The Future Is Now: Mike Betzer of Hypergiant On How Their Technological Innovation Will Shake Up The Tech Scene
An Interview With Fotis Georgiadis
Taking care of yourself is not selfish. To be the best you have to feel your best and you do that with sleep, exercise, spiritual time, learning time and away time. Prioritizing those things is what enables you to perform at 100 percent when you’re working. I meditate every day. I schedule routine vacations, and I often spend them with my grown children. I work on my spiritual health and my physical health. Altogether, I think that helps me lead big teams and make hard decisions — I know that I’m balanced in what I am doing, and that balance makes me capable of making the right decisions.
As a part of our series about cutting edge technological breakthroughs I had the pleasure of interviewing Mike Betzer.
Mike Betzer is the CEO at Hypergiant, an enterprise AI software company. He joined the company in May of 2021 to continue Hypergiant’s aggressive growth and expand the three-year-old startup’s customer base, which includes the likes of Sumitomo Corporation, Boeing, Schlumberger, Booz Allen Hamilton, and the United States Department of Defense, among others.
Betzer previously served as the Chief Digital Transformation Officer at Khoros — a role he took on following tenure as Chief Product Officer. Prior to Khoros, Betzer served as the SVP of Lithium Technologies and CEO of Humanify. He has held multiple CEO and C-suite roles throughout the past three decades at companies including Social Dynamx Inc, Convergys, and Siebel Systems.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
I’ve been in enterprise sales for over thirty years. That makes me, in some regards, a dinosaur. But it’s always been something I’ve been extremely passionate about: helping companies solve big technical problems is the backbone of industrial and social progress, and I’ve loved being a part of that. Watching this industry change over the past thirty years has been a journey that I’ll never forget.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?
I’ve worked at several different organizations since I started, and I have a lot of stories about teammates and leadership. The one through point in them all is that culture always wins. When you find the right way to fire up and win over the hearts and minds of the team, the team will win. I’ve seen this over and over again in every single company I’ve been part of — and in nearly every sports movie you could watch.
Can you tell us about the cutting edge technological breakthroughs that you are working on? How do you think that will help people?
Artificial intelligence, quantum computing, and 5G are the “big three” of the next decade. Together they are the technologies that will enable us to radically respond to and transform our world. Leading an AI company that is part of this moment in history is an honor that I don’t hold without humility. We are building technology that is helping to reinvent supply chains, to create commercial resiliency, to respond to economic and environmental dangers and save lives.
Right now, the biggest challenges with AI and the ones we are working on, are sort of boring. Over 80 percent of data science models never make it into production which means that a lot of good technology just doesn’t get seen. This matters because the better AI/ML models we have the better they all get. It’s like early websites: they were all terrible, until they weren’t.
To respond to this challenge, we are building Hyperdrive which will help data scientists and ML engineers scale models into production faster and, down the road, the same tech will help business leaders understand and respond to their data better too.
The long-term journey here is towards what we call Common Operating Pictures, which are dashboards that essentially everyone at all levels of the company can use to access the right data and make real-time decisions. These dynamic, data-rich visualizations and predictive simulations of potential outcomes help customers fully understand the sometimes complex data interactions needed to improve supply chain logistics, fleet management, employee-machine tooling and other vital business optimization areas. That is going to change the way we build, operate and respond to a company’s challenges. It’s not a particularly glamorous process, but I think it is extremely important to get right.
How do you think this might change the world?
The more control we have of our data, the more we can change how things work, remove inefficiencies, improve systems and reduce our negative impacts. That is the work everyone should be doing and thinking about right now.
Keeping “Black Mirror” in mind, can you see any potential drawbacks about this technology that people should think more deeply about?
All technologies are only as good as the people who build and use them. This is why we are focused on ethical AI, not just in our own company, but also helping others to build ethical frameworks into their company’s solutions. Will Griffin, our Chief Ethics Officer, has helped us and continues to help us peer into the future, wondering where our technology might fall apart and where we might not think about something that ends up being critical to our success. But this isn’t his job alone in the world; he helps to train our teams and other teams to have ethics top of mind, but every company and employee needs to uphold these ethical principles as part of their own personal job.
Was there a “tipping point” that led you to this breakthrough? Can you tell us that story?
For us at Hypergiant, the “tipping point” to focus on Hyperdrive and the development of Common Operating Pictures was a direct response to the products we were building for clients like the U.S. Department of Defense, GE and Disney. These clients were having vastly different business struggles but utilizing similar ML/AI solutions to solve for them. As we built these solutions, we started to see the need for more comprehensive software and have since brought that solution to the market.
What do you need to lead this technology to widespread adoption?
We need more data scientists building models, and we need more businesses including data science and AI/ML as part of their business strategies. By 2025, 50 percent of businesses will be using ML/AI — those who aren’t will be left in the dust.
What have you been doing to publicize this idea? Have you been using any innovative marketing strategies?
We believe in building the best company and the best culture for our teams. I think there is no greater marketing than a great product evangelized by customers and employees. That is what we are focused on and what we really want to build.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
I was helped so much by Vint Cerf. I worked with him at MCI during the years of great innovation: the internet, email and the power of data centers were all becoming a reality and changing the way that people worked in every single industry. It was incredible to watch that process come to life; Vint taught me that even though technology changes, businesses are made with good people, strong processes and great technology management.
How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?
I have a deep religious and spiritual practice and honestly believe my ultimate role as a leader is to serve my community. That’s what I try to do with each success. I want to make the world around me a better place by bringing jobs, leading from the heart and trying to improve the lives of everyone I meet.
What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started” and why. (Please share a story or example for each.)
- It is harder than you think. We always hear about the great successes, but we do not hear about all the amazing hard work along the way. When you just hear the highlights from others, their journey always seems easier than it actually was.
- Have fun with the difficult parts. The challenging eras are where you learn the most. I’ve run marathons on nearly every continent and, to be honest, they are always terrible. But they are also rewarding and have kept me healthy, energized and engaged ever since the first one I ran. The secret is that while we hate the pain of mile 18–25 of the marathon, that pain is really what makes mile 26 so great. You only love the last mile because you ran all the others.
- Slow down and listen to people, the environment and your soul. Technology is made by a lot of people who want to work very fast to bring something to market. Mark Zuckerberg has made “Build Fast and Break Things” an industry mantra. But faster is not always better. When we go too fast, we aren’t listening. When we stop listening, we build things that are irrelevant, harmful and destructive. That doesn’t feel good in your soul. And, at the end of the day, if your soul doesn’t feel good then whatever you’ve built wasn’t worth it.
- Take care of people. If your team can count on you, they will perform at their best and that is what creates an amazing culture. I do this in little ways by ensuring we send birthday gifts, and in big ways by really listening and paying attention to my employees. When I’m on the phone with someone, I’m on the phone 100 percent. When they need something, I work hard to make it happen. We need to be focused on helping others win.
- Taking care of yourself is not selfish. To be the best you have to feel your best and you do that with sleep, exercise, spiritual time, learning time and away time. Prioritizing those things is what enables you to perform at 100 percent when you’re working. I meditate every day. I schedule routine vacations, and I often spend them with my grown children. I work on my spiritual health and my physical health. Altogether, I think that helps me lead big teams and make hard decisions — I know that I’m balanced in what I am doing, and that balance makes me capable of making the right decisions.
You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
You have one body — learn to take care of your body, mind and spirit. If we all do this, we will be better partners, leaders, teachers and parents.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
I have to share my top three favorite quotes:
- Enjoy the journey — The highs and lows of life is where we learn. Enjoy them as you experience them.
- Be humble — You either are humble or will become humble, you choose
- Have a Servant’s Heart — The Servant boss will win over the long-haul. Think every day what you can do to serve those around you.
Some very well known VCs read this column. If you had 60 seconds to make a pitch to a VC, what would you say? He or she might just see this if we tag them 🙂
AI is the future. Our company makes that future possible.
How can our readers follow you on social media?
Thank you so much for joining us. This was very inspirational.
The Future Is Now: Mike Betzer of Hypergiant On How Their Technological Innovation Will Shake Up… was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.