Today we are talking to Jason Warner, the SVP of Technology for GitHub. And we discuss The different flavors of Mergers and Acquisitions, stepping out of your comfort zone in order to grow, and why it’s so important to take ownership over the things you can control.
All of this, right here, right now, on the Modern CTO Podcast!
Jason Warner is GitHub’s Senior Vice President of Technology, where he oversees our Engineering and Security Teams. Jason has played an integral role in scaling the engineering organization, and building GitHub’s product roadmap to fit the needs of developers around the world.
Prior to joining GitHub in 2017, Jason was Vice President of Engineering at Heroku. Before Heroku, Jason oversaw product engineering for Ubuntu Desktop and Ubuntu Phone at Canonical.
- Calling in from Bellevue Washington
- Checking out his medium. Where did he get his artwork?
- Person he used to follow on instagram mastervi , micron pens to draw architecture
- When you’re managing or leading every day. I’m no different than I was 5 years ago. Can see the progression but you don’t feel it every day.
- 50/50 been a distributed remote exec. GitHub is 60% distributed.
- Has interacted with Parker Harris a few times at salesforce. One of the more genuine people in the industry
- Story about Parker Harris from Salesforce. Flying to a leadership thing with Parker. On his flight row 7 in economy with everyone else. Tons of people in salesforce who were in first class. Thought to himself. No matter what happens in life be Parker.
- Got the GitHub painting as a closing gift for the closing of the acquisition
- How have things changed since the acquisition. Most of the operations have stayed the same. Nat Friedman has come in as CEO and is a very hands on CEO. His personal life has changed, people have approached him for many different things. Fame is ephemeral.
- Feels like he won the lottery with people coming out of the woodwork.
- Everyone in the industry knew what GitHub should be and could be but very few people could move it there. His job was to come in and get it ready to be acquired or IPO
- Announced the Acquisition on his 1 year anniversary, interest in 6 months and 9 months to close the deal.
- Was able to get the big companies on the line in October.
- Advice for being acquired. Acquired for a variety of different reasons.
- Neutralizing competition. Optimizing what you have in the market or you are innovating. 3 types of product.
- M&A Comes in the same flavors. Usually comes to neutralization or innovation.
- People think they are buying innovation but they are trying to buy up Gap
- Joel nailed the M&A on the head.
- Human dynamic. Wins and losses. FOMO.
- How do you grow and develop your next generation of leaders especially being remote?
- Willingness to pick up the phone. Video has changed the game entirely for remote. Slack is not an acceptable alternative to video. Very difficult to just write. Mixed modes of operation.
- They all wrapped together allow you to have a good experience. Every once in a while it’s necessary to get together but not every week or every month.
- Slack, one on ones. If miscommunication happens over text, jump on a call immediately. Nuance is difficult in text.
- Advice for stepping outside of your comfort zone. Could go on for days. First time he jumped in to management. Reluctant leader. Jumped in to management and went back over and over again. Was so frustrated with what was going on around him. Everything was a mess. Was young and had an uncomfortable conversation with the CTO. Talk about things and prioritize top 5 things to go after.
- Saw an issue and stepped up out of his conversation. Every conversation is a chance for net improvement or decline in a relationship. The skill is finding out how to have those conversations. Book called crucial conversations.
- Social thinking and how to express yourself for kids on the spectrum. Was able to figure out that there are modes of communication that we don’t employ. We take short cuts in the conversations. We do a disservice when trading on social norms. Has lived all over the world and people are different everywhere. Need to have deeper conversations
- Story of how he has moved around. American’s forget or don’t know how easy and cheap things are in the US. Prefers the Australian medical system.
- Discussing if it’s the responsibility of the company to improve the individual or the individual himself. Assume that no one will be responsible for you the way that you will. Look for places that will care for you the way that you want to be cared for. Provide the opportunity but look for the people who have the drive. You try to find people you need to reign in not people you need to motivate. Job is to motivate. It’s both parties but the individual would need to care more.
- Joel – If it’s your fault you have the ability to do something about it.
- There are very few things that you have control over in life.
- Asked about Mentors in his life. Only one person in his career who he feels cared for him as a person. In 20 plus year career he’s never had it. It’s very hard to find a mentor. People assume that people will provide them opportunities. It doesn’t work that way. Should is a useless word. Take ownership over the things that you can control
- Comic he loves about climate change.
- Things won’t always be fair but you have to play it out over time.
- When do people have success in their life? Some people who have early success but most people are achieving their life’s work in 40s 50s 60s and 70s
- Joel make mental change from investing in the exception instead of playing the long game.
- Silicon valley teaches you to play the other way but if you’re on your side of the fence play your game.
- What are you most excited about today? Things that get him out of bed is liking what he does. He likes what GitHub is building. Can put together what they are doing over the next 5 years. Likes developing the future.
- Does a lot of internal speaking with Microsoft. Has a CTO summit in June in New York. Gives the same type of talk. Building organizations that can scale and thrive over time.
- His wife wants him to keep writing. GitHub is a pressure test of the theories. It’s the pinnacle of all those things, vc funded positive and negatives.