MongoDB is bringing on a new CTO from Singaporean ride-hailing company Grab as its cofounder Eliot Horowitz steps down (MDB)

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  • On Monday, MongoDB announced that board member Mark Porter, who most recently worked at the Singaporean ride-hailing company Grab, will be its new CTO, and co-founder Eliot Horowitz will step down on July 10.
  • Porter has spent his career at companies such as Oracle, Amazon Web Services, and Grab, where he worked on building databases and infrastructure.
  • Porter says he looks forward to going back to his technical roots and learning more about open source, as MongoDB started off as an open source database.
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Back in March, $13 billion database company MongoDB announced during its earnings call that CTO and co-founder Eliot Horowitz would be stepping down to take time off after 13 years working there. 

Now, MongoDB has hired a database veteran to take over the helm. On Monday, MongoDB announced board member Mark Porter as its new CTO. Because of his new role, which will start July 20, Porter will step down from the board of directors. As for Horowitz, his last day is July 10.

“I think Eliot is amazing. He started the company and changed the way we think about data,” Porter told Business Insider. “I’m excited to take up the reins where Eliot left off.”

Porter calls this role at MongoDB his “dream job.” He’s been programming since he was 11 and has worked a wide variety of jobs, including at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, at Oracle for nearly 12 years, and at Amazon Web Services for over five years. Most recently, he served as the CTO of mobility and core technology of the Singaporean ride-hailing company Grab.

“I’m most excited about meeting with customers, learning about their needs and thinking about their entire enterprise, how we can build a data platform that makes their data so easy to use,” Porter said. “The challenge is using it and getting value out of it. This is a growth area for me to help shepherd the technology vision for the entire technology platform.” 

As CTO, Porter will plot out the company’s long-term technology plans and focus on understanding how customers use MongoDB to build applications. 

“We’re going to talk to customers,” Porter said. “The database market is growing at a pretty good clip. Application development is growing at an unbelievable speed.”

After spending nearly 12 years at Oracle, Porter says MongoDB is ‘the perfect place to land’

Porter spent a good chunk of his career building databases at Oracle, where he was the 11th employee in the databases group and served as a vice president of engineering. So he says that as he looked at the arc of his career, he thought MongoDB was “the perfect place to land.”

“Along the way I got introduced to databases,” Porter said. “As I worked with some of the largest systems in the world, I loved all the things you could do with computers and databases.”

At Grab, Porter says, it was common for the company to develop one to two services per week, helping it become a fast mover in the industry. He says technology like MongoDB helps companies move even faster. He also had to make sure Grab was up 24/7.

“When the Grab goes down, governments call,” Porter said. “That mission-critical, operational expertise is something I’m excited about…I’m really looking forward to helping Mongo, helping grow the team, helping grow leadership, and work on leadership. I’m deeply passionate about culture and how culture can be an enabler.”

Porter already knew many people who worked at MongoDB, and he joined the board last year. 

“As I joined the board and helped the board solve standard things going on at Mongo, I got to know the people more and more and more,” Porter said. “The enthusiasm of the people started making me more enthusiastic. As I talked to them, it became more and more obvious I should start working there.”

Porter looks forward to going back to his technical roots

Porter says he also looks forward to going back to his technical roots and learning more about open source software. MongoDB has its roots as an open source database project, though it has since changed its software license in response to competition from foreign cloud providers like Baidu that were selling MongoDB’s free software on their clouds. 

“I think I’m going to wait until I’m inside the company and learn about how Mongo thinks about open source,” Porter said. “I am a big proponent of open source but I need to learn.”

He says one challenge will be to convince customers about more modern ways to build apps, rather than relying on the legacy databases made popular by companies like Oracle. 

“The challenge is opening their eyes that something can be done,” Porter said. “You don’t have to be doing it the way you’ve done it for two decades. The challenge is going around and talking with people on how they can do things in a faster and more efficient way.”

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