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Distinguished Lecture

Stories from the Trenches of Silicon Valley

Tim HowesCo-Founder and CTORockMelt
1500 EECS BuildingMap

Abstract – At this event, David Munson, the Robert J. Vlasic Dean of Engineering, will present Dr. Howes with the 2010 Alumni Society Merit Award for Computer Science and Engineering.

What do the Lightweight Directory Access Protocol (LDAP), the IETF, Netscape, AOL, Loudcloud, Opsware, Hewlett-Packard, and RockMelt all have in common? Tim Howes will share a few stories from the adventures he has experienced in Silicon Valley after leaving the safety and comfort of the University of Michigan.

From navigating the LDAP standards process to surviving the browser wars, to the roller coaster startup-ride that was Loudcloud/Opsware, and a new challenge at RockMelt, Howes will share lessons learned, both technical and business.

Biography – Tim Howes is the co-inventor (while at Michigan) of the Lightweight Directory Access Protocol (LDAP), the Internet standard for accessing directory servers. The main purpose was to handle situations that the X.500 protocol suite could not address.

X.500 directories list network resources to make finding them and using them easier for network administrators and users. Unfortunately, accessing X.500 records required a full-blown X.500 server; there was no such thing as an X.500 client. This led Howes to co-create DIXIE, a directory client for X.500 directories. This work formed the basis of his Ph.D. dissertation at the University of Michigan and was the foundation for LDAP, a standards-based version of DIXIE for both clients and servers. The first publicly available version of LDAP was published in 1993.

In 1996, after joining Netscape as directory server architect, Howes was named one of the Top 25 Network Technology Drivers by Network Computing magazine. In 1997, LDAP version 3 won PC Magazine’s Technical Excellence: Networking award. Howes was also named a Netscape Fellow, Netscape’s highest engineering honor, and was promoted to Chief Technology Officer of Netscape’s Server Products Division.

In 1999, shortly after AOL acquired Netscape, Howes left AOL to co-found Loudcloud with Marc Andreessen, Ben Horowitz, and In Sik Rhee. In 2002, Loudcloud shifted businesses and was renamed Opsware. At Loudcloud/Opsware, Tim held the positions of Executive Vice President and CTO. In 2007, Opsware was acquired by Hewlett-Packard for $1.65 billion, and Howes became Vice President and CTO of HP Software.

In October 2008, Howes left Hewlett-Packard to co-found RockMelt with Eric Vishria. RockMelt is a new web browser that integrates social networking and delivers search results in a new way.

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