Meet Our People

Dan Decasper

As Pure’s 41st employee, Dan Decasper helped launch the first version of Pure FlashArray. In 2015, he was part of the team that created Pure1®, the company’s cloud-based software platform. Now he’s in Prague leading Pure’s new EU R&D headquarters. He talks to us about Pure’s distinct company culture, what he’s looking for in engineering hires, and why he leaped at the chance to move to Prague.


"Dan Decasper on Launching Pure’s New R&D HQ—and the Opportunity Awaiting Engineers in Prague"


What’s most exciting about the work you and the team will be doing in Prague?

As a former engineer, I know how deeply satisfying it is to tackle complex problems and to make an impact. And that’s exactly what our engineers will be doing in Prague. We’re building products that address a need not adequately addressed by anyone else in the IT industry. By enabling access to very large amounts of data very quickly, people gain knowledge and insights that have until now been hidden and unavailable. This can have a profound effect when, for example, you’re doing cancer research, like some of our customers do. It may sound a little corny, but ultimately we’re making people’s lives better. 

We’ll be small enough to move fast, but with the stability of a public company with offices in more than 30 countries. This is Pure’s first engineering presence outside North America, so it presents a major opportunity. The founding engineers here will shape the work we do on two of our core products—FlashArray and Pure1. It will be every bit as essential as the work we’re doing back in the States. 

On a personal level, it’s always rewarding to start something from the ground up, to build a team and see it thrive—nothing quite compares. There comes a point in your career when you’re more interested in passing something on than just working for yourself. I’ve always enjoyed teaching other people and have found a lot of satisfaction helping others grow into their roles. Along the way, I’ve learned from them as well—the benefits are mutual.


What technical challenges will engineers get to address?

At the core of the FlashArray work are classic system software problems: How do you build efficiently and at scale? People have millions, sometimes billions of files, and the product will have to deal with that. Developing FlashArray will be really satisfying for people who enjoy the challenge of squeezing the best performance out of a system at petabyte scale—developing the best algorithms to generate rapid response times and peak performance. 

Pure1 is a software-as-a-service (SaaS) fleet-management product built on complex data pipelines, machine learning, and artificial intelligence. It hits all the trendy computer-science topics. On our cloud backend, we sit on about 15 petabytes of data and collect 50 terabytes every day. The Prague team will build a whole set of scalable cloud microservices, allowing them to own their projects while still operating within the larger Pure1 team.

 


What are you hoping to find in these founding Prague engineers?

We want people with an entrepreneurial streak who are ready to come in from the ground floor to help hire and build this team. We’re looking for people who are smart, have integrity, and are equipped with a deep understanding of technology. We’re not asking as much whether you know specific languages or UI frameworks. We want to know if you’re a good engineer. Can you think well on your feet? Are you structured in your thinking and adept at problem-solving? Cultural fit is also extremely important because the founding group will set the tone for everyone that follows.

 


Can you talk more about what defines Pure’s company culture?

I like to describe Pure’s engineering environment as an idea meritocracy. Every idea should be looked at solely on its merits, completely divorced from its source. Whether it’s my idea or a new college grad’s should have no bearing on whether we try it. And just as important as listening to good ideas, we need to call out bad ones. I probably have some dumb ideas every week, and I rely on the people around me to tell me so. Our culture depends upon a climate of openness, transparency, and radical candor. Those tenets are critical to Pure’s success.

What are your favorite Prague discoveries so far?

What’s been quite striking is how many local people reached out to me with offers to help to get us started the right way. Obviously, when you move to a new city there is always a lot to learn about the local customs and talent, so being embraced that way feels great.  Also, the beer is awesome. If you like Pilsners, you’re in heaven. And Prague is such a beautiful city. Since the 14th century and through the early modern period, this place was a European superpower. They were incredibly advanced and built architecture you wouldn’t believe—most of which survived both world wars. It’s amazing to see.

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