- September 26, 2012
As I’m sure you’ve heard, Jim Kaskade is the new Infochimps CEO. You’ve read about his vision for the company and his passion and experience in Big Data. But do you know him on a personal level? See the following interview questions and get a dose of the real Jim Kaskade.
1) What brought you to Infochimps?
The people. My first question to Joseph Kelly was about the Infochimps culture and what made it so special. The value of a company is its people. Without an A team, even the best vision cannot successfully execute. I loved all the little things. From the data mine behind closed doors, to the significance behind the Infochimps name itself – the infinite monkey theorem, everything added up to a winning culture.
2) What are your plans for Infochimps’ future?
I want Infochimps to leave a legacy. I want us to make a huge impact in the data infrastructure space and become a key player in the infrastructure transformation with our big data platform. Infochimps will make our customers’ lives easier by expanding infrastructure capabilities to Fortune 500 companies.
3) Tell me more about the recurring theme of “no more data scientists.” What are your thoughts on this controversial statement? Can you elaborate more on this concept?
The “no more data scientists” position is not meant to be literal, but instead is meant to challenge the status quo. What would you do if you didn’t have a data scientist, an 18 person IT department, or your smart statisticians? Those are the “what if” questions we’re trying to ask here at Infochimps. We’re not trying to replace data scientists; we’re trying to make their job easier. If we could make it easier for data scientists to achieve gold nuggets of brilliance and seamlessly put it in a process where we can accelerate the development, doesn’t everyone win? What brings organizations together are integrated solutions and out-of-the-box thinking like we’re offering at Infochimps. That’s what “no data scientists” truly means – creating more data centric people all the way from IT to the CEO.
4) How would you describe your leadership style?
Empowerment. I define good leadership as someone who teaches people how to maximize their strengths and empower them to do the best they can. My job is to make everyone in the company successful which translates into mentoring, challenging, and magnifying their strengths. As any good CEO, I make it a personal goal to help set the strategy, help create the vision, hire people smarter than all of us, focus on removing the obstacles, and help us all execute.
What’s my mantra? Work hard, play hard. It seems cliché, but it’s the simple truth. If we’re not having fun, why are we doing it? I believe a company should work cohesively as a team to reach a common goal, overcome weaknesses, and help eachother excel to meet the next level.
5) Personal level: What are your personal ethics and how does it reflect in your work?
I am a “glass half full” kind of person. I have 2 young boys and I teach them to be curious, to always ask questions, and know there’s nothing they can’t accomplish. Key values I bring from home to work are: you can’t fly through life solo, you need people in your life you can trust; make an effort to have a mentor. If you get caught up trying to solve every problem on your own, you’ll take longer, fail harder, and then be lonely.
There are 3 men I’ve learned to respect most in my career:
- Art Collmeyer, the Founder of iWatt, used to say, “You gotta die before you go to heaven. It’s hard work, but if it was easy, everyone would be doing it; so suck it up.”
- Bob Adams, known for heading up Xerox Ventures and thought leader in disruptive technologies, is a man of common sense. Some startups get caught up, ignore the facts and lose common sense; they don’t respond fast enough to things that aren’t working. Bob would say, “Black is black, a spade is a spade. If it’s not working, acknowledge it, fix it, and don’t ignore it with the hope it goes away.”
- Jack Shemer, the Founder of Teradata and the most important person in my career, had an appetite for going towards the seemingly impossible. He taught me everything about how important people are and why he puts “people in front of everything.” Jack is someone who has the softest heart, the strongest push, and mastered how to make things happen. I hope I will amount to a fraction of his success.
Thank you for sharing more about yourself, Jim. We are happy to have you on board!