RON GARRET

Highlights

I am a software engineer, entrepreneur and angel investor. I have co-founded three startups and invested in over a dozen others. In a previous life I was a researcher specializing in robotics and AI. In 2000 I went to work at Google where I was the lead engineer on the first release of AdWords. I also wrote the Google translation console, one of the first crowdsourcing applications on the web. I have sent code into outer space, made a feature-length documentary film, and started working on a book about programming in Common Lisp for real-world applications. My public github repo is here, though it contains only a tiny fraction of the code I've written.

Experience

Spark Innovations

Co-founder and CEO/CTO

2014-present

Spark Innovations originally made an enterprise tool called CarbonData which extracted data from excel spreadsheets, put it in a database, and allowed users to construct dataflow queries using an intuitive graphical interface. Unfortunately, the product was not a commercial success, so we pivoted to building auditable secure communications tools. We are currently developing a small, inexpensive HSM (Hardware Secure Module) for secure key generation and storage.

XGYC

Co-founder and Managing Member

2008-present

XGYC is a small investment fund whose members are mainly ex-Googlers and whose investments are mainly in Y-Combinator companies (hence the name). The fund was started in 2008, and to date we have had two exits for a total return of 380% and a compounded annual IRR in excess of 60%.

Virgin Charter

Co-founder, CTO, Technical advisor

2007-2009

I originally proposed the idea of creating an electronic marketplace for charter jets not as a way of making money directly, but as a means of aggregating demand data so that an automated scheduling system could be used to reduce the number of empty legs and hence create actual value. The idea was compelling enough to convince Richard Branson to invest $20M. Unfortunately, in the excitement surrounding the transition to a Virgin Company, the original business model got lost in the shuffle. I resigned as CTO shortly after the Virgin acquisition, though I remained on as a technical advisor at the request of the CEO until the company ceased operation in November 2009.

LinkMe Mobile (a.k.a. Evryx)

Acting CTO

May-November 2008

I was brought in, on a short-term contract, by the CEO to replace the original founding CTO. There were serious problems with the software, which was complex code for an image recognition system for mobile phones. In 6 months, we put the development schedule back on track, while maintaining a production site with essentially no down time. I also hired and trained a permanent replacement CTO.

IndieBuyer Inc.

Co-Founder and CTO

2004-2006

IndieBuyer was an on-line marketplace for independent films. The idea was to try to take advantage of what we anticipated would be a flood of inexpensive content resulting from the availability of cheap high-resolution video cameras and digital editing software. We had grand plans for intelligent recommendation software similar to that now used by Netflix. But we seriously underestimated the amount of capital we would need to achieve critical mass.

Google, Inc.

Software engineer and chief rocket scientist

2000-2001

I was the lead engineer on the first release of AdWords, and the author of the first release of the Google Translation Console. I wrote about my experiences at Google in rather gory detail.

NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory

Research scientist

1988-2000 and 2001-2004

In a previous life I was a researcher specializing in autonomous mobile robots. I helped to pioneer what is today the de-facto standard autonomous mobile robot control architecture. For a while I was the most referenced Computer Science researcher at all of NASA according to the citeseer citation tracking engine, a title I held for several years after I stopped publishing. I eventually rose to the rank of Principal at JPL, the highest rung on the technical career ladder there.

Education

Virginia Tech - Blacksburg, Virginia

Ph.D., Computer Science, 1991

M.S. Computer Science, 1987

B.S., Electrical Engineering, summa cum laude, 1985

Misc.

Instrument rated private pilot, independent filmmaker, armchair quantum mechanic and part-time blogger.

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