Wednesday, August 29, 2007

New CEO for Ambient Devices: Carl Yankowski, formerly CEO at Palm Computing

I've been a fan of Ambient Devices' well-designed info displays since founder David Rose first told me about the concept: liberating information from the PC screen. (I wrote about them in Wired in 2002 and the Globe earlier that year.)

But I was surprised to learn this afternoon that Carl Yankowski, formerly president of Sony Electronics and CEO of both Palm Computing and Reebok, has joined the small Cambridge start-up. (Yankowski had also been part of the interview process for the directorship of MIT's Media Lab; interestingly, Media Lab founder Nicholas Negroponte is a board member at Ambient.) He's got big goals for the company: a $200 million market cap within five years.

Carl's Wikipedia and LinkedIn profiles reflect his new gig, which he started earlier this month.

Ambient's newest product, the Ambient Umbrella, was featured on 'Good Morning America' last month. The handle lights up based on the weather forecast, to let you know when you should take the umbrella with you.

Update: ex-Ambient exec Nabeel Hyatt has some commentary on Yankowski's hiring on his blog. Nabeel writes:

    An outside CEO is usually brought in for one of two reasons:

    a) Holy shit, this startup is totally screwed, let's fire someone so we can blame it on him. You see this frequently, with the recent exit of Dave Sifry at Technorati as a good example.

    b) Holy shit, this startup isn't a startup anymore, and the current challenges require someone entirely different. There are a host of examples here as well, such as Google.

He says that Ambient hiring Yankowski is "clearly Scenario B."

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hyatt is right. The founding team did a good job taking the company from a cute MIT concept to a seriously functioning operation. But now, with revenues this year in the eight figures, they needed someone with a different skill set to take it to the next level. Keep your eye on these guys.

January 4, 2008 6:34 PM  

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