21 March 2023 / Last updated: 21 Mar 2023

Recent organisational changes at balena

Balena has been going through a period of change over the past year. The most notable is a change of leadership at the company with Alexandros Marinos stepping down from the role of CEO and moving into an advisory position in the company's board of directors. In his place three of us from the balena team: Chris Crocker-White, Konstaninos Mouzakis and Phil Wilson have stepped up to form the Office of CEO. In time we'll explain how a company can run with three co-CEOs and try to explain some common questions we get asked about the arrangement. But for now, we're going to give some background about how the company has been changing and what it means for the future of balena.

The need for change

A lot has changed in the world in the past three years. The Covid pandemic in particular changed how people worked and how they viewed the world. Alexandros was one of those people. And as he explained in his personal blog post he became unavoidably distracted by trying to make sense of it all. At the same time Alison Davis Riddell, our COO, took an opportunity to follow her passion for economics and become a partner in a venture capitalist investment fund. And in a testament to the way balena was designed as an anti-fragile organisation, neither of those C-level roles was filled initially. The team stepped up and carried on the work of developing the product and supporting the customers and the company continued to function. But the world continued to change, as it will. And a company that fails to change with the world, ceasing to innovate, will ultimately fail. So in time change was needed.
A contributing part to that anti-fragile organisational design is balena's culture. Balena shuns hierarchical management and instead focuses on enabling people to be self-organising, self-actualising and to spend their time focusing where they feel they have the most impact. The three of us each joined balena to do a specific role but moved between different areas of focus ever since. Chris and Phil both joined in a Hardware Hacker role. This saw them making projects and content to communicate the potential of the balena platform to the development community. Konstantinos started as a UI designer. Our transitions saw us all focusing more and more on product development, hardware products such as EtcherPro for Konstantinos and software such as balenaCloud and balenaHub for Chris and Phil. But when it was clear that balena needed people to step up into leadership roles, the three of us just naturally started operating there to fill the need. At balena you don't ask to change roles, you just work in that role and in time it will be formally recognised. And so it happened here. The three of us started running the company, and when Alex recognised that was happening and working, he chose to step aside into the board member role and hand the organisational keys to us.

The future

Internally we talk about this new era of leadership as balena 2.0. As explained above there is a need to change simply because the world has changed so much and continues to provide an uncertain background to all businesses. Balena creates a platform on which other people build their business, so the direction of change must now be to provide as much certainty to those businesses as we can. This means focusing on our core product balenaCloud, such that it becomes increasingly secure and reliable, and we implement those features that our customers most need. This has meant that a number of internal projects have had to be stopped, and all development focus now moved to balenaCloud.
We have also created a solid strategy to get balena to profitability in the next few months and create a stable financial position from which we can continue to build. This is important during these tough economic times so that we can avoid distraction from activities such as seeking further investment or other capital raises, and can put our full focus into our product and our customers.
Lastly, we three want to open up communication channels in all directions, so that we can work in the open, hear feedback and find the best ways to help our current and future customers. We've created a public roadmap as part of this, but also want to keep creating content on our blog and social media pages to explain how balena works and what we're doing to make it an even better product to build a business upon.
Watch out for future posts on how we make it work to our advantage to have three CEOs instead of the traditional one.
Phil, Chris and Konstantinos
by Phil WilsonCTO and co-CEO