What is the role of a CTO?

Posted on Categories Business, Startup, Technology

What is the role of a CTO? This might seem like an obvious question, but anyone in this role knows that its not as clear cut as other traditional roles such as CEO, COO and CFO.

I have done a lot of research on this topic to ensure I am always growing in my role. In doing research, I like to refer to people and companies I look up to, because for them to be successful, they must be doing something right!

I have always looked up to Amazon. They do things that you never expect them to do (selling books online, cloud computing?!?) and are very successful at it. Here is a very well written blog by Werner Vogels, CTO of Amazon, on the role of a CTO  http://www.allthingsdistributed.com/2007/07/the_different_cto_roles.html

He summarizes it well (please do read the article) as 2 types.

1) External Facing Technologist / Big Thinker

2) Infrastructure Manager / Technology Visionary and Operations Manager Continue reading What is the role of a CTO?

My Fantastic Team and The CBC

Posted on Categories Business, Startup, Technology

The last few weeks at viafoura were very busy. We had a lot of large client launches, one of them being the CBC.

The CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation – see wikipedia link) is near to our hearts at viafoura because they are Canadian like us. CBC is the oldest existing broadcasting network in Canada, first established in its present form on November 2, 1936. That makes me very proud that they picked us.

The viafoura team is a smart bunch and very passionate about their work. They are artists in their own disciplines. Artists in database scaling, code writing, interface design, client support. You might think, how is writing code or supporting a client art work? Here is how:

Continue reading My Fantastic Team and The CBC

Your Grades Don’t Matter as Much as You Think

Posted on Categories Business, Startup, Technology

I read a great blog post by Alexis Ohanian titled Getting Things Done > Grade Point Average

It talks about a point that I always knew: Your grades do not matter as much as getting something done. I intuitively knew this while in school taking computer science. I had friends who had horrible marks, but they were the smartest technical people I knew. Then there were others who somehow got the marks but could not solve simple undefined problems.

I think the biggest benefit of school is that you are surrounding yourself with people that want to do great things (learn, contribute to society) but you can also find these types of people at meetups, conferences, IRC rooms, etc. (you just need to be resourceful).

I have seen so many promotions, new clients acquired, money raised, etc from being resourceful. These people navigated waters unknown and got things done. This quality I strongly feel out weighs a persons marks. If you also have interpersonal skills – you have a killer combination.

On a final note, I love this quote:

“You are the average of your 5 closest friends.”

Surround yourself with great, passionate people and you WILL do great things.


New York – A Second Home for Viafoura

Posted on Categories Startup

We announced today that we have a second office in New York. This is exciting news for us, as it is our first second home from home.

New York is a hot spot for media companies and an up and coming investor community as well. I have been to New York about 10 different times, and the size of it always impresses me. I find the people nice and quirky at the same time.

I’m glad I live near the porter airport so a flight is just a walk away!!


Why is Big Data Such a Big Deal Now?

Posted on Categories Business, Technology

If you are in the tech industry, you surely have heard the term big data. But why is it that we are talking about it so much, when data (and large amounts of it) have been around for a while (i.e. more than 5 years)? We had big data systems that dealt with weather prediction, storing medical records, google searchs, inventory systems, etc.

Big Data has indeed been around, but now it is not restricted to the likes of IBM and Google, it has become cost effective for ‘anyone’ to do.

There are three things you need for big data. Continue reading Why is Big Data Such a Big Deal Now?

12 (+1) Steps to Better Code

Posted on Categories Business, Startup, Technology, Uncategorized

Joel Spolsky is a respected software developer turned business owner runs Fog Creek software – a software development shop where his goal is to:

“Build the kind of software company where we would want to work, one in which programmers and software developers are the stars and everything else serves only to make them productive and happy. The theory, which has proven itself over and over again, is that this kind of thinking would allow us to attract the super-talented software developers who would do great things and make us successful”

Continue reading 12 (+1) Steps to Better Code

How Larry Page Leads a “Medium Sized Business”

Posted on Categories Business, Sports, Startup, TechnologyTags ,

I read an interview with Larry Page (CEO of Google) on Wired on how he leads his “Medium Sized Business” (He actually called Google a medium sized business – which I thought was a bit wacky)

He says that he encourages his team to think of products that produce 10X results. Instead of focusing on just incremental improvements or catch up with competitors – create amazing new things. He refers to gmail, which when launched had 100 times more storage than anything out there. He also mentions the self driving car and the wearable glasses.

Continue reading How Larry Page Leads a “Medium Sized Business”

How to Scale to 15 Billion Page Views+ a Day

Posted on Categories Business, Startup, Technology

Tumblr (a tool where you can easily create your own blog, and share other posts from other tumblr blogs) got over 15 Billion page views a month in Feb of 2011. Those are REALLY large numbers and require some creative ways to scale the technology. Each company’s scaling requirements are unique (i.e. what worked for twitter won’t work for Tumblr) because the subtleties in usage patterns matter a lot at scale.

The good news is that these companies that do tackle these challenges share their knowledge and often open source their solutions.

Here is a great blog post on the technical tools that tumblr used to help scale their technology



How to scale a startup

Posted on Categories Business, Startup

Being fortunate to get over a lot of the early challenges of creating a company (building the right product, getting customers, sales, raising money, getting the core developers) we are now tasked with scaling a development team.

Almost every CTO I have spoken to in the meetups that I host http://www.meetup.com/Toronto-CTO-Group/ implement some form of Agile. A very quick look on Wikipedia will list almost 100 different development methodologies (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Software_development_process#Software_development_models). Most are iterations of one core style but there are still a lot.

I found these two articles helpful when I was digging more into this process. We run Agile here at viafoura.





2013 – New Style of Blogging, Shorter Insights and More Frequent

Posted on Categories Business, Startup

I read a great piece from VC Charlie O’Donnell that talks about Blogging, and doing it often. I started this blog a few years ago and the biggest challenge I had was to write pieces because I thought they should have to be long and well researched. But after reading Charlie’s post, he says blogging does not have to be like that, you can also write about the stuff you notice, and just make your posts short.

So that is what I am going to do. I put a weekly reminder in my calendar to write short posts on stuff that I have noticed (and I notice a LOT of things). Some might say you can use twitter for this, but 140 characters is just not enough.

Let’s see what happens!