Elastic co-founder and CEO Shay Banon, who wrote the initial open-source project around which the enterprise search company was based and later courted controversy over licensing changes to that project, is stepping down as CEO but will remain with the company as chief technology officer.
Banon will be replaced by Ashutosh "Ash" Kulkarni, who is currently Elastic’s chief product officer. Banon will also step down as chairman of Elastic’s board of directors but will remain a member of the board, which will also now include Kulkarni, Elastic announced Wednesday.
"Over the last few months I realized that the best way I can serve Elastic is by following the things I'm most passionate about," such as product development, Banon told Protocol in an interview ahead of the announcement. Banon was Elastic's original CTO before becoming CEO in 2017.
Elastic was founded in 2012 around the Elasticsearch open-source project, which Banon created while trying to index recipes for his wife, who was attending cooking school. The company grew to include the Logstash and Kibana projects, which formed the ELK stack and helped companies search software logs and monitor the performance of their applications.
The company went public in 2018 and has grown steadily, recording $206 million in revenue during the third quarter of 2021, up 42% compared to the previous year. However, frustration over Elastic’s relationship with AWS boiled over last year, resulting in a series of licensing changes to the core open-source project designed to make it more difficult for cloud providers to build their own services around the project. That decision created a fair amount of rancor within open-source circles.
Almost a year later, "I'm so happy about the clarity that that decision created in the market," Kulkarni told Protocol. A large part of the dispute involved AWS' use of Elasticsearch's trademark in its own service; after Elastic's January 2021 decision to change the licensing policies, AWS forked the project and renamed its version Opensearch.
Benchmark's Chetan Puttagunta, currently lead independent director on Elastic's board, will now become chairman. Elastic also announced that it expects fourth-quarter revenue and non-GAAP net loss per share to exceed its previous guidance.