A lot can change in ten years. When Todd and I decided to start a company together in 2009, we were two entrepreneurs with a check from Ben Horowitz (we were a16z’s first cloud investment), some borrowed desks in Jawbone’s office, and a name — SaaSure — that we quickly replaced. After 10 years of blood, sweat and a few tears, Okta has evolved into an independent, public, high-growth software company with a vision, team and product suite that we are proud of.
Next week, we’re celebrating Okta’s tenth anniversary, a significant milestone for us. It gives us an opportunity to reflect on how we took an idea and turned it into one of the fastest-growing companies listed on Nasdaq. We’ve benefited from great timing, a fantastic team, a massive market opportunity, strong conviction and great advice, but frankly, we wouldn’t be where we are today without a lot of long days and hard work.
Introducing Zero to IPO
Every growing company hits a wall (likely many), but not every founder is willing to share the struggle. That’s what we aim to do in my new podcast, Zero to IPO, which I co-host with Joshua Davis, founder of Epic Magazine, a Contributing Editor at Wired and a close friend. With the help of over a dozen successful founders, we dive into what it takes for a startup to get out of the gate, clear a thousand hurdles, and find a clear market fit. Zero to IPO is designed to give builders and entrepreneurs — really anyone with an idea or a dream — an unfiltered view into what it takes to build a successful company, from idea to IPO and beyond.
Most business podcasts follow a similar format: find a successful CEO and have them tell their story. Zero to IPO is not that show. Every episode focuses on one critical stage of a company’s journey — and some of the world's most innovative and introspective founders, like Salesforce.com’s Parker Harris, Eventbrite’s Julia Hartz, Patty McCord of Netflix, and a16z’s Marc Andreessen and Ben Horowitz share the good, the bad and the ugly of each phase.
Like the founders featured in the podcast, I’ve been fortunate to benefit from the guidance and experience of many seasoned entrepreneurs. This podcast is a way for us to pay it forward to the next generation of entrepreneurial leaders.
We’re Just Getting Started
Zero to IPO also shares some of Okta’s untold stories: what we did right, where we messed up, and when we had our work cut out for us. I’ve written about the sacrifices and pressures of building a company, and Okta was no exception.
As we prepare to celebrate and reflect on 10 years of Okta, I’m often asked “what’s the best part of building a company?” Without a doubt, it’s the people — the professionals you meet and the teams you’re fortunate to work with as you chase your crazy dreams. Our team of builders, the families who support us, customers who believe in us, and the investors who bet on us. While I’m proud of our success to date, what gets me really fired up is that we’re just getting started. We’re still in the early days at Okta, and there is so much more than we can accomplish together.
I hope you join me and Josh for Zero to IPO’s first episode, which debuts on February 5. Whether you’re a part of the Okta story, still at the whiteboard, securing your next round of funding, or barreling toward a big exit, we hope everyone can find a nugget or two to help them on their journey.