Rodenstein. Yeah it’s kinda long, I know. I’ve been called R2, R square, and my favorite, “The Roadshow” (learn why on my personal blog).
I was born in Buenos Aires, ate sand on the beach in Rio as a toddler, spent almost ten years in Mexico City with a few in Germany mixed in (before the Wall fell). I finished high school in Fort Lee and Tenafly, NJ just outside NYC. Call me a nomad, call me a citizen of the world, and whatever you do call me a startup guy- founder, advisor, mentor. I’ve been closely involved with a number of startups and have lived through the whole cycle on a couple, which leads us to…
Currently director of business planning at AOL in the Local group, after they acquired my company Going in June ’09. Going innovated in the local and events spaces by emphasizing User-generated Content for our event listings, event photos and other content by putting powerful promotional tools such as RSVP/Guestlist management and Ticketing in the hands of venue owners, event promoters, and artists. We also explored social networking and dating in the context of our real-world events, getting people off the computer and actually meeting each other f2f.
I co-founded Going (Crunchbase) with @geoffmenegay and Rebecca Xiong and was the CEO the first two years, from bootstrap to incorporation, seed funding, product launch and adoption in Boston/New York/San Francisco, team building, and Series A from Highland Capital and General Catalyst. With the fearless @evanschumacher at the helm, I continued as board director leading product development (product management and engineering/ops), online marketing and analytics, content/editorial, and working closely with our bizdev and sales leads, managing about 15 full-time and 50 part-time regional staff across our local markets. Going grew to approx. 1M registered users, 15M monthly page views, about 5M unique visitors from ’07-09 (1M monthly), with revenue traction in ticketing, self-service ads, and national brand ad sales with Virgin America, Miller, Bacardi, Live Nation, JetBlue, BMW and others.
Prior to Going (prototyped as HeyLetsGo) I was at IBM in their Information Integration division after they acquired iPhrase, a natural-language search engine startup where I ran multiple business lines with ~$10M annual revenue. At iPhrase I was director of product management and product marketing, heavily involved in sales & bizdev to our customers such as Radio Shack, Royal Caribbean, Staples, Radio Shack, Charles Schwab and Neiman Marcus with search & navigation solutions for their websites, intranets, and customer service centers.
Prior to iPhrase I was an MIT PhD dropout did a master’s in the Sociable Media Group at the MIT Media Lab as an NSF fellow, where we developed a lot of the technologies that eventually became Instant Messaging, Social Networking, etc. Before that I did undergrad and master’s at Georgia Tech in computer science, working on Augmented Reality and UI toolkits. I also worked at some leading Human-Computer Interaction research labs (Xerox PARC, AT&T Labs) and have published about ten papers in the international journals and conferences on usability (CHI, UIST, CSCW) as well as an invited reviewer. Long ago I was a sysadmin for Simon & Schuster/Viacom’s early web presence.
I’ve been interviewed or covered by VentureBeat, Read/Write Web, TechCrunch, Mashable, CIO Magazine, CRM Daily, Mass High Tech, Transform Magazine, Support Industry Magazine, ComputerWorld, KM World and others.
First Entrepreneurship: Germany, age 12, where I set up a short-lived bratwurst grill business. Learned about COGS and margins, and that the latter are low in the restaurant biz.
First Hack: Age 7, Mexico City. My parents enrolled me at the Instituto Galileo, where I learned Karel the Robot, BASIC, and PEEK/POKE animations. I had a Commodore 16 (not a typo), with no external storage. I had to write down my programs by hand and retype them each time I turned it on.
First Language: Spanish. I dabble in French/Italian/German/Portuguese. Now learning Russian, which is rough but fun. I’ve traveled to about 30 countries. One time a friend asked how many stamps I have on my passport, I thought for a second and said “I’m not sure, I only have a couple here, my older ones are in NY.” Helping improve education and international cooperation are among my longer-term interests.
First Teaching: I taught for three years as an undergrad, and was head TA for the first Java course at Georgia Tech, in 1996.
First Influences: My dad was in R&D in the food business (Coke, Unilever, UN) and my mom is an art historian/curator/professor around the world, which might explain my mutual interest in sci-tech and humanities. Besides technology, I love movies and did reviews for the MIT paper. I play a bit of tennis, and played JV basketball. I live for the spice- wasabi, I mean sushi, shabu-shabu, Mexican (not Tex-mex), Afghani, Malaysian, you name it.