Mark Cramer, CEO, founded Surf Canyon with the goal of transforming search from static lists of links into dynamic conversations in which the results move in response to real-time user signals. He has more than 19 years of technology industry experience, from engineer to executive, at companies including Hewlett-Packard in Grenoble, France and several start-ups in the Bay Area, such as Keynote Systems, NexTag and NetGeo, where he was CEO. Mark earned his BS in Electrical Engineering from MIT, where one of his projects included developing a search engine from scratch, and his MBA from Harvard Business School.
Mike Wertheim, Chief Architect, has 21 years of experience in software development in both large corporate environments and small startups. Prior to building Surf Canyon's technology from the ground up, he gained expertise in software development by working with relational databases for nine years as an engineer at Sybase. Mike also spent three years working at Linkify as Chief Architect of an innovative, high-performance content management and project collaboration system. He contributed as a content reviewer on the book "Bitter EJB," published by Manning Publications in 2003. Mike has a BS in Computer Engineering from Carnegie Mellon.
Jonathan Abrams is the founder and CEO of Socializr, an online service for sharing event and party information with friends. He was also the creator of the pioneering social network Friendster in 2002. Previously, he founded bookmarking community HotLinks, and worked as a software engineer at companies such as Netscape and Nortel. He is the co-owner of San Francisco's new modern speakeasy Slide, and an investor in Vintage 415's restaurant Mamacita. Jonathan has also co-hosted parties in San Francisco with organizations such as GenArt, Hands on Bay Area, Delicious Karma, Mixed Elements, Donovan, and Martel & Nabiel. He is a member of the advisory board of the Silicon Valley Association of Startup Entrepreneurs and has been extensively involved in the Silicon Valley entrepreneurial community, including past roles such as co-chair of the SDForum Venture Finance SIG. He's been a judge for the Stanford Entrepreneur's Challenge business plan contest, the UC Berkeley Business Plan Competition, and the Stanford-Berkeley Innovators' Challenge. Jonathan holds an Honors BS in Computer Science from McMaster University, which he received after flunking out of engineering school.
Bryan Finkel, Managing Director of Greenwich Venture Management, has over 25 years of investment banking and operational consulting experience in the information technology and financial services sectors. Recent client engagements include the development of lead generation and call center analytics for a major student loan consolidator and the design of a multi-retailer loyalty incentive program for a $20 billion oil company. Prior to GVM, Bryan ran two venture funds for Advanta (Nasdaq: ADVNB), where he reported to the Office of the Chairman. Earlier in his career he was a Senior Associate at Broadview Associates where he participated in the valuation and sale of Iris Associates (creator of Lotus Notes!) and the venture round for Checkpoint Technologies (Nasdaq: CKPT). Prior to Broadview he founded a manufacturer of scientific computing products for movie special effects and communications. Bryan earned his MS and BS in Electrical Engineering from MIT, and his MBA from Stanford. He recently stepped down after ten years as Chairman of the MIT Enterprise Forum of NYC and continues to advise a wide variety of private companies.
Erik Freed has been active in the computer industry for over two decades, comfortably switching between multitudes of demanding roles. He has at various times been a hardware/software engineer, architect, consultant, writer, manager, executive, board member, spokesman, and founder. He is currently the principal at CoDecision, specializing in CTO level consulting to startups. Erik studied Math, Physics and Music at Yale University.
Dan Martin works with The Trust for Public Land as a project manager on the Sierra Team, where he purchases land from ranchers and timber companies to create or expand parks in the region. He is on the Campaign Committee for the Northern Sierra Partnership and is a Board Member of Sempervirens Fund. Prior to his work in land conservation, Dan served as Vice President of Business Development at HomeGain, Inc., where he led online marketing efforts that brought approximately 5 million unique visitors per month to the company's website. Today Dan advises start-up companies in the software, internet, energy efficiency, and real estate space on all phases of raising capital, marketing, and business development.
Sam Shank, Founder of DealBase.com, the planet's largest hotel deals site. Previously, Sam was responsible for distribution partnerships at SideStep.com, as well as the general management of TravelPost.com, SideStep's travel and hotel reviews community and user-generated content platform. Sam founded TravelPost.com in 2004 and was CEO until the company's acquisition in October 2006. Prior to starting TravelPost.com, Sam spent 10 years in the consumer Internet industry, including leadership roles in business development and product management at NexTag, Excite, CNET and Oracle. At NexTag, Sam launched and managed the Electronics and Small Sellers categories. In his spare time, Sam operates Your24.com travel and city guides, reflecting his passion for visiting new places. Sam holds a Masters in Business Administration from the J.L. Kellogg School of Management, where he received the Entrepreneurial Studies award, and a BA in English from the University of Virginia.
ChengXiang Zhai is an Associate Professor of Computer Science at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He received his Ph.D. in Computer Science from Nanjing University in 1990 and another Ph.D. in Language and Information Technologies from Carnegie Mellon in 2002. His research interests include information retrieval, text mining, natural language processing, machine learning and bioinformatics, and he has published over 100 papers in major conferences and journals in these areas, including five award papers. He is an Associate Editor of ACM Transactions on Information Systems and Information Processing and Management, and serves on the editorial board of the Information Retrieval Journal. He is a program co-chair of ACM CIKM 2004 , NAACL HLT 2007, and ACM SIGIR 2009. He is an ACM Distinguished Scientist and has received many awards, including the 2004 Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE), the 2008 Alfred P. Sloan Research Fellowship, the 2007 Microsoft Beyond Search - Semantic Computing and Internet Economics Award, the 2009 IBM Faculty Award, the 2010 UIUC Rose Award for Teaching Excellence and the 2011 HP Innovation Research Award.