Being part of the next revolution in the cloud excites Erez Berkner, CEO and co-founder of Lumigo. He shares that enabling cloud 2.0 transformation by monitoring and debugging cloud applications for customers makes a lot of sense. A developer since he was young, Berkner rose to manager of Check Point’s security product, which he explains put him in a great position to see the revolution coming. He shares that he wanted to start his own business but was waiting for the right time and the right problem. When he saw the opportunity in the new cloud technologies, he knew it was the right time to leave it all behind and dive in. Berkner explains that it was difficult to give up his structure and framework and start from scratch. But he has built a company that he believes will help organizations innovate faster and change the world.
I am curious to see how you perceive the world and how Lumigo enters into your own life story.
We are going through a transformation now. We are now in the phase of moving from Cloud 1.0 to Cloud 2.0. Essentially all new technology in the cloud. They are containers, Kubernetes, serverless and microservices. All those buzzwords you’ve been hearing over and over for the past few years, they’re really coming together and forming a new framework, and on top of that, developers are building the next generation of cloud. That brings new challenges. Lumigo is focused on enabling developers to run these applications safely and ensuring that if something goes wrong they know and can fix it.
i am a developer I learned very early. I programmed before it was cool. After the special forces in the IDF, I ended up as a developer at Check Point. During my years at Check Point, I learned a lot about the cloud and was really excited about this transformation. This really made me delve deeper into what the future of software will be like.
How did this insatiable curiosity that you describe here come about?
Throughout my career, I always strive to be on the cutting edge of technology. It’s always the cutting-edge technology that excites me. This curiosity has led me to delve deeper and run more of the business related to these technologies. I managed Check Point’s cloud security product in late 2015, and from that position I was able to see things that I would not have been able to see as a developer. It gave me a unique perspective on where the world is going maybe two or three years before the average developer can see it. That’s really what you need to be in the right place to be able to see a little further afield and see those revolutions that only happen once a decade. This is a great place to start a business.
Have you been actively looking at different startup ideas or have you come across them and said, “This is an opportunity for me to start a business”?
It’s actually a bit of both. I think that 50% of developers have thought about starting a startup at least in Israel in the last 10 years. But it’s a big step to take this to the next level. It was always there, waiting for the right time, the right problem. Then came serverless and containers and all of modern cloud, and that really got me excited. It gave me, for the first time in my life, the confidence to say, “I’m going all out.” I left everything aside and just jumped in this pool.
How did you strategically take the first steps towards building such a company?
First of all, it’s really hard. You stop doing what you are doing and you were probably good at what you are doing and suddenly you are alone. There is no structure. There is no framework. This nothingness is really hard because you have to decide where you are going.
What did you know in this whole emptiness of nothing?
I thought about it because it’s so empty let’s get back to basics. There is a revolution. A new architecture is being built that will shake the cloud. As long as I hold on to this revolution and spend my time over there, there will be so many opportunities. Those are the basics: “I don’t know if that’s the exact idea, but I do know that this is a domain I want to double down on.”
Now bring me back to your thesis about the way developers interact with their serverless applications and machines.
Coming from 14 years at Check Point, so I’m a security professional, so it only makes sense: A serverless meets security startup. This is where we actually started at the very beginning.
I think one of the things we knew was that we didn’t have validation. We have endeavored to get early stage validation as soon as possible. We visited 40 organizations before writing a line of code. We made a presentation of this model and told them, “You have serverless. Here’s an idea. Is this a problem you want to solve? Would you pay for it?” We learned very quickly that none of those 40, maybe one, really cared. But most of them told us, “We’re still in the early stages. This essentially shifted us towards monitoring and debugging.
How do you identify the pain points you will solve and how do you create differentiation from competitors?
We were in the very early stages of a drastically radical new technology. We knew it would take the incumbents a long time to get going. At the same time we found a problem: monitoring, debugging. We knew this is a domain they will pay for if we can help them. It offers them added value.
It literally prevents them from being innovative and iterative, right?
Exactly. If there’s a problem, that’s crucial. Two hours of downtime can be millions of dollars. We actually drilled down there. We came back to these 40 companies and said, “Okay, we’ve got you. That’s what we want to do.”
What role does Lumigo play in the world today?
The world is changing. People are taking over the cloud 2.0 with the new technologies. Over the years there has always been an ecosystem with every server, every cloud you have. Therefore, Lumigo will be the monitoring tool of choice for all new cloud architectures. All modern startups and organizations will choose because Lumigo is the best upgrade.
I know why it’s important. But why do you care so much that you wake up every day, leading this ship and telling this story?
Firstly, the new technologies inspire me. And to understand that we can create something that can influence the next revolution in the cloud makes sense. The last point is very personal. This is something I share: it is mine. So if I’m going to fail, if I’m going to succeed, that’s a very personal experience.
Part of what excites me about companies like Lumigo is that when Lumigo does its job right and has a positive impact on organizations, it enables organizations to increase the rate of innovation.
It’s broken today. The biggest challenges for the new cloud are debugging, monitoring and observability. If we can take these away, we are on our way to the rapid adoption of modern technologies around the world and a faster pace of development and innovation.
I’ve been working on cloud applications for 10 years. Why is it still 2022 and such a pressing issue that you are describing today?
It may have to do with the human factor and human economy. Because you can see technology trends; It’s very rare for something to go away, especially quickly. Even the cloud accounts for about 10-20% of the total servers in the world. You feel like everyone is in the cloud. But you have industries that are old industries, things that work. It takes time for things to be accepted.
Michael Matias, Forbes 30 Under 30, is a Venture Fellow at Innovation Endeavors and an Investment Venture Partner at Secret Chord and J-Ventures. He studies artificial intelligence and human-computer interaction at Stanford University and was an engineer at Hippo Insurance. Matias previously served as an officer in Unit 8200. 20MinuteLeaders is a tech entrepreneurship interview series featuring one-on-one interviews with fascinating founders, innovators and thought leaders who share their journeys and experiences.
Contributing Editors: Michael Matias, Megan Ryan