Socrata Chief Technical Officer

Ordinarily I focus this blog on areas of computing where I spend most of my time from high performance computing to database internals and cloud computing. An area that interests me greatly but I’ve seldom written about is entrepreneurship and startups.

One of the Seattle areas startups with which I stay in touch is Socrata. They are focused on enabling federal, state, and local governments to improve the reach, usability and social utility of their public information assets. Essentially making public information available and useful to their constituents. They are used by: the World Bank, the United Nations, the World Economic Forum, the US Data.Gov, Health & Human Services, Centers for Disease Control, several most major cities including NYC, Seattle, Chicago, San Francisco and Austin and many county and state governments. Even foreign governments like the Country of Kenya have adopted Socrata.

I first met Kevin Merritt, the founder and CEO of Socrata, back in 2005 when I was doing technical diligence for the Microsoft acquisition of the LA-based Frontbridge Technologies. I love doing diligence on startups because it’s an opportunity to dive in and spend a day or more digging deeply and understanding what smart people have produced, where things worked really well, and areas where things didn’t pan out as well as they could have. I’ve learned a lot in these roles and I’m lucky to have been able to do many of them first at IBM, later at Microsoft, and now at Amazon.

What made this one a bit different is I got a call shortly after the deal closed asking if I wanted to be the General Manager of the Microsoft subsidiary that was formed in the acquisition. An opportunity to run mid-sized business in its entirety. Development, test, operations, and customer support. Absolutely! I’ve never learned so much as I did in the first year or so at what would become Microsoft Exchange Hosted Services.

It was a great experience and I’ve been 100% focused on cloud services since that time. And, as a consequence of leading Frontbridge, I got to know Kevin Merritt well. He is an excellent strategic thinker and an even better operator. Whenever Kevin was involved, customers were happy and the service was rapidly improving and expanding. Kevin eventually left to form Socrata and he and I have stayed in touch since then. He knows I’m a sucker for a beer and some wings :-).

Based in Seattle, Socrata is venture-backed with a small and talented engineering team. They are enjoying strong customer demand and their market success is fueling growth in the engineering team. They are currently looking for a CTO and, if I didn’t already have one of the best job out there, I would seriously considering joining Kevin and the team. If you are a technology leader interested in big data, cloud computing, architecture of distributed systems, ops automation, and the user experience of making data easy to find and use, you should send Kevin, their founder and CEO, a note at


James Hamilton



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