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Drew Banks Prezumé
Transcript of Drew Banks Prezumé
BS CSC, BS EE
"Sparkles with unexpected insights.
In short, as useful as it is fascinating."
Beyond Spin examines this challenging transition underscoring the difficulty and complexity of switching from time-intensive controlled spin to instantaneous, unabridged honesty.
– Alden Mudge, Communication World
Customer. Community explores integrating virtual community practices within customer service strategies. Most e-community profitability analyses have focused on monetizing communities within affinity groups that have formed around shared, non-commerce interests. This has resulted in a perception that virtual communities are antithetical to business profit.
"A well written, easy to understand guide to the world of the Internet and business. I am quite impressed with this book."
– Joanne Tillman, Telecomworldwire
Able Was I
In 1985, 24-year-old Grey Tigrett happens upon the island of Elba where he recedes into an emotional exile. Fourteen years later, three pivotal events shatter his asylum, revealing to him whether Elba was his downfall or will be his savior.
"... a lyrical, almost poetic novel ...
– Frank Stasio, WUNC NPR correspondent
Ere I Saw Elba
August 17, 1944. Following Brigitte Sureau's release from a Nazi internment camp near Paris, the reunited Sureaus become France's postwar standard for reconciliation. This notoriety veils the family's quiet disintegration. Fifty years later, a chance encounter exposes
fact from fiction.
"Vivid characters and an discerning eye for psychological detail make this a fascinating read."
– Eliot Schrefer, author of
IT / Communications
Editorial & Community
Special Services for Children
A few years back two colleagues were debating America’s entrepreneurial spirit when Joanne (white) said, “My mother always told me the world was my oyster, that I could do and be whatever I wanted if I worked hard enough.” Christian (black) replied, “My mother told me every door open to me would need to be kicked in.”
A friendship kindled and the story seeped into our company folklore as an example of different cultural perspectives. I believe it wasn’t difference but similarity that sparked the initial camaraderie. A similarity that is utterly American—a lens that, like parental advice, is tinted by experience. Mine is that of a white middle-class Southerner raised in a suburb unabashedly named Whitehaven. No kidding.
In the spring of 1951—the year Lucy met Ricky, Anna first danced on Broadway with the King of Siam, and Ethel and Julius Rosenberg were sentenced to death by electrocution—my parents had a blind date. A drive-in movie. He had returned to Raleigh from California’s Gold Coast where he was studying the up-and-coming field of aeronautical engineering. She had fled her coastal hometown of Wrightsville Beach to the state’s capital to start a new life. It was postwar America; anything could happen.
While my parents courted, America was coming of age. She was no longer a graceless debutante on the world stage but had shed her subservient colonial heritage and boasting industrial and military brawn, demanded attention. Nouveau riche, she now flaunted herself draped in garish iron and steel, and unlike other newcomers, didn’t bow with deference nor speak in hushed tones. From afar we were shrill and crass but up close there was something disarming about our naïve self-assuredness.
On May 17, 1961, I was born in High Point, North Carolina, a city that would become known as the furniture capital of the world. Exactly seven years prior, the Supreme Court issued its landmark Brown v. Board of Education desegregation ruling. Exactly eight days later, President John F. Kennedy told the world that within a decade America would put a man on the moon. We did just that.
That August the Berlin Wall was erected. When we did not recant our Western decadence, our novelty waned. In those early ‘60s, through the Bay of Pigs, Kennedy’s assassination, and the Vietnam War, while I was searching for my first words, my parents were searching for a place to call home.
Is there such a thing as a typical American family? We were certainly one type well represented in the pages of Williams and Welty. My father was from a named family that alas, came with no money to speak of. But in the South ancestry is more valuable than gold. Smitten by our roots, my grandmother traced our genealogy back to England’s Corfe Castle which kinswoman Lady Bankes once defended by tossing hot embers onto would-be attackers. She was destined for American lineage.
By contrast, my mother’s family was working-class Irish, her father a fisherman. In the backyard of her childhood home, he designed and built a commercial fishing boat that he captained throughout his life to support his family of seven. She was the youngest by five years—a child of love.
My parents traded their happiness for our American Dream. They aspired, to exhaustion. Between twelve moves and five pregnancies, my mother took correspondence courses to further herself. She did more than yearn for our better life; she forged it through sheer will.
We landed in Memphis. The Mississippi, King Cotton, Beale Street, Elvis Presley—it was a quintessential American city. I hated it; we all did. Not for its Americanness but for reasons too long to list even if I understood them. When I was a boy, the National Guard was called in three times. Twice for civil service strikes—sanitation workers, firemen—and again after Martin Luther King’s assassination. The city stank, burned, and wept. Such was the lore of my youth.
In 1969, the year Woodstock raged, my mother secured a job as an executive secretary for Malone & Hyde Corporation, a family-owned grocery business turned multi-billion dollar conglomerate. She served three successive generations of Hydes and got her American Dream. So did I. With the Hydes’ influence came Memphis University School, an exclusive prep school where I took courses the likes of Philosophy of Religion and Utopian Satire. The year I entered this educational elite, Nixon resigned; the year after I graduated, Reagan won. In between we had survived the energy crisis, our first post-industrial recession, and disco.
From prep school, a privilege for which my mother had kicked down a few doors, the world would indeed become my oyster. In the ‘80s I did many oysterish things like switching majors willy-nilly to the uncertain field of computer science, running off for a requisite two-year stint in the New York arts scene, and bringing a black girlfriend home a month after coming out as gay to my family. It was the land of Contra-funding milk and S&L honey. But not enough to protect a young teacher in her quest for the stars or battle a new strange disease called AIDS.
Then I grew up. After my third graduation ceremony in a decade, one where cancer patient and former senator Paul Tsongas spoke of the rising tide of democracy, I drove across the country with my dad to see America. On this three-week trip our car was stolen, I met my life partner, protesting students were squelched in Tiananmen Square, and I almost hit a buffalo. It was a very American journey. That November the Berlin Wall was toppled.
Two years later I moved to DC just long enough for disillusion. While I was there, Paul Tsongas, in remission, ran for the Democratic presidential nomination but was beaten by yet another Southern intellectual. I ignored the political upheaval around me and charged ahead with my future atop a Silicon Valley tsunami. We thought we were saving the world with computer visualization. Forget that people used our supercomputers to design bombs and that we sold a few to the Far and Middle East. We also sold to Mexico; maybe they could visualize a more valuable peso. In 1997 Paul Tsongas died. Trying.
On the eve of the third millennium, as the Eiffel Tower twinkled and London’s Eye twitched, I celebrated in San Francisco as a first-time published author with a just-renovated Victorian. Soon after, when the dotcom bubble burst, I got drenched. My life partner walked out of our future, and I took off to see the world. In my travels I have never been met with hostility except from other Americans when I dared question America. Does the world hate Americans or does the world hate America? The world doesn’t hate. Especially up close over a bottle of red wine.
These days I’m grappling with what I call a second coming of age, mid-life crisis to others. I’ve succeeded in my chosen career; now I’m reinventing myself, starting my own business, and writing in genres totally foreign to me. I think I can have it all, and maybe I can. I don’t mean to sound insolent; I appreciate what it has taken to get here. In fact, I would not have it any other way.
We Americans believe that achievement through struggle is where it’s at. It’s good for the soul and society. Though the zeal fades over time, the good-life entitlement of both excluded and entrenched bloodlines, the sentiment still runs deep. It’s the unifying American theory. Even those who forever disagree, agree on this. Liberals fight to lay a foundation where achievement is possible for any American, and conservatives fight to maintain an incentive structure so that the achievement is worth the struggle. We all respect hard work and aren’t particularly impressed by things that come easy.
Consider other American characteristics. Our good ones: confidence, creativity, candor, and our bad: arrogance, aggression, anti-intellectualism, all stem from this admiration for blazing our own trails. Our heroes—Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther King Jr., Eleanor Roosevelt—are people who persevered.
Like me, America is facing a second coming of age or mid-life crisis. She has fought for and won her Manifest Destiny, triumphing over the Depression, industrialization, and many wars in the name of democracy. She’s made it through Y2K and has been rocked to her core by 9/11. Now terrorism, disease, and poverty are encroaching, along with disbelief, envy, and yes, hatred. From the world, no, rather from individuals blighted by pain. In our unilateralism, can we turn a blind eye to global need while tightening our grip on the global marketplace? All charity begins at home. But with national boundaries eroding, where is home, what is all, and can we have it? Are we reinventing America, and if so, as what? The world leader, arbiter of global truth, all for one, and one for all? Whatever her destiny, it is no longer manifest. As we stand upon the threshold of tomorrow, I strive to keep aflame that American spirit within myself and pray that for guidance we look back, as well as forward. If we persevere, the world may once again become our oyster.
1967-1979: I grew up in Memphis, when Beale Street was still dilapidated and authentic, and Elvis was frequently spotted around town donning his karate outfit.
I went to high school at MUS.
1979-1985: Both of my parents are from North Carolina, so going to NCSU I got to know my extended family and this beautiful state from the Blue Ridge Parkway to the Outer Banks.
During summers, I worked at SAS Institute.
1986-1987: I moved to NYC after college to explore the arts scene and public service. During these years, Times Square was overrun with peep shows and the twin towers dominated the Lower Manhattan skyline.
1987-1989: From the infinite corridor to the Media Lab to Noam Chomsky's provocative lectures and Isaac Asimov sightings on campus, MIT was everything it was cracked up to be.
1989-2013: From a humble flat in a desolate, industrial neighborhood that was beginning to be known as SOMA, I started my career. I then founded a company, wrote a few books, and got married. I made San Francisco home.
Able Was I
Ere I Saw Elba
In 2014, I relocated to Hungary for a year to extend Prezi's global reach. Budapest bustles with surprising grandeur and, like Silicon Valley, is becoming a European hub of innovation.
Marketing, Sales, Support
System and Method for Automatic Configuration and Management of Home Network Devices Using a Hierarchical Index Model
System and Method for Automatic Configuration and Management of Home Network Devices
It reminds me of Zora Neale Hurston's
Their Eyes Were Watching God
2012 National Book Award finalist, YPL
In 1980, SAS was a young start-up founded by NCSU statistics professor Jim Goodnight. It was my first foray into technology. During my college years, I worked there multiple summers as a QA intern, a job that included testing Dr. Goodnight's own code and reporting his bugs directly to him.
While at MIT, I did my summer internship at SGI and was hooked. I returned after school and ended up working from 1989-1999. During these years, SGI led the global revolution in computer visualization and it was therefore a fascinating place to launch one's career.
My decade at SGI spanned the formative years of the Internet, which provided the right place at the right time for a hybrid IT / communications guy, especially with Jim Clark—SGI's founder and then chairman—roaming the halls and mulling over what would soon become Netscape.
My accomplishments over these years included spearheading SGI's groundbreaking intranet, Silicon Junction, and developing a journalistic model to underpin SGI's internal communications—both detailed in my first business book,
ThirdAge Media was one of the many demographic community sites that were conceived in the dotcom bubble.
I was hired to head up content and community and overcome the challenge of creating a strong affinity between the users, many of whom didn't want to self-identify as part of this demographic (ThirdAge targeted baby boomers who didn't want to acknowledge they were getting older).
I documented many of the ideas I developed in my second book,
Prezi has rekindled my love for visual communications.
As Head of Marketing from 2011-2013, I built the marketing, sales, and support organizations from scratch and helped grow Prezi's user base from just over a million to well over 30 million. My leadership over these often disparate organizations enabled some of my core entrepreneurial biases: a flat, efficient organization structure; holistic goals and metrics; fast, decisive execution; and the elevation of customer evangelism as a primary promotional strategy for all outbound activities.
Currently, as Head of International, I identify opportunities for global expansion and tailor my integrated marketing/sales/support approach to address key markets.
At NYC's Special Services for Children (now called Administration of Childrens' Services), I integrated and maintained a tracking system that monitored child abuse reports throughout New York's five boroughs.
I went to NCSU to study architecture but an introductory course in logic redirected me to Computer Science. I took additional physics, math, and electrical engineering courses because I was fascinated with the emerging field of AI / robotics.
When I decided to go to business school, MIT was the first campus I visited. I looked no further. I couldn't put it into words then but now I know there was something about MIT's cross-section of technology, business, design, and communications / linguistics that attracted me.
I broadened my MIT experience by taking my 2nd-yr marketing classes at Harvard, and graduated with concentrations in MIS, Corporate Strategy, and Technological Innovation.
Driving Competitive Advantage throught a Sophisticated
IT infrastructure: A look at Federal Express and UPS.
Easy as Pie—that’s the tag line I created for Pie Digital, a company two friends and I started with a singular goal: to simplify home networking. The engineering complexity of this problem appealed me. Still does. On the other hand, the business complexity of developing an integrated consumer electronics / enterprise software ecosystem requiring a route to market through a Telco or CE retail distribution partner was another thing altogether.
After five years of pounding on seemingly every VC door on Sand Hill Road, we finally closed a $10M Series A in September 2008, a week before the Lehman crisis. As of February, 2014, our initial patents have been approved and the company has launched its first product, TotalTechHero.
As a founder, I did bit of everything, but my official title was President and COO. I also sat on the board. In late 2010, I left Pie and joined Prezi.
My years at Pie taught me more about business than MIT, Harvard,
and all my previous jobs combined—fodder for my next book.
Note: My degree is actually a Masters of Science, or S.M.—short for the Latin: Scientiae Magister (so very MIT).
Note: SAS is now one of the world's largest privately owned software companies, and rumor has it Dr. Goodnight, who is still CEO, still codes.
In 2001, I wrote "Shucking Oysters" for a national essay contest on the topic of "America in the new millennium."