How Erik Swan and his fellow founders are using Splunk for good — to solve problems through machine data

Erik Swan, co-founder and CTO, Splunk

Erik Swan, co-founder and CTO, Splunk

NCA Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year




Erik Swan

Co-founder and CTO



Splunk co-founder and CTO Erik Swan describes himself as a cheerleader in the workplace, encouraging his employees to drive innovation by continually thinking of new ways to solve problems through machine data.

Machine data is one of the fastest growing segments of “big data” generated by websites, applications, servers, networks, mobile devices, etc. By monitoring and analyzing everything from customer click streams and transactions to network activity and call records and more, Splunk turns the data into valuable insights.

Swan and the other founders of Splunk had been involved with a number of Silicon Valley startups but never quite achieved what they were looking for.

They spent 18 months researching and interviewing individuals with the goal of solving the biggest issues faced in IT, while creating a sustainable company. Rules were set to determine if an idea was worth pursuing. One hundred percent of the customer base had to have the problem. The customer base had to be large and all of the customer base would have to be willing to pay for the solution. There had to be no competition beyond in-house custom development solutions.

Expenses and debt were mounting when finally the idea for Splunk was born. Starting out as software to troubleshoot servers for IT departments, Splunk quickly turned into analyzing data for marketing, efficiency, research and more.

The founders wanted to create a company built around passion and innovation with a sustainable product — getting rich was not the main objective. If Splunk could give 1,000 people a positive place to work and in doing so support the happiness of 1,000 families, then the company is a success. However, it currently has a market cap of approximately $3.8 billion.

The company also fully supports Splunk4Good, which provides software to select nonprofits at no cost and develops public datasets to help humanity use data for a greater good.

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