Leadership team bio …

As with any startup, you never get the time to do the little things. I’ve been with Abaca Technology as their Director of Engineering for more than six months already and I just got a chance to write my bio for the leadership page. I think my focus has been in the right area because we’re making some serious progress. These are exciting times. If only I could talk about it more openly.

Renato J. Mascardo
Director of Engineering

Renato brings over a decade of experience leading engineering organizations with proven success inspiring large engineering teams to high levels of quality, productivity and innovation. Renato has extensive experience taking to market enterprise software, application lifecycle management, SaaS, commerce and mobile products. He has been involved with startups throughout his career and driving ideas to market.

Prior to joining Abaca, Renato was a senior engineering manager at Hewlett-Packard’s hyper growth software division (formerly Mercury Interactive). There he helped build two successful engineering teams and helped push the two products into Gartner’s magic quadrant. Before Hewlett-Packard, Renato was a technical leader for Borland Software where he architected and developed full application lifecycle management solutions for their biggest customers. Prior to joining Borland Software, Renato was a technical leader at Scient. There he was involved in building the first generation of large scale web applications including Sephora.com and Powerspring.com. Also, while at Scient he founded the mobile computing consulting practice while wireless technologies were still in its infancy and was one of the co-founding members of a product based company spin out.

Renato holds a B.A. degree in Computer Science from the University of Richmond in Richmond, VA.

“I Like to Build Things”

This past weekend I was playing golf with some random folks and one of them asked me what I did. I had to think about that for a moment because spewing out some random company doesn’t mean much to people. My response was “I Like to Build Things”.

  • Successful Software Companies
  • High Quality, Award Winning Software Products
  • Highly Productive Engineering Teams
  • Professional Support and Operations Teams
  • Customer Value
  • Happy Customers
  • Fun Places To Work
  • Careers

And what really gets me excited is building someone totally different, that someone has not done before.

I thought that was a bit of a unique way of answers the same old question.

Corporate verses Startup Experience

It’s been over five months since leaving HP and re-joining the ranks of the startups and it has been quite the shift in experiences. The startup experience is something that better fits my speed and style. They are such a great way to learn how to run a business. Also, get ready to get your hands dirty. My current position spans so many different responsibilities:

  • Director of Engineering — that’s what I was hired for
  • Senior Product Manager — actually not too much of a stretch from what I was hired for
  • Director of Support — added to my responsibilities after 6 weeks
  • Director of Operations — added to responsibilities after 8 weeks
  • Infrastructure Architect — What kind of production environment do I need to support the predicted growth?
  • Application Architect
  • Software Engineer — “I would rather be coding”
  • Support Engineer
  • QA Engineer
  • Webmaster — someone has to it and I would rather my engineers working on features
  • Technical Writer
  • Manager
  • And more …

There are folks that are more suited towards corporate environments and those that are more suited towards startup environments. For example, the leadership team at Mercury Interactive were all well suited towards startups and thats probably why many of those folk have since joined startups or started their own.

And then I think of my old boss at HP, that guy was built to work at HP and he’ll probably work there for the next 20 years. Nothing wrong with that.

I highly recommend startups to anyone that wants to make his mark on the world. And, is willing to incur some risk and comments like “You’re starting what? That will never work.”

HP stock tanks after I leave …

I can’t help but continue to track the HP stock even though I sold off all my vested options at its peak at the end of 2007. Note, my last day at HP was January 2nd and notice the instantaneous market reaction! Since then, the stock has tried but has not been able to recover.

The downside, I missed out on the ~1.4% yearly pay raise that many HP Software folks received or so I was told when I was inundated with IM’s about it . Please note that the average inflation for 2007 was 2.85%.

The irony is that my old boss called me a few weeks ago about poaching engineers (which by the way I do not do). Are you sure its me? My attitude has always been as an engineering manager is if you build a great place to work, people don’t want to leave.

But, its probably easier to find someone to blame. Touche!


Moving on from HP Software

This month I put in my two weeks notice from Hewlett-Packard. Below is the original blog post when I decided to join Mercury Interactive (at the time). It’s amazing how the time goes by.


Announcement: Sarah and I are excited to announce that we are moving to Bellevue, Washington just outside of Seattle. I have accepted an offer with Mercury Interactive in the J2EE Performance Management R&D product group. The work will directly work on the J2EE Deep Diagnostic tool involving development team management, Java systems programming (BCEL), Java performance tuning (Garbage collector and virtual machine optimization) and J2EE performance tuning. Mercury Interactive is the global leader in Business Technology Optimization (BTO).

Sarah (the most amazing wife ever) is willing to drop everything to support me in my career move and I can’t thank her enough for that. This was a very hard decision for Sarah and myself because of how fond we are of the Bay Area and the proximity of our friends and family. Hopefully, Sarah and I will be back in the bay area when we can actually afford a decent piece of real estate. Get ready to plan those trips up to visit! Meanwhile, let the next chapter of the Mascardo family begin! Stay tuned to Mascardo.com for more information!

As I contemplated this move, a few question came to mind. What have I been doing for the last 4 years?

  • Diagnostics Product Line
    • Relocated my family to Seattle, Washington
    • Went from manging two people to managing all day-to-day operations with the Diagnostics product (15 – 20 team members)
    • Doubled the capacity of the organization during my time with local and offshore resources
    • Managed release of the Mercury Profiler – Mercury’s 1st development focused tool
    • End-to-end responsibility for 8 releases (3 Major) including complete re-write of enterprise grade server
    • Managed re-architecture of Java Probe, .Net Probe, Diagnostics Server, user interface and persistence mechanism
    • Helped to reach Gartner “Magic Quadrant” market leadership for the Diagnostic Product
    • Managed integrations across Business Availability Center, Load Runner and Performance Center
    • Successfully initiated and implemented the Scrum methodology across the product
    • Initiated and managed Mercury relationship with the Java Community Process
  • Project and Portfolio Management Product Line
    • Relocated back to the Bay Area From Seattle by R&D VP to resolve major product and team issues with the Project and Portfolio Management product
    • Built the team from scratch to manage the software platform and operations (20 – 25 team members)
    • Responsible for building a development team in Shanghai, China (5 – 8 Team Members)
    • Worked with Product Management and Customers to define Strategy of PPM Platform
    • Responsible for international product roll out (Support for 8+ languages and language multi-tenancy) growing the international market from 5% to 40%
    • Responsible for cross product initiatives such as business intelligence solution, unified platform and integration infrastructure
    • Helped manage organization through Hewlett-Packard acquisition (formerly Mercury Interactive) and was first product released after acquisition
    • Helped to continue Gartner “Magic Quadrant” market leadership for the Project and Portfolio Management product
  • Highly involved in HP Environmental initiatives including contributing to HP’s involvement on the Green Grid consortium
  • Overall, had the opportunity to work with and manage some of the best in the industry

Why did I want to leave?

  • My HP employee number has the same number of digits than my social security number — HP is a gigantic company and that just doesn’t suit my style right now.
  • HP Software is a nimble organization surrounded by large company process — I spent most of my time at HP working against the processes in place. It will be interesting to see if HP Software can run like a software company and not like a hardware company
  • Lack of top down attention to the people — I had an HP/Mercury debrief session with other director’s and I asked the simple question of “As we acquire all of these software companies, what are doing to ease them into the culture and make sure we keep the best talent.” The response I got was in line with “If you don’t want to work here, then leave.” An unfortunate answer and against my general belief that managers need to fight for “A Players”.
  • Lack of HR support — I was told from my HR representative that her span of control is 1 to 3000.
  • Lack of innovation — I’m partly to blame for this because I was responsible for an engineering section, but I just found it harder to innovate with such a large organization. The environment and culture did not foster the proper elements to create meaningful innovation. Put it this way, its difficult to compare the innovation environment and culture at Google to HP Software.

Don’t get me wrong, HP Software is going like gang busters right now. It’s just not what I want right now.

So, what am I doing next?

I’ll save the answer to this for my next blog entry. It’s a related field but very different.

Will I stop censoring my blog?