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Month: December 2018

Goals for 2019

2018 has been yet another significant milestone for business and personal life. As for business, we just released our first AI-on-chip called HACARUS-X Edge, enabling both learning and inference to be executed on FPGA where a typical deep learning based chip can do only inference.

For those who know a little bit history about ourselves, we started as IoT company initially. We even did a crowdfunding campaign which did not go well, but learnt a lot from it. Thus, the release of above AI-on-chip feels like going back to square one to us.

As for personal life, I and my wife were lucky enough to welcome new family member this year. Nothing makes us happier than inviting new one to our home and live together. We also moved to new place after living in the previous area for more than 5 years, giving us a totally fresh feeling to everyday life.

That being said, the following is a list of goals that I’d like to achieve by the end of 2019.

  • Produce more techno/EDM tracks
    This has been my hobby for the past 30 years. I bought my first synthesizer when I was in high school.
  • Do at least one gig
    Running a startup as full-time CEO is tough business, but it’s not excuse for me that I cannot do a gig. I’m looking forward to do live performance using my own tracks.
  • Write article in English only
    I used to write articles in both Japanese and English. This is my statement of intent going global.
  • Spend more time with family
    Work-life balance is a challenging thing at growing startup. However, a great CEO is always top business man as well as family man.
  • Spend more time outside Japan
    Now, this goal somewhat contradicts above goal. This is required for me to think big and look at the long term.

What’s your goal for 2019?

Difference between CTO and VP of Engineering

This is a consecutive post to Difference Between Co-founder and Founding Member. In fact, the previous post is one of the most read articles on this website indicating many people are constantly looking for the answer to it, which lead me to write this post because I have my own definition between two.

First, I’d like to make my version of concise definition as below.

“CTO is a person who has the most technical knowledge in management team. VP of Engineering is a person who manages engineering team.”

Now, let’s break them into smaller pieces. Amongst many differences between these two types of people, there is a clear distinction in terms of which team in the company he/she belongs to. CTO is considered as a member of management team or often board members. Thus, CTO belongs to the same team to where other C-level people belong including CEO.

On the other hand, VP of Engineering is considered as a member or head of engineering team. Therefore, VP of Engineering belongs to the same team to where other employees belong. Perhaps, there are few startups or companies that appoint VP of Engineering to be a board member.

To make it even clearer, the biggest difference is what these two types of people represent. CTO represents a management team and speaks to employees. VP of Engineering represents an engineering team and speaks to the management team. A direction of communication is completely opposite each other.

More importantly, this is my own perception by the way, CTO was chosen just because he/she happens to be the most technical person in other C-level people. Due to this nature, a language spoken in two parties is also different.

In management team, the official language is business. Everyone in management team talks from business perspective since other C-level people most likely may not understand technical terminologies so that CTO should not use these technical terminologies in board meeting. In engineering team, the official language is of course technical. They are allowed to use any technical terminologies in order to proceed their projects.

A role of CTO is to come up with the means to implement a business decision made by the management team based on outcome from engineering team. A role of VP of Engineering to come up with and experiment the technical solutions toward a problem given by CTO and provide the best possible solution to CTO with reasonable explanation.

Sometimes I happen to encounter a startup lead by young CEO where their CTO is constantly talking about technical details in board meeting. If it’s absolutely necessarily, then it’s okay. But most often, it’s just CTO doing a job of VP of Engineering.

If CTO continues this behavior, then VP of Engineering will start doing a job which people at one level lower are supposed to do. Eventually, the startup will end with paying salary to a whole engineering team where everyone in engineering team is doing a job on which people at one level lower should be working. This is the situation to be avoided, particularly for startup with cash constraint.

Remember, the official language CTO is supposed to use in board meeting is business, not technical. Otherwise, he/she won’t be able to communicate with CEO/CFO/COO/CMO and other C-level people fully. In other words, if VP of Engineering wants to step up to CTO, then he/she must be equipped with some business knowledge at least.