Where Execs Go When They Walk

With his announcement to quit the largest and the most popular social networking site soon via a Facebook post, Bret Taylor joins the league of some of the famous high-profiled CTOs of multimillion-dollar organizations such as Microsoft, Google and NASA among others who quit to pursue other interests.

The co-creator of Google Maps and social network website FriendFeed has revealed his plans to work on an undetermined start-up in the future. This news comes a month after Facebook's disappointing IPO (initial public offering), resulting in its stock price fall from US$38 to as low as $25.52.

Like Taylor, several Silicon Valley technology heads quit their starry roles to begin their own start-ups and pursue entrepreneurial functions. So what comes next? What roles do CTOs take up after moving out as technology heads of top-notch companies? We take a look at some of them.

Nathan Myhrvold, former CTO, Microsoft

Current Profile: Co-founder of Intellectual Ventures, 2000

Nathan Myhrvold

This former Microsoft's CTO career began with a start-up.

A PhD at 23, he co-founded, Dynamical Systems Research Inc., which sought to produce a clone of IBM's TopView multitasking environment for DOS called Mondrian.

Microsoft acquired Mondrian, and Myhrvold moved to Redmond. Myhrvold worked at Microsoft for 13 years, where he founded Microsoft Research in 1991.

He quit as the Microsoft CTO to become the co-founder of Intellectual Ventures, a patent portfolio developer and broker in the areas of technology and energy. Intellectual Ventures has over 30,000 patents, and is one of the top-five owners of U.S.patents as of 2011.

Douglas Merrill, former CIO and VP-Engineering, Google

Douglas Merrill
Current Profile: CEO and founder of ZestCash.com, 2010

The former CIO of the world's largest search-engine company is a know-it-all. A Princeton University psychology graduate, Douglas Merrill has also published a book going beyond the realms of his role of technology head at Google.

Merrill, who played an important role in bringing Google to its IPO, quit in April 2008 to go first to EMI and later started ZestCash.com, a financial services technology, and was listed in the Forbes' Names You Need to Know in 2011.

Chris C. Kemp, former and first CTO, NASA

Current Profile: Founder and CEO of Nebula, Inc.; 2011

Chris Kemp

The first-ever CTO of NASA, Chris Kemp started his career when he founded Netran, a company that launched the online grocery shopping service during his college days as a computer engineering student at the University of Alabama. At 21, he sold his existing startup to join Classmates.com as its Chief Architect.

In 2002, he started another company called Escapia, a portal used to rent beach houses online. He joined NASA in 2006 and helped his organization form strategic partnerships with Google and Microsoft.

In 2010, he became the first CTO to be appointed in the history of NASA. He quit NASA in 2011 to lead as the founder and CEO of Nebula, Inc., a cloud computing company that offers an Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) private cloud system.

Raymie Stata, former CTO, Yahoo!

Raymie Stata
Current Profile: CEO of VertiCloud; 2012

He calls himself the Jack of all Trades on his LinkedIn profile.

MIT alumnus Raymie Stata found Stata Labs, a maker of search-based e-mail client in 2003 which he later sold to Yahoo a year later.

As Yahoo's CTO, he helped the company built its technology strategy and drive projects such as Hadoop. At present, Stata is CEO of VertiCloud, a startup offering a cloud-hosted platform for "Big Data" processing.

Aneesh Chopra, former first CTO, United States Government

Aneesh Chopra
Current Profile: Running for Office from Virginia

Thanks to President Barack Obama, Aneesh Chopra went on to become the first CTO appointed by the US Government in 2009.

Why? Because the U.S federal government saw themselves relying heavily on technology, which led Obama outline responsibilities for Chopra from job creation, innovation and protecting the homeland.

From helping design the National Wireless Initiative to establishing internet policy principles, Chopra has done it all.

All of 40, Chopra quit the position in January 2012 and set out to pursue a greater dream of running for office from his home state Virginia.

Greg Pass, Former CTO, Twitter

Current Profile: Founding Entrepreneurial Officer, Cornell University, 2012

Greg Pass

Greg Pass was the co-founder and CTO of Summize, a real-time search engine acquired by Twitter in 2008. He then went on to acquire the top post in Twitter. After nestling Twitter for three years as the CTO and VP of Engineering, Pass is the only technologist who hasn't founded his own start-up yet again.

Instead, he has accepted the position of the founding entrepreneurial officer position at Cornell University. After Pass's departure, Twitter hasn't yet filled in the company's CTO position.

While some CTOs have gone back to starting their own companies, others have gone beyond the scope of their roles, indulging in a multitude of professions. There's nothing limiting the scope of a CTO role, after all.

This story, "Where Execs Go When They Walk" was originally published by Computerworld.

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