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Thank You is Never a Short Message

Vinod MuthukrishnanVinod Muthukrishnan | August 27, 2019

You might have heard the news. If you haven’t please find it here.  

It seems like ages ago we started in that 400 Sft office in Chennai with very little money, a tiny bunch of people and a VERY big dream. I now recognize that tiny bunch for what they are – absolutely the best crew in the universe!  

I have written countless internal mails during this journey – many of them ultimately became our Culture Manual but this might be the most groundbreaking one of them all. As we (with great joy) agreed to be acquired by Cisco I got to reflect upon this journey and the truly special people who made this happen for us. I was torn between a generic note and going deep down to try and thank everyone who came along with us on this journey and finally leaned in towards the latter.  

Let me first start with why Cisco and why now? We have had the fortune of collaborating with phenomenal people at incredible companies over the past few years. At Cisco, we have seen first hand how a world-class company and corporate investor operates. Across interactions with dozens of executives at Cisco, we have come to greatly respect Cisco’s culture, brand and absolute commitment to customers. Things we strive to be too. Cisco is also the global benchmark in Cognitive Collaboration and Customer Care solutions, which are very complementary to us and our world view.  

Hence, when the opportunity presented itself, myself and the leadership team were thrilled to grab the chance to work with leaders like Vasili Triant and Amy Chang to create the future of Cognitive customer care and collaboration.  

CloudCherry crew: This truly is a special team. They could work for anyone they wanted but chose to follow me. In Nagendra, Arvi, Vidya, Karthik, Kalyan, and KL, CloudCherry has some of the best leaders in their respective fields. Arvi and Vidya might not have joined Nag and me on day one, but they are truly Co-Founders of this company in every sense of the word. Our core group of engineers in Sudha, Madhu, Femil and Prasath have been with us from day zero and continue to form the core of the company even today. In Selva, we have the world’s greatest admin/happiness officer for sure. People equally good and many times better than us joined us along the journey in Bangalore, Chennai, San Francisco, Salt Lake City, Singapore, and Kuala Lumpur but naming them will need me to go through 92 names in all. Vijay, the spiritual origin of CloudCherry and Prem the Brandman might not be with us by payroll, but continue to constitute the spirit of CloudCherry. You cannot get much wrong with a crew like this and yet I did; more often than not. Drawing from an old joke, they succeeded most times not because of; but in spite of me.  

Our bankers: at NFluence Brewer and Jacob became one of us over the past few weeks and the amazing team at Holland Hart (Jeff, Scott, and JP) made complex matters look easy. A shout out to Anil Advani at Inventus Law who helped us with so much during our early days. Thank you, Anil!  

Investors and mentors: It sure did take a village to get this lightbulb going and I am positive if I listed everyone I can remember, I will still miss a good many of you. I will name a few and apologize to the countless many I could not list by name. Working with investors like Ben Mathais, CHUA Joo Hock, CHUA Kee Lock at Vertex showed me what a truly world-class investor group looks like. Chris Cooper and Holly Preslar at Pelion were such a calming influence, showed me what ‘founder-friendly’ meant and I got to understand their amazing culture so well during their AGM. TCM at IDG / Chiratae has been our earliest institutional backer and the one that kept us true to the discipline a startup always needs. The Chennai Angels and Capillary, who saw promise in a fledgling startup when even we were not so sure. Cisco Investments and that incredible team of people (Rajiv Menon, Donald Tucker, Rob Salvagno, Shiv Sharma, Hitesh Saijpal, Christiaan Kuun and people who worked with us in the past – Alok Bardiya and John Kim). This army of people helping our growth and progress as a company is why I am now a massive believer that every startup should consider a strategic investor on their cap table. I also had the counsel and faith of 2 board members/observers. Women who show us why more women should be in tech! Rajani Ramanathan showed us how great companies look like from the inside and Deborah Eastman showed us what a global CX thought leader looks like.  

Along also came people who showed me what great founders look like. I have had the privilege of observing and seeking knowledge from some of India’s best-known startup founders. Girish of Freshworks, Aneesh of Capillary and Mithun of Caratlane taught me much just by going about their craft effortlessly.  Along with people like Nags of 24×7, Phani (Redbus), Manav (Eka) and Pallav (Fusion Charts); I learned that the success of their respective companies is no coincidence. The exclusive ‘DPC’ WhatsApp group was where we shared our journeys with many other founders who inspire me in different ways. To the DPC crew and an unnamed imaginary fund therein. To Venkat, who showed me startup life when I was a happy sailor looking forward to his next voyage.  

Avinash Raghava, who everyone in India’s SaaS ecosystem knows is perhaps the kindest soul I have ever met, someone who perhaps had more faith in me that I did myself. I consider myself lucky to have the love and belief of so many of these people. 

Prof. Sriram, my brother, mentor and the one who got me to pursue CloudCherry is no longer with us but I hope he is proud of what became of the idea we discussed all those years ago in Chennai.  

Finally, People who never worked with us From my friend Anand in Chennai that I hope to buy MV Dream Voyager with and who shared the emotional journey with me, Shantanu who helped me with complex excels like it was his company,  friends all the way from Chennai to California that co-signed my car leases and gave me food, drink and a sympathetic shoulder in my troughs. To my many out of the world friends across this world, your contribution to our success is almost CoFounder like 🙂  

My parents and my brother’s family which is my own have seen this journey not just ringside, but sometimes from in it. My parents paid my bills, paid off my loans and made me sometimes feel like I was 17 again. I owe everything to their love and faith in me and hope to see them more often in the years to come.  

And finally the 3 most amazing women in my life. My 5-year-old daughter Kimaya has only about known CloudCherry as my life and when I tried to explain to her what was happening, she cried thinking there would be no more CloudCherry. True story. Annika was more sagely in her understanding of things even though she just turned 8 this weekend.  

I shall be remiss if I forget to mention my original Co-Founder. Someone who helped me firm up my mind to start this venture with zero money, who let me be the most absent father on the planet and who was my personal therapist as I navigated the ups and downs of a first-time entrepreneur; Mirjam Dijkxhoorn was a wife, therapist and best friend rolled into one. Everyone does need a Co-Founder!  

This is the moment we transition from a scrappy startup to a scale company and aim for the moon. Our dream of being a ‘unicorn’ came early and the CloudCherry crew intends to take this opportunity to make the world a more delightful place, count on it!