June 20, 2008

My Microstrategy World 2008 Keynote presentation.

Posted in Category: Work — Amr Awadallah @ 3:40 pm | link | | comments (1)

I was meaning to put this talk up for grabs for some time now, but kept forgetting. I was invited to give the keynote speech for the Microstrategy World 2008 conference. The talk was very well received, so here is the presentation in pdf format.

This is one of the key slides which shows the main layers/components of the Business Intelligent stack at Yahoo:

Yahoo's BI Data Stack

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June 16, 2008

The Virtual Machine to Browser Analogy.

Posted in Category: VM — Amr Awadallah @ 8:18 pm | link | | comment (0)

I have been mentioning this analogy verbally to folks for some time and found it is getting good traction, so time to write it down in pixels.

The browser was initially not free and had a lot of hoopla around it, hence the rise of Netscape. Soon the browser became free since folks realized that the value is not the browser it self, but rather what you can do with the browser, the rest is history.

There is a similar trend happening with VMs, they are currently costly (at least the high performance ones like ESX from VMware), but soon the VM will be free. The true value will not be the VMM it self (i.e. the hypervisor), but in what it enables. VMware is obviously aware of that, hence why all the value-added applications they are building (like VI), and their acquisition strategy (B-Hive, Determina, Foedus, Thinstall, Propero, Akimbi, Dunes, etc)


— amr

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June 10, 2008

Past Lessons from Charlie Oppenheimer

Posted in Category: Work — Amr Awadallah @ 10:49 am | link | | comment (0)

I was sorting through some old papers and I found a hand written sheet labeled “Past Lessons”. It was written by Charlie Oppenheimer, he was the CEO for VivaSmart, and now CEO at Digital Fountain. Here is Charlie’s advice FWIW:

  • Be true to your desires … not other’s expectations of you.
  • Evaluate a situation based on what it is … not what you want it to be.
  • Be with the best possible team
  • Are you one of the people making it happen or the only one?
  • Don’t hang on too long

Attached to that sheet was also this nice quote from Geoffrey Moore:

The key distinction is between failing and losing. Failing means getting blocked on an intended course, backing out, and restarting. Losing means persisting in your failing ways, refusing to change your current course, and instead putting significant effort into justifying the course. Worse yet, it means getting defensive whenever you are challenged about your vision. In high-tech ventures, you can expect to fail many, many times. That’s part of the deal. You get up, brush yourself off, and get back in the game. But lose just once, and you may never have another chance. That too is part of the deal.

Thanks Charlie,

— amr

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June 3, 2008

I want to start a company!

Posted in Category: Work — Amr Awadallah @ 5:45 pm | link | | comment (0)

For many months now, well before the Microsoft saga, I have been thinking about starting a company based on my Stanford PhD thesis with Mendel Rosenblum (using virtual machines to do cool stuff). Today, my employment with Yahoo changes from full-time to part-time, which allows me to start my new company. I am also taking an Entrepreneur In Residence role at Accel Partners, which gives me access to great people whom can advise me on how to further develop my idea into a good business plan. Accel also gives me the opportunity to assist with the technology needs of their portfolio companies, which exposes me to the challenges they face, allowing me to home-in on common problems that need to be solved.

I joined Yahoo on June 1st, 2000, so this marks my eighth anniversary, but it is really the ninth if you include the year I spent co-founding VivaSmart (which yahoo acquired in June of 2000). VivaSmart was a 7 person startup which built a catalog management system for shopping information, we became the backend of Yahoo Shopping (the internal product is now called Catzilla). Two and a half years after finishing the integration of Catzilla I took on a new role to make a science out of optimizing the Yahoo Search product, this implied building a metrics, analytics, testing, and reporting system. Over the course of the last six years I expanded that team from a few folks to become the PIE group (short for Product Intelligence Engineering), a 60 person organization for which I eventually served as VP of Engineering.

If you are an avid reader of my blog, then you know that I bleed purple blood. I am not leaving because I think Yahoo is not doing well, on the contrary, I think Yahoo currently has an excellent plan and a very bright future (if left alone to execute on that plan, please read my previous blog post). I am really leaving because the window of opportunity for starting a company in the virtual machines space is closing and timing is of the essence, hence why I need to make this move now.

I will continue my part-time employment with Yahoo at least until the end of August. It is very impressive that Yahoo is supporting my career goals of starting a company, only a great company would treat its folks like this, though I would like to think it is partially because I am a rare species 🙂

I will keep you posted about details of the startup on this blog, until it has one of its own.


— amr

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