Docker CEO Steve Singh says container company is approaching “triple digit” millions in bookings

Docker CEO Steve Singh answers questions at DockerCon 2018. (GeekWire Photo / Tom Krazit)

SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. — Docker’s pivot from technology darling to enterprise vendor appears to be paying off, as the company is getting close to generating “triple-digit” millions in bookings this year, according to Docker CEO Steve Singh.

In a wide-ranging discussion with the media at DockerCon Thursday, Singh said that in 2016, Docker was generating single-digit millions in bookings. But that number has accelerated as the company has broadened its focus to include large corporations with legacy IT systems, going to double-digit millions in bookings in 2017, and it has a chance to break into that next category this year, Singh said.

Singh joined Docker 13 months ago, surprising many with the move.

“Every once in awhile you find transformational companies — companies that can really change the technology landscape,” Singh said in an interview with GeekWire shortly after his appointment as CEO. “Docker is that kind of company.”

Singh — who sold Bellevue-based enterprise software company Concur to SAP for $8.3 billion in 2014 — appears to be putting his stamp on privately-held Docker.

Over time, Docker has shifted its focus from building cool tools for cutting-edge developers to helping behind-the-times multinational companies modernize their application deployment strategies to realize the benefits of containers. The company has seen particular interest from the insurance, financial services, and oil and gas industries in the little over a year since it launched the Modernize Traditional Apps program at last year’s DockerCon, just a few weeks before Singh took over as CEO, he said.

Singh sees two companies as Docker’s primary competitors for this type of business: Red Hat and Pivotal. Red Hat made Linux and open-source software in general easier for companies to use a generation ago, and has been aggressively courting companies that want to use containers with its OpenShift product. Pivotal has been doing the same thing for companies that want to invest in DevOps or cloud computing but don’t know how to get started.

With this new push, Docker is trying a similar tack by selling the benefits of containerized applications to companies that know they need to upgrade their stuff, and eventually they’ll start building their new apps on Docker. The growth in bookings “is from paying customers that say, you are the foundation of my IT strategy,” Singh said.

Interestingly, Singh said he doesn’t see public cloud providers like Amazon Web Services and Microsoft Azure as competitors, despite the fact that they offer managed container services that help companies get up and running using the open-source Docker containers at the heart of its commercial product. “Nonsense – they are absolutely our partners,” he said.

“Our biggest single lead generation actually comes from Microsoft, from the Azure team. For obvious reasons: the Azure team says, ‘I want workloads moving over to Azure,’ and guess how you make that happen? You containerize it and move it over,” Singh said.

Singh also said Docker still expects to be cash-flow positive by the middle of next year, a goal the company has expressed in the past. The company has raised around $250 million in funding on the back of the intense interest in its container technology, but it has taken some time to convert that popularity into dollars.

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