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Tech leaders leave Silicon Valley executive posts to join startups

An executive position in a top Silicon Valley company could be a dream come true for many, but some leaders have moved to startups due to various reasons.



Working in Silicon Valley with an executive position at a top tech company is a dream come true for many. However, some heads have made the move from top tech firms to startups due to various reasons. They were dissatisfied about an aspect of the company, looking for diversity or moving on to new challenges. In the end, startups are embracing them in order to address the difficulties and tasks of entrepreneurial companies.

Here are some executives that come from large companies and why they moved to smaller startups to make a difference.

Goodbye Siri, hello Viv

The success of Siri is highly disputable. Still, one thing that’s hard to deny is that it put virtual assistant (VA) technology into the mainstream. Siri proved that such an imperfect technology could jumpstart a new tech trend or improve an existing innovation. In this case, it’s artificial intelligence (AI).


Siri is co-created by Dag Kittlaus. (Source)

Now, Dag Kittlaus, Siri co-creator, has developed Viv, a new kind of VA powered by AI, machine learning, and third party services. Kittlaus is now VivLabs’ chief executive and co-founder. The lab has been developing the new VA technology since 2014, which has been favorable for him in terms of exercising the creative freedom he never obtained under the wing of Steve Jobs. With this, Viv, unlike Siri, is more personal and efficient—calling it “the intelligent interface for everything.”

Kittlaus publicly demonstrated Viv at Tech Crunch Disrupt New York. The presentation received positive feedback. Viv is similar to Siri but what makes it different is it’s bereft all the humor present in Siri every time it ends up at a loss for words to questions that are either unintelligible or simply difficult to answer.

The secret, according to Kittlaus, is in the “perfection of the third-party ecosystem” they’ve worked on for years. There’d be more “direct” results for every question. The possibility of “I don’t know what you’re talking about” is smaller. This will soon become a lot smaller, if not totally nonexistent, in the future as Viv is still at its embryonic stage.

Apple, AT&T executive to 5BARz

Gil Amelio, chairman of 5BARz International, Inc. (OTC: BARZ), was also Apple’s former chief executive officer. After that, he also worked for AT&T holding executive and directorial positions. These are mega-companies. However, Amelio immediately found the request of Daniel Bland, revered tech entrepreneur and incubator, to join him in his new company highly enticing.

To partner with a company that will soon help India alleviate their network-related quandaries, among which is the call-drop problem that made global headlines for its utter insolubility, is a windfall for Amelio.


Amelio was a former Apple executive. (Source)

“An opportunity of a lifetime,” Amelio once said. “Daniel’s idea of creating an environment-friendly, easy-to-install, cheap, and revolutionary device that could help extend and enhance mobile signal anywhere is difficult to ignore,” he added. Amelio emphasized that accepting a crucial post in a promising firm puts him right in the middle of a huge megatrend.

5BARz International is indeed a trendsetter and game-changer in the network enhancement segment. Most companies in the segment have not achieved what 5BARz has. Apart from being easy-to-use, it is the only network extender that doesn’t deal with intricate cabling and overly huge antennas.

It also utilizes patented radio frequency technology that makes it highly functional even in open areas, crowded places, and moving vehicles. With the help of Amelio, the company is now ready to go outside India and penetrate the Southeast Asian market, a move that is an outright preamble to becoming global soon.

Amelio said, “Latin America, Europe, Sub-Saharan Africa, will be next and surely we won’t forget [about] bringing it here in the U.S.”

Slack over Twitter

Even Leslie Miley, the man behind the controversial Twitter racial conversation, would find a second home in Slack. Indeed, Slack, a cloud-based team collaboration tool, has recently announced that they tapped the services of Miley to lead its diversity programs as its new director of engineering.


Workplace diversity has been an issue for Twitter over the years. (Source)

It’s a challenging executive role for the former Twitter engineering manager. That’s because he will be spearheading a small but important department dominated by white colleagues. But Miley has no problems with this as he sees a different situation in Slack’s working environment.

“The culture Slack is building here, the people they have and the things that they say are important to them really resonate with me as a human being, not just as an African-American,” Miley told USA TODAY. “Empathy and engineering, when was the last time you heard those two words spoken in the same sentence?”

Miley is certainly in the right place. Slack is one of the most promising startups in the U.S. for its diverse workforce and working environment. Yes, there are still plenty of white employees, but the number of PoCs here is growing. Color is not an issue here, making it a lot easier for Miley to do his job this time.

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Desmond O’Flynn believes in minimalism and the power of beer. As a young reporter for some of the largest national publications, he has lived in the world of finance and investing for nearly three decades. He has since included world politics and the global economy in his portfolio. He also writes about entrepreneurs and small businesses, as well as innovation in fintech, gambling, and cannabis industries.