NYC CTO School S1 T1 What is CTO?

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  • Different from lone executor, your job is to make the company successful.


  • 1. NextNY CTO SchoolFall 2010
    Session 1 – What is CTO
  • 2. Before We Start
    Your Mileage May Vary
    For Everything We say
  • 3. Today’s Agenda
    CTO vs. VP Eng vs Dev Lead
    What Skills Are Needed and Why
    A Bit More On Technology Skill
    Being Part of Executive Team
    Tips & TriX
  • 4. CTO School – S2
    10/11 (Mon) S2 -  Key Technical Decisions
    Key Technology Decisions
    Languages & Platforms
    Web Layer
    Technology decisions related to your startup
    Development Tools Overview
    Key Technical Building Blocks You Should Know About
  • 5. CTO School – S3-S5
    10/27 (Wed) S3 – Process - Getting Technical Stuff Done (and Well)
    Development Process
    Project Management for CTOs
    Quality Assurance
    11/8 (Mon) S4 - Deployment Infrastructure & Operations
    Picking hosting environment
    Server technologies - app servers, load balancers, proxies, caches, storage, etc. 
    Disaster Recovery and Backups
    Running Production Systems
    11/22 (Mon) S5 - Scaling Everything
    Yourself & Your Team
    Your Product
  • 6. About Me:
    CTO / VP. Eng / Lead Architect
    Benchmark, Measure, Verify Energy of Buildings
    Market: Real Estate Portfolio Owners (B2B), Energy Efficiency Programs (B2G)
    Groovy / Grails, Java
    Product Team Size:
    2 NY (me and Analytics / QA person)
    4 Outsourced to Ukraine
  • 7. Jean’s Background
    Jean’s Done / Been / Am
    Technical Consulting - many projects, technologies, and business needs.
    Technical Lead of a small team
    Software Architect
    Developer on a Product Team
    Public Speaker
    Project Manager
    Proudest Accomplishments
    Got 20 Fresh-Out-Of-College to go from zero to completed project in six weeks. 3 Times!!!
    Launching as Tech Lead 18 months out of college
  • 8. About Pete:
    Creating an Adaptive Learning Platform
    Market: Starting out in Test Prep. Looking to expand.
    I’ve Done / Been / Am
    Technical Lead of Research and Development
    Manager of Medium Size Engineering Team
    Managed Large Product Development Organization
    Customer Advocate
    User Experience Advocate
    Proudest Accomplishments
    Turning Recent College Grads into great developers, shipping product in weeks.
    Moving from a 1 month to deployment cycle to 1 day for a critical infrastructure system
    Taking a complex product from vision to launch in fewer than 6 months
  • 9. Typical Day
    Morning – From Home
    Respond to Proposal
    Talk to Team in Europe (4 people)
    Discuss status
    Assign New Tasks / Talk through Design
    Fix two bugs
    Afternoon - Come in Office
    Dev Meeting.
    Deep-dive into some issues
    Try to do some hiring (interview or try to reach out)
    Follow up with tech team from potential partner
    Late Night – Home
    Review quote for a sale
    Review some new code from team in Europe
    Finish coding a new feature
    2am – put up a new build
    Observation: Lots of Context Switching. Barely any “actual” work.
  • 10. CTO vs. VP Eng
    Support the business strategy of your business by formulating and executing technical strategy.
    CTO - Technical Vision
    “Great CTO’s usually can’t manage their way out of a paper bag, but have huge vision, the ability to pull an all-nighter and crank out a rough prototype of the thing they are thinking about, have the unique ability to translate complex / abstract thoughts into simple English that a non-technical end-user can understand, and a willingness (or even desire) to get up in front of 1,000 people and talk about the latest greatest thing they are working on / thinking about. They are also perfectly happy to work collaboratively with the VP Eng while leaving the engineering team completely alone”
    VP Engineering – Technical Execution
    Process / management gods (and goddesses) – totally focused on building and shipping products.  Most of them are “medium technical” – strong enough to stand up to the engineers they manage, but not necessarily the best coders on the team.  A few were rock star developers; a few were non-programmers (i.e. “anymore”)
    Source: Brad Feld
  • 11.
  • 12. CTO Role in Different Organizatoins
    Infrastructure Manager
    IT in a support function
    Technology Visionary & Operations Manager
    Startups & Technology Companies
    External Facing Technologist
    Technology is used to provide products & services to customers / partners
    Customer-Focused Technologist
    Market research & key customer focus
    Big Thinker
    Evaluate how technology can be used to create new business models / products
    Advanced technology, competitive assessments, prototyping
    (Werner Vogels)
  • 13. Technical Role, But!
    Responsible for success of the company, not technology
    Strategy, Technical & Business
    Participate in Sales
    Partnership Discussions
    Fund Raising
    Build vs. Buy Decisions
  • 14. Your SkillZ
    Process / Operational
    Leadership / Management
  • 15. 1. Technical Skills *
    CS 101 – Data Structures, Algorithms
    Chosen field of technology (Ruby, .NET, Java, Python, PHP)
    OO / Functional Design
    Performance Tradeoffs
    UI Technologies (HTML, CSS, Ajax Libraries)
    Design & Software Architecture
    Good General Understanding
    Persistence Options
    Cloud Architectures / Hosting
    Mobile Platforms
    Integration Options & Architectures
    Infrastructure & Systems Operations
    Evaluating Technologies & Products
    * (Focus of CTO School Session 2)
  • 16. Helpful To Know
    UX & Usability
    Design Sense
    Product Marketing
    System Administration
  • 17. Special Tech Skills
    Enterprise Space & Architecture
    Facebook, OpenSocial, Web Platforms
    Payments / Subscriptions Technologies
    Content Management
    Ad Platforms
    Special Algorithms & Technologies
  • 18. 2. Dev Process Skills *
    Software Development Life Cycle
    Agile, Kanban, Lean, Scrum
    Source Control & Build Tools
    Issue Tracking
    Quality Assurance
    Security Processes
    Project Management
    * (Focus of CTO School Session 3)
  • 19. 3. Leadership / Management Skills
    Depend on Company Stage / Size
    Lead Through Doing / Example
    Lead Through Others
    Lead By Vision
    Setting Technical Direction
    Hiring & Growing Teams
    Managing People, including Remote
    Mentoring & Growing People
    Public Speaking
  • 20. 4. Being Part of Executive Team
    Think in terms of the company, not technology
    Offer Technical Options
    Resource Planning
    Educate the other executives about technology capabilities, processes, etc.
    Input on short and long-term business vision, strategies and plans;
    Help define business priorities
  • 21. More on Executive Skills
    Review and influence the product road map,
    Review / provide input on some investor presentation materials, business proposals
    Participate in new business, partnership or investor meetings on a limited basis,
    Business practices that will help to derive greatest short-term and long-term value from the technical team and other resources.
  • 22. Skills Conclusion
    Too much to know
    Make a plan for your own growth
    Different priorities compete with each other.
    ALL are important
    Difficult to make short-term vs. long-term tradeoffs
    Effective Time Management is essential.
    Make sure you know what’s most important for you right now
  • 23. Links