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A Year of WebPageTest and Catchpoint: A Q&A with Mehdi Daoudi and Jeena James

As WebPageTest and Catchpoint celebrate one year of partnership, Jeena James, General Manager, WebPageTest, sat down for a Q&A with Mehdi Daoudi, Catchpoint CEO and co-founder, to look at the key milestones from last year

As WebPageTest and Catchpoint celebrate one year of partnership, Jeena James, General Manager, WebPageTest, sat down for a Q&A with Mehdi Daoudi, CEO and co-founder, Catchpoint, to look at the key milestones from the last year, and ahead to what's next! Hope you enjoy!

Look out for two more video Q&As this week with Dritan Suljoti, Chief Product and Technology Officer and co-founder, Catchpoint, and Tim Kadlec, Director of Engineering, WebPageTest.

Jeena: Hi Mehdi. Congratulations on a successful year at Catchpoint. Tell us more about your motivation with bringing WebPageTest into the Catchpoint family. And how has the last year been?

Mehdi: Hey, Jeena. So I think congratulations to a lot of people. If you remember, since I've met Patrick at Velocity in 2008, I've always wanted to work with him, and to bring WebPageTest inside Catchpoint.

And so last year we made it a reality. And I feel like we are keeping our promise, in terms of being the custodian of this amazing tool, this amazing capability that exists, which is the gold standard when it comes to web performance testing and measuring. And so we are very happy about what we've accomplished in the last year, which is get WebPageTest out of Patrick's garage and put that inside our data centers, and scale that up, et cetera. So that part has been amazing.

The second thing that I'm extremely proud of is, we have built an incredible team around WebPageTest. So WebpageTest was Patrick. And Patrick, by the way, went back to Google a few weeks ago. And so it has been an incredible journey. I got to work with him for almost a year. In my bucket list, check. Work with Patrick Meenan, done.

But what I'm the most proud of is actually the team that we've built around WebPageTest, with your arrival, and Tim Kadlec, Jeff Lembeck, Scott Jehl, and others. And then we have some amazing people from the Catchpoint team that have moved to the WebPageTest team. And they're very happy to work on something new.

So overall, I would give ourselves a very good grade on what we've done this year. And most importantly, we've also started offering a paid product around WebPageTest. That validates our initial thoughts and initial thesis on the acquisition of WebPageTest. So I'm very happy of what, we haven't broken it, we have improved it, we've made it better. We have made it stronger. We've added some incredible people around it. And that's pretty good.

Jeena: Why developer? Why a developer tool?

Mehdi: I've been around performance testing and monitoring for years. Back in the days, I worked on a user interface for DoubleClick. And we were working on the new version of it. It was called DART 5. We had all these engineers working on it, then it went live, and literally it was one of the worst things I've ever seen in my life. It was so slow, and at the time there was no WebPageTest, there was no Catchpoint, there was nothing. There was only this product from IBM that was bundled in with IBM WebSphere, which was their web server platform. And it was called IBM Page Detailer. It was... To be honest, the closest thing to WebPageTest back in the days, and I'm talking about 1999.

I was responsible for monitoring at DoubleClick. And I was thrown into this thing, which was, "go figure out why this stuff is slow." And I used IBM Webpage Detailer to figure out what was going on. And we figured out that stuff. But performance issues are very often caught in production. Meaning that they're caught when you've already annoyed and upset potentially millions and millions of users. So performance is that important.

Now, everybody's talking about shift left. Great. How about we move performance as well to the left and how do we catch performance issues before they get released to production? Because by the way, your SRE team or your Ops team, does not necessarily understand or care about performance. They care about availability and reliability, but performance is one of those things that is in the eye of the beholder, right? So how about we move performance and catch performance issues in QA, in staging, in development? That's why… right?

I really believe deep down inside that performance is also a culture. It's not just an afterthought. It should be the most important feature of any product. And if it's the most important feature, guess what? It has to be tested like any other feature. So that's why we've always wanted to play nice with the developer community and the developers at Catchpoint, and WebPageTest is the best vehicle for us to get there.

Jeena: Looking ahead at the next 5-10 years, where do you envision WebPageTest, the developer experience and WebPageTest products within the Catchpoint suite of products and solutions?

Mehdi: We believe at Catchpoint that the four fundamental pillars will still be valued in the next four, five years or however long. Performance is still going to be super important, reliability, availability, reachability, performance. Those are non-negotiable things. They're going to be here forever.

What's going to change is the number of devices, how we're connected to the Internet, that's what will complicate things. Are we going to have content coming from edge servers versus CDNs versus cloud? How many parts are going to be in the chain?

The digital delivery chain is getting more and more complex because we have more and more layers, but the users are still the same, they still want great experiences, fast experiences. Everybody wants you to deliver things in a fast way, because that shows respect towards the most important thing that doesn't grow on trees, which is time.

We have to be respectful of our customers' time, and that means you have to deliver things on time. If I'm booking a flight, I don't want to waste three hours booking a flight, give me what I want immediately. So I think automation is going to change things, we're going to have to automate things better, faster, whatnot.

But I don't see things changing, performance is one of those things that people are not going to wake up one day and say, who cares about performance? I think that's not going to change. The fact that we're still talking about performance twenty years after IBM Page Detailer, does mean that certain things don't change.

It's always a work in progress and if you figured it out, I would imagine, there are others in the space, competitors or similar sites and similar experiences, we're still trying to get even better, and so the user has a choice.

Yeah. Listen, the Internet is getting more complex. Again, this delivery platform that all the bits and pieces that come together to deliver either mobile app, or a video stream, or whatever, that's the stuff that is getting more complex. The users are still the same.

Our computers are more powerful than twenty years ago, but all that means is I can multitask more, I can watch Netflix while I'm watching an Apple TV thing while I'm writing an email and surfing thing a webpage and buying something on Amazon at the same time. That's what we do.

That means that we just want to do things faster and better.

Jeena: Mehdi, I know you said you are proud of a lot of things with respect to WebPageTest first year at Catchpoint. If you had to pick one, what would that be?

Mehdi: I was very worried that we would break WebPageTest. And I'm not talking about breaking the software. I'm talking about breaking this custody chain that we have and making sure that we don't screw with WebPageTest. And I think that's the one thing that as a company, everybody understands it and everybody rallied around to protect what WebPageTest is -and to maintain it in its cocoon and protect it, right? So I'm very proud of that because that's a promise we gave to Patrick, but we also gave to the community when we announced the acquisition. And so I'm very happy that we kept our promise. I like to keep our promises. So I'm very happy about that.

The other one is, when you make an acquisition or when you get acquired, it's never easy. It's an implant. It's a transplant. It's a foreign body kind of merger. You can think about every possible thing that can go wrong, et cetera, but you can never predict if it's going to really gel and things are going to work out. The second thing I'm the most proud of is the fact that it has been a smooth integration with Patrick, but also the Catchpoint family absorbing WebPageTest has been also very smooth. I'm very happy about that. I think the entire Catchpoint team made it very easy for us. So I want to thank them for making that a very smooth process.

Jeena: I agree with you. In fact, we've both had our fair share of experiences when acquisitions and mergers work and where they don't and how to do them right. And no one really has the secret formula.

Mehdi: There’s no secret.

Jeena: It's a lot of trial and error, but what really matters is the willingness to try and the openness to adapt and adjust as things go by. So, absolutely, I agree with you on that. Yeah. It's been great so far and it's-

Mehdi: I mean, the future of WebPageTest is, I think, even brighter than what I even anticipated when I was thinking and talking to my board and my investors about the acquisition. I think what we've accomplished this year and what is pretty good, but we've also added, I don't know, we've doubled the team or tripled the team on WebPageTest significantly. And the roadmap is full of great features and things like that. I'm very excited about next year, actually, more than anything else.

Jeena: Yes. Thank you so much, Mehdi, for your time.

Mehdi: Happy birthday, WebPageTest.

Jeena: Happy birthday to you as well.

Find out more about the first year of WPT and Catchpoint's partnership!

WebPageTest

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