Biography of W. M. Coughran, Jr.

I am a technologist specializing in large-scale computing and networking systems with general management experience. My career in computer science spans more than two decades. I began my post-graduate career starting with individual research contributions in computational science and engineering (for semiconductor and circuit simulation, Raman optical amplifiers, convective fluid flow, …) and computer systems. I helped create and guide the development of numerous distributed systems, IP security projects, and applications of modeling and formal verification methods as well as converged (voice/data) network software, access, and switching products. More recently, I contributed to large-scale Web service systems and products as well as client software. I am now an investor in and coach for developing companies.

At Bell Labs, first as part of AT&T and then Lucent Technologies, my career began in the Computing Sciences Research Center as a Member of Technical Staff, then Director of the Scientific Computing Research Department within the Center, and then as VP of the Center itself – the Center was the birthplace of the C and C++ programming languages as well as the UNIX®, Plan 9TM, and Inferno® operating systems. I was responsible for strategy efforts in Lucent's Communications Software business unit, leading to a role as Internet Software VP (& GM) in the Communications Software Group. During 1998-2000, I was Senior VP, Bell Labs Research Silicon Valley, having founded that research-and-development and business-incubator organization. I co-founded Entrisphere®, acquired by Ericsson, in late 2000 with the goal of simplifying access networks for large telecommunication service providers; I served on the board of directors, throughout my tenure, and led the company as CEO and VP Engineering through mid-2002, and then served briefly as COO and VP Engineering. I joined Google as an engineering director responsible for infrastructure systems in early 2003, then served as a senior engineering director, then an engineering VP, then an engineering SVP, and finally SVP for research and systems infrastructure; my responsibilities have ranged from client (Chrome) to geo (maps) to video (You Tube) to search ( to core systems (including go) and research for Google; for much of my tenure, I served on Google's executive committee. I joined Sequoia Capital in late 2011 where I work as a partner and founders’ coach and help them build effective technology-centric organizations; while at Sequoia, I served as an advisor to Google until 2015.

I hold B.S.& M.S. (Caltech) degrees in mathematics and M.S. & Ph.D. (Stanford) degrees in computer science. I have served and currently serve on various academic (e.g., Caltech's IST Council), corporate boards (e.g., Blue Danube Systems, Cohesity, Orbital Insight, Prismo Systems, Quantum Circuits, Lilt, Alkira, Neeva, Robust Intelligence), and a non-profit board (San Francisco Opera). I have held various adjunct and consulting faculty positions at the Eidgenössische Technische Hochschule, Duke, and Stanford.

Updated 2020 June 22