To the Cloud and Beyond: Engineering the Future in Barcelona [Interview]

Barcelona is not only home to great tech companies that were founded here: foreign businesses are also finding it hard to resist the charm of the city. Companies like NetSuite, one of the world’s first cloud company recently acquired by Oracle, are contributing to the city’s thriving ecosystem and have opened offices in Barcelona to attract the best of international talent. You may have heard people say that “the Cloud is the future”: well, part of that future is being designed and engineered right here in Barcelona. We spoke with Patrick Puck, a veteran cloud entrepreneur who came to Barcelona eleven years ago and currently holds a position of Vice President of Software Development at Oracle, about why he chose Barcelona to run a business, and what challenges a tech company in Barcelona may face when it comes to recruiting.

20 Years of Building the Cloud

First off, would you catch us up on your background in working with cloud companies?

I’m originally from Austria, but I started my career in the late 90s in New York, where, together with a friend of mine, I founded a company called OrderMotion. We were the first provider of cloud-based order management solutions. That company went through a series of acquisitions and funding rounds and was eventually sold to NetSuite, and then just recently, NetSuite was acquired by Oracle. So I’ve been building software for the cloud for almost 20 years now.

“I was positively surprised by the tech scene here [in Barcelona], and by the quality of tech talent that you can attract.”

How did you end up in Barcelona?

Eleven years ago I was still living in NY, and I decided that I wanted to come back to Europe because I wanted to be closer to my family in Austria, and also because after having worked in the US for such a long time, I wanted to see what it’s like to live and work in Europe. I started talking to people about where I should go, where I can find and abundance of interesting opportunities, which European city is a good place to live, and so on. I contemplated a few different options, but I noticed how everyone was raving about Barcelona. So I decided to give it a try. I took my job with me, and started working remotely from Barcelona. Two years later, I decided to start my own company in Barcelona to provide development services for software companies specialized in the cloud, called Puck Solutions. That was my first experience with the tech community in Barcelona, and recruiting tech talent here. I was positively surprised by the tech scene here, and by the quality of tech talent that you can attract.

Patrick-Puck
Patrick Puck, Vice President of Software Development at Oracle, Barcelona

Is Barcelona Becoming an International Tech Hub?

It seems like you made the right choice back then. Barcelona has grown and developed in so many ways since.

Yes, my time here coincides with Barcelona becoming more and more popular for tech companies. Ten years ago the startup community was much smaller. Now there are many startups and some large companies with offices here, some of them have grown very big and there have been some very interesting acquisitions. For us, this also means that we get a lot more competition when we recruit. Ten years ago, what we offered was unique: an English-speaking company with international clients and building cloud products. We were one of very few companies that could offer such an environment. Now there are many more, so it’s a bit more difficult for us, but competition is always good, and I’m very happy to see Barcelona become an international tech hub.

I also like that the startup community in Barcelona is very collaborative. Startups can get help quite easily through networking and incubators, and there is a thriving market for talent. If you want to put your headquarters or a subsidiary in Barcelona, I think this city has a lot of advantages.

“We actively promote diversity and gender equality. I believe this matters to job candidates, because it shows that we are a company that cares.”

What advice would you give to someone who wants to start a company or set up an office here, in terms of recruitment?

Over the last 10 years I set up an office and built a team twice for two different companies in Barcelona. In both cases, we followed a similar model. We tried to provide an environment that is fun and stimulating, and combines the attractiveness of Barcelona as a city to live in with the advantages of the city as a tech center. The city was a great asset that we built on. It allowed us to hire people from anywhere in Europe and even outside of Europe. It’s an easy sell for someone to relocate from anywhere to Barcelona. Thanks to that we’ve been able to build very diverse teams with many nationalities, languages and cultures in one office. We actively promote diversity and gender equality. I believe this matters to job candidates, because it shows that we are a company that cares, and we understand and embrace the importance of these issues.

“You might find an angel investor for your Barcelona-based company in Silicon Valley, or you may be bought by a company in Sweden.”

Bring Your Own Startup

What do you think of Barcelona from an entrepreneurial perspective? Any advice you may have for young entrepreneurs?

I talk to a lot of people who are thinking about starting their own business. A lot of people get excited when they hear about an acquisition of a small company that had a cool app or interesting gadget, and they wonder how they can start a company like that. What I always tell them is, ask yourself: What is it that you love to do? What gives you joy and what do you have passion for? Then think about how to turn that passion into a product or a company. I believe that when you love your job and love the product you build, then there’s a much higher chance that you’ll be successful.

There are plenty of investors that are looking for companies and products to invest in or to acquire. Acquisition may not be the end goal for every entrepreneur, but it is of course a goal for many. There are some great incubators in the region that can help young companies, but I also recommend expanding your investment and funding contacts globally. You might find an angel investor for your Barcelona-based company in Silicon Valley, or you may be bought by a company in Sweden. The more people you talk to, the better.

You’ve mentioned that you get a lot of competition when you’re recruiting – and right now, you’re in the middle of growing your team. What makes candidates pick the position you’re offering over all the other job offers they get?

Our key selling point is that you get to work for one of the most successful Silicon Valley companies right here in Barcelona. We’re basically a satellite office of our HQ in Silicon Valley. We have the same mentality, we work in a very modern, fun, agile way. We build cutting-edge technology, we’re at the forefront of the cloud, and we solve very difficult problems. We build systems that manage billions of dollars in transactions, we power some of the most successful businesses in the world, and we very consistently try to be the number one provider of business software in the cloud. Plus, we’re a high growth company, which means that after you join, there are great career opportunities within the company.

If you’re interested in job openings for software engineers and other tech profiles at Netsuite/Oracle, check out their website!

 

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