Research Opportunities and Partnerships in the Tech Industry: Insights at the CSE 2020 Open House


(calm electronic music) – Good afternoon everybody. It’s great to be here with you. I’ll say my name is Alessandro Muti, I’m a fellow engineer at WeWork. I influence the whole
technology architecture for the whole company. I, very briefly, I started
my career 30 years ago at Microsoft, I was on
the Windows 3.1 software. The operating system, I was on the kernel. Spend several years at
Microsoft in various role. I lead the job of VM
developing team in ’97. I also am the guy that invented
Windows automatic update. There was one of your colleagues earlier that gave a speech about software updates, and I thought like, “Oh, hi.” We could talk about that. And most recently, right before WeWork, I was, I spent several years at Amazon. I was at the head of the
Amazon transportation team, overseeing the team, also
as a fellow engineer. Oversee about 1800 engineers there. – My name is Parand, and if
you know how to spell that, you will be able to get in touch with me because there are very few of us. I went to UCSD for very
many years as an undergrad, and then I went to grad school here. Didn’t finish my master’s, it was actually Garry Cottrell, who was my advisor, was here earlier. Left to actually go start a company, and I’ve started three companies. The first two (audio cuts out) okay, the third one worked out well,
and I ended up selling that to the Bay Area based
company called Coupa, which does business spend management. So essentially purchasing
software for large companies. When they wanna buy tables
and chairs or really anything, it goes through our software. What I do there is
essentially anything data, so we have spend data for a
large number of large companies, and that allows us to
essentially extract intelligence from that so we can tell you, for anything you want to buy, who the best person to buy it from, what the prices for that would be, how long it should take you to buy that, what kind of approvals that you need, all kinds of actionable insights that you can derive from that data that we give back to our clients so that they can improve their processes. And also, I should mention, this year I’m official an
entrepreneur in residence at UCSD, which means I’m here as a resource to help entrepreneurial
students or faculty who want to get into the startup world. I’m here to help you with that, so if you’re interested in that, learn how to spell my name
and we can get in touch. – That’s pretty cool. Hi everyone, I said my
name’s Ryan Chaloux. Also, if you can spell that,
I’m probably the only one. I’m a senior software engineer
and tech lead at AppFolio. I did go here to UCSD, graduated back in 2015. Originally went, all my
internships and whatnot were up in the Bar Area, and so naturally, went up there for a year after graduation, and absolutely deeply missed San Diego, so quickly came down here. Been with Apple ever since, for the last almost four years now. Senior software engineer and tech lead, is an interesting spot
because it’s a transition out of from in the weeds
and writing code every day to more of a managerial
role, higher level things, directing the ship rather
than paddling the oars, and so it’s a really
interesting spot for me to be in and I’m really enjoying it. – Wonderful, thank you. I was also asked to give a
little bit of insight on my end. I actually came to UCSD
after 10 years in industry, so my first in industry
was to design chips. I designed chips for Altera Corporation. After that, I worked at HP,
more on low power systems. That was six years, all in Bay Area, and then I saw San Diego,
and the rest is history. I came down here in 2005 and have been teaching
Embedded Systems grad classes and undergrad Introduction
to Digital Design. I very much love working with students. In fact, the top reason why I went from industry to academia is because, my favorite day of the
week at HP was the day that I worked with students at Stanford. So I decided to flip the schedule. Do mostly students, and then
visit companies periodically. And that actually brings
me to the second question, what do you most like about your current role in your company? – Very good. So in my case, I love
the fact that I am in IC. I don’t manage people. To me, at some point in my career, I found myself managing 600 engineers, and I really didn’t like to do that because it took me too
away from the passion I had that is software engineering,
software architecture. I am a fellow engineer that still code, I travel with my laptop,
whenever I have the time, on the plane or whatever,
I boot my laptop up, I build a prototype, I build algorithm, because I find that just like you, I love to teach, I love to
engage with the engineers. I travel a lot because I feel that WeWork, head offices in various city, San Francisco, New York at the moment, last year we had a lot of
other, Shanghai as well. And to me it was very
important to go physically work with every engineer, with every team that needed the design
and the architecture and basically the mentorship. And so I love the capability to mentor and to solve large scale problem. – For me, I’ve been very fortunate. So I’ve spent most of
my career in startups and companies that have started, and there’s a certain pace that you have in those early stages, where you can just, sort of go as fast as you can. I’ve worked briefly at larger companies and that’s not a good place for me. It’s sort of a, just the
pace is not what I want. So what I particularly enjoy
about what we do right now is, we’re still a fast growth company. We had an IP about two
and a half years ago or something like that, so we’re kind of not a startup anymore, but still growing very fast, and the particular area that
I work in, which is data, is not solved problems. It’s not like taking something
that’s sort of off the shelf and applying it, it’s a
bunch of hard problems for which there are not good answers yet. And it’s really fun to try
to get those good answers. – Yup, for me, kind of, from what I explained earlier, it’s, I really enjoy still
being an engineer, right? Being down in the weeds and being able to really have a low level
impact on what we’re building. But in my current role and what I’m so much more
enjoying is really being able to step out and mentor other engineers. Being able to really just, just bring the company
to a different direction or be a part of different things. And so we have a great culture, and I just really enjoy all
that we were able to do. – Wonderful, thank you. So for the audience, feel free to ask questions at any point, just raise your hand
and I’ll get you a mic. In the meantime, I’m gonna pose a question that my class of 150
undergrads posed yesterday, when I told them there was a panel. And that is, what technology
excites you the most right now? – Well, I’ll, so technology, there
are a lot of technology, there are a lot of different
challenges that we have, at least in my experience, you don’t always have
the opportunity to play with the latest technology,
you need to play, in some cases, with the
technology you had there, because maybe you’re building on top of what previous team built. I do thinks that the area
where I enjoying the most, is really cloud
architecture type of system. The moving away from the standard, monolithic type of system, moving farther the
service-oriented architecture, moving into true microservices that a lot of people still
confuse service and microservice and the architecture
actually are not right. You really moving to a
functional type of architecture in which you strings together
the various transform that you build to modify your data from. The way it’s really stored in your store to the consumer that need to
effectively consume the data without making the mistake of tightly coupling the user experience with how the data is actually
stored or represented. And so that is one of the area that I find the most exciting right now. – For me, my background
is machine learning, so I used to do what they
now call deep learning. I used to do very shallow
learning to match my personality. And so that area has grown so much, and there’s so many interesting things. I have attempted to try to catch up with some of the academic literature, but just again, the pace is way too, there’s way too many papers, so I actually tried to collaborate with some students at UCSD, just so they could read
and explain it to me. But that area is super
exciting, super interesting. I feel like there’s a
lot of hype around it, but there’s a lot of meat behind that, weight behind that arrow,
whatever the saying is. Personally, I’m also very
interested in virtual reality. That’s another area which
I think is very hype, but I’m very interested in, once we have very viable
virtual reality technology, what does society look like? If you think about the amount
of time people spend online, if you have a very compelling
experience in virtual reality, what kind of time are
people gonna spend in there, and I know a lot of
people think of The Matrix and the negatives of that, but how can we make that
into a very positive thing? – I think my answer changed
to this question this morning, after the keynote by Ed. It was really great to see
and so exciting to see, with machine learning and these advances, and being able to have this
augmented reality that we saw, is just truly exciting,
’cause you can really see and fast forward this
technology in your brain and see where it will
lead and how, you know, how advanced it will get and how much it could better our lives if used right in a good way and keeps people still
social and stuff like that, which I really appreciated
that he mentioned. We’re very customer focused company, and so I’m excited about any technology that betters our customers’
lives, of course. And that being very much just anything that we can automate for them
or provide services for them in a very smart way, rather than them having to
do these tedious things, and so a lot of this
artificial intelligence, as we progress in that way, is gonna allow us to better
and better serve them. – So I’m personally super
excited about this intersection between AI and novel
developments in hardware, ’cause the picture that
was painted this morning and what people get super excited about, really needs to be driven by really fast and new types of computing systems that don’t exist quite yet. So my group actually has focused on, how do we design these systems
and how do we create software that will make it easier for people to use this novel hardware? So one example is, we can
now run classification almost six orders of magnitude
faster than it’s possible with the fastest possible algorithm today. And we get the same accuracy, so, and why I’m where I’m at
is exactly for this reason. When I was working at HP Labs, I could do a lot of different projects, but they all had to be related
somehow to the company goals. The problem was that I
always had lots of ideas that maybe did not exactly
overlap with company’s goals. So now that I’m faculty, I can pretty much do whatever I want, as long as I can get
money for it. (laughs) Which turns out, isn’t as hard
as you would think. (laughs) I think I would liken being faculty to running a very small startup, you know, because really you
get to build your own team, you get to raise the funding, you keep getting to raise the funding. And I think the really ultimate goal is to train the new minds to go out and develop the technologies, either in industry or to
continue research in academia. And I think I’d love
seeing the results of that. I like the human output,
I guess you could say. So another question that was
raised by my students is, what kind of research is your company currently most focused on? – Yeah, that’s a very good question. In particular, WeWork is a company that a lot of people
don’t imagine the amount of technology we actually need to build. There is a lot of complexity in the space of cool working type of location, because you can have one individual, you can have enterprises, you know, Amazon, Microsoft, Facebook, many of very large
enterprises use our building as well as just one individual. And to connect, in fact, this
with the keynote this morning, augmented reality’s something
that we have looked into and we are using in a
lot of interesting way to try to bridge the
gap between the member that are actually getting into a new space or having to discover how do
you interact with printer, how do you interact with coffee machine, how do you interact with
all these various devices that are out there, how do
you even find your path, as it goes through. And so there are a lot of challenges, as we have heard today, of how do you find the right
path inside a building, up and down stairs and things like that. So that is an area where
we are doing some thinking. The other area is deep analysis about human actually use building. The building are a place where we spend so many hours every single day, and we are trying to understand, are you happy in a particular
type of environment? Were you going to a conference room? How are you interacting with the objects that are around you? Do you enjoy a space where, you know, is more social with couches,
or do you prefer more desk, where you can kind of
go and work by yourself? And so we’ve done a lot of investment into both hardware devices that enable us to capture the feedback from the human, maintaining though the
privacy and the security. So how many people do I have
physically in a conference room without really end up
having to stream a video of those people that, because
we have confidentiality issue? So those are area where research
is very interesting for us. – For us, we primarily deal with data, so at least that’s the
area that I deal with, so we do a lot of like
classification and normalization. We build models around, for
example, fraud detection. So we’re sort of, the application of reasonably
classic statistical and machine learning models to
data in the purchasing space. And if you think about purchasing, you’re usually buying
something from someone, so we’re figuring out, how do
we normalize those somethings, so we know, oh you’re buying pens, or you’re buying computers. And who are you buying it from? “Oh, you’re buying it
from the same person.” If you called it Staples,
and I called it staples.com, those are the same entity. So we sort of deal with
large amounts of transactions and trying to make sense of those by clustering, classification,
and normalization. – For us, like I said, we’re interested in really looking into and researching different ways that can automate our customers’ lives. A specific example would be, we have softwares and service for web app for property managers, and property managers
spend a lot of their time, dealing with, giving showings,
or showing appointments, and whatnot, and so they’ll
spend a large portion of their time that they’re not actually, you know, quote “billable hours”, dealing with, showing people
these apartments and whatnot, and just the administrative
part of texting people back, or all the logistics there, and so one of the main
areas that we have is, an app that we have called Lisa, which is a automated property showing, chat bot, if you will. And so there’s a lot that we’re going into to try to better and better our ability to automate that process
for our customers. And so when someone
reaches out for a showing, the bot is actually the
one texting them back and can recognize things like, you know, “I wanna see X apartment
on this date, this time,” and knows the schedule of the
property manager and whatnot. So really, just getting
into those areas of research that we can automate processes, these cumbersome processes
for our customers. – Wonderful, thank you! So one question that comes up very often when you talk to students is, how did you get to engineering
in the first place, and furthermore, what got
you into research eventually? – So in my case, is being curiosity. I think I am one of those human being that was at the right
time, at the right place, to a certain degree. I think if I would’ve been
born five years earlier, I would’ve become a watch repair guy or one of those people that repair TV, and if I would’ve been
born five years later, or maybe 10, I would’ve
become just another cogs in the larger wheel of
operating system development. I just happen to be, I did electronic engineering in Europe before Microsoft hire me,
but fundamentally to me, was just the passion of how things work. I take things apart, I learn how to cook at some point in my life
because I was interested in the processes that take place. I hack my vehicle, I hack
every things that I can get to. To me, it’s just a deep
desire to break things apart. I’ve broken more things than I have fixed, I’ve got to say. – [Ryan] That’s the fun part. – Right.
– That’s right, absolutely. For me, I was going to be a mathematician, and then I, as a freshman, I decided I’m gonna take some
graduate level math courses. Realized I do not nearly
have the brains for that, and I realized I don’t have the discipline to be a real engineer, so then I became a computer science guy. (audience laughing) And I just kind of enjoy, sort of, slightly more seriously, at
least in computer science, it’s a very creative act,
you’re building things and you’re sort of
imagine things into being, and that I really enjoy. When you wanna say, “I
wanna create something,” and then you gotta think
through, step by step, “How do I get there?” And eventually, you have a thing that’s, maybe not physically tangible, but you can still interact with it. That’s what I enjoy. – Very similar for me. I feel like there’s
two different mindsets, and one is like, I work hard on a problem and I solve it, right, and I’m so happy I solved it, let’s take a break and if things change and break my problem, I’m pissed, right? So that’s one mindset. My mindset, and I think what draws me into computer science is like, the fun part is the challenge. When the challenge is done, that’s boring. So getting, let’s have things
change faster and faster and faster, which especially
in computer science, happens very, very quickly. We were talking at lunch about, man something built five, 10
years ago could be ancient. And so I think that mindset
certainly led me towards this, and just wanting to build things, wanting to make things happen
that didn’t already exist. If I wanted my phone
to do a certain thing, I wanted to go make it do that thing rather than, you know,
purchase this app or that app that might do something similar. And so before even really knowing computer science is a thing, it’s like, well how do I just go make this thing do what I want it to do, and it’s just kinda led
me every step of the way. – So for me, it’s very similar
actually to your story. Some of it is being
born at the right time. Wasn’t exactly the right place. So I was born in Croatia
many years ago. (laughs) I won’t specify, and I was a really little kid. You know when you’re born a girl, everybody gives you dolls, right? The problem was, I really
didn’t find dolls interesting at all, what I was curious about is, how do you build a doll? So literally every time I would get one, I would take it apart
and look how it’s built, and to this day, if you
visit my grandpa’s house, you’ll find a little box with doll parts that have never been assembled. A little while later, my
mom took me to a library. That was when the first
computer arrived to Croatia, and she was there to look up
some stuff from chemistry. She’s a chemist, and I was
there because, you know, she had nothing better to
do with me, essentially. And there was this terminal
with green letters on it that were blinking, so I thought, “Oh, this looks kind of interesting,” and the next thing I know, I’m learning how to program in BASIC. And a little while later, I had been spending many a
day taking first the bus, and then a tram, took about an hour, to get to that same terminal so I can continue playing and tinkering. Took another two years before I convinced my
parents to buy a computer. After they bought a computer, I promptly played with it, of course. Got all the games you could get, realized that I couldn’t
finish my favorite game because I kept dying
about halfway through, so then I hacked into assembly and changed the register so I
get infinite lives. (laughs) And finished the game. (laughs) After that, I wrote my own game, decided that I was definitely
done with computer science, I knew how to write code. (laughs) So I wanted to learn
how you build computers, and that’s how I got into
electrical engineering. So my undergrad, master’s, and Ph. D. are actually
in electrical engineering. And then you ask yourself, “What am I doing here
in computer science?” It’s kind of an obviously question. The real answer is, I try to keep all these
computer scientists honest, you know? (laughs) They keep telling me, “I wanna run this, I wanna run that,” and I keep telling them, “You know, if you really
think a little bit “about what hardware you’re running on, “it would run way better.” So how I got into research? It really has to do with the fact that I get bored super fast, and if you look at the projects
that I’ve run in my group, just the breadth of them, I think I pretty much beat any
faculty in this department. It ranges from low-level chip design and even analog circuits, so my master’s thesis was
high speed interconnect design and driver receiver circuits, if any of you even know what this is. To smart grids, you know, this
was a recent project I ran, and also healthcare for the elderly. So really a big span, and
that’s why I think, for me, academia has been a perfect spot because it allows me to move seamlessly. It also allows me to work with incredibly smart students
from various backgrounds. So my group is generally
about half computer science, half electric engineering,
with some others sprinkled in. I have an economist in my group, I have a couple of mathematicians, I had some computer science students, I had one mechanical engineer,
one material science student, so it’s a lot of fun in my group. So anyway, that is how I
got into what I’m doing, and I, yeah, go ahead. – I’d like to hear,
probably mostly from Parand, is I live here in San Diego
but work in the Bay Area. I’d like to hear your
mindset, mind sample, on the startup community,
industry of the local here. – Absolutely, should I get into this now, or do you wanna go as, okay so. So this is an area that’s
near and dear to my heart. I really like San Diego, I’ve actually tried to
move a couple times, but I just really like San Diego. So I want to improve the environment here. Very clearly, the Bay Area
is a much stronger community. In pretty much every way,
from finding mentors, to finding people who have done it before, and have succeeded or
failed but can mentor you. Funding, if you want
to scale your company, everything is there and set up for you. So the obvious answer is, Bay Area is a fantastic
environment to work in. On the downside, it’s very expensive, and it’s very, very
competitive for talent. Even for us, we have a hard
time attracting new talent that we want because there’s just so many people buying for that talent. The flip side of it is, if you actually want to start a company, there’s really nothing
standing in your way. San Diego has well more than enough. If you actually look at it, you know the Bay Area
is kind of the example that everybody gives, but
if you move past that, then San Diego is one of the
best places to start a company. There’s a tremendous amount of talent, there’s a very good amount of funding, and you can really get
very, very far here, and at least in the earlier
stages in your company, you have a distinct advantage because it’s much less
competitive for the, to get the talent that you want out there. In the Bay Area, you really
have to kind of compete with everyone; here,
there are less fun things, so you get to grab the good people. So I think San Diego is, and if you really look at the growth of the startup community in San Diego in the last couple years,
it’s been fantastic. So I’m very excited by where
we are and where we’re going, but yeah, Bay Area still leads us. – [Old Man] So give me some examples? – Of? – [Old Man] Of startups
that you think highly of around San Diego. – There’s a startup called SOCi, I don’t know if you’ve
heard of them, S-O-C-I, they do, they manage your social profile. So it’s actually a gentleman
I know who’s a founder. They just raised I think
15 million dollars, like yesterday or something like that. There’s a number, and there was that, actually there was a
hardware acceleration startup for machine learning chips that Intel acquired a couple years ago. There’s a good number, I haven’t kept in touch
as much as I should, but there’s a good
number of them out there. – Yeah, there’s a
company that was acquired by Lumina two years ago
for 100 million dollars. They accelerated sequence
alignment in FPGAs. I would say, so when I was
coming down to Bay Area, from Bay Area here, I
actually also had an offer on partner track in one of the
top Sand Hill Road companies, and I spoke with them and asked them, “So if I’m going out of the Bay Area, “where would you go to start a company?” And all of them said, “Down to San Diego.” That was the top choice. Especially if you’re
doing anything in biotech. I have somebody back there. – [Steve] Sorry to interrupt. My name is Steve Phillpott,
CIO of Western Digital. On the startup question, there’s actually quite a
few incubators in San Diego: CommNexus, EvoNexus, et cetera. There’s a whole bunch of those, if you go to those sites, you’ll get a lot of detail on what is a very robust startup. Okay, sorry to interrupt. – No problem, thank you, and since we are on the startup question, one question that students often have when they come see me is, “How do I figure out
where I should get a job? “Should I go for a startup, “should I go for medium size company, “should I go for big company,
what are the trade offs? “What kind of personality, you know, “and what type of interest best matches “these different companies?” – I think you’re probably
gonna get a different answer by every human being that
exist, in that sense. I personally think that
everybody should go to both a small startup
and a big corporation if they have the opportunity
to see how things are done. You learn a lot of things in both cases. I myself had a couple of,
three startup of my own. One with a successful exit, two that were fantastic balls of fire that came through. But in my particular case, I felt that working with large company, multi-billion dollar type of company, even if they are called startup, right, does suit my type of interest better. I build better architecture, I have more engineer that are available, I can go and create new technology, I can create partnership
with other company that otherwise would not
even get me through the door if I had that capability, and so I find that having a company with an executive team
that understand the power of investing in the future,
not just the next six months, is where I find the
best environment for me. Because I can create, just
a little bit like you, I can go play in area
where another company, I wouldn’t be able to
do it, and that’s that. But absolutely, corporation
teach you processes that otherwise you might never learn. In startup, teach you
how to just do the thing, straight your Cat 5 in
the middle of the night through the ceiling because you don’t wanna
pay somebody else to do it, because they’re charging you with more than you are making at
that point in the company. – Yeah, for me, it’s actually
kind of an easy answer. Everyone should go to a startup. Everyone should start a startup. If you don’t wanna do
that, then join a startup, because you can always go to industry. It’s out there, and those are out there. As someone who is an undergrad
and then you’re graduating, you’re kind of living
the student life anyway, hopefully you’re not
taking out too many loans, you’re kind of living your frugal life, that’s, your earning
potential at the start of your career is much less
than 10 years down the line, so you’re kind of, your
opportunity cost is lower. At a startup, you will learn
so many things so quickly in pleasant and then extremely
unpleasant ways as well. But it’s sort of like a bootcamp and you will learn things at a pace that’s impossible anywhere else. When we started my first company, I was about as cool as
about as many things as you could possibly be. And then very quickly you learn
how to negotiate contracts, how to raise money, how
to clean the office, how to do HR, all of these things. That pace and that amount of learning, you can cram into one or two years, will take you about 10
years to learn elsewhere. I highly encourage everyone
to give it a try because, and sort of a lot of, so I’ve hired a lot of
people straight out of UCSD, and I love doing that
because you get really smart, driven people who are
kind of raring to go, and if you kind of point
them in this direction, they go on to do amazing things, and a lot of folks that I’ve
worked with have gone on to industry and done amazing. But for me, those first few years, just put yourself through the
ringer and just go for it. You’ll fail, startups always fail. But that’s great. You will learn so much that you will succeed in
everything else you do. – I really like that answer. For me, having recently
somewhat had these questions, I used internships. I had three internships in my four years, and that was solely on purpose because I felt like I was
getting so much learning out of my internships more than I was even from spending that time
doing more schoolwork or something like that, right? And so, for me personally,
it was just getting out there and actually seeing it. Like you said, everyone’s gonna have a different
answer to this question, so you really have to go
find what suits you best, and being able to try out a startup and being able to then go to industry, even potentially all before you graduate, is essentially really, really powerful, and then from there, do whatever
you find most passionate. – So for me, I’ve worked first in a, I would say medium sized company. Altera was about 400 people when I joined. What I loved about that job
was I got to build a product that literally millions
of people have used, and I think still use, in
fact, which is amazing. It was also a ton of fun
learning how to do it. You know, when you design your first chip, you learn a huge amount, and you also learn how to
work with big teams of people. Because it’s easy to
actually put transistors and circuits down, it’s
not so easy to figure out how to get all the software to run and all the testing that you need to do in parallel to actually designing the chip that hasn’t been produced yet. And so I think that was fascinating to me. What was challenging is that
when you actually have success, which is great, then they
want you to do more of it. So if you’re the type that
wants to do more of it, it’s great; if you’re the type like me that enjoys learning the first time around and then needs something
entirely different, then it’s probably better
to be in research like I am. When I was at HP, I think,
as Alessandro mentioned, the impact you can have
as you build a large team is way bigger than anything
I ever thought was possible. You know, I found negotiating
with other big companies, making deals and creating products that, you know there is no way I
would have done at Altera. So I think that was amazing. What I found challenging
is the administration and all of the red tape that you run into, is also quite impressive. (laughs) And so, and I think that’s where I learned that there is a personality
that works really well in big companies or big institutions. And I also learned that that
is not my personality. (laughs) So I think the startup people, I would say my personality
is definitely closer on that side, academia
is kind of a weird blend because UC is a big
administration, you know. If you think HP had a lot of red tape, this place got way more. On the other hand, as faculty, you can be pretty well
isolated from most of it. So you can run your little
own startup, you know, without necessarily having
to worry about most of it. So I’ve really liked the balance I have. So I guess the question
I have for you guys is, when you first got your job, what did you find most
challenging or most difficult, and what do you find most difficult now? – Well, so I think that for me, considering that my very
first job was at Microsoft, I mean, at the time, Microsoft wasn’t the
Microsoft that here today. We had 5000 people, was
smaller, but was my first job. I come from Europe. I mean, the gas that you put in the car has a different
color and things, there were so many things
that were different that I had to learn a lot
of things, and in fact, to me, that became the norm, and for 11 years that I was in Microsoft, I thought that that’s how people
actually interact at work. This is how you do things, and in fact, I’ve got to say it took
me another 10 years after leaving Microsoft to detox from a culture that a lot of people, that created a lot of incredible thing. I was fortunate enough because
I did have the occasion to work close enough with Gates and lead a technology and architecture that revolutionize how the
computer industry has done it, but also was an environment
that was hyper-bruising, that wasn’t the environment
that we have today. And so for me, when I came out of there, was like, well that’s how you do things, and if you can’t deal with this, if you’re crying, leaving my office, I don’t understand what’s wrong with you. It’s you, not me. And it literally took me
several years to realize that actually, that’s
not a good environment and that collaborating
with people is way better than actually getting into actual a fight and brawl in a conference room. And you know, I think
that, as I mentioned, I become more aware of
the strengths that I have and the weaknesses that I have, and this is why I carefully
always go now for the IC role, because I don’t like to have large PNL, I don’t like to have large organization, I like to be able to take
this incredible new idea, bring them forward, see
where I can go with that in an organization that
allow me to go experiment, and if I’m successful, that’s great, and if I’m not successful, I don’t have a lot of other
people that I drag down. So almost like the
incubator in, is a startup, into attached to very large organization. So I don’t know if I answer your question, but that’s what came out. – Makes sense. And I see here, just because
some people I mean just, individual contributor as
opposed to team manager. For me, I was very
fortunate in my first job, although it wasn’t the
job, I was a consultant, was with a gentleman who ran
essentially a research group, and it was in the very
early days of the internet. So we ended up actually just doing a bunch of really foreign things, very
early days of the internet, and building a bunch of innovative things. And I’m struggling to find challenge, that was probably the best job I had. It was just truly a lot
of fun, and then the guy who ran the team was
an amazing human being, and I was very, very
fortunate to be there. My second job, which was
the first company I started, you know I like to tell
people, when you have a job, you complain that your boss is an idiot, you don’t have enough budget,
marketing people are terrible, and sales people can’t sell. When you start a startup,
all of those things are true, except those are all you. (laughs) So that was really the
challenge of just kind of, running into roadblocks
in every way possible and then realizing you’re the only one who can move past those roadblocks. So very, very, very challenging, in every way possible, including sort of becoming
an emotional wreck, but also a lot of fun because
you learn a lot about it. But also the highest
highs and the lowest lows. – For me, as a new grad
and getting a first job, especially in software engineering, in the industry that we’re all in, the biggest challenge for me and what I see a lot in a
lot of our new hires is, really understanding how much
impact that you can make, even from your first year
with a particular company. It’s really challenging
’cause you might think, everybody here has these policies in place or these frameworks set up
in a way that’s so perfect and what do I know to change them? But you end up seeing
a lot of inefficiencies or things that you might wanna challenge, and at first, I think
the most difficult thing, outside of of course learning
maybe a new tech stack or learning even how to do the job, is just understanding that you can actually
have a very big impact, and the ones that see
that sooner than later, are the ones that end up
really excelling quickly and making that big impact. With how my title has transformed, the most difficult things
now is kind of embracing that, what I had just said, which is understanding that I want to make a really big impact, and so the hardest part
now is actually doing that. Which is just wearing
multiple hats, you know. Stacking on a lot of things on myself that I wanna have my
hand in every pot, so. But that’s the fun part as well, so. – Wonderful, thank you. So one other question that comes up is, how can industry and academia
better collaborate together? – You know, I think that’s
a very interesting question, and I personally think that
there isn’t enough collaboration between industry and academia. I love to participate in event like this, I love to participate in conferences that are mostly poster presentation because I find that there
is always some researcher that has cracked a very
tiny part of an algorithm that maybe I can take and bring forward. Maybe I have the data that they don’t have and they need to actually,
potentially validate some theory, and so the partnership
that can start are huge, but somehow, is not obvious. Unless you have a net promoter
inside an organization that says, “I have had
positive successes with this “and I do see the value.” Generally speaking, people don’t do that. They don’t start solving a new
problem by going and saying, “Hey, what paper have been published “around this particular area?” They just get in an office and they try to think about it ex novo, which is a humongous mistake and so, I find that both inviting university through the internship program, participating as a company sponsor, having a direct relationship
that you establish with the various department is paramount to actually be able to have both access to the dedicated time
that the researcher have and then productize those
technology for the future. – Absolutely, so one of
the ways that industry and academia collaborate
is sort of internships, although it’s a little informal. Which you mentioned you
did quite a few of them. I highly recommend that, I ended up not doing that many
internships as an undergrad and that was a kind of a stupid thing ’cause I had no idea what was going on. Internships are great,
choose them carefully and work with teams that
give you real opportunities. Other collaboration, we’ve
worked with, for example, we’ve funded graduate
students to do research. Which has sometimes worked very well and sometimes less well, and I think it’s mostly
around alignment of interests. Sometimes a grad student’s
trying to publish papers and, you know, get an academic job, and then it’s sometimes hard to find that area of joint interest. And sometimes the graduate
student is looking to go into industry, and then you can give
them a real opportunity, as you mentioned, maybe you
have the data or the systems that they can apply their research to, and those tend to work very well. I also think there should
be a lot more opportunity to do this kind of collaboration because, you know, that’s sort of, we draw an artificial line, and in some ways that’s very positive. But in other ways, we’re
working on similar stuff. Often, companies are not visionary enough or they just don’t break off
enough bandwidth and mind share to think about the hard problems. They just solve the solvable problems, and the other ones they just
push off and don’t think about. Those hard problems are areas that really academia could
come in and move the needle on. So I think there could be a lot more, and I’m looking for more ways to do that. – Agreed, with both of those. I think it’s a question that I come here, looking to answer for myself. I don’t really have too good of an answer because I think the more that
we can do things like this and see that it’s not two
paths going in opposite ways, there is a common goals
that we can find, of course. And being able to apply, I think that hits it on the head too, is how can both come together, having the data and the
real-world application of certain research things
rather than just theoretical, or trying to get to 100% accuracy whereas in a practical world, let’s involve a lot of other things that maybe certain different aspects of success are the case, and so just always looking
to find those things and do things like this. – So one of the things I
found very helpful, actually, was way back when, when I
was a student at Stanford, I actually worked also part-time at HP. And that turned out to work great, it meant that I was able to
run all of my experiments about 10 times faster than I would’ve if I was just doing it by myself, because I had the whole
HP team on my side, and they all needed to figure out how to get power consumption down in the mobile devices they
were building, not just me. On the other side, they
didn’t have the bandwidth to think about the novel algorithms that I had the bandwidth to think about, and they didn’t have the
connections that I had at Stanford with some of the top minds in the world, who were looking at how do you optimize and how do you model
human behavior and so on. So putting these two pieces
together turned really valuable for me personally, and it was
a ton of fun on top of that. It meant that I could
finish in three years, and this is large reason why I ended up staying
in at HP afterwards, because I was able to continue
that same partnership, but now from the other side. You know, I was able to
start funding students and then hiring students. Actually, some of the early
ones were from Italy, in fact. And I think it was fun to see that as an employee of the company, I could actually help erect
research, to some extent, and create an environment
in which both the student, the faculty, and the company benefit. So when I came to UCSD, I
recreated that to some extent, and especially with the companies that are relatively close to us. So my first student worked
extensively with a local company and ended up patenting, I think
about five or six patents. She’s now in academia, but some of her work has
gone on into products that this company still sells. So I think this can be done, it does require a slightly
different mindset. You know, you have to be a little cautious around intellectual property. You know, you have to make
some plans around it upfront, you have to also be a little clear on what the expectations are, because company cannot expect a student to deliver a product,
that’s not gonna happen. And student really should not expect to have access to everything at a company. So I think you have to kind of
have reasonable expectations, but when you do, then it can
be incredibly successful. So when it comes to to tech transfer. – Yeah, let me actually
add a little bit to that, because I think you touched
on something that is critical, that is probably a big
blocker in this transfer that is intellectual property. Because at Amazon, for instance, with the incredible resources
that the company has, there is a strict policy of absolutely not engaging
with anybody external, to the point that we rather wholesale in a whole research team of people from a very famous university that have got hundreds of patents in ways that are incredible, and just the company says, “Fantastic, do this, but
you cannot publish paper, “you cannot continue collaborate
with the university,” just because of the fear that Bezos have of losing an edge over
the intellectual property. And I think that need to be solved, there need to be something
that potentially need to be put as a framework that is a
general engagement framework in the industry so that
you don’t have this, either people that want to do it or people that simply shy away. – Amazon collaborates with industry by hiring people from
the other side. (laughs) Including several from UCSD, some of the professors from
here are now at Amazon. – So what else do you think
would help with tech transfer? – Well, the IP, a proper framework in which is very clear who’s gets to maintain some of the royalty and some of the value that exist, right? Some of the, even things that are trivial, like the one click buy that Amazon had, company tend to defend and
protect so deeply around, and so I think that that
is, that is a core error. There is this perception
that if you collaborate with the research organization, you are gonna have to yield
some of the advantages, and perhaps some research
organization are more, they have better contract, then they have a better legal protection because they get to take royalty. The company get to take royalty, but they don’t care too much
about really truly sharing that with the rest of the organization. I think that to me though,
in practice, the IP, I end up always running into some lawyer that says, “Stop, nothing can be done here “until we figure it out,” and they don’t have the capability to even understand what we are working on because they are not
lawyer that are working from the university size, and so they are just used to
business type of transaction versus the complexity of those. – I think you nailed it there, because the big concern is IP, and the big concern is the
attorneys wants to get involved, then you’re going nowhere forever. So just kind of a cookie-cutter agreement that’s very simple and can be executed in a short amount of time
would be tremendously helpful, so you can say, or at least
I know what I’m dealing with. We would collaborate, these are the terms, and I don’t have to
think about it too much. – Okay, so are there any
questions from the audience? I still have a bunch. Go ahead. – [Audience Member] So I’ve been working on a startup for the last year, and one of the problems
that I ran into was, staying motivated, especially when the
results aren’t positive, we’re not making significant results. So I think one of the questions I have is, how do you stay motivated,
inspired to keep working, even when you’re not
getting results you want? – I have a, so there’s a, I hate doing sales. I’m really not very good at it, but I’ve had to do a good bit of it, and I’ve gotten better at it. I have a friend of mine
who’s passionate about it, and he says, you know every
time somebody turns you down, that’s one more of your, you have to hit like
10 people or 100 people before you get a yes, you’re just one step further. Every no is a step in the right direction. That’s not a good answer. Bottom line is you have to
unreasonably optimistic. You have to believe, everything in the real
world will point to you not, to hit failing and then to,
it’s not working for you. You just have to have the belief, and then you have to couple
that with the ability to actually realistically look at what the market’s telling you. So sometimes you believe
very, very strongly and you have a vision, but it’s not a vision that
the market’s ready for or it’s just the wrong vision. So you have to have an unreasonable faith that it’s gonna succeed while also realizing you’re probably wrong and it’s not, and you’re gonna
have to change direction. I know none of that makes
sense, but basically, that’s what separates. There’s a friend of mine who, his first job was at a startup
that succeeded tremendously and had like a two billion dollar exit. And then through the next
20 years of his career, he tried to do that, and he failed. Five times, and on the
sixth one, he succeeded, and he made a boatload of money. So I don’t know if there’s any kind of motivational thing I
can give you other than, yeah you just have to be unreasonable. You have to keep going. – My suggestion to somebody
that has a startup, is that at some point, which might go a little bit
against what he’s suggesting, because you obviously have to be super, you know, be true believer
in what you’re doing. But at some point, I think
you need to ask yourself, do you wanna king, or
do you wanna be rich? Because the implementation of
where you take your startup will go clearly in different direction. My successful exit of my startup was just finding a technology
that was needed by somebody, building that technology in 18 months, finding enough proof that
enterprises wanted that technology and then go find a buyer for
that particular technology. I have run into CEO of startup that are convinced they’re
gonna be the next Bezos or the next whoever, and you know, as many of you might
have read in the news, WeWork as a startup went
from 47 billion dollar to seven in six weeks because our founder had, you know, a particular vision of where he thought that the company needed
to go versus potentially, where the reality of where
the company could have gone. I think, to me, having
a clear understanding of where you wanna go, it’s a powerful, rudder to steer you. – Any other questions? – I’ll tell you this, I know a lot of very successful founders, and they’re not nearly as much of a genius as you imagine them to be. They’re just regular
people who kept at it. And then you look, “Oh, that
guy is really smart,” and no. I mean, they’re smart, they’re very smart, but if you knew them beforehand, you’ll be like, “All right then.” That’s why a lot of people
that work at startups, go on to have successful startups. It’s a lot of it is the learning, but a lot of it is realizing, “Oh, if this idiot can
do it, I can do it.” (audience laughing) – I’ll take on that.
– So while we’re on that, do you have any parting
advice for all the students as they prepare for their careers? – Well, you know, it’s always hard because as I said, I think
I was one of the lucky one. I fell into a career that, I fell into something that I love doing that turned into a career, and to me, at the end of the day, if
you do something you love, you will have a better life, regardless. You might not become extremely wealthy, but you are gonna wake
up every single day, going to work, and doing the
things you really like to do. I love what I do. There isn’t a day which I don’t wake up and said, “I’m excited
to go to work today.” I’ve had times in which
I made the wrong choice because maybe I took a job for higher pay and things like that, and after a while, I had to quit because I wasn’t doing
what I really like to do. So to me, the biggest gift that you can give yourself
is find what you love and try to do it every
single day of your life. – For me, I would say, you drive, you choose where you’re going. So right now you’re in school, and there’s a bunch of requirements of the classes you have
to take to graduate, and then you go get a job. That’s a script somebody else wrote. You pick what you want to do. For me, as an undergrad, I, the most interesting things
I did were not classes. There was one quarter, actually my co-founder,
who was here for lunch, we just ended up doing this
project in machine learning and we skipped all our classes,
and we published a paper, that’s how I connected
with my graduate advisor. I did that, that was fantastic. Then in grad school, the
internet became a thing, and I’m like, “Oh, this
is way more interesting “than the stuff I’m doing.” So then I started doing
that, and you can do this. You can create an opensource project. You can create a website,
you can create a company, you can create any number of things that’s you driving and
you picking the direction. And that’s a huge thing in your success. You can follow someone else’s script or you can decide, “I’m going to go do X, “and then I’m gonna figure
out how to make that happen.” And that’ll give you all the skills and all the motivation you need. Even if whatever you choose to do, maybe you go get a regular job. Having that ability to do those things and then work over and
around the roadblocks will make you successful. – Yeah. I very much agree. For me, just from a, to not just repeat but, say from a recruiting standpoint
or anything like that, a lot of students go through
the exact same courses or projects and stuff like that, so really taking that passion
that you have for something and making something of your own, even while you’re, especially
while you’re still in school, will help you learn a
lot of different things. A lot of things, hitting
your own roadblocks, will help you learn things that nobody would’ve just taught you or is not written down in a book. So highly advised to just
get out there and start doing what you’re passionate about doing, and that will lead you to
places that you will enjoy. – Thank you very much. Let’s thank our panelists. (audience applauding) (calm electronic music)

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