Clayton Tino Podcast Transcript

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Headshot of CTO Clayton Tino

Clayton Tino Podcast Transcript

Clayton Tino joins host Brian Thomas on The Digital Executive Podcast.

Welcome to Coruzant Technologies, Home of The Digital Executive podcast.

Brian Thomas: Welcome to The Digital Executive. Today’s guest is Clayton Tino. Clayton Tino is the Chief Technology Officer at Beep. Tino is tasked with defining and managing Beep’s product strategy, technology development, and delivery. He has extensive technology experience in platform design and software development.

Prior to joining Beep, Tino established and ran the Managed Cloud Platform Organization for Virtus. Stream, an enterprise class cloud service provider, taking responsibility for the development and operation of Virtustream’s private cloud offering in partnership with Microsoft. Tino earned a Doctor of Philosophy degree from the Georgia Institute of Technology, where he specialized in system design and optimization.

His work focused on probabilistic modeling and stochastic optimization for air traffic management applications. He also holds patents in both flight control systems and cloud platform management techniques. Beyond his time at BEAP, Tino serves on the Georgia Institute of Technology Aerospace Engineering School Advisory Council and served on the NASA Ad Hoc Task Force on Big Data.

Well, good afternoon, Clayton. Welcome to the show!

Clayton Tino: Thanks for having me!

Brian Thomas: You bet. I appreciate you making the time, jumping off the day with a great podcast. Clayton, we’re going to jump right into your first question here. If you could briefly share your journey from earning a PhD in system design and optimization at Georgia Tech, to become the chief technology officer at beep.

Clayton Tino: Yeah, you know, I’d like to say that I had a well-defined plan kind of for my career, but I would absolutely be lying. You know, when I kind of was wrapping up my undergraduate degree, I had actually planned on becoming an intellectual property attorney, you know, going through the process of kind of getting a master’s degree and I was starting to you know, study for the LSAT and apply to law schools.

And I had the amazing opportunity of working in a very strong research lab as an undergraduate. And my, my advisor at the time said, hey, you know, buddy, why don’t you sit and take the qualifying exams? You know, worst case scenario. You don’t pass and go play Perry Mason for your career. I think it’d be worth you giving it a shot.

You know, lo and behold, 5 years later, I was defending my dissertation PhD in hand. And you know, kind of a similar conversation throughout that process of finishing my PhD. I had the opportunity to do some amazing research with Delta airlines and the global research center. And my advisor kind of again came to me and said, hey, you know, I’ve got a cousin and he’s got this cloud computing startup and they’re having some challenges dealing with kind of workload management, how they how they manage virtual workloads on their platform.

And they’re looking for some help. I think it’d be interesting. It’s something you should take a look at. Not at all related to my field, but we always had a conversation that math was math. And, you know, I decided to take a chance and do something a little bit different than what I was focused on. And you know, 9 years later, I had a very good run with that company, which is a virtual rate kind of went through the course of being an individual contributor on the kind of here.

I would say the research side moved into software engineering, ultimately engineering leadership made a kind of a transition to product management. And then eventually, before I left, it was Dell technologies at the time after several acquisitions, it was running effectively an independent service line of business unit, delivering public cloud platforms and partnerships with the big 3 cloud providers.

I hit a point where kind of realized that I think my, my career growth in that role hit a, hit a, it was as far comfortable as I was kind of going to make it effectively and made the decision to leave. And, you know, lo and behold, just by happenstance, I got an outreach from same CEO of that company.

Formally, Kevin Reed, who happens to be the chairman of beep. And, you know, here I am today. So, it’s 1 of those things where I truly believe that in startups, you have the opportunity to make your own opportunity. And that’s effectively how I managed to get here.

Brian Thomas: Great story. Love that. You know, the fact that you were in college and make a shift like that’s pretty major shift from trying to be a lawyer to a technologist is kind of a leap.

Right? But we hear that all the time. So, I appreciate the story and love the career background. Clayton. And Clayton, given your extensive experience in platform design and software development, how do you approach the integration of new technologies into Beeps existing infrastructure and operations? And how will this shape the next few years of Beeps’ evolution as a company?

Clayton Tino: Yeah, absolutely. I think it’s, it’s interesting because if I, you know, if I put on my, my peer engineering hat, especially on the software side, being opinionated is typically a good thing because it, it de risks your work. It helps you focus. I think what we’ve seen, though, especially in the space we’re in is that you can’t always afford to be as opinionated as my engineering brain would want me to be to our typical approaches is really few.

I would say 2 main axioms. 1st is to design for scale. So, assuming that just because we are a bit on the smaller side of the day, we’re not always going to be small. And the 2nd is to is to be flexible. So, I think we’ve managed to be fairly successful at this point, in our technology development. And by being able to do just that, you know, the autonomy industry changes rapidly.

The platforms who need to support change rapidly. Interestingly enough, that they are typically very opinionated to try to understand how we can take very opinionated systems and represent them in a way through abstraction layers, through different types of integration methodologies that allow us to not be what if anyone technology, it’s kind of is as what’s helped made us successful.

That said, over time, though, I really do think that’s going to change the functional safety concerns associated with automation specifically are really going to have to drive. I would say kind of more focus and opinion in terms of what systems we choose to support and how we choose to support them. So, if we look at where we are today from a kind of a software platform development perspective versus what we’ll be in 5 years.

You’ll probably be trending towards kind of more that here’s what we do. Here’s why we do it that way and have less flexibility. But again, I think that kind of approach to designing for flexibility designing for scale. 1st has allowed us to get to a. A fairly comfortable position to enable us to kind of. Point in the, in the right direction, moving forward.

Brian Thomas: Thank you. And I know it’s got to be tough as a chief technology officer, knowing the technology landscape is ever evolving by the minute, as you know, chat GPT 4.o just came out and I was even blown away. And I’ve been immersed in this stuff for the last 18 months, pretty deeply, just it’s amazing.

So, I appreciate your insights on that Clayton and Clayton. One of the most recent developments beep has had is in Hawaii at the international airport at Honolulu. You’ve had use cases like this with dot support on campuses and on public streets as part of the larger transit systems. Why has the Department of Transportation organizations and transit authorities across the country backed BEEPS approach versus other types of AV models out there, such as robo-taxis?

Clayton Tino: Yeah, you know, I think 1 of the things that really attracted me to BEEP when I was deciding whether or not to join the company was the fact that the model was fundamentally different. You know, I think 2019, I think Elon was telling us that we could get in a Tesla and drive from San Francisco to New York without ever touching the steering wheel.

I mean, it seemed like a really interesting, cool thing, but what attracted me to be that it wasn’t a strategy to go spend billions of dollars and hope we can build a better driver. But it was how can we partner with public transportation? How can we partner with private community developers and look to bring, you know, an autonomous mobility solution to those environments and to those communities that were truly integrated from the start.

So, you know, to set ourselves apart from, you know, how typically I would say robo-taxi companies have operated today. We’re not looking to take. Fleets of 50 to 100, 200 vehicles, put them in a downtown area and hope the community is on board. It’s been a very focused engagement model on larger form factor vehicles.

Number 1. so we’re not looking at increasing congestion by replacing human driven cars with more robo-taxis. But we’re looking to truly add something that’s supplemental 1 to allow for again, reduce congestion and greater passenger throughput. But number 2, doing it in such a way that it’s consultative with local authorities from the start.

So, rather than shoving our solution onto the market and hoping that we’re successful when everyone adopts it. How do we start that conversation early, engage local community stakeholders, engage 1st responders, design a solution that ultimately can be integrated either with public or private mobility options.

And I think that that’s really kind of what’s helped us be successful and gain the groundswell of support. We have to this point, whether it’s, whether it’s municipalities, whether it’s at the federal level of that approach to be consulted there from the start and having a frankly, a product offering that is by default integrated and publicly aligned is really kind of how we’ve driven that support.

Brian Thomas: Thank you. I know there’s a lot to that. Obviously, we don’t want to add congestion by just throwing in a bunch of autonomous vehicles. We know that. But safety is a concern, and there’s a lot of discussion at the government level about allowing this type of technology to be on the streets. And I know this will be mainstream probably in 5, 10 years.

But right now, I know there’s a lot of work ahead. So, I appreciate that. And Clayton, last question of the day, what emerging technologies or trends do you believe will have the most significant impact on the future of cloud services and platform design over the next 5 to 10 years?

Clayton Tino: You know, it’s funny when I, when I joined verges stream, I guess it was over 10 years ago.

At this point, we were kind of 1st on that. I would say hype cycle hockey stick growth of cloud adoption, right? There is a. A huge movement from folks with on premises traditional workloads to the cloud. And, you know, I, I think it’s kind of interesting to watch trends now, not just as kind of. Cost of, I would say exploded, but the cost potential and the cost benefit of moving in the cloud has changed fairly significantly.

But actually the, the rise of artificial intelligence, I think, have changed people’s approaches to how they structure. Applications, how they structure their infrastructure strategies. You know, it used to be a kind of a conversation of. Do I have the right capabilities to manage my workload? And now it’s a conversation of, do I have my workload positioned strategically along with my data to drive the best outcomes with technologies like GPT for it and some of the other kind of generative AI platforms or options that are available today.

So, I think a kind of a continued explosion of AI in general will really drive not just how we think about software protection platform development, but also how people start to manage data in general with respect to the enterprise. You know, it used to be and frankly, I’ll say it’s a beep. We are a kind of cloud 1st sass 1st company as well.

The challenge with that, though, is now a kind of data residency. Where is my data? How do I access it? How do I make it available to these new technology trends? So, I think what we’ll see, really, the next 5 to 10 years is more thoughtful. I would say planning in terms of how people take a look at where the data is stored, how it’s processed, how they access it, how they drive leverage from it, frankly, to drive other business use cases and being a bit more planful in terms of where this workload lives, who you give access to your data, then ultimately how it was covered in the life cycle.

Brian Thomas: Thank you. I really do appreciate your insights. And again, I love interviewing chief technologists in this case, Clayton, because there’s really, I feel get a little bit closer to what we see in the future. Not that you have a crystal ball, but, you know, I just heard on a podcast I did the other day of AI, you know, we talk about doing those, taking over those mundane, repetitive tasks, right?

But for having us To have AI, maybe AGI start to invent things which I heard for the first-time last week just blows my mind. And I know that’s probably where your mind’s going at the power of artificial intelligence. So, I do appreciate your insights.

Clayton Tino: If you don’t mind if I just say one more thing on that front. I think for us, one of the important aspects of AI is not necessarily strictly, I would say, eliminating mundane tasks, but we absolutely view it as frankly, an accelerator. You know, how can we take people who may be performing critical roles in our business and frankly making them more effective?

How can we help them scale? So, from that perspective, yeah, I absolutely believe that the power of a GI will be, I think, transformational in terms of how we approach certain types of work. But we’re also looking at how do we leverage artificial intelligence? Just to make people more effective in their day to day.

How do we drive better safety outcomes? How do we drive better outcomes for our customers in terms of service availability and reliability? And I really hope the industry keeps eyes on that as well. You know, I think most people view automation as kind of a, frankly, a labor arbitrage opportunity, but I truly believe in the power of AI.

To help drive better outcomes, not just reduce staffing costs. And that’s kind of a key focus of what we’re doing at beep as well.

Brian Thomas: Thank you. I really appreciate that. And Clayton, it was such a pleasure having you on today. I look forward to speaking with you real soon.

Clayton Tino: Thanks. I appreciate you having me as well.

Brian Thomas: Bye for now.

Clayton Tino Podcast Transcript. Listen to the audio on the guest’s podcast page.

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