Thursday, July 28, 2005

The Ultimate Tinkerer

My friend, Peter, is the ultimate tinkerer in my circle of friends. I met him through my close friend, Jimmy, and then we meshed to do two startups together. The first was a video-on-demand company, ViewPlus, and the second was HeyAnita Korea. Peter was CTO of both companies.

Peter has a degree in electrical engineering and a masters in computer engineering, and he doesn't have deep experience in either one. What always amazed Jimmy, myself, and the engineers that he worked with was the wide range of his technical knowledge (i.e. programming, electronics, wireless, automotive engineering), relative depth in each field, and the ability to operate comfortably in most spaces.

If there was an example of modeling between father and child, it would be between Peter and his father. Professor Chang studied electrical engineering through his masters and then received his Ph.D. in physics. He was president of Ssangyong Computer, headed Korea's NASA (Korea Aerospace Research Institute), and then went off to start a company based on his invention, a torque sensor for cars. The auto engineers at Hyundai couldn't believe a physics professor invented a torque sensor that improves the inefficiencies in gear shifting until he integrated it into one of their cars as proof. They were stunned.

Like his father, Peter is always in a tinkerer mode. For a while, at least once a week, he would bring up an idea to bounce off or be working on some new thing. Every few months, Jimmy and I would laugh at his sheer intelligence and ability to innovate. I posted a little while ago that Jimmy and Peter are now leading the company I helped out during my last months in Seoul.

Anyway, Jimmy calls me up yesterday and tells me the latest story. They ran into some delays with their OEM partner for touchscreen PDPs (Plasma Display Panel) in Japan. So Peter takes a look at a PDP in their office, thinks about it, and says he can build one. And that he can build a better one based on a better technology, so he's working on it now. Jimmy and I started to laugh. The strength of Peter's technical knowledge and skills were confirmed to us once again.

Look forward to doing another startup with Jimmy and Peter a few years from now. Hopefully within a decade :)

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