Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Hi-tech, Lo-tech - A week of the Living Dead!

So ... I just switched jobs. I returned my iPhone to my previous company last week, and got a new Android today - that's one week!

So, for the last week, I was asked to fish out an old phone for the transition period. I wanted to do it to ensure that the number was ported to my personal account. So I got my old G1 (the first ever Google Android phone - see above) from my gadget stash :-)

The ATT guy who set it up didn’t know whether to laugh or cry, but he was professional as we both joked about it. The phone worked like a charm when he slipped in the SIM. The zombie was back to life and ... hungry. I expect he’d have had less success with my old first generation iPhone (which I also considered :-))  - 2G, no replaceable SIM.

Anyway - all last week, I actually used the G1 as … a phone! When did you last use your phone as a … phone? I didn’t even take the trouble to set up all the smartphone stuff.

I thought it would be a riot to show my new colleagues the zombie G1 and ask them if they could do mobile search on it. My new team is working on the next generation of mobile search!

I thought they’d laugh their heads off :-)

Not so. They were amazed - some of them had never seen the first Android phone - they were impressed (truthfully, a bit amused as well).

I made several phone calls last week.

As we race off to the future, it’s sometimes comforting to step back to the past. I gave this zombie one more shot! It was back to the future for a week.

How far… how fast…!

Monday, December 1, 2014

Feeling the blues ... again!

I need a change of color ... again! Seems like every time I go purple, blue seeks me out :-)

Seems like I can't get very far from search, either ... search "seeks" me out :-)

The last time I was at Yahoo, it was short and relatively uneventful (notable was the "search index war" that caused Google to drop the index size counter on the home page!) 

I moved to Google and worked on a bunch of products - Web Search, Alerts, Custom Search, Site Search, the Search Appliance, and Ads automation.

I left Google for an ecommerce startup called Lexity, and we were acquired by ... Yahoo ... last year. Boomerang! (what they call second timers)

I got a lot done the second time - product integration with Yahoo Merchant Solutions in a record 6 weeks after acquisition,  launch of the Live Web Insights iPhone app, a unique powerful one-click badging system with benchmark insights for ecommerce, and a brand new Yahoo Stores ecommerce platform, among other things. 

Done! I'm moving to a new role at Quixey.  Quixey is working on the future  of mobile search, attempting to  unlock information within apps -> the new reality!

In 2009, I wrote my most popular tech blog post: A Brief History of Search - a Play for 3 Ages!

I may need to write a sequel to this popular play in a bit ... stay tuned :-)

Saturday, November 22, 2014

My mentor, Ashok Chandra

Last week was a loss for the high tech world, the Indian community in Silicon Valley, the Chandra family, and to several of us who had the chance to work with Ashok Chandra. Ashok passed away after a battle with cancer.

Ashok accomplished a lot in his career, but it was his demeanor and leadership that I value most. He valued people and he realized how to get the best out of people.

He was my mentor, and he was involved in almost all my career transitions. I would ask his advice every time.

When I moved from IBM Watson to IBM Almaden, Ashok was the lab head, and my final interview was with him. When I left IBM, I met with him. When I decided to leave Purple Yogi (Stratify) and return to IBM Research, he (and Prabhakar Raghavan) convinced me to join them at Verity to help form the Emerging Technologies team, where I learned a lot and had a very technically productive 4+ years. He was supportive of my move to Yahoo and into product management. He pulled me in to lead product at the then new Search Labs in Microsoft Silicon Valley. That offer led Google to make a decision (in 2 weeks!) since I had the Microsoft deadline. Years earlier, my first Google offer for an engineering manager role had taken an excruciating 6+ months. I had not consulted with anyone and I had eventually said NO (a mistake? :-)). Had I asked Ashok, would he have encouraged me? The second time, I decided to join Google since I correctly presumed that I’d have to make a lot of trips to Seattle to get anything done. If Ashok was upset, he did not show it - he understood, and supported my decision.

Ashok was who I went to for advice when the startup I was doing (Koollage) ran into a thorny situation, and Ashok was the first person I’d called to inform that I was quitting Google to go to Lexity. He was happy that some of the ex-Verity folks were back together again, and was so happy after the acquisition by Yahoo.

I sent him an email a couple of weeks back to connect so I could inform him of my upcoming transition from Yahoo, but there was no response. I had to decide on my own.

Ashok - we will miss you! We will miss your smile!