Aaron Katz Transcript

Clint Betts

Welcome to the CEO.com Show. My name is Clint Betts. We have an incredible guest today, the CEO of ClickHouse, Aaron Katz. He spent a significant amount of time with Mark Benioff in Salesforce, opening offices overseas, internationally. Learned at the feet of Benioff, which he talks about in this interview. You're going to really like it. It's also like if anyone's building an open source tech company or startup, I think he has a lot of really great nuggets in here. So check it out. Thank you for watching. Thank you for listening. Here's Aaron Katz, CEO of ClickHouse.

Aaron, thank you so much for coming on. You've built an incredible business with ClickHouse. I want to just maybe start at the beginning of your journey, the beginning of your career, what you were thinking of doing, how you thought your career would play out.

Aaron Katz

Let's see where to start. I've been in the industry of enterprise software for 25 years this year. It started in 1997. I was an intern at Sun Microsystems while I was studying economics at the University of California, Davis. And that internship led me to get a role when I graduated at PeopleSoft, which at the time was a leading enterprise software company.

Spent some time at PeopleSoft. And then during the kind of dot-com frenzy, I joined a small startup like many of us did in San Francisco in our early 20s back then, and experienced the incredible rise and then the demise of that time in the industry. And then in early 2002, I joined Salesforce.

And I can talk a bit about how that came to pass. I'm born and raised in Silicon Valley. Very lucky to have grown up in and around technology. My father spent a long time at Xerox, selling copy machines and working his way up the Xerox sales management ranks, and then moved over to PARC, Palo Alto Research Center, which was Xerox's Innovation Lab and is credited with a lot of technology innovation that we use every day currently.And so I was in and around technology, sales and was very fortunate.

Obviously attribute a lot of it to a lot of guidance and mentors from people that I've worked with over the course of time. And here I am 25 years later, still in Silicon Valley. I've spent a bit of time overseas. And we can talk about those international experiences and how that's framed my thinking, but I'm happy to elaborate on any of that, Clint, wherever you want to take it.

Clint Betts

Yeah. I'm wondering about the Salesforce journey. I mean, it was a private company when you joined it with less than 200 employees or around 200 employees. How did you end up at Salesforce?

Aaron Katz

Frankly, it wasn't my intent. My goal was to go to business school. And when things fell apart in late 2001, I applied to a number of business schools thinking that I had this pretty unique experience. I had scored well on the GMAT. I had good grades from a well-respected school and thought that I'd at least get into one, and I didn't.

Clint, I didn't get into one. I got waitlisted at MIT. And I think I could have probably pushed and gotten into Sloan. And at the time, I'm unemployed, I haven't gotten into any business schools and the market has completely collapsed and I'm thinking, "I need a job."

The company, the startup that I was at, was an early Salesforce customer. And so I'd used the product and I'd gotten to know the company in San Francisco and worked my way to get an interview with Mark Benioff. And at the time, Salesforce was a small, I don't know, a hundred, give or take, employees, a single product. It was really a kind of glorified contact manager with some basic opportunity management.

And I met with the leadership team, including Mark. And I wanted to go into direct sales, but I didn't really have the type of experience that they were looking for from companies like Siebel or Oracle at the time, which were the market leaders. But I had a technical background from my time at Sun and PeopleSoft.

And Mark said he's starting a new sales function called corporate sales or at the time was small business, and he needed a sales engineer. So kind of technical pre- sales. And I frankly was going to take whatever job he offered me and I did. I started as an SE, that only lasted about six months. They then asked if I would lead a region, the western region of the US, and then the company really just had this incredible growth curve that I was able to be part of, but that's how I landed there. It was very fortuitous and wasn't exactly intentional.

Clint Betts

What did you attribute to the growth curve at the time? Like Salesforce, obviously now a mammoth of a company. Mark Benioff, a legend from Silicon Valley. You're there in the early days. It's not clear that that's going to happen. At what point are you like, "This is going to be a huge, huge company," and what would you attribute that to?

Aaron Katz

Well, I'd love to claim that I had that foresight retrospectively. The reality is the startup I was part of was in cloud computing, trying to disrupt the insurance industry. And so I did have conviction that the internet was going to empower companies in terms of enterprise software in ways that client-server software wasn’t capable of doing. I had implemented PeopleSoft applications. And so I'd gone through those experiences and knew that the power of a multi-tenant cloud offering was very compelling. And so I had that conviction.

I think the early years of Salesforce's success was obviously a combination of a number of factors, much of which was timing and then Mark's brilliance that I was frankly almost too close to really appreciate at the time. And if you look at other CEOs in the industry, Larry Ellison, Tom Siebel, many others, they were frankly quite dismissive of cloud computing, that it wasn't secure, it didn't scale. And obviously we disproved those claims over time, but even then it wasn't easy.

I mean, if you remember back then, Salesforce, I joined in '02, that company went public in 2004. And shortly after that, we had a really difficult time keeping the service stable, literally keeping it available and reliable. And some of our largest customers at the time were threatening to attrit, the stock was getting hammered.

Many of us had lived through the dot-com implosion, and those were some very rocky waters to navigate. But fortunately, with Mark's leadership and the broader Salesforce leadership team at the time, we're able to get through that. And then the other thing that still baffles me to this day is the competitive landscape just didn't frankly show up for a long period.

Clint Betts


Aaron Katz

So we had this incredible momentum. We had the shift to cloud computing with the proliferation of the internet, then the shift to mobile, and the competitors just were frankly caught flatfooted. And I think they were in a state of disbelief. And so we had this huge market opportunity, a large established incumbent competitive set with customers that were frankly dissatisfied with the solutions that they were using.

And so a combination of all of those factors and then just, frankly, a lot of hard work and execution, I think got the company with this incredible momentum that we were able to capitalize on over the subsequent 12 years that I spent there.

Clint Betts

It's interesting when you talk about the server issues, keeping it alive, that type of stuff. How great would something like AWS have been back then?

Aaron Katz

It is a great question. Obviously it would've been excellent had AWS had the stability and scalability today. This is now 21 years ago, obviously.

Clint Betts

Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Aaron Katz

So hard to look back and say, "Okay, we have the same AWS experience back then that we do today." But yeah, that would've been hugely important, especially as we thought about international expansion. Because as we started to go into Europe and Asia, obviously data residency became an important consideration in where those data centers were going to be located, and then how the data would transfer from one location to the next, and backups and reliability and redundancy came into play. And it was very capital intensive, obviously.

And so Salesforce, fortunately because the revenue was growing so steeply, we were able to fund that expansion. But I think had we had access to what's commonly accepted now in terms of these infrastructure providers, AWS, GCP, Azure, Alibaba, Tencent in China, it would've rapidly enabled us to expand even faster back then.

Clint Betts

Were you involved in the expansion into Europe and outside the United States and internationally? What was your role in that?

Aaron Katz

I was. In almost all of the international locations, I played a role. In 2005, three years after I joined, Mark and the leadership team asked if I would be interested in moving to Singapore to help open our Asia Pacific headquarters. And at the time I was 29 years old, it sounded like an excellent opportunity. And so I moved to Singapore. It was supposed to be an 18-month expat assignment. I ended up spending nearly four years there and expanding Salesforce across Asia Pacific.

We had done a joint venture previously in Japan. And so while I worked with the leadership team in Japan, most of my responsibilities were expanding into Australia, New Zealand, Southeast Asia, India, South Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong, and mainland China. And so I spent nearly four years there.

And after that, they needed some assistance in Europe. And so my wife and I picked up and moved to Dublin, Ireland, and helped some expansion into continental Europe, in the UK. And then when I came back to the Bay Area in 2009, Mark and the leadership team asked for me to take on Latin America and lead the company's expansion into Brazil. There were a lot of parallels with what we had done in Asia.

And so I did that for a number of years before I left. And so was for many years, one of Mark's kind of international have-bag-will-travel sales leaders. And as a result, I learned a ton about how these different international markets operate, both in terms of direct and indirect sales channels. And I think that really enabled me to be successful in the following role that I held when I left Salesforce.

Clint Betts

Yeah. I'm wondering what lessons you learned taking a company from the United States internationally. So often we think like, "Hey, we have market share in the United States. We got to build the company here." And I don't think early on people are thinking, or founders and CEOs are thinking about, "Well, we also need to expand to the world. There's only 300 million people in the United States," that type of thing, right? What did you learn from that experience and has it helped with ClickHouse?

Aaron Katz

Oh, absolutely. So what you learn obviously is that you can't take a playbook that works in a homogenous market like North America and simply expect it to work in these other international markets. They're extraordinarily unique. I spent four years in Asia, you could spend a lifetime in Asia, from my perspective, and never fully understand all the nuances of these different markets, the different cultural dimensions. That's kind of stating the obvious.

But also if you look at Europe, for example, and you look at the major markets in Europe. You look at the UK and Germany and France and the Nordics and Benelux and Iberia, even those markets are very different. And expecting that you're going to put a sales team in Dublin alone or London and be able to reach into continental Europe remotely, I think you're going to really limit your opportunity.

And then you look at Latin America, roughly, speaking about half of the addressable market is in Brazil, Portuguese-speaking, and then the other half is Spanish-speaking. And there's a lot of complexity specifically in Brazil in terms of employment law, for example, and the geopolitical climate. And so navigating that's been tricky.

I think my personal experience is really trying to acclimate and understand these different cultures because in many of these markets, they value relationships in a way that is different than we do here in the US, especially in Silicon Valley, where things move really quickly. And it can have a transactional feel at times where some of these other international markets really do invest heavily in understanding you as an individual. They see you as a partner to their business.

And being able to demonstrate that willingness to understand their culture as a foreigner, I think goes a long way. I've been overseas during a number of difficult geopolitical environments. And in many times when being an American wasn't necessarily a positive association, how do you manage that based on literally who's in office, who's in the White House in the association there?

Clint Betts

Yeah, how would you manage that? That's actually fascinating. You go to a country, they hate whoever the current president is, or the current thing that the country is doing, and you're not there for any of that. You're there to sell software, right? How do you manage that?

Aaron Katz

You try to stay open-minded, obviously. One example would be the administrative change when Obama took office and how positive that was received in Southeast Asia considering his history there. But prior to that, there was a lot of negative sentiment. And how do you do it? Frankly, in my experience, you don't take strong positions from a political perspective. You stay very open-minded.

And that actually is something that I've brought back with me here to Silicon Valley where a lot of these topics can be lightning rods, and it's very easy to isolate a subset of the community or the market by taking a strong position. And I think a lot of our elected officials who demonstrate that really do have a lot of potential to help bring these two very divided parties together.

Clint Betts

Is there an international market or a country that you would recommend companies expand to first or to test the waters of going internationally?

Aaron Katz

That's a great question. So let's start in Asia. The obvious ones are Australia, New Zealand. Those two different countries for a few different reasons. It's English- speaking, stable currencies, early adopters of technology. In fact, some of the most incredible technology companies have come out of those markets like Atlassian and recently Canva and many others. And so a lot of people say, "Oh. Well, I'm going to start in Australia. I get that right, then I'm going to expand into Southeast Asia and North Asia."

And that can be an effective approach, but the reality is that the GDP of Australia is not that different from Southern California and is smaller than Texas. And so I think for companies that think that they're going to start there for a number of years of really limiting their opportunity, Japan is the second or third-largest country in the world, putting China aside in terms of technology spending as a percentage of GDP.

So that's a huge market. It was a hugely successful market for us at Salesforce. It's extremely complex. Do you do a joint venture like we did at Salesforce? Do you establish your own KK?

You know, it's interesting. When we put our headquarters in Singapore, when Salesforce did back in 2005, Hong Kong was still the center of gravity in North Asia. And that shifted very, very quickly. In Europe, it's the countries that I mentioned, the UK, France, Germany, but at Elastic and at ClickHouse, we had significant presences in Amsterdam and in the Netherlands. And in fact, that's where our European headquarters are currently, and that's where our engineering and our sales hub is today at ClickHouse is in the Netherlands which has been a great country to hire in.

Amsterdam's a terrific city. You can get a lot of diverse local language speakers to sell into Germany and in France. And so Benelux has, from my experience, quickly emerged as a great market. You can reach up into the Nordics in Scandinavia very effectively.

Clint Betts

What did you learn from Benioff? I mean, you kind of had a front row seat to, again, someone who is now known as Silicon Valley. A legend and built one of the great companies during that time. What did you learn from him?

Aaron Katz

We could spend 45 minutes on that question. I mean, he is, from my perspective, the best CEO in enterprise software by a mile and through a variety of dimensions. First off, his vision and his ability to see into the future is unrivaled. He's a talent magnet. People want to be around him, they want to work for him, they want to continue to work for him for long periods of time.

He can relate to every function inside a company. So engineers revere him, and salespeople look up to him. He's an incredible marketer. He's got amazing finance intuition. So he is just highly credible with all these different stakeholders inside a company. He's obsessed with his customers. And the whole company then rallies around this focus on customer success, which an enterprise software wasn't always the case. It's now in vogue and everybody talks about it, but that wasn't the case 20-plus years ago.

He can relate to different cultures in an incredible way. He surrounds himself with luminaries and celebrities and rock stars. He's deeply spiritual. He can relate to you on a personal level. He was intimately involved in a family member of mine's critical health situation and he didn't need to be, and he just extended himself personally.

So I often say I'll be indebted to Mark for the rest of my life. He really set me up on this journey that I've been on for the last 21 years since I started working with him. And the industry, we're just lucky to have somebody like him set a vision that we can try to follow.

Clint Betts

What made you leave Salesforce?

Aaron Katz

I'd been there for 12 years, and I joined when I was 26. So now in my late 30s, I had worked in almost every geographic region. I had sold into different market segmentation, so at small to midsize businesses, enterprise, public sector, government. And so I felt like I was in a position where I could then leave and take a broader role at a smaller company. And while I was one of a handful of sales leaders that had kind of survived that 12-year period, I wasn't in the top job and I wasn't in the number two job at the company. And so I was ready to step into that role and run a global go-to-market function.

And I got close with a few different companies, and then Elasticsearch found me. And I spent months doing diligence on the technology. It's an open source search engine. We use it every day in our personal lives, but companies were rapidly adopting it. But it was a small startup. They were in the process of raising their series C.

And it was a leap of faith. And at the time, Cloudera and Hortonworks were widely regarded as success stories and open source. MongoDB had not taken off yet. I don't even think they'd gone public yet. And so there were a lot of questions around, "Can you build a successful, sustainable, profitable company around free software? And would open source business models be able to evolve along with cloud computing?"

And so it was time for me to just leave home, so to speak, and Salesforce was my professional home, and go and see if I could be successful at an earlier stage startup. And I was very fortunate to have picked a winner.

Clint Betts

And then how did ClickHouse come about?

Aaron Katz

Yeah, so I stepped out of Elastic right before COVID and was doing a lot of soul-searching about what the next stage of my career is going to look like? All of a sudden I'm in my mid-40s, I'd had these two unbelievable experiences of joining these small startups that then went public and learned so much and worked with so many talented people. What do I do next? Do I become an investor and help smaller companies grow? Do I start a company from scratch and take on the risk in the 10-to 20-year time horizon that's required to do that for the most part and accept that there's an extraordinarily high failure rate?

So yeah, and I finally came back to the fact that I'm an operator. We're answering the question of ClickHouse. And I'd come across the technology when I was transitioning out of Elastic. I'd seen it in, the wild pop up, some pretty impressive companies were adopting ClickHouse, companies like Uber and eBay and Cloudflare. And so I got exposed to the technology. And then frankly, they found me and asked if I'd be interested in forming a company around the open source database.

So I reached out to a few investors who I'd worked with in the past, Mike Volpi at Index Ventures and Peter Fenton at Benchmark. Two of what I would describe as the most prominent venture capitalists and infrastructure software, especially open source.

And I said, "Hey, I'm thinking about starting a company around ClickHouse. Would you be interested in working on this with me?" And they both said emphatically, "Yes, we've seen ClickHouse pop up in a large number of our portfolio companies, really exciting technology. We'd love to work with you on this project."

And I then reached out to an executive at Google who I had met when he was running engineering at Netflix. His name's Yury Izrailevsky and one of the most impressive engineering leaders that I've been exposed to in 20 years. And I asked if he'd be interested in leaving Google where he was running serverless and dev tooling and the cloud console and a number of other strategic offerings.

Yury and I started spending time with the creator of House Alexey, and we started talking about the type of company we would form. And it just really came together. It just felt right, and we had strong investor support, and the technology is extraordinarily powerful in terms of its performance and its cost-efficiency.

And I just felt like we have a headstart, we have an unfair advantage. Let me start there. And the fact that ClickHouse is being used by thousands of companies around the world who talk openly about their use of the technology. And I mentioned a few, but Microsoft and Deutsche Bank and Bloomberg and Disney. And so we have this incredible reference base with all of these diverse use cases. And so the addressable market is enormous.

I'm one of three founders. Most of my experience is on the go-to market side. Yury's got the same level of experience that I do, but on the product and engineering side. And then we have the creator of ClickHouse, Alexey, who's this brilliant engineer. And so we've got this very different complementary skill set that is really working well so far, and we're just coming up on two years here shortly.

Clint Betts

Yeah, it really is incredible. It was interesting to hear you talk about how it wasn't clear back in the day whether open source companies or open source models could generate revenue. You could build a business model around those and now it's becoming more and more frequent. How has that happened and how do you build a company around an open source model?

Aaron Katz

Well, I'll start by saying it all starts with the community. But at Salesforce, we had an amazing community of users that would come to our annual conference, Dreamforce, that would come to our regional events. They really felt like they were an extension of the technology and of the company. And so the concept of a community is not reserved to open source and enterprise software. I firmly believe that.

And what's wonderful about open source is its distribution method in the sense that people can adopt it with no friction and no barriers. You get this user base that's quite frictionless. You don't have to invest in sales and marketing to go into Singapore or Brazil. People can adopt the technology on their own and then they can contribute to it, and they feel a sense of ownership and a sense of contribution.

And even back then when I joined Elasticsearch, open source licensing, is it a GPL? Is it Apache 2? It was a bit of a religious war. And even that has evolved very, very quickly, especially with the emergence of these large cloud service providers like AWS and Google and Microsoft who have started to build managed services around open source.

But I'll tell you, Clint, it's not for the faint of heart. It's quite challenging to monetize free software. And these licenses are very permissive. People can modify the software, they can redistribute it, they can build managed services depending on the license that you adopt. And so people often say, "Do you compete against yourself? Do you compete against free?" And some will say you do, but I think that as long as the people are using your technology and they're talking about it.

I spoke with a customer this morning, one of the largest banks in the world who's using ClickHouse and they're about to push into production, and it was an extremely powerful use case that we're going to be talking about here in the next few months. They're not customers, they don't pay us anything. And they're realizing incredible value from this migration already.

And so I think if you get those testimonials, then it's just a function of time and your ability to strike the right balance between what do you put in the open source to drive adoption and virality and then how do you build a company around it? Do you sell support? Do you sell an enterprise version that you run on-prem? Or do you offer a managed service in the cloud? And that last offering is what we've arrived at in terms of taking ClickHouse and building a managed service that we're calling ClickHouse Cloud.

Clint Betts

Well, I imagine too, one of the benefits of having a strong community, people using it— it being open source,it being easily acceptable. Your customers or your community base is helping to build the product and showing you various use cases that maybe you wouldn't have thought of yourself, right?

Aaron Katz

Absolutely right. Couldn't be more spot on. It's a database. It's a column or database. The use cases are extraordinarily diverse. They range from sales and marketing, analytics, sentiment analysis, fraud detection crypto use cases are extremely broad. And companies of all sizes and all industries can use technology and they really do, Clint. They take you in all these different directions. And then companies start to build on top of ClickHouse.

So we've got startups that are building their product offerings that they're delivering to their customers using ClickHouse. These are mission-critical workloads. And so therefore there's a level of importance and emphasis that they place on the technology, and they really do want to have a relationship with the authors of the software.

And unfortunately, the committers of ClickHouse, we've got hundreds of contributors, but the committers are part of our company. And so we really are able to take community input and then prioritize the roadmap to deliver against that demand.

Clint Betts

That's incredible. How has this growth in AI, artificial intelligence, over the past year, year and a half, affected ClickHouse? And how do you see it all playing out in the future?

Aaron Katz

Yeah, it's a great question. So we recently launched a blog about how ClickHouse can be used for vector search. And so we're seeing a lot of AI/ML companies use ClickHouse to store data for their models, which is really exciting. And we're part of a few evaluations by some leading AI and ML companies that we're really encouraged by. We're staying true to the core.

So we're not trying to pivot the company and say overnight we're now an AI company or an ML company. We can enable a lot of AI and ML use cases. Frankly, that's nothing new. That's been the case for the last seven years. But we are starting to do some experimentation with implementing ChatGPT, for example, inside our cloud console, for example, to take a natural language query.

You've got a table of data and you want to ask it a question, you don't want to write SQL. You ask it a question in plain English and we'll then convert that into a SQL query. We'll correct your SQL queries, we'll make recommendations based on table format and data structures, things like that. So we are leveraging it internally and we're going to offer that back to our community and to our customers.

Clint Betts

Well, I imagine as you're saying that, I'm imagining when Web3 was all the rage, and blockchain. I imagine ClickHouse was a big part of that from the development side and from that community side. And you could have easily like we're a Web3, or gone in on that specific trend. You didn't. It probably makes a lot of sense the same thing you're doing with AI.

But how does the blockchain community view ClickHouse, and how do you think that's going to shake out now that it's not the trending thing in tech?

Aaron Katz

Yeah, it's another good question. We talk about one of our early adopters on Google Cloud. So we initially launched on AWS and then just recently on GCP and Azure will follow.

We announced a partnership with Ollie Cloud. And so I'll say we're reasonably cloud-agnostic, but one of our early adopters on GCP is a company out of Singapore called Nansen in the crypto space, and it's an incredibly innovative company. And the company is doing extremely well despite what's happening in the crypto market.

I don't profess to be an expert in this area whatsoever, Clint, but I'll tell you that it's not going away. And there will be a rationalization of maybe the amount of hype and investment in the category, but it's here to stay from my perspective. And so then it's just kind of picking the winners.

It's the same thing with AI. I was at an investor conference recently for one of our investors, GIC, the sovereign wealth fund of Singapore. And Mark Andreessen was there from Andreessen Horowitz. And I always listen to Mark talk, he's always got this incredible way of distilling down these trends into very powerful statements. And I think he referred to AI as an 80-year overnight success and talks about all of the effort and innovation over such a long period of time that's gotten us to this point.

And so I think you get these kinds of overnight hype cycles, but I think people that are really close to it will tell you it's been underway for quite some time. And so I think as we think about it from ClickHouse's perspective, we're an analytical database. And if we can power a lot of these AI and ML models and use cases the same way that we can power the generation of crypto winners, that's better than us trying to pivot and ride a hype cycle.

Although I will tell you, I think AI is fundamentally different from what we're seeing, and I don't think any of us really know what the next few years are going to look like, but it’s evolving very, very quickly.

Clint Betts

We had a Netflix CEO, Reed Hastings, at one of our events. When he was CEO, I don't think he's CEO anymore, but when he was leading that company. And he said something that's always stuck out to me, he says, "If you can't lead yourself, how could you possibly lead others?"

And I wonder how you lead yourself, what your day looks like, what your routines are that you've found as a leader that have helped you lead other people, lead teams, and lead companies?

Aaron Katz

Yeah. Coincidentally, I was with Reed Hastings last week at an offsite down in Santa Barbara and got to listen to him talk about his experiences at Netflix. And he's an incredible orator and storyteller.

And so to answer the question directly, the term servitude leadership is often used. I try to embrace it, which is I kind of flip the org chart upside down and say that I'm in service to all of our employees in our company, and essentially I work for them. And I do that in a variety of different ways, meaning, I do everything I can to make them as productive and as successful in their roles by removing friction, improving communication, flattening the company as much as one can so that there aren't levels of filters that occur between an engineer or a salesperson and myself, because we're interfacing directly together on a daily basis. So that's got a company culture type leadership and I learned that.

I've worked for a number of CEOs in the past, and I've learned a lot of what to do and a lot of what not to do. And so that's something that Mark was extraordinarily good at, relating to his employee base in a very personal way.

In terms of the day to day, I believe in a reasonably healthy balance. I work hard, I also play hard. I'm out on the trails almost every day at some point, either early in the morning or after the day is finished, either running or on a mountain bike. So I believe nature is extremely therapeutic. It helps me solve problems, work through thorny issues, whether it's personally or professionally that I need to navigate and disconnect from technology. I'm an avid outdoorsman.

So yeah, I've been an avid fly fisherman for, I don't know, 30 years. That was kind of a gateway drug into hunting. So I've picked up uplift hunting, and I'm not hugely successful because it's northern California and I didn't grow up doing it and I'm kind of self-guided. So I go out and it's just kind of a long walk in the woods.

And so I do those types of things that just kind of get lost in my thoughts, and then I think it makes me a better father, a better CEO, a better friend, all of those things.

Clint Betts

Finally, and Aaron, I can't thank you enough for taking the time and sharing your wisdom and everything you've learned and what you're doing at ClickHouse with the CEO.com community. We kind of end every interview the same way with the same question, which is at CEO.com we believe the chances that you give are just as important as the chances you take on yourself. And I wonder, you've talked a lot about Mark Benioff as someone who gave you a chance. I wonder if there's anyone else in your life who gave you a chance that you think of that has helped get you to where you are today?

Aaron Katz

I'd probably not say a specific individual. Well, first off, I'm the son of an immigrant. My mother came to the US with nothing. And so I wouldn't have learned the work ethic that I have without that upbringing. So I'll start there. Just deeply grateful to have won, I think what Warren Buffett calls the ovarian lottery and just an incredible role model to this day.

I guess you could self fund a lot of these companies. Some people do and bootstrap it, but ultimately these companies are funded by a group of investors. And those investors have a lot of alternatives in where they deploy their capital and I think it boils down to they bet on a team. And in many ways, they bet on a founder or a group of founders and their ability to preserve their capital and to invest it wisely and to grow it and hopefully provide a return, which is the objective is to build a long-lasting self-sustaining company. And so I kind of would point to those investors.

And then the reality is, you're only as successful as your teams. And so if I didn't have people that wanted to work with me and for me, I'd be dead in the water. And so those individuals that have trusted me with their careers, that work with me every day, that are committed to it, that are loyal, I'm deeply grateful for. Sorry, that wasn't a clear answer to a simple question, but it's hard to just pinpoint.

Clint Betts

No, that was incredible. Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. No, there's no right answer to that question for sure. Aaron, thank you so much. Best of luck in the future to you and ClickHouse, and really appreciate you coming on the show today.

Aaron Katz

My pleasure, Clint. Thanks for the invitation.

Daily Newsletter

For Leaders

Subscribe to the newsletter read by the world's most influential CEOs.