Adam Cheyer
Co-Founder, SIRI
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“It doesn’t matter what the subject is. Find who is the best teacher, in any subject. It’s always about the people." Adam Cheyer is Co-Founder of three companies so far. One of them is Siri, an intelligent personal assistant app which is used all over the world. The challenge each Startup has to deal with? “The most important thing and maybe the hardest thing is to work on the most important thing.”


Drei Ratschläge an Dein 14jähriges Ich!

So the first and the most important thing I think is focus on the core emotion at each phase because you change it as a user, think about what is important to you, verbalize it into a goal. Say “this is what I need to do” and then go do it. The second thing I would say is it is always about the people. So find, you know when I was young I would say “I like math, I am going to take math classes” and then some math teachers were great and some were not and when I learned in school then later in life it doesn’t matter what the subject is. Find who is the best teacher in any subject, just pick the highly rated, highest rated teacher in the whole school, take a class from that person no matter what they are teaching, you know it is always about the people and learn, find the greatest people you can, your heroes and spend time with them and as much as you can and the rest, you know, doesn’t matter. I guess the last thing is just to, you know at 13 or 14 and my son is going through this now, you are kind of unsure and you know, not quite confident yet and you don’t know who you are and just giving the assurance that you can do, you will do anything that you set your mind to and I believe life is a book and you are the author of each chapter and you get to influence it. So dream, imagine the best thing your life could be and then go after it and do it. It certainly won’t come to you, it is not free but you can make it happen and you know giving it the confidence and the belief that you will succeed I could have used that when I was 14.

Was steht auf Deiner Visitenkarte?

So my name is Adam Cheyer I am a co-founder of Siri and also a founding member of and of Genetic Finance.

Was ist das coolste an Deinem Job?

I like the early creation stage where I get to build and get excited and code. And I love the 0 – 15 stage of a startup company where you, you know at 15 there are no politics it is all about one team trying to go after a vision with so much energy and passion and I love that.

Welche Einschränkungen bringt Dein Job mit sich?

One thing that’s hard is to focus, to pick, you know when you are a startup you don’t have a lot of people, you don’t have a lot of money and so the most important thing and maybe the hardest thing is to work on the most important thing but knowing what that is, what do we include, what do we not include, what is absolutely core because it is so easy to get in and then say, “Oh we need this, and we need that we need this…” But if you are not working on the most important thing you are not getting the, you know you are wasting time and you can't afford to waste any time.

Worum geht es in Deinem Job?

So I am a technical person, I am not the business person. So at the first phase it is the idea generation. I go round, I talk to people, I write things down and then I build software so I sit down on my computer and I work on these prototypes then I communicate them to people. It is very important to get feedback and to learn about it. So in that early phase it’s all about building, you know finding ideas, building them so you can feel them, showing the people and getting feedback. So that’s kind of stage one. Stage 2, you say okay I have chosen my best two ideas or my best idea and I want to start a company. So company you need fundraising. So you have to find, you work on a business plan, a pitch and you find cofounders but if it is without a team you are not going to be successful. So they are the first core people and so that’s a big project. So with a team you can raise money. Then you are into the development phase. You have three people and now you want to grow it to achieve these goals that you told people you are going to build with your money. So you are…I am an engineering manager so I am interviewing, I am finding, I am having some meetings on coding still and we are setting products roadmap decisions and saying we need to do this by this point of time, here is why. And then you socialize a lot too because that’s, part of a startup is to have a very tight knit group of family that, and we work together, we play together and creating the culture of that early stage company is very important. And then as in Siri case we launched and it was all about now we need to grow this and get it to the world. We were acquired so there is a lot of legal matters and then finally you are in a big company, the groups is growing much larger, no longer my coding, it is all about engineering management and process and meetings and that’s kind of the spectrum for my idea to delivering software, to hundreds of millions of people.

Wie sieht Dein Werdegang aus?

I grew up in Boston, went to a liberal arts school, so doing computer science but from many different backgrounds; philosophy, psychology, religion, biology, neuroscience. So all of this was connected for me, so a little bit different than the normal computer scientists, I went and live in Europe France for 4 years after graduation and did my masters as UCLA in Artificial Intelligence. And then I went I went to work at Stanford Research Institute which was, for me it was a playground. Those were the coolest technologies ever; robots were walking in the halls, augmented realities, speech recognition, artificial intelligence. So at that time it was all about playing and doing cool things with computers and having fun. And then later in life I went and worked in the commercial world, I was VP and engineer at a public company so I got a lot of management engineering skills. And then at some point I said maybe I should try to do a startup. So I started in my forties which is a little bit latter than most. 2006, 2007 was the first time I tried starting companies. So I was the founding member of which is a social network for social activism. It is the largest petition platform in the world for making things happen. I started a company called Genetic Finance. It was machine learning company, we had more than a million CPUs and what we do is we take data, big data but we perform massive computation on it in the machine learning platform. So we solve finance problems, we trade a fund with a lot of money in it, live based on rules automatically learned from these computers and then we have healthcare and genomics applications as well on this data platform. So those are the three companies that …

Ginge es auch ohne Deinem Werdegang?

For sure, I mean anyone. I mean what I am good at is I have ideas and I see that’s the…if you are an entrepreneur you need to see things other people don’t see because if you do standard things big companies can do obvious things better than you can, they have more resources and more people. But if you can see the world in a different way, if you can see a hole, if you can see white space where everyone else thinks it’s filled in you can be an entrepreneur and then if you can couple that with programming ability so that you can use a computer to create a model, you know a basic prototype of this so that you can show people what you mean, what that idea is, you can inspire them and then you can get a team behind you to say I want to build that. You know you show it, here is what it is like, now it doesn’t fully work and it only works for one user and this is what I mean. So that I think it is very important to have an idea and be able to communicate it to the world and to a team ad so I would say work on your communication skills, your presentation skills. I am not the best at it but computer science is a great way to build things quickly that you can show what you mean but it is really the ideas that are important.