Advisor Team

One of our responsibilities as venture investors is to help our portfolio companies achieve scale and success. Our advisors and extended team members share that commitment. They were specifically invited to join us, because they have played key operational roles in building businesses from the start-up phase to dominant market positions. Their role is to assist the Almaz investment team, and our entrepreneurs, with key industry contacts and strategic advice.

  • Duane Northcutt

    Duane Northcutt was VP Technology and Co-Founder of DriveScale, where he hired the engineering team and led the development of the first two generations of products that provided mobile storage for scale-out systems and container-based applications.

    Prior to this, Duane was responsible for setting corporate technical direction as Chief Technical Officer for several public technology companies. He was an SVP and the CTO of the Connected Home Division of Technicolor (where he led the initiative that has become the AllSeen IoT standard), the CTO and SVP at Trident Microsystems, the CTO and VP at Silicon Image (from 2001 to 2010, where he developed the Steelvine storage product family).

    Duane was a Distinguished Engineer at Sun Microsystems from 1990 to 2001, where he conceived and led the development of the SunRay desktop (Sun’s largest selling) product, and was twice awarded the Sun President’s Award for his technical contributions to the company.

    Duane began his career as a member of the Research Faculty in Carnegie Mellon’s School of Computer Science, where he developed the Alpha real-time operating system and the Archons multiprocessor test bed.

    Duane holds over thirty issued US patents (with multiple foreign filings and other applications pending issue), is the author of a research monograph on real-time distributed operating systems, and has (co-)authored over a dozen articles and technical reports on time-critical computing, distributed systems, multimedia, and thin client technology.

    Duane received both an MSEE and a Ph.D. from Carnegie Mellon University.

  • Alexander Andreev

    Alexander Andreev is a Venture Partner at Almaz Capital.

    Alexander is also the CEO of SoftJoys, one of the longest established Russian software development companies. He was an Associate Professor of Mathematics, working on wireless and DSP algorithms when, bitten by the entrepreneurial bug, he founded SoftJoys.

    Later he co-founded SJ Labs, a company working on VoIP technologies for the international market. Under his leadership SJ Labs developed one of the first softphones in the world, which won many “Best Product” awards. It remains the best softphone in the market.

    SJ Labs became world leader in VOIP software development and was sold to and is now a part of MagicJack Vocaltech (NSDQ:CALL).

    Alexander is also a board member of several startups, including Kuznech and a co-founder of Excursia.

    He has been a member of the Board of Russian Software Development Association, RUSSOFT, since 2000. Alexander graduated from St. Petersburg University with a degree in Physics.

  • Whitfield Diffie

    Whitfield “Whit” Diffie is an American cryptographer and one of the pioneers of public-key cryptography.

    Diffie and Martin Hellman’s paper New Directions in Cryptography was published in 1976. It introduced a radically new method of distributing cryptographic keys that went far toward solving one of the fundamental problems of cryptography, key distribution. It has become known as Diffie–Hellman key exchange.

    Globally recognized as a leader in public-key cryptography, encryption and network security, Diffie has a long and distinguished career as a leading force for innovative thought. He brings extensive experience in the design, development and implementation of security methods for networks.

    Diffie served as Vice President, Fellow, and Chief Security Officer with Sun Microsystems from 1991 to 2009. At Sun, Diffie focused on the most fundamental security problems facing modern communications and computing with emphasis on public policy as well as technology. Prior to joining Sun, Diffie was Manager of Secure Systems Research for Northern Telecom, where he played a key role in the design of Northern’s first packet security product and in developing the group that was later to become Entrust.

    Diffie received a Bachelor of Science degree in mathematics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1965 and a Doctorate in Technical Sciences from the Eidgenössische Technische Hochschule Zürich in 1992. Diffie has received many awards throughout his career and was awarded a Degree of Doctor of Science (Honoris Causa) in 2008 by Royal Holloway College of the University of London. He received the Louis E. Levy Medal in 1997 from the Franklin Institute in Philadelphia and the National Computer Systems Security Award, given jointly by NIST and NSA, in 1996. Diffie is a fellow of the Marconi Foundation and a visiting fellow of the Isaac Newton Institute. He is a 2015 recipient of the A.M. Turing award presented by the Association for Computing Machinery.

    With Susan Landau, he is the author of the 1998 book Privacy on the Line: The Politics of Wiretapping and Encryption.

  • James Gosling

    James Arthur Gosling, OC, is a Canadian computer scientist, best known as the father of the Java programming language.

    In 1977, Gosling received a Bachelor of Science in Computer Science from the University of Calgary. In 1983, he earned a Ph.D in Computer Science from Carnegie Mellon University, supervised by Bob Sproull. While working towards his doctorate, he wrote a version of Emacs called Gosling Emacs (Gosmacs).

    Between 1984 and 2010, Gosling was with Sun Microsystems. He created the original design of Java in 1994 and implemented the language’s original compiler and virtual machine. In the work leading to Java at Sun, he saw that architecture-neutral execution for widely distributed programs could be achieved by implementing a similar philosophy: always program for the same virtual machine.

    For his achievement he was elected to Foreign Associate member of the United States National Academy of Engineering. He has also made major contributions to several other software systems, such as NeWS and Gosling Emacs. He co-wrote the “bundle” program, a utility thoroughly detailed in Brian Kernighan and Rob Pike’s book The Unix Programming Environment.

    Gosling was awarded The Economist Innovation Award in 2002, and was made an Officer of the Order of Canada in 2007.

  • Ed Lu

    Dr. Ed Lu serves as an advisor to Almaz Capital. He also works with several entrepreneurial companies in Silicon Valley including Hover Inc. and Liquid Robotics.

    He served as Program Manager for Advanced Projects at Google Inc. from 2007 to 2010. He was responsible for a diverse group of projects ranging from Google Street View imaging, book scanning technology, imaging for Google Maps/Earth, and energy projects including Google PowerMeter, an online tool for monitoring home energy usage.

    Prior to Google, Ed served as a NASA Astronaut for 12 years. He flew the Space Shuttle twice, the Russian Soyuz, and a 6 month tour on the International Space Station. Altogether he logged over 206 days in space and an EVA (spacewalk) totaling 6 hours and 14 minutes. Dr. Lu flew as a mission specialist on STS-84 in 1997, as a payload commander and lead spacewalker on STS-106 in 2000, as flight engineer of Soyuz TMA-2, and served as NASA ISS science officer and flight engineer on ISS Expedition-7 in 2003.

    Recognitions in his twelve year NASA career include NASA’s highest honor, the Distinguished Service Medal, as well as the NASA Exceptional Service Medal, Russian Medal of Merit for Spaceflight, Gagarin Medal, Fédération Aéronautique Internationale Komorov Medal, Beregovoy Medal and three (3) NASA Spaceflight medals.

    Ed has also served as a scientific advisor to the White House and NASA on space technology and policy issues. He helped drive energy policy work for, the philanthropic arm of Google. In this role he testified before the US Congress on energy issues, and met with officials on both the Federal and State level to ensure that consumers are granted access to their own home energy use information. In addition, he has testified before both the US Senate and House of Representatives on aerospace issues. Ed recently served as a commissioner with the Center for Strategic and International Studies Commission on US/China Relations.

    He received a PhD in Applied Physics from Stanford University and a Bachelor’s degree in Electrical Engineering from Cornell University.


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