Photo by David Sherman
November 22, 1954 |
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S.
|Occupation||Management Consultant, Snyder Leadership|
Steven Snyder (born 22 November 1954) is a notable figure in high technology management. He was an early employee of Microsoft where he was Microsoft's first business unit general manager, leading the Development Tool Business. He was also founding CEO of Net Perceptions, a leading company in recommender systems during the late 1990s.
Snyder joined Microsoft in 1983, and was made responsible for turning around the relationship with IBM, which had been faltering over the delivery of an operating system that could work with the networking features of the upcoming IBM PC-AT computer (Manes & Andrews 1993, p. 267). The problem was that as of 1983 Microsoft was slipping behind on its delivery schedule and was delaying the release of the AT badly. After delivering the news to IBM on a tough phone call, Snyder and his team got the project back on schedule and saved the relationship with IBM, which was crucial to Microsoft at that time in its history (Gates 1984).
Snyder was then promoted to be the first general manager in Microsoft history, with responsibility for the Development Tool Business, helping develop the products into industry leaders, as evidenced by winning the PC Magazine annual awards competition two years in a row (PC Magazine 1987).
Personnel Decisions International
After leaving Microsoft in 1988 Snyder joined the Ph.D. program in Psychology at the University of Minnesota. His thesis was Task Strategy Development during Transition to Self-Managing Work Teams.
While working on his dissertation at Minnesota, he consulted with a company called Personnel Decisions International (PDI), which helps companies develop the talent of their employees. At PDI Snyder helped the company develop a computer-based coaching program that would enable leaders to develop specific leadership competencies. The product had an innovative user interface for presenting the components of leadership development: assessment, a personalized development plan, and an everyday learning process. These ideas became the basis of a US patent, held by PDI (Snyder 1995).
In April 1996 Snyder met members of the GroupLens Research group. He quickly saw the commercial potential for their technology, known as collaborative filtering, a form of recommender system, and discussed the possibility of forming a company around the technology. Snyder argued that a research group from MIT had formed a company in 1995 that was already commercializing collaborative filtering, and that the window of opportunity was closing. (The MIT company would later become Firefly). The team of Snyder, Brad Miller, John Riedl, Joe Konstan, and David Gardiner founded Net Perceptions in May 1996, and licensed the technology from the University of Minnesota in June 1996. Soon after they received initial funding from Hummer Winblad Venture Partners (Hennes 2001).
Led by Snyder as CEO, Net Perceptions became a leading company for recommender systems during the Internet boom through the late 90's and early 2000s (Dragan 2001). Net Perceptions had many of the leading Web companies as customers, and was very visible in the Internet food chain. In 2000, Steven Snyder, Brad Miller, and John Riedl received the World Technology Award in the Commerce category for their contributions to E-Commerce, and Net Perceptions also received the MIT Sloan School E-Commerce Award for Technology Innovation in May 1999 (MIT News Office 1999). Among many other media interviews, Snyder participated an ABC Nightline show about Net Perceptions technology in Dec 1999 (Krulwich 1999).
When Snyder stepped down as CEO of Net Perceptions in 2001, he began a new career teaching, studying, and communicating about his vision for business ethics. Snyder has been teaching courses on business ethics at the University of Minnesota, and developing his ideas about sustainable business leadership. His key idea is sustainability reporting, which he calls triple-bottom-line business accountability, in which traditional business reporting is expanded to include environmental and social performance in addition to economic performance. In January 2008, Snyder presented a speech on his ideas as the Tata Oration on Business Ethics at the XLRI School of Business and Human Resource in India (Cool Avenues 2008).
In 2009, Snyder embarked on a program of leadership research, first as an Executive-In-Residence at the University of Minnesota’s Center for Integrative Leadership, and then as an Executive Fellow in Leadership at the Opus College of Business at the University of St. Thomas in Minneapolis. The research culminated in the book, Leadership and the Art of Struggle (Berrett-Koehler, 2013). Snyder studied 151 episodes of leadership struggle, and synthesized a set of practices by which leaders can more effectively navigate through challenge and adversity.
Cool Avenues (January 2008), Steven Snyder to Deliver JRD Tata Ethics Oration at XLRI, Jamshedpur, retrieved February 2008
MIT News Office (May 19, 1999), Firms honored at e-commerce awards, MIT, retrieved February 2008
Krulwich, Robert (December 10, 1999), ABC Nightline: Soulmate, ABC, retrieved February 2008
Dragan, Richard (January 2001), "Net Perceptions for E-commerce 6.0", PC Magazine, retrieved January 2008
Hennes, Doug (Winter 2001), "Always a Coach", St. Thomas Magazine
US Interface to a computer program for developing leadership in individuals D392266, Snyder, Steven; Susan Gebelein & David Gardiner et al., "Window Screen for a Computer Display", published Oct 4, 1995, issued Mar 17, 1998
PC Magazine (1987), The 4th Annual Awards
Manes, Stephen; Andrews, Paul (1993), Gates: How Microsoft's Mogul Reinvented an Industry and Made Himself the Richest Man in America, New York: Doubleday