Last night at the monthly Technori Pitch event, Dag Kittlaus, co-founder and ex-CEO of Siri brought down the house with tales of the future, anecdotes of working with Steve Jobs, and a few notes on Chicago, where he was speaking. “I’m back in Chicago for good,” he told the crowd, to raucous applause.
There’s been some humorous back and forth about Chicago lately, with certain press, in the view of many in the city, misrepresenting the locale. Dag hit on that: “Did everyone see that PandoDaily piece? Did it piss you off? [audience raises its hands] Good.” He continued: “Wear that chip on your shoulder.”
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Later he added that the only way to fully silence critics is to prove them wrong. And I would add, repeatedly.
Dag pointed out that the city itself had transformed in the last half decade. Indicating the assembled sold-out crowd, he stated simply that “there was nothing like this in 2007 [when we were working on Siri].” He ticked off a number of companies that had exploded out of the Chicago scene as proof of the metamorphosis.
However, Dag wasn’t all roses. He pointed out that while Illinois has a sheaf of schools that produce marching lines of technical talent, the city hasn’t yet taken full advantage of this “pipeline of engineers.” He went on to say that “Illinois is world-class […] There’s no reason that Chicago can’t become a Mecca of engineers.” His final commandment was that the city “get its developer talent in line.”
Of course, telling a local crowd that you have come home for good, and that they have made astounding progress is hardly a tough act, but Dag managed the entire speech with sincerity, and aplomb. You could tell that the room was happy to have their boy back.