Biography of W. M. Coughran, Jr.

I am a technologist specializing in large-scale computing and networking systems with general management experience. My career in computer science spans more than two decades. I began my post-graduate career starting with individual research contributions in computational science and engineering (for semiconductor and circuit simulation, Raman optical amplifiers, convective fluid flow, …) and computer systems. I helped create and guide the development of numerous distributed systems, IP security projects, and applications of modeling and formal verification methods as well as converged (voice/data) network software, access, and switching products. More recently, I contributed to large-scale Web service systems and products as well as client software. I am now an investor in and coach for developing companies.

At Bell Labs, first as part of AT&T and then Lucent Technologies, my career began in the Computing Sciences Research Center as a Member of Technical Staff, then Director of the Scientific Computing Research Department within the Center, and then as VP of the Center itself – the Center was the birthplace of the C and C++ programming languages as well as the UNIX®, Plan 9TM, and Inferno® operating systems. I was responsible for strategy efforts in Lucent's Communications Software business unit, leading to a role as Internet Software VP (& GM) in the Communications Software Group. During 1998-2000, I was Senior VP, Bell Labs Research Silicon Valley, having founded that research-and-development and business-incubator organization. I co-founded Entrisphere®, acquired by Ericsson, in late 2000 with the goal of simplifying access networks for large telecommunication service providers; I served on the board of directors, throughout my tenure, and led the company as CEO and VP Engineering through mid-2002, and then served briefly as COO and VP Engineering. I joined Google as an engineering director responsible for infrastructure systems in early 2003, then served as a senior engineering director, then an engineering VP, then an engineering SVP, and finally SVP for research and systems infrastructure; my responsibilities have ranged from client (Chrome) to geo (maps) to video (You Tube) to search ( to core systems (including go) and research for Google; for much of my tenure, I served on Google's executive committee. I joined Sequoia Capital in late 2011 where I work as a partner and founders’ coach and help them build effective technology-centric organizations; while at Sequoia, I served as an advisor to Google until 2015.

I hold B.S.& M.S. (Caltech) degrees in mathematics and M.S. & Ph.D. (Stanford) degrees in computer science. I have served and currently serve on various academic (e.g., Caltech's IST Council), corporate boards (e.g., Cohesity, Quantum Circuits, Lilt, Alkira, Robust Intelligence, Graphiant, Oso, Stairwell, Prelude), and a non-profit board (San Francisco Opera). I have held various adjunct and consulting faculty positions at the Eidgenössische Technische Hochschule, Duke, and Stanford.

Updated 2023 May 29