Former Concur CEO to Lead Docker Containers Forward

In an unexpected move, Docker Inc. announces that Steve Singh is the company's new CEO, replacing Ben Golub.

Steve Singh Docker CEO

Just over a week ago, Ben Golub was on stage at the DockerCon 17 conference explaining how well his company Docker Inc. was doing and why container use is the future of technology. While Golub was optimistic about the future of Docker Inc., apparently his future as CEO of the company was to be short-lived. Today Docker Inc. announced that Steve Singh will be the company's new CEO.

What is surprising about the move is that there was no indication, at DockerCon 17 or elsewhere, that a CEO search or replacement exercise was under way. As it turns out, discussions about a new CEO have been ongoing for weeks, though there was no formal executive search under way.

Singh (pictured) is no stranger to Docker Inc., having been serving as chairman of the board at the company since October 2016. He will remain as chairman, but now also holds the title of CEO. Singh was the CEO of Concur from August 1993 until last month. Concur was acquired by SAP for $8.3 billion in September 2014.

"We have been chatting about this for a while, and a decision was made in the past few weeks," Singh told eWEEK. "We wanted to make sure it was the right decision for Ben [Golub] and that a proper transition plan was in place." Golub will remain with Docker Inc. as a member of the company's board of directors.

Golub joined Docker in April 2013, two years after he sold Gluster, an open-source storage vendor he led as CEO, to Red Hat for $211 million. In a video interview with eWEEK at DockerCon 17 last week, Golub remained optimistic about Docker Inc.'s ability to make money, which is now a task that Singh will lead.

"Needless to say, I'm very excited about this as it's a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity from a personal perspective," Singh said. "The opportunity here is to take what [Docker founder] Solomon Hykes and Ben Golub have started and really go scale it."

One of the things about Docker that appeals to Singh is its wide appeal across a broad range of technology users—from developers to large corporate customers that run mission-critical applications on top of Docker.

As the new CEO, Singh is not planning to remake Docker, but rather is looking for incremental changes in the company. He emphasized that Docker will continue to be a leading innovator driving adoption across developers and commercial users alike.

"I want to make sure we scale our business with everything from investment to distribution, marketing, customer support and product development," Singh said. 

Attracting the best people to Docker Inc. is also a key goal for Singh. He noted that in his time at Concur and SAP, it was the quality of people that made the most impact. There are some similarities between Concur and Docker, according to Singh.

"In the same way that Concur took a set of business processes that were not automated and not very efficient, Docker delivers a similar type of value," he said. "There is a chance with Docker to drive a massive amount of innovation."

Looking forward, Singh said he isn't planning on taking Docker Inc. public or selling the company.

"We're not interested in building Docker to be acquired; we're building Docker to be an incredible global company," he said.

Sean Michael Kerner

Sean Michael Kerner

Sean Michael Kerner is an Internet consultant, strategist, and contributor to several leading IT business web sites.