Geek of the Week: GlobeSherpa co-founder Michael Gray, from mainframes to mobile

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Michael Gray, co-founder and CTO of Portland, Ore., startup GlobeSherpa.

Ready to pay for your bus ride on your smartphone? Sorry, Seattle, not yet. But the service has taken off in Portland, powered by the technology developed by Michael Gray’s team at Portland startup GlobeSherpa — part of the company’s broader push to innovate in mobile ticketing.

trimetGray is GlobeSherpa’s chief technology officer and co-founder — a native of Greenville, S.C., who started his career as a mainframe coder writing COBOL programs and implementing networks and firewalls. He spent more than half of his career consulting on websites such as NationsBank.com (now Bank of America), Marriott.com and other enterprise applications. When he’s not managing GlobeSherpa’s teams or coding himself, he enjoys running and exploring the Oregon outdoors.

Meet our new Geek of the Week, and continue reading for his answers to our questionnaire.

What do you do, and why do you do it? I co-founded GlobeSherpa in 2010 and support the company’s mission by developing and driving our technology strategies, architectures, and policies. I oversee our DevOps, Mobile and Application teams, as well as all of our internal IT functions.

I do it because I love the thrill of entrepreneurship, the challenge of developing products that help make people’s lives easier and bringing those to market.

What’s the single most important thing people should know about your field? One misconception I often encounter is that mobile development is easy. People seem to think that because we write and build apps for phones that they are simple and don’t require the same skills that other applications require. When in fact the opposite is true. Mobile app development and mobile app design is complex and requires specialized design principles for smaller form factors. It also requires extensive end-user testing — particularly with the massive variety of devices available on the market today.

I would also add that using known software design and development principles are key.

One of the surprising applications for mobile on the horizon is wearable technologies. We have heard about this for a couple of years now but it really is on the way. The question is: how do you build your systems so they are compatible with wearable technologies?

Where do you find your inspiration? I find inspiration coaching others and seeing them reach a new goal or height in their work or personal life. I really get inspired reading about how others solve problems. I also find inspiration from dancing. I took dance classes in college and it has always been a great source of fun, inspiration, and exercise for me.

What’s the one piece of technology you couldn’t live without, and why? My phone. It is my research tool, city navigator, wallet, entertainment console and, oh yeah — a communication device.

What’s your workspace like, and why does it work for you? Three monitors, one for communications, one for active tasks such as coding, and the other for browsing. This minimizes shuffling windows. A comment from Bill Gates years ago about his workspace inspired this system. Of course, now it’s extremely common. And the obligatory Rubik’s cube and sticky notes.

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Your best tip or trick for managing everyday work and life. (Help us out, we need it.) Find the minimal set of tools that help you capture and track what you need to do and then master those tools. An example of this is a favorite task manager. I also find it helpful to remember that work is part of life. I think we can all benefit if we view our work as part of life and life as part of our work.

Mac, Windows or Linux? Mac with VMware for Windows and Linux. You shouldn’t have to choose!

Kirk, Picard, or Janeway? Picard — we have the same haircut.

Transporter, Time Machine or Cloak of Invisibility? Transporter. I am always thinking in time zones.


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.

Be a future Geek of the Week! Fill out and submit our online questionnaire.

If someone gave me $1 million to launch a startup, I would … I would set up a beacon network in key cities and allow merchants and developers to come together to offer new services and experiences to consumers. I would spend that money to be a core contributor to the Internet of Things.

I once waited in line for … Members Only jacket. The were the all the rage and my brother and I had to have one. 3 hours later, we walked away in style.

Your role models: My Dad, because he is selfless, direct and clear. You always know where you stand with him. He is also a coach. He is supportive and will do the hard things that need to be done and not seek attention for it.

Greatest Game in History: Oh geez. So many great games. I’m going with Donkey Kong though!

Best Gadget Ever: I think the wireless router is one of the best. It’s one of the key gadgets that gave us mobility and allowed us to get rid of all the cables and wires.

First Computer: DIY 386 Desktop

Current Phone: iPhone 5

Favorite App: Flipboard

Favorite Cause: Team In Training. This is a great non-profit. I used to be a run coach for them. They raise money for blood cancer research.

Most important technology of 2014: iBeacon

Most important technology of 2016: Commercial Drones

Final words of advice for your fellow geeks: In the midst of the absurd hours, be sure to make time for yourself, your friends and family, and have FUN!

Sitewww.globesherpa.com

Twitter: @mgwinthrop

LinkedIn: Michael Gray

  • Jonathan Grubbs

    Nice!

  • Dave R.

    Michael, if you started a club for members only, I’d want to join!