Software engineer Joe Beda only planned to take a few months off when he took leave from Google back in May.
But that was before he caught the entrepreneurial bug.
Now, the 10-year Google veteran — who helped lead the company’s push into cloud computing — says he’s ready to build his own company. He just has to figure out what it will do. Beda announced last week that he has joined Accel Partners as the California venture firm’s “entrepreneur in residence” based in Seattle.
He’ll spend the next couple of months looking for co-founders and playing with ideas before he decides on one. The plan is to launch a business that will be funded by Accel.
Beda’s expertise is on the server side of things, and he says there’s a new “modern infrastructure stack” taking shape right now that opens a lot of opportunities for new startups. He says that’s probably the market where he’ll end up building his company.
“We’ll let Joe kind of figure out his path without putting a lot of structure around it,” Accel’s head of big data initiatives Ping Li has said.
Beda is a second generation computer programmer who was exposed to writing code at an early age. He took his first job with Microsoft in 1997, working on the Internet Explorer team during the dot-com boom.
He moved to Google in 2004 as one of the company’s first employees based in the Pacific Northwest.
“The Kirkland office was a couple of engineers in a ‘hole in the wall’ temporary office,” Beda said of his early days with the company. “It’s been great to see Google’s footprint in Seattle grow over the past 10 years.”
Beda has distinguished himself as a leader in cloud computing over the past decade, founding the Google Compute Engine and helping to launch the company’s Kubernetes open source project that helps developers manage cloud workloads.
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 quit Google back in May and goofed off with the family over the summer. Recently I started as an ‘Entrepreneur in Residence’ with Accel Partners. I’m still figuring out what this means, but basically I’m working to put together the people and ideas behind a new startup.”
What’s the single most important thing people should know about your field? “There are lots of people that are programmers and don’t realize it. So much of our world today requires people to think like programmers. This is both a challenge (preparing students for this world) and an opportunity (providing better tools for all of the non-programmer programmers).”
Where do you find your inspiration? “From my family, but mostly my wife. She is a physician and has worked both in the Harborview Medical Center emergency room and at a clinic that works with the underserved. She is really pretty amazing.”
What’s the one piece of technology you couldn’t live without, and why? “Of course it would be my phone, but actually I’d add a camera to that list. I’ve enjoyed photography pretty much my whole life. However, with family and work obligations my capacity to buy equipment has outstripped my opportunities to use it.”
What’s your workspace like, and why does it work for you? “When I quit Google, I decided to make a decent home office. I had a desk top made from reclaimed barn wood by Urban Reclamations. I put that together with a set of electric standing-desk legs. I love this setup and switch between standing and sitting often. I also recently got an awesome 21:9 monitor. I love having that much screen real estate. And the extra wide format is great.”
Your best tip or trick for managing everyday work and life. (Help us out, we need it.) “It is all about prioritization. Early on in my career I realized that there wasn’t enough time for everything. You have to get the most important stuff done first (work or life) and let the rest land where it lands. Beyond that, I’ve found it useful to record where you are spending your time. Taking a dispassionate look can really help you find where you are spending time on unimportant things.”
Mac, Windows or Linux? “Mac for work; Linux on the server; Windows for fun.”
Kirk, Picard, or Janeway? “Picard. But hopefully the new series will have someone super intersting!”
Transporter, Time Machine or Cloak of Invisibility? “Transporter.”
If someone gave me $1 million to launch a startup, I would … “That’s what I’m trying to figure out!”
I once waited in line for … “Fresh Strawberry Donuts in the middle of the night at The Donut Man in Glendora, Calif.”
Your role models? “My father is an ongoing inspiration for me. He instilled a sense of wonder in me and ignited my passion for technology.”
Greatest Game in History? “Civilization.”
Best Gadget Ever? “Portable battery. When traveling, a good portable battery is so key.”
First Computer? “IBM PCJr.”
Current Phone? “2014 Moto X. It’s blue with ‘POLICE BOX’ engraved on the back.”
Favorite App? “I probably spend too much time on Twitter.”
Favorite Cause? “Northwest Harvest. They do awesome work.”
Most important technology of 2015? “Hard to pick one thing. Is this the year of the drone?”
Most important technology of 2017? “I hope it is virtual reality or augmented reality. I suspect it might take longer than that.”
Final words of advice for your fellow geeks: “There are multiple ways to be a leader. Lots of times in big companies it is easy to be sucked into a world where you spend all day in meetings. But management does not equal leadership. Find ways to make those around you better and good things will happen. You can still stay technical and have an increasingly large impact.”