Founder Stories: MongoDB’s Dwight Merriman On His Own Style Of Serial Entrepreneurship

There are founders, and then there are founders. Dwight Merriman is a rare breed of founder. A serial entrepreneur who has helped co-found and lead companies such as DoubleClick, BusinessInsider, Gilt Groupe, and Panther Express. And, as if that weren’t enough, his latest endeavor could be just as big, if not bigger, than the ones before it.

Merriman is one of the main brains behind MongoDB and is a CEO of the MongoDB company (formerly known as 10gen), focused on creating a new generation of database technology using NoSQL. The goal is to reinvent online databases, and the insights were derived from the technical challenges he faces while building and scaling a previous company. At DoubleClick, the site could never be down, and that was during a time when computers were slower, it was harder to find load balance, and there were daily challenges with processing, storing, and scaling data, so much so they had to write their own software to handle their specific problems.

It was in these trenches that Merriman had the insight for MongoDB. He asked, simply: “What did I wish I had while at DoubleClick?” A simple question, a simple answer, and a big, big company. The goal with 10gen at inception was to harness the power of the cloud for more efficiency, to scale horizontally, and to make operations easier for scale at development. We talk about all of this, plus how to hire sales teams vs building engineering teams, and what Merriman believes the true essence of entrepreneurship is.

If you’re a technical leader with ambition, there aren’t many people like Merriman to look up to — he’s well worth the time to listen closely to.

Editor’s Note: Michael Abbott is a general partner at Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, previously Twitter’s VP of Engineering, and a founder himself. Mike also writes a blog called uncapitalized. You can follow him on Twitter @mabb0tt.