Jon Hirschtick Looks Ahead

I was pleasantly surprised to hear that Jon Hirschtick has put together his SolidWorks team to start something new. Today I had a chat with him on his future plans and few other things. Although he didn’t reveal much I did get a better sense of where he was coming from.

Deelip: So I hear you are cooking something new.

Jon: Yeah, we have got a great team of friends together. They are among the finest people I’ve had the chance to work with before. We have decided to do something in the product development space. We are just getting started. We don’t even have an office yet. You won’t hear much from us for a very long time. And that can be a year to years. We haven’t written a single line of code. All I can say is that if anyone thinks they are among the best programmers in the world, they can give us a call. They don’t need to know a thing about product development. Basically, we are looking for the kind of people who are the top programmers at companies like Google and Amazon.

Deelip: What drove you to do this?

Jon: Well, I got to a point in my life where I started wondering “What do I want to do?” And I realized that I wanted to be in a small team once again. I had a wonderful run in a big company. But I wanted to create again. The kind of person I am I like to create in a small group. I actually took an online class at Berkeley on Computer Science.

Deelip: Really? What made you do that?

Jon: I wanted to learn about modern technology. I have been programming for 37 years now. I have seen a lot of discontinuities in technology. Some are little changes while other changes are significant. I believe we are at a point where things are changing significantly.

Deelip: I’m assuming that cloud computing has something to do with it.

Jon: The cloud is only part of it. There is a whole new world of programming tools that open up some very interesting possibilities.

Deelip: Knowing the kind of person you are I’m assuming whatever you guys come up with is going to be path breaking.

Jon: I don’t know about path breaking. I do know that it going to be a result of some hard work on our part. You see, the computer doesn’t know it is us. It doesn’t say, “Hey this is Jon Hirschtick from SolidWorks. So I’m going to start doing better things”. It doesn’t work that way.

Deelip: I wonder if you would like to talk about the past a bit. You and SolidWorks VP of R&D Austin O’Malley left in quick succession. There have been some interesting theories about that.

Jon: That was a sheer coincidence. I had been planning my departure and had been talking to the management for a long time. I didn’t even know that Austin was leaving SolidWorks.

Deelip: Are you happy with the kind of information, or rather the lack of it, that SolidWorks has been giving to its customers.  I’m referring to the whole SolidWorks V6 episode.

Jon: Most SolidWorks customers care about the software and not about the other stuff industry insiders like to talk about at places like COFES. As far as I can tell they are quite happy with SolidWorks 2013. The reviews have been pretty good.

Deelip: I get your point about the kind of stuff industry insiders like to talk about. But what was shown at SolidWorks World 2010 wasn’t for industry insiders. It was for the SolidWorks user community.

Jon: Ah, yes. I believe that is a case of a company showing its technology to customers too early. It’s three years down and there is no product yet. I don’t think SolidWorks was the first company to show a demo too early and I don’t think it will the last.

We chatted about a few other things and decided to circle back after some time. It’s really an honor to know someone like Jon Hirschtick. I can’t wait to see what he and his team comes up with this time.

Picture from “A Conversation With Jon Hirschtick“. You absolutely have to read it.