“We have turned the page and are looking to the future,” said Dipangan Saha. The Globe in his first interview since taking the top position in July. He said hiring has resumed modestly and the company has enough resources to break out of the weak economy.
Saha, a CTO with work experience at Google, Amazon and IBM, said he emphasizes transparency with his employees and improving products for customers.
“I think the future is bright,” Saha said. “I don’t know how long it will take for the market to recover, but we have a long run and we will remain focused on pleasing our customers. That is my focus.”
Former CEO Dan Wright’s top priority was to go public with the company, but a stock market plunge halted the flow of initial public offerings.
“If your focus changes to ‘I have to do an IPO by this time’ or ‘I have to get to the value of the stock by this time,’ that often gets us off track,” Saha said, without naming Wright.
Eighteen months ago, DataRobot was worth $6 billion. But with the tech bubble popping up and venture capitalists slowing their investments in startups, DataRobot’s value is now much lower, analysts said. Among similar public companies, C3.ai shares are down more than 90 percent from their peak and Snowflake is down more than 60 percent.
“I am optimistic and excited to see what [Saha] said Peter Krinsky, analyst at Gartner. “But they are their third CEO in two years…we have to see how well the new leadership team puts out the internal cultural fires and retains the best talent.”
Saha’s professional experience has positioned him well to guide the AI startup through the recovery period.
After receiving his Ph.D. in computer science from the University of Maryland, IBM lured him away from becoming a professor. I’ve spent more than a dozen years at the company, interrupted by a brief stint at an optical networking startup, as I watched firsthand the vagaries of the Internet bubble.
In 2014, I joined Amazon’s Web Services unit and oversaw the development of a database application called Aurora. In 2019, I joined Google to work on data analytics applications. In February, I joined DataRobot as President and CEO, while remaining in the Bay Area.
“Why did you join? If you ask my wife, she will tell you that I have always been a robot and eventually found the right place.”
But the real reason, he said, is all about artificial intelligence and machine learning. It’s not a raster technology, it’s more like software, it’s more like the Internet,” Saha said. “You’ll see AI and machine learning at scale in pretty much everything we do – it’s just a matter of time.”
DataRobot was founded in 2012 by data scientists Jeremy Ashin and Tom de Godoy with the goal of helping customers use artificial intelligence and machine learning to create predictive business models. The rapid growth attracted Silicon Valley investors who clashed with the founders and eventually drove them out. Wright, an attorney who worked for software firm Abdynamics in California, took over as CEO in March 2021.
Wright’s rocky tenure lasted less than 17 months and ended shortly after The Information announced in June that he and four other CEOs Selling allowed DataRobot’s inventory is worth $32 million at the height of valuation and at a time when other employees couldn’t. When the funding sources dried up this year, I saw Continuing spending In declining sales of luxury and racing car sponsorship even when it was laying off 7 per cent of the workforce. In July, when the company’s top talent began to resign, the board of directors replacing Wright with Saha.
Saha is trying to be more inclusive. In all companies’ weekly emails, he breaks down activities and client meetings along with what he’s learned. He held an innovation day a few weeks ago, where he encouraged employees to come up with their best ideas for new products and features.
He also made major changes to the senior executive ranks at DataRobot. Eight people who had the title of “Chief” under Wright left, including Chief Financial Officer Damon Fletcher and Chief Human Resources Officer Elise Cole. All those who replace them hold the titles of Senior Vice Presidents.
He traveled from the Bay Area to the Boston office once or twice a month. (Wright from California made a few visits, citing the pandemic.)
“I hope it will move forward more often,” Saha said. “I want to avoid winter, if I can. I like driving on ice, and I don’t like snow hitting my doorstep.”