Alexander Blum

Why did you choose to study computer science?

I was introduced to computer science as a result of it being a compulsory subject for undergraduate mechanical engineering majors.

Who or what had a strong effect on your interest or trajectory in computer science?

I created a rudimentary project management program in support of my first job at United Technologies in order to better manage various high-rise construction projects, which performed well partially due to the program. This caught the attention of UTC’s CEO at the time, and as a result I was hand-picked to lead a passion project for the CEO. This led me to becoming an early innovator in the Salesforce automation/customer relationship management enterprise software industry. 

What life lessons did you learn during your time at CU?

One of the most important skill sets obtained while studying engineering and computer science was complex problem solving. This is now a skillset that has broad application not only in engineering but also more broadly in business.

Tell us about your career path.

My first job out of college was with UTC, which recruited me on campus. My career path diverted from the more traditional engineering path to one focused on software due to the project I mentioned above. I had numerous operating roles at both early stage and large software and digital media companies. Many of the software companies I was involved with were either acquired or had initial public offerings. This ultimately led me to venture investing supporting the next generation of early stage and growth stage entrepreneurs.

What moments in your career have been most exciting or defining?

My time at Aol during Aol’s golden age was the most exciting time. Aol was the center of the early online universe while I was involved with investing in or acquiring software companies and ultimately leading a large software product team.

What moments in your personal life have been most exciting or defining?

Seeing my son head off to college to study engineering.

What is your biggest career or life lesson to date?

Your life partner will have the biggest impact on your success and happiness.

What is your current professional role? What is your favorite part of that role? 

I’m an early stage venture investor, which provides me the joy and pleasure of working with young and brilliant entrepreneurs.

Are there any “words to live by,” credo, or top values that you follow?

Everyone who achieves success received a helping hand along the way. Appreciate those who have helped you and be sure to pass it on by helping others the first chance you have.

What advice would you give to current or future computer science students?

Fight the tendency towards specialization and make the time to explore as many subjects, technologies and hobbies as possible. Your future career could surprisingly come from any one of these broader explorations. 

What do you expect or hope to see in the next 50 years of computer science?

Ubiquity of computer-aided life. This will, of course, come with unintended consequences that humanity must manage well in order to assure healthy computer/human coexistence.