Jonathan Hill, Vice President Revenue, Linode LLC, is an American privately-owned cloud hosting company based in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, that provides virtual private servers. Hill, whose management philosophy is based on the idea of servant leadership, talks about his currently role and how the cloud hosting vendor founded in 2003, is working with channel partners and developing its channel business in the EMEA and Asia-Pacific region.
Describe your current job role and the parts that are somewhat challenging?
I work as Vice President, Revenue at Linode. That encompasses all the company’s go-to-market approaches and operations, so business development, sales, partnerships, solution engineering and revenue operations.
In practice, this means developing and supporting routes to market with our partners, as well as engaging with new companies that can use our cloud marketplace to reach our customers and helping our team deliver what customers want. We work globally with eleven locations spread across the US, Europe, India and the Asia-Pacific region, and we have more than one million customers that use our cloud services.
In terms of challenges, the biggest one is how to explain the concept of ‘alternative cloud’ – why should you look at a company other than the big hyper-scalers that offer everything? That is also our biggest opportunity though – too many companies want an alternative to the big cloud providers, whether that is because they want better prices, better service or better relationships with their cloud provider. Once people understand that there is an alternative approach, people tend to get it straight away and can see how they apply that same methodology, whether this is as a customer or as a partner.
Can you explain how your company works with channel partners?
We work with a variety of different companies around the market, from MSPs and service operators that use our cloud for their back-end services, to companies that are resellers for us, and through to agencies that design and build what their customers want and run it on Linode.
Each one of these groups needs a different approach, but the value proposition for them is similar – they want a personalised level of service that they just can’t get from the big cloud companies. Every customer and partner we work with gets that same quality of service from people in our office and they stay on each request until things are completed. That is essential to how our company has operated since it was first founded in 2003, and it’s what differentiates us now.
How do you ensure channel partners flourish in a highly competitive market?
I think service is a term that gets thrown around too much and taken for granted. The number of times that you see companies talk about valuing quality of service for customers and then you have to jump through a dozen automated hoops in order to speak to a person about your question. That is not putting investment into the right place.
We think there are huge opportunities for us and for our partners in serving customers that want simple, affordable and well-supported cloud offerings. The majority of companies out there don’t need all the bells and whistles around cloud, and this is where there is an opportunity for us to work with partners around providing an alternative to the hyper-scalers. We want to work with our partners for the long term around how customers use cloud and that comes down to understanding what customers really value: service and support that helps them meet their goals.
What are the latest trends you see emerging across the channel?
I think there are a lot of changes taking place around how everyone approaches sales and selling, both on the customer and on the partner front. You can’t get away with one size fits all approaches and seeing what sticks. Instead, there are new approaches to running operations around revenue, around customer management, around long term relationships and cloud has been a big part of helping that to happen.
However, it’s not a static process – what worked a few years ago is not what will work in the future. Some of the approaches and software providers that were instrumental in the early days of cloud and SaaS are now the establishment that they once railed against. What they have in the market now is just as ripe for change as the old traditional software that SaaS replaced. That will make things very interesting over the next few years, as you get more new companies come in and start doing things their way.
What is your management philosophy?
My approach is based on the idea of servant leadership – my role is not about my achievements, but to make it easier for you to achieve your goals. If everyone across a team can perform well then that delivers on my goals.
That means my focus is always on how to build those repeatable and effective approaches that people can use to succeed, attracting and retaining that top talent on to the team and helping them perform consistently so we can deliver that effective pipeline.
I enjoy building high performance teams and empowering individuals to be successful both professionally and personally. My commitment to servant leadership enables me to focus on how I can best serve those around me and invest in their success.
What made you think of a career in technology?
I took a degree in business management at Gwynedd Mercy University in Philadelphia and followed that with a Masters in Business Intelligence. The role for data in how we run companies has always been fascinating for me and that is something that has only grown in importance over time. Across the business world, that emphasis on getting data and using it more effectively has been the biggest trend in the last 20 years and it will only continue to grow in importance. Helping companies achieve that goal involves looking at solutions like cloud, so it has been a natural path for me.
What do you think will be the hot technology talking point of 2021?
I think the biggest trend isn’t one that is directly related to technology itself, but trust. Trust as a concept is something that is affecting more and more companies involved in technology. There are questions that companies and individual developers are asking more and more frequently: “Do I trust this will work like it says? Do I trust the company behind it to have my best interests at heart? Do I trust them not to use my data to compete with me? Do I trust this company to work ethically, to respect its workers, to respect others?”
There is a sliding scale here – we often trust that services will function. This year, there will be more emphasis on why a company does something, not just how it does this.
It goes to the heart of how we approach working with customers and channel partners. For example, developers that use our cloud know that cloud computing is all that we do. We don’t operate subsidiaries in markets that compete with them and we don’t build products that compete with the products they’ve built. We don’t use their data to build our own projects at their expense. That is not something that every company in the cloud can stand for.
What are your personal interests and where do you like to spend most of your time after work?
I have four kids, so a lot of my time outside work is spent with them. Family is really important to me. Alongside them, I’m a keen drummer so I have to practice and I support Everton Football Club.Click below to share this article