CIO Values: Frank Yang, CTO, Recycle Bank

Programmers who are pure geeks are commodities who build inefficient systems designed by analysts who do not understand technology.

InformationWeek Staff, Contributor

March 6, 2008

3 Min Read

Career Track


How long at current company: 10 months

Career accomplishment I'm most proud of: Leading a RecycleBank team that developed technology to support three new ways to reward people for recycling, and filing three provisional patents related to these solutions.

Most important career influencer: Marc Hayes, associate partner, Andersen Consulting, who taught me: "Do not let best be the enemy of good"; Tom Swem, partner, Deloitte Consulting, who taught me that "if it feels good, don't say it"; Saj Usman, manager, Andersen Consulting, who taught me the importance of having fun at work.

Decision I wish I could do over: I once switched jobs solely for financial reasons. I ended up going back to my former employer after two years. Ideally, money shouldn't be the overriding factor in making career decisions. You have to consider your role in the company; for whom, and with whom, you're working; and whether you can learn something new every day.


The next big thing for my business will be ... the need for more developers who know the business and more business analysts who understand technology. Programmers who are pure geeks are commodities who build inefficient systems designed by analysts who do not understand technology.

Best advice for future CIOs: Borrowing from the old golf adage, "You drive for show and putt for dough," successful technology leadership understands new technology for show and understands the business for dough.

On The Job

IT budget: As an early-stage startup, my budget is pretty much whatever I can convince our CEO and CFO to give me.

Size of IT team: Nine highly motivated and idealistic IT geeks looking for like-minded individuals

Top three initiatives:

  • Replatforming our application and Web site using a Ruby on Rails and MySQL platform

  • Deploying an enterprise-class reporting solution to replace our set of predefined SQL queries

  • Refining our Recycling Kiosk technology and business model so that we can deploy this solution to multifamily dwellings at scale

Key tech partners: Business Objects, Effician, IBM, MySQL, Rackspace, Ruby on Rails project, ServerBeach


Colleges/degrees: University of Pennsylvania, BA in biology; University of Massachusetts, BS in computer systems engineering

Last vacation: A day with my brother playing Rock Band on his Xbox 360

If I weren't a CTO, I'd be ... a game developer at Blizzard Entertainment or Red Octane. I'd work for free! Well, if my options end up worth anything.

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