John leads an innovative “startup” within Google called Niantic Labs. Niantic was founded by John as an independent group within Google to explore new kinds of mobile applications at the intersection of mobile, location, social, and with eye towards an emerging class of wearable devices. The group has launched two very well received products to date - Field Trip, a guide to the hidden secrets and amazing places of the world, and Ingress, a mobile app that turns the entire world into an interactive, multiplayer game. The newest project, Endgame, is a collaboration with author James Frey, Harper Collins, and 20th Century Fox which will bring a story to life as a book, mobile game, and movie.
John began his business career in 1994 when he left the foreign service and moved to California to attend the MBA program at UC Berkeley with the dream of reconnecting with his childhood passion for technology.
While at Berkeley John joined with a classmate who was founding a company to create a new kind of online computer game. The startup (Archetype Interactive) created one of the first ‘massively multiplayer’ Internet games. It was acquired by 3DO in 1996. After a two years at 3DO, John left to co-found a startup to create more Internet games. That company, Big Network, was acquired in 2000.
The next step happened when John met a group of former software executives from Silicon Graphics and Disney. Together they founded ‘Keyhole’ and created a new kind of map - a digital earth. John led the team as CEO which launched the first ever online 3D globe based on satellite imagery and mapping data. The company agreed to be acquired by Google in 2004.
The team relaunched Keyhole as “Google Earth” (an application that has been download by more than a billion users). John eventually became the VP of the ‘Geo’ group at Google which launched a number of innovative projects including scaling up Maps and Earth to cover the entire world, launching a fleet of Street View cars, creating an innovative aerial photography platform, creating Google’s own global basemap, and many more.
John received his MBA from the Haas School of Business at UC Berkeley in 1996 and has a BA in Plan II from the University of Texas at Austin.