Announcing Stack Overflow’s New CEO, Prashanth Chandrasekar!

Last March, I shared that we were starting to look for a new CEO for Stack Overflow. We were looking for that rare combination of someone who could foster the community while accelerating the growth of our businesses, especially Teams, where we are starting to close many huge deals and becoming a hyper-growth enterprise software company very quickly. This is not something I’m particularly good at, and I thought it was time to bring on more experienced leadership.

The Board of Directors nominated a search committee and we went through almost 200 candidates. It speaks to how well respected  a company Stack Overflow is that we found ourselves in the rare position of having plenty of highly qualified executives who were excited about the opportunity. Nevertheless, one of them really stood out, and we are pleased to let you know that we have selected Prashanth Chandrasekar as our next CEO. His first day will be October 1st.

Prashanth was born in Bangalore, India, the city with the highest number of Stack Overflow users in the world, one of the global capitals for software developers writing the script for the future. He started out as a software engineer before moving over to management. He has a BS in Computer Engineering from the University of Maine, a Masters in Engineering Management from Cornell, and an MBA from Harvard. He worked at Capgemini as a management consultant and Barclays as an investment banker in their technology group before joining Rackspace in San Antonio, Texas.

At Rackspace, Prashanth really proved his mettle, creating from scratch a completely new business unit inside the company, the Global Managed Public Clouds Business. This group serves companies around the world who need help running on AWS, Azure, Google, and so on. Under his leadership, Rackspace successfully pivoted from a leading managed hosting company to a cloud services company. And he did this while working with developers both inside Rackspace and outside, so he understands our vision of “writing the script for the future” better than anyone I’ve met.

This is an exciting time for Stack Overflow, and we have some big goals for the year ahead. We want to make Stack Overflow more diverse, inclusive, and welcoming. And we want to make it possible for knowledge workers everywhere to use Stack Overflow to get answers to the proprietary questions that are specific to their organizations and teams. We’re doing great work and making great progress in these areas, and I’m confident that Prashanth has some great ideas about how to move forward faster on all our goals.

As you know, I’m keeping my job as Chairman of the Board, so I’ll continue to be closely involved. Being Stack Overflow’s CEO has been an honor, and I can’t wait to see the things the team accomplishes in the year ahead. This will be a great new chapter for Stack Overflow.

Author

Joel Spolsky
Co-founder & CEO

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Comments

  1. Biometriebär says:

    > big goals for the year ahead. We want to make Stack Overflow more diverse, inclusive, and welcoming.

    Weren’t these the goals for *last* year? Still not done?

    1. We’ve made progress in the last year, but we aren’t treating this as a box to be checked off. Making the site more diverse, inclusive, and welcoming will remain a priority for years to come.

      1. I think he means that the Goals should be either removed due to their vapid collective appeal or modified to actually qualify or quantify what being diverse, inclusive, and welcoming means.

        For example, diverse and inclusive is an elusive concept to most people. Diverse can be technological, philosophical, biological, psychological, and either add or detract from a site. Furthermore, to be inclusive…to other ideas? or technologies? Social change (i.e. more women in Tech, etc) or just polite political speech that makes people warm and fuzzy while hiding the lack of actual meaningful progress?

        No one wants to say they have aimless goals, which the three certainly come across that way. How does that actually translate and are these goals genuinely rooted in a company culture and success that will improve stack overflow?

        1. John Zabroski says:

          Clifotn, good points.

          What aims do you think Stack Overflow should have for these goals?

          I had previously written up my thoughts, here: https://meta.stackoverflow.com/a/376902/1040437

          My thesis is, before you can make things more diverse, inclusive and welcoming, you need metrics. The metrics that I think are most interesting are driven by one question: How likely users are to interact with questions and answers?

          With this one question, you can do so much. People vote with their feet.

        2. Thank you for addressing this head-on and trying to defuse some of this smokescreen of intentional vagueness.

      2. Maybe you should. Diversity is the opposite of focus, and online communities, once they get off the ground, typically die from including and welcoming so many people that all distinctiveness is destroyed.

      3. John Zabroski says:

        Ben, exactly.

        It’s like communication – you can always grow and get better at it. Even if you think you’ve nailed it with your current audience, there are new audiences to reach.

    2. they said, passive-aggressively.

    3. Are you talking about employees, or users? If it is users, then how does one make a website which is open freely to the public (also anonymous and therefore inherently anti-discriminatory) more inclusive and diverse?

      Is there a screening process that I missed?

      1. It is funny that you posed a dichotomy and then chose the one path that you can make sound ridiculous.

  2. Will there be major changes to the software, e.g. for the following?

    1) Setting the right expectations for new users (e.g. not a forum, not a help desk, not a place for work orders (demonstrated effort required), tutorial mode like in computer games, etc.)

    2) A staging area. A safe place (without voting and demanding comments) where a question can be drafted before entering the main Stack Overflow site. Optionally with the help of experienced users (incl. identifying potential duplicates and other posts that may help).

    Stack Exchange has been very conservative making changes to the base software (that could potentially break entirely new ground – be an innovation like the original was).

    1. Have you posted these suggestions on a meta.* site with some more justification?
      That way, some discussion can happen, and more eyes can get on them.

      Suggesting changes here doesn’t seem like the right place at all.

      1. SO staff don’t respond to anything written on meta any longer, since this year’s “summer of love”. Nor has any CEO been participating there for many a year. Meta is just users discussing among themselves nowadays, so why post there?

      2. Getting eyes on a suggestion doesn’t always seem to have any effect on having SE actually implement the suggestion. For instance, https://meta.stackexchange.com/a/314304/307622 is the most concrete, actionable, well-thought-out suggestion I have seen for how to truly improve the experience for new users and make the site more welcoming. To the best of my knowledge SE employees have not read it or responded.

  3. What about changing the license agreements without consent from the users who contributed said content?

  4. Congratulations! I wish all the staff and the entire community a bright future of sharing knowledge.

  5. Bangalore represents! 😀

  6. “We want to make Stack Overflow more diverse, inclusive, and welcoming.”

    Does that include remaining neutral on political topics? Because StackOverflow appears to have used this platform for its own political agenda, taking a position that, as a member of that community, is idealistic when it doesn’t affect the author, but brutal and destructive when put into actual practice as I’ve seen with my own eyes. This made me feel uncomfortable with using this site and I don’t think that is very ‘inclusive’. StackOverflow ought to mind StackOverflow’s business and stay out of politics if they truly want to be inclusive.

    1. “We want to make Stack Overflow more diverse, inclusive, and welcoming.”

      Please avoid use of politically correct buzzwords in favor of meaningful and precise achievable statements of goals. The statement above does not compile in English; it has no precise meaning. Therefore it can mean anything the reader cares for it to mean.

      “Diverse” can mean, for instance, a proportional representation of every possible intersection of identity groups. Or it can describe a collection of knowledge as covering multiple dissimilar topics. Or any number of other things.

      “Inclusive” is even more vague and semi-political. You surely don’t want to be inclusive of criminals, bigots, people who won’t read the site rules, and other undesirable categories. Nor do you want to be inclusive of off-topic content. To exist at all, you must specialize in some fashion, which means you are *excluding* things which are outside of your scope. Otherwise you would just be reddit or 4chan or the Internet as a whole. So how can you measure whether you are “inclusive”? It is an impossible goal as it is incompletely defined, just like the old joke: “What’s the difference between a duck?”

      “Welcoming” is at least a meaningful term. In general it should be amply covered by the Code of Conduct, which was recently revamped. However, there is a great deal that can be done at a technical level to improve how welcoming SE is, for instance https://meta.stackexchange.com/a/314304/307622, which sadly received no attention whatsoever from the SE developers, even though it is extremely concrete, actionable, sensible technical advice that would greatly improve new users’ experience with the site.

      Thank you for reading.

  7. I find the number of Indian CEOs in tech land quite interesting. Good luck Prashanth.

  8. The best change is not to change anything. I think this site has succeeded for what it is already so why risking changing it?.

    Paid services such as “Developer Jobs” however, can be much improved IMHO, specially in some countries in Europe (I live in France) where no many companies are using it.

    Good luck to the new CEO.

  9. Taslim Oseni says:

    I really hope StackOverflow Meta would eventually regain its voice. There have been a ton of unanimous agreements reached on Meta that were never implemented. This issue has been discussed over and over again. Basically, Meta is just one big closed-door community of S/O users (emphasis on closed-door because no change ever happens). If the main StackOverflow company has 100% control, what’s the whole point of meta? It’s basically just one big chatroom. I’m looking forward to seeing a change in this.

    ..and by the way, congratulations!

    1. Taslim Oseni says:

      Here’s a meta post that supports my claim: https://meta.stackoverflow.com/q/387651/5670752

  10. I’ve started to associate on the spot

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chandrasekhar_limit

    🙂

    Good luck, Mr. Chandrasekhar!

  11. Welcome Prashanth!

    Let us know if there is anything we can do to help out.

  12. Why is there not a single photo of the guy?

    1. Photo is on the blog front page.

  13. > We want to make Stack Overflow more diverse, inclusive, and welcoming. And we want to make it possible for knowledge workers everywhere to use Stack Overflow to get answers to the proprietary questions that are specific to their organizations and teams.

    It would be good if by omission the regular, loyal people who generate the value of the site by balancing being welcoming and inclusive with maintaining a high quality site were mentioned here.

    As someone once said:

    > You have to figure out who your best customers are—the locals who come on weekday nights when the restaurant is relatively quiet—and give them tables quickly on Friday night, even if the out-of-towners have to wait a little longer.

    Maybe it’s time to start acknowledging the locals. Particularly when they’re the ones also volunteering to cook the food and wait the tables.

  14. Welcome to new CEO 🙂

  15. Masked Man says:

    Great decision by Spolsky to hire a new Captain (or assistant captain, if you prefer) on a sinking ship. Now they have a new scapegoat to blame when the ship eventually hits the ocean floor.

    Did Mr. Chandrasekhar apply for the role on “StackOverflow Jobs”? Does he have a SE profile? Or should I rather say, does he have a Twitter account?

    Why was Mr. Spolsky looking for a new CEO on his *personal* blog, as against posting it on StackOverflow Jobs? Does he believe that his personal blog is a better job board than StackOverflow Jobs? What does it say about the product when the Chairman and (former) CEO hesitates to use it, even though he realistically could?

  16. So Prashanth is going to be CEO of Stack Overflow only, or CEO of Stack Exchange?

  17. Giskard Reventlov says:

    How much of the trouble with a Code of Conduct, firing moderators without due process and the resignations, is down to the stated goals (diversity, inclusiveness, and welcomingness), down to Prashanth’s guidance, both?

    Is this a CEO of the Exchange or Overflow operation, or both?

    Has the new CEO programmed live projects? If so a few details would be appreciated.

  18. As a new CEO takes the reins of Stack Overflow, I hope the community gives him space and time to understand the business and the community that drives it.

    https://hbr.org/2019/09/why-new-leaders-should-make-decisions-slowly

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