Agile Computing Authors: Carmen Gonzalez, Elizabeth White, John Mertic, Pat Romanski, Liz McMillan

Related Topics: Agile Computing

Agile Computing: Article

SYS-CON Survey: What Drives Successful Technology CEOs?

Is it SOA, Virtualization, RIAs, User eXperience...or the sheer challenge of successfully pioneering software development?

What drives a technology CEO or CTO to success in today's constantly changing Internet-driven technology ecosystem? We look at the question through the lens of the many interviews and articles we have published at SYS-CON.com which deal, sometimes only in passing, with exactly this issue.

Executives quoted include Appcelerator CEO Jeff Haynie, Nexaweb Co-Founder & Chairman Coach Wei, the founder of Internet.com Alan Meckler, and the Chairman & CEO of Parasoft Dr Adam Kolawa.

When Jeff Haynie (pictured) and Nolan Wright co-founded Appcelerator in 2006, for example, their impetus derived from a classic sense of frustration with the status quo and a desire to Make Things Better. In a recent interview, Haynie expressed it thus:

"We were frustrated by the state of Web development platforms, surprised by how little change had occurred since the Web 1.0 meltdown. ...  you have to build your platform before you can build your app – we wanted to change that."

Coach Wei, who co-founded Nexaweb way back in 2000 and served as its CEO until summer 2003, leveraged his own profound technical competence so well that it helped him take his company (despite starting it at the bottom of the 'dot-bomb' burst) on a trajectory that eventually brought $18M in financing. That technological savvy, above all, is what he believes helped drive him and Nexaweb. Here's how he explained when I interviewed him last year


"I learned so much coping with the 'nuclear winter,' raising $18M in financing, working through all the challenges associated with the market, dealing with investors and everything else. ... In this industry, I cannot stress enough the importance of decision-makers having a strong technology background. The reason is very simple: in this industry, technology is business.  Technology and business are so intertwined in this industry that no sound business decision can be made without a strong technology foundation."

Alan M. Meckler, the co-founder of Internet.com, managed - within just a few years after selling Mecklermedia - to cram in what most business leaders would happily have accepted as their entire lifetime's achievement. When I asked him in a 2006 interview whether that was a function primarily of the Internet, or primarily of Alan M. Meckler, here was his reply:

"Hard work pays off. The harder you work the luckier you get (they say!). But it is better to be luckier than good."

Prescience pays off too, it should be said. Because Meckler predicted back in the September 2000 issue of Business 2.0 — in a piece entitled "I Want My N/TV!" — that it was only a matter of time before trade print magazine would go the way of the dinosaur and that the future of B2B publishing was 100% online. His own experience at Mecklermedia with converting print titles to Web sites in’96 and ’97 got him to thinking about the death of print (for Tech) — which was a sure shot by 2000. And his education background served him well:

"I am a trained historian (Ph.D. in American history) and have had the advantage of observing and working and then making strategic decision based on what I have witnessed and trends that are appearing."

Another academically brilliant CEO, Dr Adam Kolawa of Parasoft, also noted in a recent Exclusive Q&A that his theoretical physics background has been useful over the course of his career, co-founding and building out Parasoft into a globe-spanning corporation:

"The main thing that I take away from theoretical physics is the process of building a theoretical model, and never believing in its validity until you confirm that it really works. All my life I was guided by these principles. You take a roadmap and build a theoretical model, then you test it to see if it really works. As you get feedback from the experiments and applying the model in real life, you modify the model and drive it forward. That’s how I’ve always operated."

So...impatience with the status quo, sheer through-and-through technical competence, hard work, luck, and a good education - just some of the drivers that have helped propel these particular executives.

What other qualities are helpful? Let me know and we'll re-examine the issue later in the light of reader responses!

More Stories By Jeremy Geelan

Jeremy Geelan is Chairman & CEO of the 21st Century Internet Group, Inc. and an Executive Academy Member of the International Academy of Digital Arts & Sciences. Formerly he was President & COO at Cloud Expo, Inc. and Conference Chair of the worldwide Cloud Expo series. He appears regularly at conferences and trade shows, speaking to technology audiences across six continents. You can follow him on twitter: @jg21.

Comments (1) View Comments

Share your thoughts on this story.

Add your comment
You must be signed in to add a comment. Sign-in | Register

In accordance with our Comment Policy, we encourage comments that are on topic, relevant and to-the-point. We will remove comments that include profanity, personal attacks, racial slurs, threats of violence, or other inappropriate material that violates our Terms and Conditions, and will block users who make repeated violations. We ask all readers to expect diversity of opinion and to treat one another with dignity and respect.

Most Recent Comments
Success of Failure 02/20/08 06:27:27 AM EST

How come no one interviewed mentions *failure* as an essential driver? Good CEOs are often good because they've come to wisdom through failure. Very little wisdom, by comparison, accrues from success.

@ThingsExpo Stories
Complete Internet of Things (IoT) embedded device security is not just about the device but involves the entire product’s identity, data and control integrity, and services traversing the cloud. A device can no longer be looked at as an island; it is a part of a system. In fact, given the cross-domain interactions enabled by IoT it could be a part of many systems. Also, depending on where the device is deployed, for example, in the office building versus a factory floor or oil field, security ha...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Transparent Cloud Computing (T-Cloud) Consortium will exhibit at the 19th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. The Transparent Cloud Computing Consortium (T-Cloud Consortium) will conduct research activities into changes in the computing model as a result of collaboration between "device" and "cloud" and the creation of new value and markets through organic data proces...
Donna Yasay, President of HomeGrid Forum, today discussed with a panel of technology peers how certification programs are at the forefront of interoperability, and the answer for vendors looking to keep up with today's growing industry for smart home innovation. "To ensure multi-vendor interoperability, accredited industry certification programs should be used for every product to provide credibility and quality assurance for retail and carrier based customers looking to add ever increasing num...
@ThingsExpo has been named the Top 5 Most Influential M2M Brand by Onalytica in the ‘Machine to Machine: Top 100 Influencers and Brands.' Onalytica analyzed the online debate on M2M by looking at over 85,000 tweets to provide the most influential individuals and brands that drive the discussion. According to Onalytica the "analysis showed a very engaged community with a lot of interactive tweets. The M2M discussion seems to be more fragmented and driven by some of the major brands present in the...
In an era of historic innovation fueled by unprecedented access to data and technology, the low cost and risk of entering new markets has leveled the playing field for business. Today, any ambitious innovator can easily introduce a new application or product that can reinvent business models and transform the client experience. In their Day 2 Keynote at 19th Cloud Expo, Mercer Rowe, IBM Vice President of Strategic Alliances, and Raejeanne Skillern, Intel Vice President of Data Center Group and ...
Machine Learning helps make complex systems more efficient. By applying advanced Machine Learning techniques such as Cognitive Fingerprinting, wind project operators can utilize these tools to learn from collected data, detect regular patterns, and optimize their own operations. In his session at 18th Cloud Expo, Stuart Gillen, Director of Business Development at SparkCognition, discussed how research has demonstrated the value of Machine Learning in delivering next generation analytics to impr...
Data is the fuel that drives the machine learning algorithmic engines and ultimately provides the business value. In his session at Cloud Expo, Ed Featherston, a director and senior enterprise architect at Collaborative Consulting, will discuss the key considerations around quality, volume, timeliness, and pedigree that must be dealt with in order to properly fuel that engine.
What happens when the different parts of a vehicle become smarter than the vehicle itself? As we move toward the era of smart everything, hundreds of entities in a vehicle that communicate with each other, the vehicle and external systems create a need for identity orchestration so that all entities work as a conglomerate. Much like an orchestra without a conductor, without the ability to secure, control, and connect the link between a vehicle’s head unit, devices, and systems and to manage the ...
Virgil consists of an open-source encryption library, which implements Cryptographic Message Syntax (CMS) and Elliptic Curve Integrated Encryption Scheme (ECIES) (including RSA schema), a Key Management API, and a cloud-based Key Management Service (Virgil Keys). The Virgil Keys Service consists of a public key service and a private key escrow service. 

Web Real-Time Communication APIs have quickly revolutionized what browsers are capable of. In addition to video and audio streams, we can now bi-directionally send arbitrary data over WebRTC's PeerConnection Data Channels. With the advent of Progressive Web Apps and new hardware APIs such as WebBluetooh and WebUSB, we can finally enable users to stitch together the Internet of Things directly from their browsers while communicating privately and securely in a decentralized way.
Amazon has gradually rolled out parts of its IoT offerings, but these are just the tip of the iceberg. In addition to optimizing their backend AWS offerings, Amazon is laying the ground work to be a major force in IoT - especially in the connected home and office. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Chris Kocher, founder and managing director of Grey Heron, explained how Amazon is extending its reach to become a major force in IoT by building on its dominant cloud IoT platform, its Dash Button strat...
Two weeks ago (November 3-5), I attended the Cloud Expo Silicon Valley as a speaker, where I presented on the security and privacy due diligence requirements for cloud solutions. Cloud security is a topical issue for every CIO, CISO, and technology buyer. Decision-makers are always looking for insights on how to mitigate the security risks of implementing and using cloud solutions. Based on the presentation topics covered at the conference, as well as the general discussions heard between sessi...
For basic one-to-one voice or video calling solutions, WebRTC has proven to be a very powerful technology. Although WebRTC’s core functionality is to provide secure, real-time p2p media streaming, leveraging native platform features and server-side components brings up new communication capabilities for web and native mobile applications, allowing for advanced multi-user use cases such as video broadcasting, conferencing, and media recording.
Fifty billion connected devices and still no winning protocols standards. HTTP, WebSockets, MQTT, and CoAP seem to be leading in the IoT protocol race at the moment but many more protocols are getting introduced on a regular basis. Each protocol has its pros and cons depending on the nature of the communications. Does there really need to be only one protocol to rule them all? Of course not. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Chris Matthieu, co-founder and CTO of Octoblu, walk you through how Oct...
Major trends and emerging technologies – from virtual reality and IoT, to Big Data and algorithms – are helping organizations innovate in the digital era. However, to create real business value, IT must think beyond the ‘what’ of digital transformation to the ‘how’ to harness emerging trends, innovation and disruption. Architecture is the key that underpins and ties all these efforts together. In the digital age, it’s important to invest in architecture, extend the enterprise footprint to the cl...
Almost everyone sees the potential of Internet of Things but how can businesses truly unlock that potential. The key will be in the ability to discover business insight in the midst of an ocean of Big Data generated from billions of embedded devices via Systems of Discover. Businesses will also need to ensure that they can sustain that insight by leveraging the cloud for global reach, scale and elasticity.
A critical component of any IoT project is what to do with all the data being generated. This data needs to be captured, processed, structured, and stored in a way to facilitate different kinds of queries. Traditional data warehouse and analytical systems are mature technologies that can be used to handle certain kinds of queries, but they are not always well suited to many problems, particularly when there is a need for real-time insights.
One of biggest questions about Big Data is “How do we harness all that information for business use quickly and effectively?” Geographic Information Systems (GIS) or spatial technology is about more than making maps, but adding critical context and meaning to data of all types, coming from all different channels – even sensors. In his session at @ThingsExpo, William (Bill) Meehan, director of utility solutions for Esri, will take a closer look at the current state of spatial technology and ar...
Explosive growth in connected devices. Enormous amounts of data for collection and analysis. Critical use of data for split-second decision making and actionable information. All three are factors in making the Internet of Things a reality. Yet, any one factor would have an IT organization pondering its infrastructure strategy. How should your organization enhance its IT framework to enable an Internet of Things implementation? In his session at @ThingsExpo, James Kirkland, Red Hat's Chief Arch...
The IoT industry is now at a crossroads, between the fast-paced innovation of technologies and the pending mass adoption by global enterprises. The complexity of combining rapidly evolving technologies and the need to establish practices for market acceleration pose a strong challenge to global enterprises as well as IoT vendors. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Clark Smith, senior product manager for Numerex, will discuss how Numerex, as an experienced, established IoT provider, has embraced a ...