Marco Pracucci

Stepping back from CTO and jumping into operations

by Marco Pracucci Comments

Last friday was my last day as CTO at Spreaker, and - starting from the monday after - my friend and colleague Rocco took over. As you can imagine, it has been an hard decision to take, after more than 8 years in this role. Hard, not suffered. It’s my strong belief that my upcoming role will better fit for me, and I’m very excited about it!

So, what am I going to do at Spreaker?

I will lead the tech operations team. Yes, you read it correctly. In this blog post I will try to give a public explaination and the rationale behind this decision.

Why a step back?

I’ve been CTO at Spreaker since the day zero. At the beginning it was just a formality. You know, in a startup company with a super small team, roles are more a formality for investors than a real distinction between people’s daily job. I was used to wear many hats - and I still do it - from writing code to do operations, from keeping in touch with partners to do customer support.

Luckily, the company has grown over the time, the team increased and roles became real operational distinctions between people. Until recent times, the team never reached a size where the CTO was mostly a manager. I’ve actually never stopped to write code and do operations, but in the meanwhile the management work was increasing till the point doing both - and doing it well - was impracticable.

So, the time has come to pick a side of the business. Engineering or management. The truth is I do love both. That’s why it’s been an hard decision to take. However, if I look deep in my soul, I’m actually an engineer. I do love engineering. I do love getting my hands dirty into code, logs, metrics, network packets or whatever. That’s what I am! That’s what I’ve chose to focus on.

The move to operations

Moving to operations is not something out of the blue.

Despite I don’t have a system engineering background listed on my CV, I spent a significative amount of time working on the infrastructure in the past 8 years. Most of the Spreaker infrastructure and automation - as we know it today - has been designed and built with my contribution too. I’m not stating I’m an expert on the field - I’m not - but I’m not even starting from scratch.

Stepping back from CTO and switching to a software engineer position was probably the most straightforward path. But staying in my comfort zone is not an appealing scenario to me. Not at this stage. I want to exit my comfort zone, and get back to learn, experiment, contribute and share.

I’ve always been very ambitious about results, and never about the role. People working with me perfectly knows what I care the most is getting things done. I don’t feel that doing a step back is a failure or something I shouldn’t be proud of. I’m actually very proud of this move and happy to get back to learn a bunch of new stuff!

Still in a lead position

Spreaker has very talented and nice people. I love every single person here.

I’m very glad I will continue to work at Spreaker, while keeping a lead position. I’m very excited about it because being CTO in the past years contributed a lot to practice on taking technical decisions that makes sense on the business, and I hope my new position will benefit from it.

Last but not the least I’ve a magnificent relationship with Rocco - the new CTO - and this willl strongly contribute to smooth the transition. I’ve a very high opinion of him, and he will be a great CTO for Spreaker!

The dawn of a new - Cloud Native - era

The infrastructure space is in the middle of a paradigm-shifting change. The way we do build and operate distributed systems is evolving. Containers, Kubernetes and microservices are all incredibly promising ways to improve how we build and run software.

While we’re still in the early stage, containers and Kubernetes are getting more and more traction every day, and the more adoption they will get the better they will be over the time. Despite this paradigm-shifting is introducing several tangible benefits, it’s also opening to a wide range of uncertanties and new skills are required to build robust and resilient software running on top of it.

The operations team at Spreaker won’t just focus on system and infrastructure engineering, but will also work to share knowledge and expertise across all engineers in the company. We’ll operate to train other Spreaker engineers on how to build, run, monitor and do app operations on a robust and resilient distributed system, in the Cloud Native era.

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Upcoming conferences

I will join the following conferences. Reach me out on Twitter if you wanna meet:
Incontro DevOps 2020 Virtual 22 October 2020