Welcome Visitor Monday, May 27, 2024
Google exec who launched Earth, Moon & Mars
returns to Vanderbilt School of Engineering
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Chikai Ohazama

Yesterday when he took a quick call from VentureNashville, Chikai Ohazama, the 38-year-old co-founder of Google Earth who earned his biomedical engineering degree within Vanderbilt University School of Engineering, said he was still considering what to share with students when he speaks on campus, later this week.

Ohazama's scheduled VUSE Engineers Week address is titled, "A Brief History of Google Earth: A Personal and Professional Journey."

He told VNC he'll probably mention the real-time imaging work he did here with Prof. Bob Galloway and his subsequent doctoral work at Duke University.

He's also likely to review the events that led him from his startup venture, Keyhole, to his joining Google, where he would later launch Earth, then Moon and then Mars. Then, too, there are the controversies: Nations, cities and individuals with complaints about how their communities are depicted, concerns about national security and corporate industrial secrets, matters in which Ohazama is sometimes directly involved. (Our earlier VNC blogpost on Ohazama.)

Among other themes he indicated he'll consider sharing:

In an age of complexity and continually shifting opportunities, it is imperative to do two things: First, remain "open to what's around you and what's going on," learning to embrace "a huge world of possibility" -- while nonetheless maintaining a "core vision" shaped by "knowing what you love and who you are," said Ohazama. Keep in mind, too, that "if you don't shoot big, then you can't do something big."

While Silicon Valley does have powerful concentrations of talent and capital, the Internet has made it possible to grow some new industries just about anywhere you like -- witness FourSquare (New York), Groupon (Chicago) and Gowalla (Austin). In addition, the cost of living in Nashville makes the city competitive for workers willing to relocate (as Ohazama, married with a newborn son, is not). In addition, off-shoring tasks to India, China or other nations can help speed development of some U.S. businesses.

In an age in which careers and discovery seem limited only by one's imagination, it's useful to establish principles, rather than a detailed roadmap for career progression and product development. Adhering to such principles as "Don't Be Evil," taking issues of privacy and security seriously, and keeping user benefits foremost in mind can help guide companies and individuals, when complexity and speed seem to threaten to overwhelm the best-laid plans.

A decade ago, enterprise applications were often the focus of only the tech cognoscenti, whereas today consumers are very heavy personal users of technology. This has changed technology-driven fields dramatically, and contributed, among other things, to giving consumer-oriented Apple a larger market capitalization than Microsoft.

Partly as a result of the robust tech market, "Star Trek-type stuff" is emerging as technology advances, with consumers' mobile devices and their powerful technologies driving much of it. Developers and consumers, alike, often seem limited only by their imaginations, he said. VNC


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Tags: Bob Galloway, Chikai Ohazama, Duke University, economic development, Foursquare, Google, Google Earth, Gowalla, Groupon, innovation, postsecondary, research and development, Silicon Valley, Vanderbilt University School of Engineering, venture capital

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