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Entrepreneur Spotlight: Tobias Kunze, Glasnostic

Tobias Kunze is the CEO and co-founder of Glasnostic, which provides reliability and security engineers with runtime control over their cloud architectures. This enables teams to tune and shape how their systems interact, automatically and in real time.

Tobias was previously the co-founder of Makara, the enterprise PaaS that became Red Hat OpenShift. With Glasnostic, he is on a mission to make enterprise cloud architectures reliable and secure.

Why did you start Glasnostic? What is it about Glasnostic that makes you want to invest your time in it?

Tobias Kunze headshot
Tobias Kunze

I saw multiple factors that would create complexity and ultimately crazy chain reactions between system components, which need to be managed on an entirely different level: increasing platform abstractions, higher-level technology stacks, the ease with which cloud enables the creation of workloads, and the ever-increasing automation of deployments.

It’s on the same level as air traffic control. As long as there are only a few planes around, you fly by day and stay away from clouds (unpredictability), you don’t need air traffic control. But as demand for air travel increases, you can no longer manage with better pilots or, in our case, “better code.” You need air traffic control. It’s a once-in-a-career paradigm shift that requires full attention.

What motivates you?

This is a once-in-a-career industry shift from relying exclusively on code to coupling code with runtime control.

Why do startups fail?

There are many reasons but most importantly I’d say: lack of market need, overspending and a lack of persistence. Entrepreneurs need to get the physics of how a product fits the market right, and there are numerous details that can derail an otherwise promising market introduction.

Thankfully, though, most issues can be fixed over time.

Are there any unusual places where you find inspiration?

Walking the dog at night, in the dark!

Who are the types of people who are successful working at startups?

Being successful at a startup requires two characteristics: a readiness to take on ownership and an ability to overcome obstacles. You need to own what you do because there is nobody with spare time to take on your work, and you need grit to not capitulate. Neither are sufficient, but both are necessary!

What’s one piece of information you know now that you wish you had known when you started your company?

Everybody tells you speed of execution matters, but you tend to hear the wrong reasons for why that is the case. Speed of execution matters because there’s too much to do, and getting stuff done is the single most effective way to reduce that complexity.

What’s your favorite quote?

Leonard Bernstein once said: “To achieve great things, two things are needed: a plan and not quite enough time.” I think that hits the nail on the head.

Besides your own, what other startup do you wish you could have founded or worked at?

Apart from maybe being part of Fairchild Semiconductor, I would love to have followed James Clark from the early days of Silicon Graphics through Netscape. I’d been at SGI in the mid-90s when there was still palpable admiration for Clark, so experiencing that culture first-hand would be fantastic.

Which entrepreneurs do you admire?

Repeat entrepreneurs! Those are people who know how painful it can be, and they do it nevertheless.

Glasnostic is a York IE portfolio company. Read our Glasnostic investment rationale for more information.

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