Introducing Ken Smith

By Ivan Gevirtz

created: Wednesday, October 10, 2007
updated: Wednesday, June 04, 2008

I first worked with that pony tailed hippie named Ken Smith almost 10 years ago.  That was waaaay back when the Internet was a novelty, and the bubble surrounding all things 'net was inflating.  Ken and I were the last hires for a tiny Georgia based startup called Convergence Corporation.  I came there by way of their first employee, Rob Frederick, who was a pledge brother of mine at MIT.  The owner, a FSU grad, had brought Ken over.  But that's all really inconsequential, because Ken and I were hired to help the company get acquired.  Back then, adding talented headcount could dramatically increase the acquisition price.  Our presence increased the value of Convergence by approximately $5 million.  Go us!

Well, we did sell the company to another Seattle-based startup.  Ok, perhaps calling a publicly traded company a startup may seem like a stretch, but when you join a company who increases headcount by 7x in one year, it sure has a startup-like feel.  Yeah, we sold to, the last of their major bubble acquisitions.  That year Amazon grew from 1000 people to over 7000.  While the majority of the people were hired to the fulfillment centers, our team grew from 7 to about 50 that year.  We were "Amazon Anywhere", and transitioned Amazon from a website to a platform.  I worked on our mobile technology, allowing Amazon content to be accessed via mobile devices, and Ken worked on opening Amazon content to voice-driven phone shopping.  Neither technology garnered massive commercial adoption, the collection of services we built coalesced to become Amazon Web Services, which has become a make the company kind of technology.

Well, after a year I left to start some more companies, and Ken stayed at Amazon to build their highest traffic automated page (most of the home page is hand produced!).  A few years later, when I was VP of Technology at Coco Communications, I hired Ken for a project integrating an open source PBX system into our communications applications.  He came in, did that work in no time, and quickly solved another technical problem that our renown CTO couldn't even solve.

So when Will first mentioned Audio Key to me, I knew right away that Ken was the person for the job.  The project, and Clique, sold themselves to Ken, and I helped him become acquainted with New Jersey.  Ken is a bright guy, and he's a lot of fun.  Come over and introduce yourself to Ken.  And, if you have some time to kill, ask him what he thinks about infinity.