“Never trust a computer you can’t throw out a window.” — Steve Wozniak
The ocean and water were like a second home to her, and the young girl soon became a windsurfer and sailor. In the summers, Di was on the water, and in the winters, she was ice-skating.
Di was an opportunist. When she was 19 years old, she helped organize a Windsurfing World Championship. When she was 21 she won the women’s dinghy championship. Off the water, she completed a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from the University of Vermont. Then it was a master’s in naval architecture from MIT.
With an impressive education and experience on the water, Di got a job offer to design offshore oil rigs. She jumped at the chance.
After she accepted the job, she was excited for her new adventure. Then she learned she wouldn’t be allowed to visit any oil rigs… because she was a woman.
Frustrated, and with no adventures in sight, she quit and moved to Hawaii and hopped from job to job — even becoming a treasure hunter for a short time.
When she was 33, she felt the winds of change… engineering was increasingly going to rely on computers and technology. She went back to school to get a second masters degree in computer science. There in the Bay Area, Di met her husband, Mendel, who was a professor of computer science at Stanford. It was the early days of the internet, and Silicon Valley was just getting started.
Di was the type of person that the Valley can never get enough of. She was a smart self-starter, with a great education who had a litany of real-world experiences.
She worked for two famous Silicon Valley startups, Sybase and Silicon Graphics.
At Silicon Graphics, Di joined, worked like crazy, and helped the young company go from millions to billions in revenue.
When she was 42, she had the experience, the capital, and the idea. It was time to take the leap and become an entrepreneur.
She founded, Vxtreme, one of the first companies that made it possible to stream media online. In 1997, the dot com bubble was growing. Di managed to steer her company safely through the storm. The result? She sold Vxtreme to Microsoft for $75 million. Technology entrepreneurship seemed to be a lot more lucrative that catching $5 crabs…
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We hosted our first ever CIO Roundtable! 🎉 🎉
We were joined in studio by Paul Chapman of Box and Mark Settle of Okta. In this conversation, they talk about how IT leaders can succeed in 2019, the difference between Marketecture and Architecture, and how to utilize metrics to your advantage.
“To be a successful CIO, you’ve got to be comfortable becoming uncomfortable.”
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→ Another step towards a driverless future 👉 Waymo, a self-driving project owned by Alphabet, is launching a commercial robotaxi service in the Phoenix area.
→ “The CIO leader needs to be a visionary just as much as the product leader needs to be a visionary and the marketing leader needs to be a visionary. Technology requires vision.” -Alvina Antar on IT Visionaries
→ What tech companies failed this year, which had comebacks, and which are on unsteady ground? Take a stroll through 2018’s tech graveyard.
→ “It’s a question that’s reverberated through the ages — are humans, though imperfect, essentially kind, sensible, good-natured creatures? Or are we, deep down, wired to be bad, blinkered, idle, vain, vengeful and selfish?” –The bad news on human nature, in 10 findings from psychology
→ And on this segment of “news that won’t matter next week, but that is super great to hear today” we present to you: The latest iOS update makes it easier to flip the camera during FaceTime calls.
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The Story (continued)
…Now with even more time and capital on her hands, Di was free to explore new frontiers in technology. Her husband was at the forefront of the revolution. He and several of his grad students were working on the theories that would allow computers and servers to communicate more easily. Impressed by the concept, the woman agreed to support Mendel’s efforts.
For the next year, she worked on the project with her husband and his students.
Later she would reflect on their collaborative relationship and say:
“the difference between a good marriage and a great marriage is conviction.”
Life was good. They had conviction about their marriage… but their theory wasn’t quite there yet.
To better develop it, she and Mendel published a research paper on it and sought feedback. It wasn’t long before they got a request to read it from a “Nathan M, Rick R, and Bill G”. Di and Mendel looked more into the three men that were requesting to read it. Two men of them were part of Microsoft, one led their R&D department… and Bill G? It was Bill Gates.
Di and Mendel rushed to get a patent. They were on to something big. Their theory of “virtualization” could become a reality… but it would require hundreds of millions of dollars and a team of thousands.
So why was their theory such a big deal? Because in those days, different brands of computers and servers couldn’t share information. Their invention was a virtual program that let any computer talk to any server. It was revolutionary.
Di and her husband founded the company and got to work. Soon they had a core team and a proof of concept. With that, she went out, raised, and closed a $20M investment from a corporate investor to build the company.
For six years, they built the company, and their team created the virtual machine that they had proposed in their research paper…
When she was 48 years old, she got a buyout offer from a larger company that she couldn’t refuse. It was from the giant EMC for $625 million in cash. They wanted to buy her company, VMware.
It a good offer and Di accepted. But after EMC took VMware public, the CEO of EMC pressured the board to fire Di.
The market revolted and VMware stock went down 24% in a single day. Three top executives quit their jobs at the company in protest.
Although Di was out, she was free to getting back to what she did best, creating something from nothing. It wasn’t long until the itch to start another company returned.
Di started building her next company in stealth. It was called Bebop, a cloud computing startup.
Within three years, rumors were swirling that there was a tech company that wanted to buy Bebop. Di couldn’t believe it, they’d just started. But the offer was real, and Google swooped in and bought Bebop for $380MM. Di accepted and she excitedly joined Google to continue Bebop, and help run Google Cloud.
Di, of course, is Diane Greene. She’s a true renaissance woman — an ocean enthusiast, crab fisherman, windsurfer, oil rig designer, treasure hunter, researcher pioneer, startup all-star employee, and a serial tech entrepreneur, and a wife and mother. Wow.
Today, Diane Greene is the CEO of Google Cloud. Google Cloud is one of Alphabet Inc’s (also known as Google’s holding company) largest business units…
So how does she do it all?
One of her most powerful quotes might shed some light on the matter…
Diane says: “Life is too short not to live in peace.”
Could it be that simple? Could finding peace be a key to discovering and capitalizing on opportunities and success?
You’ll have to be the judge.
Her story is proof that with the right attitude, skills, experience, partners, sacrifices, and, teams… maybe it is possible to sail through life?
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