MongoDB CEO Gives Up His Job, Citing Need for More Quality Family Time

With three children at home, MongoDB's CEO has struggled to balance work and travel with family. As a result, he's taking on a less demanding company role.


Max Schireson, the CEO of open-source database company MongoDB, is doing something almost revolutionary in the hectic, stressful, fast-paced and work-intensive world of software and IT—he's leaving his top post to take on a lesser role in the company so he can spend more time with his family.


Schireson announced his plans Aug. 5 in a heartfelt post, "Why I am leaving the best job I ever had," which he shared on his personal blog. He has been the CEO at MongoDB, which offers a NoSQL document database written in C++, since February of 2011.

"Earlier this summer, Matt Lauer asked Mary Barra, the CEO of GM, whether she could balance the demands of being a mom and being a CEO," he wrote. "The Atlantic asked similar questions of PepsiCo's female CEO Indra Nooyi. As a male CEO, I have been asked what kind of car I drive and what type of music I like, but never how I balance the demands of being both a dad and a CEO."

That lack of questioning because he is male, however, dogged him personally as the father of three children and as a husband, he wrote.

"I have 3 wonderful kids at home, aged 14, 12 and 9, and I love spending time with them: skiing, cooking, playing backgammon, swimming, watching movies or Warriors or Giants games, talking, whatever," he wrote. "I am on pace to fly 300,000 miles this year, all the normal CEO travel plus commuting between Palo Alto and New York every 2-3 weeks. During that travel, I have missed a lot of family fun, perhaps more importantly, I was not with my kids when our puppy was hit by a car or when my son had (minor and successful, and of course unexpected) emergency surgery."

His wife, who is a doctor and professor with her own career at Stanford where she also runs a training program for high risk obstetricians and conducts research on prematurity, surgical techniques, and other topics, somehow finds a way to keep their family intact, wrote Schireson.

"She is a fantastic mom, brilliant, beautiful, and infinitely patient with me," he wrote. "I love her. I am forever in her debt for finding a way to keep the family working despite my crazy travel. I should not continue abusing that patience."

With all of that going on for years, friends and colleagues have often asked his spouse about how she balanced her work with her family life, but "Somehow, the same people don't ask me," he wrote.

That's when Schireson said he had an epiphany. "A few months ago, I decided the only way to balance was by stepping back from my job," he wrote. "MongoDB is a special company. In my nearly 4 years at the company, we have raised $220 million, grown the team 15x and grown sales 30x. We have amazing customers, a great product which gets better with every release, the strongest team I have ever worked with, and incredible momentum in the market. The future is bright and MongoDB deserves a leader who can be 'all-in' and make the most of the opportunity."