I learned to code when I was 7.
(we didn’t call it “coding” back then.)
When I was 14 I started my first software company.
(my father had to sign the legal papers!)
At 19 I filed for my first patent.
(it issued before I graduated college.)
These days, I’m a tech company executive. Here’s my professional bio:
A passionate technologist turned experienced Silicon Valley executive, James has spent his life focused on creating great software and technology. In 2003, he joined his current company, SST, Inc. (formerly ShotSpotter, Inc.), which he subsequently built into the world’s leading provider of gunshot detection and alert technology. As the company’s first CEO, James developed and executed ShotSpotter’s market entry strategy and led the company from deployments in four cities to over 50, increased annual sales more than 50-fold, led the company’s 2005 acquisition of Centurist Systems and its 2009 acquisition of the SECURES business unit of Planning Systems, Inc., and built the industry’s largest patent portfolio (currently totaling 26 patents). He then turned his energies towards global market penetration as head of the company’s International efforts, building sales from 0% to 40% of top-line revenue within 18 months. He has since returned to his product roots, as SST’s head of product management and business development, focusing on quadrupling the company’s product release cycle speed while maintaining its reputation for delivering stable, scientifically and forensically reliable mission-critical data to customers. SST is his third venture-funded or private equity-backed company, and he has raised in excess of $65m for companies he has led.
Previously, James was Chairman and CTO of WebPutty, of which he had previously served as the Company’s President and CEO, an enterprise software company and the first Silicon Valley company to ship a platform entirely built around Microsoft’s .NET platform in the early ’00s, which was subsequently acquired by Charles River. Prior to joining WebPutty, James was Entrepreneur in Residence at SAC Capital where he performed turn-around and portfolio operations work as acting C-level executives at other portfolio companies. Previously, as President and CEO of Cogito Software, a company he founded in 1994, James delivered software and managed technology projects for well-known institutions including Princeton University and New York Hospital/Cornell Medical Center. He has also served as vice President for R&D and CTO at Primavera Laboratories, where he was responsible for product development of over-the-counter drugs and other regulated products generating retail revenues in excess of $300m for companies including Avon Products, Bristol-Myers Squibb, and The Limited. He holds patents in the fields of computer memory hardware, Internet business methods and information security, and gunshot detection and location, and he has published peer review articles in fields ranging from medical informatics to user interface design.
James is a cum laude graduate of Yale University and studied Computer Science at Columbia University. In 2001, James was recognized as one of America’s leading executives under the age of 45 when he was named a Henry Crown Fellow of the Aspen Institute. He sits on the board of directors of the Center to Prevent Youth Violence, the nation’s largest anti-gun violence non-profit organization and creator of the life-saving Ask and Speak Up! campaigns, and is Co-Chairman of the Steering Committee of the Aspen Institute Socrates Society. A proud linguaphile, James has conducted business on five continents in French, Spanish, Portuguese, and halting Italian.
And now for the fun stuff:
I am a born and bred New Yorker, attending grade school and high school in the city, and then returned after college. Although I now live in the San Francisco Bay Area, I’m still a New Yorker. (It doesn’t take but a few minutes before people I meet out Left say “you’re not from around here, are you?”).
I’m an avid reader and bibliophile. In fact, it has become something of an obsession. I used to have 11 bookcases in my former bachelor pad/950 square-foot apartment, and they were all full. Sometimes they keep me up late at night; sometimes they keep me in good stead during a cocktail party conversation in which I otherwise would have to plead ignorance; but mostly they just keep me good company.
I’m also a food lover and something of an oenophile, although I know a lot less about wine than I’d like to. But I do know about food! Moving to the West Coast in 2001 presented something of a challenge: sure, there’s plenty of good food out here, but why are there no good bagels?? What we lack in New York foodstuffs, though, we more than make up for in proximity to all that wonderful wine. So, all-in-all, I think it’s a wash.
Early in my career I taught High School in New Haven, and it had a profound impact on my life. I couldn’t be a stronger supporter, funder and supporter of education: I firmly believe that education makes the man. So what should you know about my education? I am supremely lucky to have had an education I thoroughly loved, and perhaps even more lucky to live in a society, in a time and in a career in which continuing to learn can be a daily reality. I attended one of New York City’s smaller private grade schools, St. Bernard’s School, which gave a very young boy a taste of “old world” education (French in Fifth Grade, Latin in Sixth, jackets and collared shirts every day, etc.). Then I attended Trinity School, on New York’s Upper West Side, for high school, which was hands down the best and most important educational experience of my life. This is a superb school, and it gets as much financial support as I can afford to give it. No other educational experience had such a profound and lasting impact on my life. I went on to study Latin and Greek (Classical Civilization) at Yale University, where I sang in an a cappella singing group called Out of the Blue and designed lighting or scenery for some forty undergraduate theater productions, many of them for the Yale Dramat and one or two at the Yale Rep.
Finally, I’m a strong supporter of the Aspen Institute, through which I’ve met many friends, some of whom have become colleagues. Aspen does many things (it is perhaps best known for its policy programs which attract world leaders, academics, politicians, Nobel Laureates and other luminaries), but I’ve been lucky enough to be a Henry Crown Fellow of the Institute since 2001 and also a regular attendee and seminar participant at the Aspen Institute Socrates Society, on whose Steering and Scholarship Committees I am lucky enough to serve. For the past three years, I’ve had the honor to be on the board of the Center to Prevent Youth Violence.