Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Google Earth CTO -- To Build or to Sell

A CTO often sees the job as injecting technology into a product or service to get a company launched or positioned in a market. Some technologists are so wrapped around the technology that they can only see a path for building to a company's future. But as a company moves forward, the CTO has to have bigger eyes than this. The person must be able to transition from being a genius to an executive (see "5 Patterns of the CTO" and "The CTO in Transition")

Michael Jones is the CTO of Google Earth and got to that position by building a small start-up called Keyhole. He helped them to create a great product, but as a small company they had trouble reaching customers and getting access to all of the geo data they needed to populate the world in their tool. The solution - sell the company to Google and use the brand name to achieve global recognition, and the money to buy access to all of the data you can imagine. Mary Jo Wagner brings this out in the following fragment of an interview with Jones:

"MW: As Keyhole already had the technology and product line, why couldn't it achieve what Google Earth has in record time?

MJ: I think what we built at Keyhole was good, but it was known by a smaller part of the world. And one thing small companies have a really tough time doing, and I know from experience, is reaching out to the world. To actually be able to reach everybody's brother is really hard. Google was attracted to what we were doing - Larry [Page] and Sergey [Brin] were personal customers - and wanted to find a way to make that available to more people. So when Google launched this service and offered the chance to check it out for free, the whole world noticed at once."
[From: Geospatial Solutions]

As a CTO can you see the world from the perspective of new technology + access to customers + brand recognition + financial support? This job has a "C" in the title for a good reason. It is much more than Chief Technologist/Scientist/Engineer.


Blogger anne1978 said...

By the way, I have been looking up on the Internet and I have found some tools which are really cools to monitor the positioning of the competition, as well as seeing their tips and tricks. If you are interested, I advised to you have a look. It seems they are free: http://www.lineared.com/es/recuperar/en-datos-posiciones-google-msn-yahoo.htm

8:59 AM  

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