In this episode, we spoke with Sean Ryan, a seasoned CTO that has not only taken companies public, he’s also navigated a number successful exits. Sean is familiar with what it takes to succeed as well as up and coming technological trends. He’s been aearly co-founder and served as Chief Technology Officer for several companies including ExactTarget, Zinio and Blurb.
In this episode, we learn that being a successful CTO means not only staying ahead of business in terms of laying a solid technological infrastructure that will scale, but also what it means to be a great leader. According to Sean, great leadership means having a vision and faith to doggedly pursue that vision so that others get excited even when they are not sure they believe themselves. “That’s what great leaders do. It’s about creating your own momentum and inertia and pushing the ball uphill until people start buying and using the product.”
Sean also talks about the transformative technology on the horizon that is going to impact all of our lives. The combination of deep learning software that teaches itself, to neuromorphic chips designed to work like the human brain and lastly quantum computing, which will solve prime numbers all adds up to a super scary but fascinating future where computers will start to surprise us as they exhibit “emergent behavior”. But there is a bright side... that is computers and automation will eliminate human error in many professions such as x-ray technicians which typically have a 60% error rate, that goes away when a computer is making the diagnosis. And the coming onslaught of automation, means many jobs in manufacturing and even knowledge work such as customer support go away - but perhaps as happened in the 20th century, the shift will create an opportunity for a better quality of life and an opportunity for "higher" work.
Lastly, Sean talks about the pressures in the start-up world today, the current appetite for IPOs, growth, aggressive multiples and what gets swept under the rug when the focus is solely on scaling quickly.
Also big thanks to Jon Leon Guerrero who makes a special guest appearance on the show, he currently partners with Pete on the Break It Down Show and is a integral part of our team and always adds fun sparks to the conversation.
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