Entrepreneurial, adventurous, free-thinker.
I was born in Kent, England. I have one sibling, my brother Blair, who now lives in Jakarta, Indonesia.
At the age of 4, my family moved to Iran where I studied at Mrs. Hekmat's School in Tehran. Fantastic place, a far better education than I would have got in the UK at that age.
At the age of 6, we returned to the UK and I went to school at Haberdashers' Aske's School, Elstree until the age of 18. At school, I was very involved in music, playing the piano and singing in the choir. I was fortunate enough to be chosen to sing at the Royal Opera House at Covent Garden, of which the highlight was singing the solo part of "Mustardseed" in "A Midsummer Night's Dream".
I got a BSc. in Computer Science and Math (first class honors) in 1983 from the University of Southampton, England.
Then I traveled to the US.
I got an MS degree in Computer Science (magna cum Laude) in 1985 from the University of Texas in Dallas.
My first job was lead software developer at an oilfield services company called DSI (Diagnostic Services Incorporated). During this time, I programmed databases, graphics, statistical analysis, and some hardware routines. Most of the code was written in C.
When I got my Permanent Resident status, I left DSI and went back to UT Dallas to teach computer science as a senior lecturer. This was during the time that object-oriented programming was just surfacing, and so I taught Smalltalk and C++ in addition to UNIX, C, assembly language and programming languages. During this time, I wrote several books based on my classes and got a publishing contract from Prentice Hall for my UNIX book.
I got a good reputation for my teaching skills at UTD, and was soon getting offers to teach the same materials at local high-tech companies. The great thing is that those companies would pay me about ten times the amount per hour than UTD, and so I soon formed a one-man company called ObjectLesson and left the University to go it alone. My increased income allowed me to build a supercomputer at home based on Inmos Transputer chips. I developed a programming language for this parallel system that was inspired by DNA; I called the hardware/software combination my "Gene Machine". My ObjectLesson venture was very successful, and I saved up enough over the next two years to start my second company, ObjectSpace.
ObjectSpace was conceived in 1993 as a products company, but used training and consulting in the early years to generate enough revenue to support product develoment. We used the training materials that I had developed at ObjectLesson to jumpstart the ObjectSpace training curriculum. The consulting practice started by providing mentoring and small project assistance, but over time grew large enough to also perform project outsourcing. The initial growth of ObjectSpace was fairly rapid, given the fact that the company was self-funded with a total of just $20,000. At the end of the first year there were just two people; myself and my partner David Norris. Our first employee was Diana Melino, who did an awesome job both as an admin and as a salesperson. Next came Brett Schuchert, Chris Tarr, David Nunn and Tom Heruska, which were affectionately refered to as the "original seven". Brett and I were effectively the training department, and the others were the consulting group. Within four years we had around 60 people, and product development had started in earnest.
ObjectSpace grew at an impressive pace, and after about six years, we had 250 people and over $10m of investment capital. Around that time the Internet bubble started to form and B2B companies were getting unbelievable valuations. My business partner and the board of directors wanted ObjectSpace to become a B2B company in order to capitalize on the B2B valuations, whereas I wanted to stay our original course which was focused on general distributed computing. When I lost a vote at the board level related to the direction that the company should take, I resigned and started my next company. Unfortunately, ObjectSpace went bankrupt about a year later and I did not make any money from my seven-year tenure. Oh well, you live and learn!
My next company, The Mind Electric, focused on the emerging market for web services. The strategy for the company was to start by releasing Glue, a simple-to-use application server that could publish plain Java objects as web services. Glue was downloaded over 30,000 times and hailed as the simplest platform for Java web services. Microsoft recognized the power and simplicity of Glue and used it for many of the Java examples in their Interoperability book. We then released Gaia, a web services management platform that provided container-independent SOA infrastructure. Before Gaia went into production release, webMethods made me an offer than I couldn't refuse and so I sold the company and joined webMethods as their CTO.
[STUFF ABOUT MY TIME AT WEBMETHODS WILL GO HERE]
I resigned from webMethods on July 2005 in order to start a new company focused on education. Education is an area I've been interested in for a long time. I went to a great high school in the UK, loved the learning experience, and always thought it would be a lot of fun to teach kids. When I was a teenager and people asked me "What would you like to be when you grow up?", my answer was "I'd be a teacher if the pay wasn't so bad."
Even though I've spent most of my career in the enterprise software space, there has always been a significant educational component, whether it was teaching at University, writing books, teaching in corporations, starting a training department, explaining complex topics at seminars, writing articles, or evangelizing service-oriented architectures.
In many respects, my greatest strength is the ability to understand a complex system and then represent it in a simple way. Over the years, I've applied the same skill to writing, teaching, architecture, and product development.
So after many years of working on enterprise software, I decided to get back to my training roots and start a fourth company called edu 2.0 that's focused on improving the education system. I keep a running commentary about my new venture on my blog.
travel, chocolate, running, listening to music, fashion, sleeping, skydiving, cats and dogs, white wine, brainstorming, movies, reading, writing, kayaking, blogging, psychology, religion, politics, swimming, exercising, education, public speaking, science, cycling, coffee, eating out, stimulating conversation, fast cars, white water rafting, starting companies, rain, scuba, paragliding, pistol shooting, sunbathing, playing keyboards, predicting the future, designing cool software, brain research, fish tanks, composing music, driving with the top down, the snooze button, lying in a hammock, clocks that chime, colognes, luxury hotels, and naughty things i won't list here.