Lecturer Jim Olson founded the WestShore Management Group in April 2007, continuing a distinguished career after leading technology businesses for two Fortune companies and serving for nine years as CEO of SkyStream Networks. WestShore Management Group provides interim CEO, corporate consulting and executive development services for public and private venture-financed companies.
Olson helped launch the UC Davis Engineering Translational Technology Center (ETTC), a technology development center established by the UC Davis College of Engineering to accelerate the transition of high-impact innovative research from the college to technology development and commercialization. As a business specialist in ETTC, Olson advises participating companies in all aspects of company formation, strategy and financing.
Most recently, Olson was executive vice president of video compression systems at Tandberg Television. He became part of the company’s senior management team in April 2006 following Tandberg’s acquisition of SkyStream, where he was president and CEO. At Tandberg, his global role was focused on building and marketing the Tandberg Television video compression offering to ensure that the company was in the pole position to enable operators and content owners to meet consumer needs in an all-digital, on-demand, interactive and personalized world. Olson left Tandberg in early 2007, when the Ericsson Group acquired the company.
Olson joined SkyStream as its first and only CEO in 1997, bringing with him two decades of success in the broadcast video, data communications, Internet and media industries. During his time at SkyStream, the company built a profitable leadership position in IP video head-end equipment. Olson oversaw the development and launch of SkyStream’s award-winning products, the Mediaplex-20 video head-end, the iPlex video head-end, the Source Media Router and the Edge Media Router. In 1999, Olson drove the acquisition of Varuna Software, resulting in SkyStream’s expansion into the video software market with zBand Content Distribution Software, now a leading PUSH Video-on-Demand solution. Under his direction, the company earned many high-profile customers and partners, including EchoStar Communications (DISH Network); Reuters Group PLC; Disney Inc.; CNN; Comcast; NTT; TDS Telecom; Fairpoint Communications; SiTV, the first IPTV deployment in China; Shanghai Stock Exchange and China Central Television; as well as many leading telecommunications and cable service providers in the Americas, Europe and Asia.
While at SkyStream, Olson raised money from some of the top venture capital investors in the world, including IVP, Mayfield Fund, Norwest Ventures, Integral Capital, 3i, AOL-Time Warner, Comcast Ventures and Shaw Communications. From 2000 through 2003, Olson led SkyStream through the steepest technology spending downturn in history, and in early 2003 raised an additional $29 million from these investors, returning two times their invested capital in early 2006. SkyStream grew year over year every year from inception through exit.
Before joining SkyStream, Olson was senior vice president and general manager of Wide Area Network Operations at 3Com Corp., a multibillion-dollar supplier of advanced data networking products, where he led five operating divisions. Prior to 3Com, he spent 22 years at Hewlett-Packard (HP). As general manager of the Stanford Park Division, HP’s oldest business, he led a successful business transformation into the Video Communications Division and was responsible for the company’s award-winning video server business and strategy. He oversaw the launch of a series of new products including the industry’s first plain paper video printer and the award-winning MediaStream video server product family. Olson’s leadership in this successful turnaround was featured in several business management books, including Reengineering Management, by James Champy; How to Drive Your Competition Crazy, by Guy Kawasaki; and Megamedia Shakeout, by Kevin Maney. This remarkable business transformation was also featured in USA Today, Fortune, Businessweek, the Financial Times and the San Jose Mercury News.
Olson has been a featured speaker at the Business Week Telecom Summit, Vortex, the Economist’s 21st Century Internet Summit, Digital Media Outlook and DBS’ Five Burning Questions, among others. He is a guest lecturer at Stanford University’s Graduate School of Business and Executive Education program, where he lectures on leadership, entrepreneurship, and creating and sustaining growth. Three Stanford case studies on Olson’s leadership at SkyStream Networks and Hewlett-Packard are taught in their Graduate School of Business. Olson served as the 2013 Robert A. Fox Executive-in-Residence at the UC Davis Graduate School of Management, where he teaches Teams and Technology, Negotiations, and Technology Management. Olson is an accomplished motivational speaker and author.
Olson holds a BSEE from UC Davis and an MSEE and MBA from Santa Clara University.