Thursday, April 26, 2007

The word from Adobe's CEO

I am at the SJSU Engineering College's Silicon Valley Leaders Symposium series. Today's speaker is Adobe's CEO Bruce Chizen. He is here with Jon Fortt, the senior editor of Business 2.0. We are in the Engineering Building Auditorium. The room is not as full as I thought it would be. Most of the people here are engineering students. Here are my raw notes as he speaks:

"San Jose State is special to me," Chizen said.

"... We are neighbors," he said, pointing out that Adobe's offices are just blocks away from the campus.

He also said that as a graduate of a public college, he is happy to support other universities that are based in the community.

Chizen said that they hope to be a $3 billion company this year, about half of it comes from outside of the U.S. Half of their employees are in the U.S. with about 2,000 in San Jose and 1,000 in San Francisco.

He said that what keeps him up at night is competition from Microsoft and the changes in business models as technology changes.

Chizen said he thinks of Google as a "heat shield" from Microsoft's missiles. Google right now is a partner, but could be a competitor in the future, however, he said it is most important to get to the things that customers want before Google or anyone else gets there. "If Google ends up being a major competitor, shame on us, we blew it."

The quality of the employees in India, he said, is no different than the employees here, they are just not as experienced, so finding managers is a little more difficult. In addition, jobs for them are a way out of the slums, so they are very motivated. They also work for 1/4 of the salary of people here.

For today's students to be competitive and get jobs here in the U.S., they should do internships while still in school, Chizen said. He also said to go deep into a discipline and develop additional skills. Take business classes, travel to emerging markets like China and India,
understand how to work with people that are different than you. These are the skills that make you unique. People in other areas are focusing on the technical skills, the people that get jobs in the U.S. are the ones that can take charge, be leaders and work with others.

Engineers need to learn Java, he said. Understand the mobile, or non-PC, platforms. Know how to make web-based applications work on other devices.

On the topic of company culture, he says to fins a company to work for that has a similar culture to the one you will enjoy. He says you should enjoy the environment you are going to work in, and keep that in mind as you are looking for work and interviewing with companies.

He also said that they are trying to keep honest people honest in preventing piracy. He says they work with the US government and local agencies in trying to stop deliberate piracy. They are also working with the US government to put pressure on other companies to stop the practice. He said that piracy in some places is like J-walking in New York, it is illegal, but it is culturally acceptable. What will change it, he said, is when there are domestic companies that are being hurt in these countries that will put pressure on their governments to end the practice.

Andrew asked, and Chizen said that they are working on technology that will not replace the browser, but move programs to other applications, such as Adobe's Apollo.

Green is a big deal for Adobe, he said. All three of their buildings in San Jose are certified "green" and they do a lot to protect the environment. They also give about 1% of their net profits away to charitable causes.

He joked that he is going to ask Eric Schmidt for a job at Google. He said that most companies are not Google and they, too, will have to act like a grown-up company someday. They are really hard to compete with for employees, he said.

Chizen said that a school like Stanford is difficult to work with and he would much rather work with SJSU, and it will be more of a win-win for everybody.

Update: Burke Shartsis has a good summary of the event here.

1 comment:

Andrew Venegas said...

Good notes. It was a pretty good speech. You should have checked out the Open Source speech too. Sean, Burke, and Steve went to that one too - a virtual STEM meeting.