Our latest Geek of the Week, Jeff Teper, had been at Microsoft for about six years in 1998 when he oversaw the formation of a new group focused on “knowledge management.” Later that group would launch a new business collaboration technology, then called SharePoint Portal Server. SharePoint has since become one of Microsoft’s largest products, surpassing $1 billion in yearly revenue.
Next week SharePoint will be in the spotlight as Microsoft holds its annual SharePoint conference in Anaheim, Calif., with Teper among the executives slated to speak.
Given his history, Teper is sometimes called a “founding father” of SharePoint, but his geek credentials go much further than his work at Microsoft. Continue reading for his answers to our questionnaire.
Name: Jeff Teper, Corporate Vice President, Office Business Platform, Microsoft Business Division
Hobby and/or other geeky pursuit: Writing and recording music. It started with guitar as a hobby away from computers but then it came back to software. It is unbelievable the stuff you can do using a Windows PC with software based digital audio workstation and virtual instruments emulating studios and equipment that used to cost millions of dollars. Things like a software synthesizer that plays sounds from drum kits the Beatles used recorded through the same microphones and recording desk in Abbey Road!
Coolest thing about what you do: Working with smart people at Microsoft on software that helps a billion people. Being part of creating SharePoint from scratch and reaching new customers in the cloud with Office 365 has been great.
What does it mean to you to be a geek? Computers are the best invention in history to help people create and collaborate. I feel lucky and proud to be part of an era of so much innovation in our company and the industry in general.
How do you describe SharePoint at a party to someone who’s never used it? Press a button and make a web site. For every person, team or project on your intranet and internet. All connected, secure and searchable. Works on the web, with Microsoft Office and your phone.
What are Microsoft’s biggest goals/aspirations for SharePoint in the years ahead? We are incredibly fortunate to have grown to the leading business collaboration technology reaching over 125 million of people over the last decade. Via Office 365 and future releases we will reach dramatically more people with an exciting experience while growing our partner ecosystem, which provides customers with specialized solutions. We’re working hard and have lots of surprises in the works.
Geekiest thing(s) you’ve ever done, built, or worn: I watch Phineas and Ferb with my kids all the time. Inventions, Rock and Roll and a Secret Agent Platypus. How can you beat that?
Your best tip or trick for managing everyday work and life: It is an intense and fun industry, so cumulatively the hours add up but I focus on three things. First, I always try to put family first (sporting events, plays, etc.). Second, I actively manage my work time by my goals vs. being reactive to my inbox and meeting requests. Third, regular exercise has been indispensable for me for energy and stress management.
Mac, Windows or Linux? Please. Windows from 1.0 and Reversi through NT and onto Windows 8! I applied for a job at Microsoft the week after my honeymoon to get here for the launch of Windows 3.1 and NT.
Kirk, Picard, Janeway or Sisko? Zefram Cochran, who invented the warp drive and had a bit more personality than the captains that followed. Hey, since it’s a Star Trek question, I had to pull a Kobayashi Maru and cheat the test.
Transporter, Time Machine or Cloak of Invisibility? Time Machine. Though hopefully it doesn’t break and I wind up living with the Morlocks.
If someone gave me $1 million to launch a startup, I would … Probably do something related to music and technology to do something different.
I once waited in line for … Buying the last Harry Potter book. Ok, technically, I was just the designated driver. We bought 3 copies so my wife and daughters could start reading on the way home!
Your geek role models (And why?): Walt Disney. He bet his company twice on new technology – once for full length animation and once to build Disneyland – all to redefine their customer’s experience. I grew up wanting to live in Disneyland.
Greatest Game In History: Here I go offline. I like playing complex board games with friends. My favorite is definitely one called Puerto Rico, ironically from a German inventor. The optimal strategy is different every game.
Best Gadget Ever: Measured by my percentage of time on it during the gadget’s heyday, Mattel Electronic Football. It even made a Supertramp song.
First computer: Compaq Portable – the infamous $3500 “suitcase” computer. I worked many hours to save for it during college but was a lot more efficient programing on it in Turbo Pascal than my classmates were timesharing on the school’s DEC VAX.
First real program: My Dad “hired” me to write a vehicle simulation system in Fortran when I was 14. I didn’t really understand the nonlinear dynamics in the math so debugging was a bit rough but he got me through it.
Favorite program written: My first real job was being the only developer on an investment analysis system. I got to write the whole thing in C — database, graphics, user experience, financial algorithms, etc. By then I understood more math like calculating the R Squared between two portfolios. My favorite code was figuring out how to print professional looking charts on an HP Laser printer as quickly as possible. It took a lot of trial and error to figure out the optimal combination of vector and raster graphics. I was proud I printed a complex page more quickly than early versions of Excel.
Favorite computer trivia: Answer: B8000. Question: What is the address of the video buffer on the PC? I thought I’d discovered the secret of the programming universe when I figured out I could make my UI a 100X faster by writing directly to memory.
Current phone: Samsung Focus running Windows Phone 7.5.
Favorite app: The people hub in Windows Phone.
Favorite hangout: Dinner, movie and a good magazine store that carries the better music publications from the U.K.
Favorite cause: Education.
Most important technology of 2011: Cloud computing.
Most important technology of 2015: We’re still working on that.
Words of advice for your fellow geeks: Do something you love. Work with people who challenge you. Figure out how you can make your customers happier. Have a sense of humor. Be (somewhat) patient.
Geek of the Week is a regular feature profiling the characters of the Pacific Northwest technology community. See the Geek of the Week archive for more.
Does someone you know deserve this distinguished honor? Send nominations to firstname.lastname@example.org.
[Geek of the Week photography by Annie Laurie Malarkey, email@example.com.]