Things have been busy behind the scenes at Mycroft this summer. We are happy to announce that Steve Penrod is joining the organization as CTO! He brings years of experience in technology development and startups to the team, as well as some interesting voice technology (more on that in a future post). You can read about how this came about in his intro letter below. Meanwhile, Ryan Sipes has decided to move on to other open source projects. Thank you for all you’ve done, Ryan, and best of luck!
I’d like to introduce myself to the Mycroft community. My name is Steve Penrod, and as of last week I’ve come into the Mycroft organization as the CTO via a merger between my company and Mycroft. Now that I’ve given you the tl;dr version, let me back up a little…
After wrapping up my run at my previous startup, during the summer of 2014 I was struck by the maturation of several key technologies. After prototyping and validating some of my beliefs I began developing a natural-language, conversational voice interface built using single-board computers (sound familiar?). I’ve been doing this in Kansas City and operating in stealth mode until this spring. At that time I began reaching out to potential partners and was asked how I was related to Mycroft, since surely we know each other given the geographic and technological coincidence. But before April we’d never heard of the other.
Soon after this a meeting was arranged and Josh and Ryan met me for coffee. We had a great conversation, sharing our design ideas and goals. The next week I visited the Mycroft offices and attended their Techstars Demo Day debut. But we each had slightly different views of how to bring our idea to the world (I was pursuing partnerships with some large organizations whose names you likely know) and briefly fell off of each other’s radar.
Fast forward a few months and a few product announcements, and Ryan reached out and asked if I would come back to Lawrence to chat. He proposed the idea of us joining forces and after some pondering the idea began to grow on me. At the start of July I began to hang out at the Mycroft offices as an observer and adviser. I demo’ed the system I’d created and freely shared many of the thoughts and philosophies behind my efforts within the team. I got to know the Mycroft internal team and began to follow and occasionally jump in on the Mycroft community discussions. I really enjoyed the experience and I saw some great potential — there were certainly overlaps, but more importantly there were lots of unique strengths.
I worked with everyone at Mycroft to craft merger agreement and a structure we all liked so we could move forward. I’ve been in technology product development for over 25 years and love building teams to harness new technologies. My original intention was to free Ryan of the CTO duties so he could focus on the Mycroft evangelization and community-building that he loves and excels at. However — as you may have read already — he has decided to take this opportunity to pursue other passions and help other projects. I am grateful to Ryan for all of his efforts in getting Mycroft rolling and promise to do my best to honor the vision he helped build.
The curious can read about my professional background on LinkedIn.
I’m looking forward to bringing Mycroft to the world with you!