In its latest move to get top technical students to New York and started on new projects, the city’s Cornell campus has named a top technologist to a new position. Greg Pass, the former CTO of Twitter and previously the co-founder of search startup Summize, is now its Founding Entrepreneurial Officer.
I’ll be getting the details on what the hire means when I talk with Dan Huttenlocher, Cornell’s dean for the new campus, later today at TechCrunch Disrupt in New York City.
But I caught up with Pass last weekend, and got some more about what he’s going to be doing. Since the new campus is going to take years to build, he said he’ll be on the ground floor of the organization, among the first handful of people to help plan how it is going to grow.
The program has said it’s aiming to get off to a fast start by moving some Cornell students down to the city as soon as this fall. Another announcement this week made it clear how that is going to happen. Google has agreed to rent the university 22,000 square feet of space out of its offices for the next five and a half years.
In this early stage, Pass will be one of the main public faces, helping to shape the academic program to match what startups need in real life. He’ll also be working with students and faculty to create more ways to reach the larger New York tech community, through things like workshops and hackathons.
Here’s some more about what Pass has done, via this post by top New York investor Fred Wilson:
And the Summize engineering team had a lot to do with that. Greg Pass who was Summize’s co-founder and VP Engineering became Twitter’s engineering leader in the summer of 2008 and has built the team from roughly a dozen to somewhere around ten times that number. In my view, Greg is one of the unsung heroes of the Twitter success story. He brought a calm, steady hand to a ship that was caught in a storm. He got it going in the right direction and headed for calmer waters.
I remember asking Greg during the Summize due diligence what his plan was for stabilizing Twitter. He answered that there was no magic bullet. He said they weren’t going to do one big thing, they were going to do lots of small things. The first thing they did was instrument the hell out of the system, they started measuring everything and finding the bottlenecks, and then they started knocking them down one by one.
Twitter has an entirely new architecture now. But they did not rebuild Twitter, they just replaced one thing at at time and evolved it. They went from a monolithic beast where everything was connected to a distributed set of services that work together but are separate from each other. And that is Greg’s legacy.