A New Chapter for Kohsuke

Written by: Kohsuke Kawaguchi

2020 is going to be a year of change for me. By the end of January, I’ll be officially stepping back from Jenkins , switching my role at CloudBees to an advisor, and turning attention to my new startup . The rest of this post is to contextualize this transition, because if you haven’t been working closely with me, this might come across as a surprise.

Jenkins has been an amazing journey that never stopped giving. I have loved it all - especially meeting the users around the world who made Jenkins what it is today. As the creator of the project, at some point I started wondering how to pass the torch to the next leaders, how to get people to step up and drive it forward. Today, thanks to CloudBees and the community, there is a new generation of talented and capable leaders who are passionately driving things forward - and it’s been great to see. Newly elected board members , Jenkins X folks, just to name a few. These new people bring new culture and new code, and altogether it has created a positive jolt that pushed Jenkins out of a local optimum I talked about. They have all my support and respect. In reality, my involvement with Jenkins lately has already been largely symbolic, a little bit like the emperor of Japan or the Queen of the UK. That’s why this announcement has little practical impact on the forward motion of Jenkins.

The same goes for CloudBees, where I served as CTO for many years. Today, the company is not only so much bigger in terms of people involved, but also in terms of its scope and ambition. Jenkins-related business is a solid key pillar of the business, but it’s “just” one of several. In 2019, I gradually transitioned from engineering and product day-to-day execution, so once again this announcement has no practical impact in the unstoppable machine that is CloudBees.

Several years ago, I used to feel like the sky would fall down if I stepped aside. Somewhere in 2019, I suddenly noticed that I wasn’t feeling like that at all anymore. The shift was gradual and steady, so I’m not sure exactly when I crossed the threshold, but in 2019 it was clear I was on the other side. That’s how I knew I could finally end this chapter of my life. 15 years with Jenkins and 10 years with CloudBees. That is a long time.

I hope you will be wondering what is my new chapter. I’m launching a new startup, Launchable, with my old time buddy Harpreet Singh (on the far right, in the photo above). I have known him since my days at Sun Microsystems and JavaEE, and he was my partner in crime at CloudBees to build the Jenkins business from scratch. He went to Atlassian running its BitBucket business for a while, but now he and I are back sitting side by side again. A number of CloudBees people invested, including Sacha Labourey, Bob Bickel, and John Vrionis.

Through Jenkins and CloudBees, I was able to push the state of automation forward in software development. Such automation is producing a lot of data, but we are not using that data to improve our lives. It truly is a wasted gold mine. Launchable is working on harnessing that information to improve developer productivity. I wrote a separate blog post to discuss more about my thinking.

Lastly, even though I’m moving on from CloudBees as a full-time employee, I’m not completely going away. I’ll be still in the CloudBees orbit, as an advisor. I’m still very much invested both emotionally and financially in CloudBees. I’m still a big fan, and I’ll continue to cheer for them, but from the sideline. The same with Jenkins. I’m still on the governance board, ensuring the continuity. I’m also still on the Technical Oversight Committee of the Continuous Delivery Foundation, though my chairperson term will expire in March.

I’m incredibly grateful for the undeserved opportunity and the privilege given to me during this chapter. I was surrounded by wonderful, inspiring, and talented people, from whom I learned a lot. I can only hope that I was able to make a positive impact, and give something back in return to them. I won’t name names, but you know who you are, and we’ll stay in touch.

This year is going to be truly exciting for me. To infinity and beyond!!

Kohsuke Kawaguchi
Chief Scientist

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