Even though Thomas majored in Liberal Arts and Communications at Syracuse University, engineers were in such demand at that time that college graduates with non-technical degrees could be hired by passing a 2 hour technical exam.
Thomas passed the test and was hired as a junior engineer building prototypes of potential Siliconix products in 1978. It was an exciting time in Silicon Valley!
Intel Corp was also booming and growing.Thomas was hired to provide technical marketing support for Intel’s memory products division and was called upon to travel to Intel’s customers to present new products and support the sales team.
He attracted the attention of the Sales Regional Manager from New York and was moved to New York City from California in 1981 to “try out” sales.
It turned out that there wasn’t a big market for semiconductor chips in New York City but instead what was in demand was technology to support the booming, newly deregulated options and derivatives trading desks where securities needed to be “marked to market” in real time.
Thomas was hired by a small mini computer company called Stratus. The computer was fast, flexible and fault tolerant and quickly became a hit on Wall Street. Financial firms replaced aging mainframe based pricing systems such as Quotron with the fast and reliable Stratus machines. Times were good!
Thomas prospered along with Stratus and he married, moved to New Jersey and had two kids.
Another technology that was catching interest on Wall Street was object oriented programming.
One of the first companies to embrace this new technology was NeXT Computers, the UNIX-based workstation created by Steve Jobs when he was fired from Apple. Along with other innovations, NeXT delivered a stunning visual environment and networking capability that enabled the first Internet browser created by Tim Berners-Lee at CERN in Switzerland.
Thomas was recruited by NeXT to open a sales office in New York City. Thomas grew that office to over 25 sales and technical support staff and was responsible for half of NeXT’s overall global revenue in 1991.
One fact that not many know is that the Unix kernel developed for NeXT became OS/X when Steve returned back to Apple.
In 1996, Thomas joined a start-up consulting firm named Silicon Valley Internet Partners (SVIP) created to bring expertise to the rapidly growing online, ecommerce markets beginning to take shape. Thomas sold services to a wide variety of companies in financial services, telecommunications, retail, and pharma sectors.
One of the more interesting ventures was an online music service called Sputnik, the first music service based on broadband Internet connectivity in existence at the time.
SVIP changed its name to Viant and was taken public by Goldman Sachs in 1999 raising $180M. Unfortunately the company lost traction as the market declined in the early 2000’s and Thomas moved on to independently advise start-up firms and their VC investors on best practices for business development in a startup environment.
Thomas worked with several early stage companies such as Global Logic, a startup that became a leading offshore development firm, and VFinity, a startup focused on digital asset management.
Thomas returned to California in 2009 and joined North Plains, a leading provider of digital asset management software for Fortune 500 enterprises. Except for a two year stint at rival ADAM Software, Thomas remained at North Plains until 2017.
Today Thomas lives in Topanga, California, enjoys hiking and cooking and is looking for the next project!Go back to the homepage