January 5, 2010
What are your tips for managing a company remotely?
My theory is the most productive form of meeting is conference calls with Web conferencing. You can have more people in the meeting, and you’re not wasting anyone’s time. They can work on other things, and if you need them, you just say their name. I’ve found that it’s what I spend my life doing. The Wolfram Alpha project is the most complicated project I’ve ever done. It’s remarkable for what it needs to pull in—specific types of knowledge, from linguistics [for example]—to how you make servers work well. That was a tremendous exercise in being able to pull the right resources together and get very disparate groups to communicate well.
We have a “who knows what” database—if we have a question about who in the company knows about mechanical engineering [say]. It has nothing to do with geography. It has to do with what questions you ask of people, and having a company culture where it’s conceivable you might have “random question X”.