Shane Lowry, New VP of Engineering: The Ground Floor at Instart Logic


Shane Lowry recently joined Instart Logic as VP of Engineering from VMware.

People have asked me, “Of all the startups in Silicon Valley, what drew you to Instart Logic?” Answering that is easy, and I’ll come to that. What was truly hard was leaving VMware, where I spent seven years helping the company to grow, through the IPO to today, where it generates $5 billion in revenue. Throughout that time I was not taking calls from recruiters; I was very committed. I helped build VMware’s engineering team from a small tight-knit group during several years of aggressive growth. Other teams joined as VMware grew, but we maintained a low-ego, problem-solving culture as we scaled, and throughout this growth phase, our engineering team maintained a reputation for execution.

Then I was introduced to Instart Logic, and decided to leave VMware, an established leader that to my mind is certainly a confirmed “winner.” What is so compelling about Instart is that it really focuses on solving hard engineering problems that can impact a mind-boggling number of Internet users across the globe. They have recognized the intense need to fix a problem that is becoming bigger every day and impacts all users of the web, worldwide: apps are getting richer and more complex, usage is growing year on year as more people come online and more of those users are using smart phones and tablets as their primary means of consuming this content.

The Last Mile problem, long neglected, seems more acute today than ever before and it will get worse before it gets better. Mobile devices keep proliferating and online commerce, travel, media and entertainment, automotive, financial services and other industries will get progressively more mobile. We are seeing the death of the PC and the rise of mobile and we are not in the mature phase of this transition to wireless; we are at the opening act worldwide, and the problem of latency and wireless congestion will only get worse. Furthermore, web applications will grow bigger and more sophisticated as users demand a richer more personalized experience. Just one early symptom: e-commerce websites are becoming slower, not faster, and retailers are quick to tell you that slower site delivery has a demonstrable impact on their revenue.

All of these movements present a very compelling set of engineering problems to solve and as engineers we need to aim ourselves at where our abilities will be needed in the future. To use a hockey expression, we have to skate to where the puck is going. Instart Logic spent the last couple of years addressing this set of problems and came up with a solution that really breaks through with an original approach: we split your application or game into fragments in a content-aware manner, and stream it to your users’ devices. This makes it available much faster, and your customers will spend more money with you. That value proposition is highly compelling for our customers! Instart Logic’s web application streaming network is a departure from all the approaches that came before, and its impact is eye-opening. This business is ripe for disruption and Instart has a disruptive technology.

There was never a doubt this problem had to get solved. Content delivery networks have simply hit the wall and are just trying to squeeze out incremental improvements. With web app streaming, Instart Logic found a new way to look at the problem and built an innovative solution. This gave us a head start. We are already quite far along and it will be very difficult to catch us: we have a big lead and we’re running fast.

It is a great opportunity, both business-wise and as an engineer, which is how I will strive to impact the outcome. I’ve worked hard to be an engineering leader who builds up and develops teams that can equip a growing company to handle big infrastructure problems and high demand large-scale situations. The next steps at Instart Logic revolve around handling our customers’ mission-critical applications. At VMware I focused every day on high availability, and our commitment at Instart Logic, of course, is to ensure we always meet and exceed that high standard of reliability. It’s always about the timing of when you step in to the core team of a startup as an engineering leader. I joined Instart at this point because right now, we need to scale up the team and the system, and I’m a good fit there.

Looking ahead, I am confident that Instart Logic is going to enable sweeping changes, ones that I can’t talk about just yet. Just look at our dual client-cloud architecture, and consider how we use it today to know what’s happening at the browser and then adapt to that activity. Now, let your imagination run ahead five years. Consider the potential extensions of that two-way communication. Web applications are definitely going to evolve, take advantage, and become more amazing. Instart Logic will help to enable that evolution and we will encourage it. Already we are telling web publishers, “Now you can upgrade and enrich visually, become more immersive. Your customers demand it.” This is the future and we are building it right here, right now. Look at our existing customer base for proof; anyone can go to our customers’ websites and experience our service directly. You can observe the difference without needing a stopwatch in your hand, on an iPad as much as on a desktop. Some Web publishers have reacted, enriched their websites, switched over from their CDN to us, and immediately saw bottom-line gains. Their quantifiable results are exciting. Our customer base absolutely can show the ROI, the payback that Instart Logic provides. Web application streaming is going to replace a lot of traditional CDNs in the next year.

And don’t think we are done innovating. We have a smart, inventive team that is executing on two fronts: first, to deliver on our pipeline of features and second, to actively pursue research into the next set of inventions that will accelerate web performance. We’ll keep this pace up because we’ve a smart hungry team and a low-ego problem solving culture.

I look at how Instart Logic started with a technology that surprises people—and anticipate that while we scale and fortify our infrastructure, we will also deliver more interesting surprises for the marketplace.