto, founder and CTO of HashiCorp. HashiCorp is a remote-first, open source-based company that solves development, operations, and security challenges for cloud and infrastructure automation. At the time of writing, HashiCorp has over 400 employees and is valued at nearly $2 billion.

I’m the creator of Vagrant, Packer, Serf, Consul, Terraform, Vault, and Nomad. All of these projects are open source (MPL2). Fun fact is I started Vagrant in a dorm room, it has come a long way!

I am happy to answer almost any questions, but here are some topics to help:

  • Cloud infrastructure
  • Security
  • Static infrastructure vs dynamic infrastructure
  • Development environments, IDEs, etc.
  • Docker, Kubernetes, etc.
  • Startups and building a business around open source
  • Remote company, culture, hiring, etc.
  • Open Source!

Looking forward to answering your questions! I will answer them live on 30th Jan, 2 PM ET onwards.

Comments (48)

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Shih Oon Liong's photo

Thank you again for this AMA. You and your team has been churning out some great tools ever since the days of Vagrant.

  • Who comes up with all the logo/ux design for Hashicorp? The website and all the logos have always been looking clean and snazzy to it.

  • For infrastructure code for Terraform, is Hashicorp come up yet with an approach to testing? We have engineers building lines and lines of Terraform code but we have always been stuck on how we can improve confidence in our codebase.

  • What is your advice to popular open source projects who do not yet have any official funding sources yet - how should they keep going on? Assuming maintainers' still enjoy the work, do they keep on the good work or should they wind down and stop accepting features until they can find more resources (contributors, time).

  • Finally just to ask the question everyone is probably asking, ETA on Terraform 0.12.x? :D

Mitchell Hashimoto's photo

Co-Founder & CTO of HashiCorp

Thanks!

Who comes up with all the logo/ux design for Hashicorp? The website and all the logos have always been looking clean and snazzy to it.

Our Director of Product Design (JT) came up with all of this initially. We now have many designers working on it but JT set the initial look & feel.

He was actually my roommate in San Francisco when I first moved there. I didn't know him prior to that. He lived across the hall from me. I didn't even know if he was good, but I knocked on his door one day and just said "hey, can you help me design something?" (of course I offered and did pay him) And he was really good! And we just kept working together. This was before HashiCorp even existed.

For infrastructure code for Terraform, is Hashicorp come up yet with an approach to testing? We have engineers building lines and lines of Terraform code but we have always been stuck on how we can improve confidence in our codebase.

Yeah, this comes up a lot and we're looking into it. There are a number of other OSS tools like Test Kitchen and Gruntworks has a test framework and so on. You should look at those.

What is your advice to popular open source projects who do not yet have any official funding sources yet - how should they keep going on? Assuming maintainers' still enjoy the work, do they keep on the good work or should they wind down and stop accepting features until they can find more resources (contributors, time).

This is a double-edged sword.

On one hand, I think you push off funding for a long time. I think too many OSS projects are getting "funding" (in the VC sense) too early. The downside to this is it puts a clock on you: there are external expectations of what your project should achieve. Pressure.

You want time to be creative, to be able to just explore the problem space. I was lucky to have that with Vagrant and to have the privilege to do that. I worked on Vagrant for 2 years before being paid a single cent for any of the work I did. I had a normal job during the time and worked on Vagrant on evenings and weekends. But... I was not under any pressure.

On the other hand, being able to work on projects for free is a privilege that many do not have. So, having more avenues to make money needs to be there. I answered another question where I talked a bit about this.

Finally just to ask the question everyone is probably asking, ETA on Terraform 0.12.x? :D

Beta any week now. It is feeling really good. You can see the activity on the Terraform GitHub repo, lots of stuff every day.

Sky's photo

Hi Mitchell, here some of my questions.

  1. How do you recommend anyone who wants to start a startup in open source as solo developer and want to monetize?

  2. How do you keep up with Work and Life balance?

  3. How do you think AI will affect virtualization, cloud and infrastructure?

Thank you.

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Mitchell Hashimoto's photo

Co-Founder & CTO of HashiCorp

Oh whoops just saw this one:

How do you think AI will affect virtualization, cloud and infrastructure?

I think basic AI concepts will start making their way into it. We announced "Vault Advisor" at HashiConf last year (a paid feature) that is basic AI. It watches access patterns to Vault along with the way you've configured your policies and recommends improvements.

I think for AI to be useful, we need to have a firm grasp of the underlying layers and I don't think we're quite there yet, but closer than we've ever been for sure.

Mike Albert's photo

Hey Mitchell, Thanks for the AMA.

What's in your dev toolkit? 💼

Mitchell Hashimoto's photo

Co-Founder & CTO of HashiCorp

My standard workstation:

  • 5K iMac. I bought this thing 4 years ago and its still perfect.
  • 2018 MacBook Pro. No touch bar (👹) Bleh. My 2014 MacBook Air was still the best laptop I ever owned.
  • Vim
  • A bunch of CLI tools.

That's it really. I don't use anything fancy.

Milica Maksimović's photo

Thanks for the AMA!

  • What does your average day at work look like?

  • Which tips woud you give to people who just became CTOs?

Mitchell Hashimoto's photo

Co-Founder & CTO of HashiCorp

What does your average day at work look like?

So as a founder, the type of work I'm doing month to month can change quite dramatically. I'd say my average at home workday is:

  • 7:30 AM - 8:30 AM - Wake up, shower, cook breakfast, eat with my wife.
  • 8:30 AM to 10 AM - Answer emails, catch up on Slack, review RFCs.
  • 10 AM to 12 noon - Usually I take meetings here. The type of meetings vary but can be product plannings, 1:1s, etc.
  • 12 noon to 1 PM - This is a mandatory 1 hour lunch break I impose on myself. I eat lunch and just take a break. I stay away from work, maybe I watch TV, maybe I read, maybe I hang out with my wife if she's home, etc. No work.
  • Afternoon - I try to keep this relatively meeting-free. This is when I'll get more technical -- I still write code! -- or work on the company a bit by writing google docs and so on.
  • 2 or 3 PM - I take a break and usually work out here. That might mean riding my Peloton or working out in my home gym. This is usually 45 minutes.
  • 530 to 6 PM - Done! Go eat dinner, hang out with my wife if she's home.

However, I also travel quite a bit. I live in LA and take day-trips to SF a couple times a month for various meetings that have to happen in-person. These days are really long. I take the 8 AM or 9 AM flight to SF, I work all day, then I take the 8 or 9 PM flight back. I also drive myself to the airport on these days. Overall, a very long day.

Besides SF, I take many field trips for sales or community events. Sales trips are grueling: basically meetings non-stop from 8 or 9 AM through to the evening, followed by a social dinner with customers, employees, etc. They're FULL days and usually for a week, but I do my best to make the most out of my travel.

Which tips woud you give to people who just became CTOs?

Matters what kind of CTO you are and for what sized company.

The biggest tip I'd give is that your primary job is to create the framework for a successful technical organization (along with a VP Eng if you have one). You should be enabling others in the organization. At the same time, you should be thinking strategically about the business's technical decisions and planning for that.

Kenechukwu Nnamni's photo

How did you get that first idea to start working on Vagrant which is your first project. At the time what did you think you were building?

Mitchell Hashimoto's photo

Co-Founder & CTO of HashiCorp

At the time, I worked for a consultancy with many clients on different tech stacks. My dream was a one-click solution to setting up a development environment for a client. I felt it was taking too many hours to context switch between clients. At the same time, I wanted a way to run quick Linux-based workloads for school (I was a CS student at the time and diving into operating systems and so on and it was tough to work in the lab setting).

I had actually just learned about virtualization maybe a few months prior. And I chose VirtualBox because it was free and I was a college student that had to pinch every penny I had.

Then I just started building, trying to make that dream a reality. I failed a good many times privately before inching closer and closer to what was eventually released. I think "eating your own dog food" is really important and I did that throughout: using Vagrant as much as possible. That led me to some things where I thought "wow, yes, this is really good" and some other things where I felt "this is not right, this is bad work."

Vagrant 0.1 wasn't great, so don't get the wrong idea that I shipped something amazing. But it worked, and I kept iterating, and it got a lot better.