“If you can figure out what you want your values to be, that’ll ensure that your culture survives and will evolve over time because cultures evolve every single time you bring a new person on the values that are more enduring. Make sure you pick the right ones.” –Japjit Tulsi
Japjit Tulsi is a Silicon Valley veteran with over twenty years of experience working for Google, Microsoft and other tech firms. Currently, Japjit Tulsi (LinkedIn) is the CTO of Carta, a company whose mission is to help private companies manage their cap table by eliminating spreadsheets and paper certificates.
In this episode of IT Visionaries, Japjit and Ian talk AI, Cloud Computing, and building a culture from within.
IT Side vs Tech Side Of Business
“I imagine the differences aren’t many it’s just what are you trying to build? Are you trying to build something for the internal folks or something for the external folks? When you have an internal audience, they are telling you what to do and what to build for them. When you have an external audience, you are looking for something to build for them or a pain point they might have had.”
Building Something From Scratch
“First and foremost, you got to have some fun while you’re at work. You work on hard problems which Google Analytics was a very hard problem to work on and you learn from each other and the people that you trust building all that out.”
Using AI in New and Interesting Ways
“What we were talking about was this fourth wave of AI is this next generation of artificial intelligence that really allows you to use new and interesting ideas around natural language understanding, semantic search, and computer vision. eBay has one of the largest catalogs of images for products as an example. How can we use that in an interesting way to allow users to be able to use eBay in those new ways?”
Japit gave some compelling examples of the new ways AI was Ebay relaunching in China, and what that AI is allowing them to do.
“One of the things that we did was the ability to be able to type in either Chinese or English and get real-time search results back for products and then get them ranked. All of those were super important because either you have to type it in English only or in Chinese, but with the new semantic search methodology, you can actually embed both types of languages into the same space. It suddenly gives you a much more powerful way of allowing search to happen.”
What He Learned About Chatbots
Thought Japjit loves chatbots – including eBay’s Shopbot – he said that, to a large extent, users aren’t quite used to the technology. It took some learning on the fly to figure out what worked and didn’t work.
“When we launched ShopBot, one of the things that we learned was if you weren’t talking to it as in giving it voice, your conversation tended to be very terse. It was almost search-query like. When you started talking to it, the chatbot was much more robust. So just those simple things you learn by doing that.”
The Lightning Round:
What app are you using on your phone that is the most fun?
I use an app called Foreflight. The app lets you plan your trip, look at the weather, all kinds of other activities that you need as a pilot. It’s always the most fun.
(Speaking of fun, Japjit flies in his free time and has a Cirrus SR22 turbo single-engine plane. He also loves speed and has a motorcycle.)
Favorite Time Saving Tool
I use Asana.
What’s your best advice for a first-time CTO?
That would be to keep it simple. Learn the team. Build a great culture.
Any leadership or best practices you can share on building a team?
If you’re fundamentally empathetic and you truly care, the team will realize that so keep it top of mind.
Listen to the full episode here.