Gal Marder joined JFrog in 2018 through an acquisition of Trainologic, where he served as CEO. First joining JFrog as vice president of DevOps consulting, and then vice president of global DevOps acceleration, his clear understanding and appreciation for the DevOps landscape is abundantly clear. We’re proud to announce that Gal will now serve as the company’s executive vice president of strategy.
A former CEO himself, Gal is well-versed on the end-to-end development process and the requirements needed to create today’s top software technologies. I had a chance to chat with Gal about his career, what’s next for the world of DevOps, his philosophy on leadership, and what it takes to help lead teams through periods of hypergrowth.
What propelled you to get into the world of software and what do you find most exhilarating about your career?
I began my career in the army, and while I found it enjoyable, my true passion lies more in the creative process. More than the act of creation itself, I was particularly drawn to problem-solving and realized that if I wanted to make a significant impact in the world of software development, I would need to shift my focus towards what teams and enterprises were trying to accomplish at scale versus developing things on my own.
I started asking myself how I could have a greater influence and improve the development process to support all developers in achieving success in their projects. This line of thinking eventually led me to the field of DevOps, where I saw an opportunity to make a meaningful difference.
As I delved further into my career, what fascinated me about this area was the ability to shape the strategy of a product, which in turn could have a more profound and wide-reaching impact on the overall process.
Are there key moments in your career that you feel shaped where you are today?
I’ve had some mentors here at JFrog. Throughout my journey, I’ve had the opportunity to learn from a diverse range of people who each offer their own unique insights. What stands out about these mentors is their hands-on approach to providing guidance and feedback. They always approach it with a great deal of care and a keen understanding of the broader context within the ecosystem.
What is your philosophy for advising the leadership team on potential partnership and/or acquisition prospects? i.e. What are the most important qualities you look for in prospective partnerships or acquisitions?
In successful partnerships, two key factors stand out.
First, there must be a shared vision, agreement on the goal and best path for getting to that desired outcome. It’s also important to agree on which pain points you’re trying to solve and the best way for delivering genuine value.
Second, a shared culture needs to exist. It’s essential that both sides of the partnership or merger have a similar culture. While challenges can arise in any collaboration, having a shared culture helps navigate these challenges effectively. Challenges can make the collective team stronger, while some issues may be best avoided if they offer no real benefit.
Ultimately, for a partnership to thrive, it should result in a win-win-win scenario for both parties and, most importantly, for the customers involved.
As someone who has served in both R&D and as a CEO, what do you see as the biggest areas for potential growth for JFrog moving forward?
As our industry evolves, so does the field of DevOps. What we increasingly need on both fronts is speed and trust. In the past, it was common to sometimes prioritize speed at the (sometimes unknowing) expense of trust and security. We now recognize that this trade-off is no longer sustainable. We must find a way to be fast while maintaining trust, governance, and control.
I believe JFrog is exceptionally well-positioned to lead the charge in making this balance between speed and trust a reality.
On the AI front, it’s a transformative force that will impact many aspects of our work. However, regardless of the changes AI brings, there will always be a need for efficiently and securely delivering creations from data engineers or data scientists to end customers or consumers. JFrog sees a significant opportunity in this space, aiming to become the primary provider for both traditional and AI-based development.
We firmly believe that the adoption of AI will significantly accelerate software creation, and developers will require a universal, scalable infrastructure to manage their release processes consistently, securely, and with automation, especially as compliance requirements continue to grow.
What are the top three things you focus on for managing a team through hypergrowth?
First is clear communication and goal-setting. Hypergrowth phases bring about significant changes, which can be disorienting for some team members. To navigate this challenge successfully, it’s crucial to ensure that your team is on the same page regarding goals and objectives – they may change rapidly in a fast-paced market. Clearly communicate the “why” behind the processes and initiatives to provide context and direction.
Second is building the right team. As with any mission, you need to have the right players or pieces on the chess board that are going to well position the team for hypergrowth. The rapid changes and demands can be unsettling for some individuals. It’s essential to make direct and sometimes tough decisions regarding staffing and leadership to ensure you have the right people in place to support the team’s continued success.
Finally, empathy, care and active listening are also vital. During hypergrowth, it’s crucial to maintain a caring and empathetic approach. Listen actively to your team members, understand their challenges, and offer your assistance. Solve problems with them collaboratively and avoid dismissing their concerns. Team members are often closest to the challenges and may have insights that others don’t.
If you could have dinner with any famous person throughout history, who would it be and why?
Michael Jordan — and that’s not just because I’m a basketball fan, although I was a Lakers fan during the Bulls-Lakers era. What stands out about him is his unparalleled work ethic, his unwavering winner’s mentality, and his exceptional ability to elevate the performance of those around him, enabling the entire team to succeed.
Further, his capacity to excel under intense pressure and his incredible resilience are truly remarkable. He led teams in high-pressure situations with unwavering confidence. If you want to learn more about his remarkable journey, I highly recommend watching “The Last Dance.”