No matter what else he does in his career, Terry West will always be known as RIM/BlackBerry's first employee.
He's long since been gone from the company, leaving after five years in 1993, when RIM was still in the business of making radio devices, not smartphones.
He's got a boatload of great stories about RIM in its early startup days. When he joined the company, its offices were in a little strip mall above a Kentucky Fried Chicken. He says that working for founder Mike Lazaridis was exciting but challenging. Lazaridis was a dramatic, demanding boss, taking on projects, making West work long hours on them, and then suddenly shifting gears to something new.
For instance, West got the job interview by answering an ad on the job recruitment board at his college. It was a tiny, hand-written note that said, "Game developers wanted. Call Mike." West called and Lazaridis hired him on the spot. When West asked what games they would be developing Lazaridis told him, "Oh, we're not doing games anymore."
Eventually West moved on. He spent a decade at Intel where he stayed in touch with Lazaridis, turning RIM into Intel's customer. West's team at Intel helped design some of the chips used for the BlackBerry smartphone.
West surfaced again this week as CEO of an interesting startup in Phoenix, Ariz. called Serious Integrated. Serious sells affordable off-the-shelf touchscreens for all sorts of electronics gear like medical equipment, fitness gadgets, or commercial equipment. It's claim to fame is the software that customizes the touchscreen, which is as easy to use as building a blog on Wordpress.
Serious was a presenter at the Venture Capital in the Rockies show held in Beaver Creek, Colo. this week. It won the award for the best presentation.
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