Breakfast with Dr. Simonyi

Breakfast with Dr. Simonyi

It is not often that you get a chance to meet some incredibly gifted people. It is even more rare if that person is highly accomplished (as in being a billionaire). And it never happens that the same person also just got back from space.

Well, today was my lucky day.

Seattle is the mecca of the US wireless industry and is extraordinarily beautiful, so it makes it a fun place to live. It also has its good share of famous people in the field of science and technology.

Puget Sound Business Journal organized a breakfast meeting with Dr. Charles Simonyi – CEO of Intentional Software and participant in the Soyuz TMA-10 mission to the International Space Station in April 2007. I sat there listening to him in awe of someone who has accomplished so much but is so down-to-earth and very accessible. His recounting of his space experience was just out of this world (you can catch-up on it here in case you haven’t kept track). He talked about his dream as a child when he met the Russian legendary astronaut Popovich who signed a card for him which he kept and took to the space station and after 44 years (from the initial meeting) met with his guiding light back on earth.

He talked about Bill Gates and Microsoft. He referred to a Russian proverb which means “with patience and hard work, everything can be grounded” and that he believes is the mantra that Bill adheres to. The lesson he learned from Microsoft was that Profitability is not a natural state so one has to work hard at it.

He talked about his startup “Intentional Software” which is attempting to make things simple for the various industries. The first industry he is tackling is pensions in concert with Cap Gemini. I asked him about the prospect of applying his “problem language” methodologies to mobile. He said, of course, telco is complicated and UI is complicated and we can use this to solve and make things much simpler. They have built some demo for the same. The idea is to let SMEs be SMEs and programmers be programmers and not mix the two. Now, that will be very logical.

He talked at length about the experience of Space travel and he thinks that civilian space travel will be a common place in his lifetime. Charles is also very funny. To the question of him not being too involved with his foundation lately, he quipped, “I was out of town”.