About Chris Thompson
My name is Chris Thompson, this page is about me.
My interests include gadgets, technology, cars, motorcycles, planes, sports, and making a difference in the world – everyday. The most important thing to me is my family, and my relationships with friends, co-workers, and professional acquaintances.
“I studied engineering to learn how the world works. Then I got my MBA to learn how the real world works.”
It took me 12 years, but fortunately I did find my career calling in Product Management. It was an uncertain road at times, and I’ve detailed my journey in the, “Career Life” paragraphs below.
Even at an early age, I’ve always been interested in machines, and pretty much anything that runs on electricity or petroleum. When I was 4 years old, I obsessed on my grandparents’ electric typewriter; hey that was state-of-the-art in the late 1970s! After finishing high school, I wasn’t exactly sure what I wanted to do in college. My dad received his undergrad in engineering, and I too thought engineering would be a great choice. I was working at Lucky’s (what was then part of American Stores), and was becoming motivated to do something else that required more than showing up, hustling, and smiling.
Before finishing college, I landed my first high tech position as a final test engineer at KLA-Tencor. It was great working with multi-million dollar systems (photo below is an AIT first generation!), and it gave me a chance to build out my testing and customer support skills. After college, my first official engineering position was for Lotus, now part of IBM. I started by learning the QA basics, then learned about creating automated test suites and regression tests. I learned all about the software release cycle, managing and checking in code, as well as smoke and acceptance testing. I brought these skills to Legato systems (now EMC) where I was responsible for hardware acceptance testing, and I had a chance to spearhead testing for a revolutionary new enterprise product called Smart Media.
QA is an interesting field with many challenges, but I didn’t see myself making a career out of QA – so I decided to follow my colleagues’ advice and transition to a more customer facing role. I became a Customer Support engineer at Verecomm, which was also my first experience at a start up company. Verecomm was another great learning experience. As I learned our primary product TestExpert, I had a chance to do nearly everything I had done in previous roles, plus I further sharpened my customer support and sales skills. Opportunity stuck again and I was promoted to Sales Engineer after only a year of service. During this time, I most enjoyed learning and working with David Anderson, best known for starting well known test companies like Rational Software and Silicon Valley Networks. After Verecomm ran out of money, my role continued at Lumenare Networks (which later became QuikCycle, then Gale Technologies), the company that purchased Verecomm’s intellectual property. Lumenare did not have the same start up mentality Verecomm did, and I started to consider other opportunities. This brought me to my first management role at StarNet Communications, as Manager of Customer Support.
At StarNet, I could leverage my existing talents, and grow new skills. As a small company, many of us shared responsibilities. Managing the customer support department was actually pretty easy, and I consistently received my bonus for achieving over 90% customer satisfaction. In fact there was not a single month my bonus was in jeopardy, it was simply easier to respect the customer, make them happy, and keep them happy. It was business as usual to setup StarNet’s automated smoke and regression test suites by leveraging my previous knowledge from Lotus and Legato. However, my real enjoyment came from growing my product management understanding. I started by creating road maps for the X-Win32 product and was instantly hooked. During the second half of my time at StarNet, we launched a new product called Recon-X, best known for its ability to suspend X sessions versus crashing and forcing the customer to lose all their work. Another project I’m proud of is creating the first customer knowledge database at StarNet. After my time at StarNet, I wanted to dive further into partner and customer management – but also had a strong interest in Product Management.
My journey led me to Enterprise Learning Management software giant Saba. I spent one year managing our platinum level support customers (IBM, Conocophillips, US Army) and building out an escalation platform that would scale globally. The second half of my time at Saba was rediscovering my sales side as the Global Support Renewal Manager. Saba had let its support renewal channel flounder versus assigning a resource to chase those dollars. As soon as I started the role, we immediately saw a turn around, and support started accounting for major revenue within the company again. It would have been interesting to continue in that role, but a new role at LiveOps came along as Senior Inside Sales Manager. I decided to try my hand at pure sales since I enjoyed it, and others thought it could be my calling. After six months generating in excess of $3M in pipeline for LiveOps, I knew I could do sales, but it was not what I was meant to do.
Since I had just finished my MBA at Santa Clara University, I knew I had options on what my next role would be. I felt I was successful at sales, customer support, management, and QA – but I never felt I found my calling. Now I feel I’ve found my home in Product Management. For me, it’s a role that plays to all my strengths, and let’s me tap into my 15+ years of software experience. I love owning the metrics, whether it be increasing leads, page views per visit, product conversions, or reducing abandonment rate; I truly enjoy the challenge of improving the consumer experience. Some of the tools I use are Omniture, Google (adwords, analytics, web site optimizer), Aptana, Adobe, and Microsoft Office to name a few.
My first product manager role was at REALTOR.COM, as the product manager of consumer experience. I was lucky to work on interesting projects, like integrating Facebook open graph into the registration system. That role lead to me eBay, as senior product manager in charge of the product based experience. Working at eBay was an amazing experience, I learned all the fundamentals of running a highly functional e-commerce site. After a year on the product based experience team, I decided to leave eBay for something that really gave me ownership of an experience. Now I’m at LiveWorld as the product owner of the CRS apps group. Our team is the glue between our customer’s brand and social media sites like Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube. LiveWorld is hands down the best moderation solution to socially position your brand in today’s market, and I’m lucky I get to work with such talented people everyday.
Here is a sample slide deck I created to show the basics of SEO in five minutes. More documentation and training materials are available on request. Click here if you need a Microsoft Power Point viewer.
I’m an amateur division B bowler. I took a bowling class when I was a Senior in college, and it really helped me develop my curve. So far my high game is a
241 278 and I’ve managed to put up several 600 series since starting league at Cambrian bowl in 2008. For the 2011 -2012 season, I’m holding steady at a 175 average.
“One of the most important things to do when spending $10 on a movie is to suspend your disbelief”