Resources Blog Ann Winblad Reflects: The Rise of Software

Ann Winblad Reflects: The Rise of Software

Ann Winblad started her own software business when most people didn’t know what software was. It was 1976, and she borrowed $500 from her brother. Six years later, she sold her company for $15M - a year before the first Mac was released. Since 1989, long before investing in software was trendy, she co-founded and serves as the managing director for Hummer Winblad Venture Partners. In the years since, 45 of their investments have been acquired or gone public. We are also proud to have her sit on our Board at Sonatype.

As successful software venture capitalist, Ann “auditions the future” everyday.  

We were fortunate enough to have 45 minutes of her time at All Day DevOps as a keynote to talk about the waves of digital disruptions and what it will take to succeed tomorrow.

Ann shared that when she started investing in software development, she was told that it was too risky.  We have all lived through the rest of the story. Ten years ago, one out of the top 10 highest valued companies, Microsoft, was a tech company. Social media concepts were just emerging. The term DevOps was only coined 10 years ago by Patrick Debois and Andrew Shafer (August 2008).  Today, 7 of the 10 most valuable public companies are tech companies.

Technology is leading the charge on a global scale and as Ann observed, “data is the new oil.”




It is these companies are investing in the future.  It is these companies that are driving a massive wave of innovation, spinoffs, and new businesses, and massive digital disruption. Imagine this: the 5 U.S. tech companies are annually investing $60 billion in R&D - close to the non-defense R&D budget of U.S. Government.




What Ann really focused on, though, is the fact that software development - for any company - must become a core strategic competency, not just a cost center, or they risk being Ubered or Amazoned.




Ann continued by citing the Jeff Bezos concept that Amazon will always be a “day one” company. That is, one that always acts like it is on its first day - always hustling, always focused. Of course, Amazon sets a high bar, being highly automated with continuous software development. They average 136,000 software deployments per day and push code to production every few seconds. Contrast that with data from a Forrester survey Ann cited - only 34% have complete automated product lifecycles and less than 20% release faster than monthly.

To make software development part of your enterprise's core competencies requires a strong focus on automation, agility, quality, security, reuse, and speed in the software supply chain. The good news that DevOps practices embrace all of these concepts.

Ann contends that DevOps is key to making software a core competency.




This is more than moving from Waterfall to Agile. Ann notes that the jump from Agile to DevOps is not as obvious as you think, “Some assume that Agile is all about processes while DevOps is about technical processes. This points you in the wrong direction by placing them in separate streams in the transformation. DevOps breaks down silos, it does not create new ones. DevOps strives to focus on the overall service of software delivered to the customer, and it breaks down barriers between software and operations teams.”

What does Ann think is up next? A category 5 hurricane for the enterprise in cloud, mobile, AI, and big data.

Are you ready?

Ann said that she started her career was a coder, and was not considered a “developer”.   But she reflected that developers are now in a primary position to drive businesses forward, saying that “developers today are business strategists”.

Are you a strategist?

No matter your business, Ann contends that software is at its heart, if not its soul.  She advises that the rise with software is the win in the near market. This isn’t about increasing the velocity of software development. It is about understanding your company’s core competencies, knowing how you generate value, and continuously codifying the opportunity ahead. You also need to increase customer engagement and operational efficiency.

Ann closed with, “My job is to audition the future. Your job is the create the future.

Are you fighting the trends or are you inventing the trends.”

To learn about from Ann about inventing the trends, listen to her full talk for free here. If you missed any of the other 30-minute long presentations from All Day DevOps, they are easy to find and available free-of-charge here.  


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Written by Derek Weeks

Derek serves as vice president and DevOps advocate at Sonatype and is the co-founder of All Day DevOps -- an online community of 65,000 IT professionals.