I am Mitchell Hashimoto, Founder and CTO of HashiCorp. Ask me anything!


Hey folks, 👋

I am Mitchell Hashimoto, founder and CTO of HashiCorp. HashiCorp is a remote-first, open source-based company that solves development, operations, and security challenges for cloud and infrastructure automation. At the time of writing, HashiCorp has over 400 employees and is valued at nearly $2 billion.

I’m the creator of Vagrant, Packer, Serf, Consul, Terraform, Vault, and Nomad. All of these projects are open source (MPL2). Fun fact is I started Vagrant in a dorm room, it has come a long way!

I am happy to answer almost any questions, but here are some topics to help:

  • Cloud infrastructure
  • Security
  • Static infrastructure vs dynamic infrastructure
  • Development environments, IDEs, etc.
  • Docker, Kubernetes, etc.
  • Startups and building a business around open source
  • Remote company, culture, hiring, etc.
  • Open Source!

Looking forward to answering your questions! I will answer them live on 30th Jan, 2 PM ET onwards.

Melvin's photo

Thanks for the AMA! 🙌

What's your secret sauce to being so productive? What tools, techniques do you employ to manage your time?

Pen and paper! Also: regular schedules including breaks.

I don't really use any software tools to help me with productivity beyond just normal bog-standard development tools (Vim, I don't use an IDE, I don't use a debugger, a browser, etc.)

I write a lot of human language before I write computer language. 🙃 I plan things out to a pretty detailed degree. For example before starting Terraform, I think Armon and I collectively wrote about 60 to 80 pages of Google Docs thinking through how it'd work before we wrote ANY code.

After having that detail, I think of a component I want to build, and then usually break that component down to tasks that are achievable in less than an hour. Then, I focus in on that task and while I'm working on a task I do nothing else. I don't use any tools for this although a lot exist, I just focus in. When that task is done, I feel a sense of achievement, happiness, and usually take a break.

I think this "bite-size" task is really important. If you look at any problem holistically, its just too large. If you work on something too long without seeing results, its easier to get demotivated. I recognized this early on in myself, so in high school I started breaking things down into achievable goals first. And that has been key!

Breaks are really important, and I think its why I like working remotely so much. I actually take quite frequent breaks: stopping for 10 or 15 minutes every hour or so. To some bosses that may seem wasteful, but I think my past can show I am productive, and its mentally helpful. I like to sit outside and have a coffee, or just sit.

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Varrun Ramani's photo

What are some lessons from growing a software company from open source? If you were to go back and do things differently, what would the changes you would have made? Do you have any tips for entrepreneurs starting companies from open source?

Sorry I haven't answered this, this is a really big question and difficult to answer without just typing for hours and hours. I've learned a lot of lessons, I've made numerous mistakes. It's hard to pinpoint them in the moment also because there is so much context around them.

I think my one tip I'd give, and I mentioned this in detail in another answer so for full detail check that out: starting a company of any form is so much more than the technical bits. For me, the technical bits were easy, a given. But you still need to build out support, sales, marketing, etc. And each of those is just as hard in their own way as the core product and technology. It is a big undertaking.

I don't want to discourage people from starting companies though! It has been very rewarding, I had no idea what I was doing going into it, and I am doing okay. You can too. But I also didn't realize how hard it would actually be.

Sandeep Panda's photo

Hi Mitchell

Thanks for the AMA. ❤️ Big fan of Hashicorp and the Open Source projects you have built. I have the following 3 questions for you:

  • In your opinion, what is the best way to recruit and retain a great team?
  • What are some interesting ways to promote and monetize Open Source work?
  • What non-technical aspects do you examine when hiring engineers?

Lastly, do you think cats are cuter than dogs? 😃

Show all replies

So your interview would involve giving me horrible broken code, impossible deadlines, and then I'll be spending that time justifying why it has to be fixed first? I'm not sure I'd want to work there after that...

Anand Kepler's photo

Thanks for AMA! Big fan of HashiCorp and we use all your products everyday at work.

Looking for advice as someone who admires your open-source contributions. I see them as well-executed ideas made accessible.

  1. What kinds of products are missing in 2019 and are going to get a lot bigger? (Not limited to infrastructure)
  2. What do you credit for the success of your open source projects like Vagrant?
  3. What other open source projects are you a fan of?
  4. What steps would you recommend to an early-career developer to position themselves to work on successful large-scale, well-designed software projects?

What kinds of products are missing in 2019 and are going to get a lot bigger? (Not limited to infrastructure)

I recently picked up an iPad Pro (2018 model). Before owning one, I thought of it as "just another iOS device." I've owned other iPad models in the past. But this iPad Pro in particular is different: it represents a huge opportunity to shift day to day workloads to it. It's so much closer to just being a computer in the... useful sense.

I think iPad Pro-focused software will grow. I don't necessarily think that 2019 will be huge for it, but I think a lot more people will pick up on this trend.

What do you credit for the success of your open source projects like Vagrant?

A lot of things. A lot of people!

I think the early adopters that help shape the products, take the risk in using an unstable product, etc. are a huge part of that success.

What other open source projects are you a fan of?

Besides the big obvious ones like Vim (I'm a vim user)...

I've really loved watching the serverless stuff take off. I think a lot of it has major issues still but its definitely a radical way of thinking and I give a lot of credit to the "crazies" trying to make it a real thing (I'm not saying it won't be).

What steps would you recommend to an early-career developer to position themselves to work on successful large-scale, well-designed software projects?

I explain in other answers, but be more than just a good coder: be good at communication, be kind, be pragmatic, etc. From there, work on some products and continually shift towards what you want to do.

John Matthews's photo

Hey Mitchell. What mistakes did you do while growing your company? If you were to go back in time, what are a few things you would do differently?

I've made a lot of mistakes! I'll bring up a few.

Misidentifying our target market. Our original commercial product we built ultimately fell hard for a lot of reasons, but one big one was we were trying to build something that individuals would like and large Global 2K companies. That might be possible but its really hard. When we decided to focus in on Global 2K and "enterprise," we were much more successful. This mistake though ended up costing us years of engineering time.

Not solidifying processes quick enough. It may seem crazy, but its better to start thinking about and implementing consistent processes to product development and so on earlier than later. We didn't do it in earnest until we had maybe 50 people in product/engineering. We're still digging ourselves out of that hole. Before then we just kind of jumped around and worked on what needed to be worked on. That's productive for awhile but breaks down eventually!

I'll just leave it at that... but its always a bumpy road!

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