Gordon Clyne is a veteran Silicon Valley executive and startup adviser who has managed the innovation and expansion of high technology around the globe. He introduced cutting-edge products to the African, Mediterranean and Middle Eastern markets across seven years with Apple before singlehandedly growing SanDisk’s product line of custom USB drives into a $15m business. Gordon’s career has always incorporated his twin passions of art and technology, with his latest venture Artonics-International having created a unique drawing system for Apple’s mobile devices.
Gordon’s quest to teach computers to draw first started in the late 1970s when he combined the traditionally unrelated subjects of Fine Art and Computing at the University of Nottingham. After initially being offered a job at his local Apple dealership on the strength of his artwork, he went on to spend seven years with the growing tech giant as an International Product Marketing Manager. “I think my whole time at Apple was about getting people to use computers in a human way,” he says. “I really identified with that which is why I found working at Apple a joy every day.”
Having relocated to Paris for several years, Gordon delivered Apple products to international markets and managed complex projects such as establishing the first connectivity between Apple Macs and IBM mainframes in Arabic. “I worked on all sorts of weird and wonderful things – it was a fabulous time to be alive,” he reflects. “When the Berlin Wall came down after 1990, I was part of the projects that started to sell Macs to the Eastern European bloc and translate its word processors, spreadsheets and graphics programmes into four different languages. I even ended up on stage at a hotel in Moscow when we introduced the PowerBook 100, opening a series of bags like a Russian doll before we revealed the computer. It was a riotous success.”
After leaving Apple, Gordon moved to the USA and focussed on the evolving threat of cyber security as a Product Manager for Secure Computing. “I’m very lucky to have spent 17 years in Silicon Valley working and living amongst some of the smartest minds on the planet,” he says. The post was followed by a three-year stint at the turn of the millennium working on early handheld devices with Palm computing.
Gordon stepped into an enterprise role with the SanDisk memory storage firm in 2005 and built a $15m business in three years creating custom USB devices. “I saw the chance to do something wild, interesting and new,” he says. “We made lots of different size and shape USB drives; we had ones that looked like lipstick which could be twisted to make the USB pop out, ones shaped like Ducati fuel tanks and some diamond-studded ones for people who wanted eight dollars’ worth of memory decorated with $32,000 of diamonds. I was even asked to make one that looked like Jesus on the cross, where you pull off his head to plug it into a computer. I said no.”
Gordon next started his own company, ChipShapes Inc, and was on the eve of releasing a custom USB drive to every Michael Jackson concert ticket holder for his UK tour before the singer’s sudden death. The tragedy prompted Gordon to return to the UK and he has since provided commercial, technological and product leadership to several startups including social network Mindings, local news app Bundle and online crime-reporting platform Facewatch. In 2010, he founded artistic app builder Artonics-International, completing a 30-year ambition he had sparked as a student in Nottingham.
“I wanted to become a Future Worlds Mentor because nobody really helped me find my way in the world when I left college,” he says. “University entrepreneurs need help and I want to help put smart heads on young shoulders.”
Gordon is prepared to bring his wide range of ideas into emerging tech products and services. “I’ve been very lucky in my career to work on product management teams of many different types of products, from networking to storage, memory to handheld mobile security – I’ve touched a lot of the areas of the industry,” he says. You can get in touch with Gordon using the contact form on this page.
“I don’t think I would have been successful if I didn’t have a laser-like focus on what I wanted to achieve,” he adds. “There can be good and bad distractions and you need to make a very clear distinction as to which is which. That’s why structured and unstructured mentoring can be really valuable.”