At a time when Silicon Valley was being transformed from the digital equivalent of the Wild West into a major pillar of the global economy, Mike Clothier EMBA ’06 helped Internet pioneer Yahoo capitalize on its golden moment of opportunity.
“I built the first software system that managed their orders for online advertising,” Clothier says. “I’m proud that the database design scaled to manage a much larger business,” as Yahoo has grown from $64 million in annual advertising revenues when Clothier designed the system to $4.7 billion in 2007.
As more businesses started paying for real estate on Yahoo’s sites, the company turned again to Clothier to help keep track of it all. As a software engineer at Yahoo’s Sunnyvale offices in the late 1990s, Clothier was responsible for tracking and analyzing the traffic streaming across their web pages.
“The goal was to identify why people came back to certain pages and to develop an understanding of our users,” Clothier explains.
Gleaning these insights, especially at a time when little was known about how the web’s seemingly infinite stands linked together, proved particularly valuable to advertisers looking to put their message in front of Yahoo’s millions of users.
Clothier’s reputation as a problem solver impressed Yahoo’s senior vice president for engineering, who asked Clothier in 2006 to take on a new role as chief of staff managing 300 software developers. This new opportunity came not long after he graduated from Saint Mary’s Executive MBA program, and Clothier says the program helped him move from software engineering to management. He also notes that the Executive MBA program allowed him to continue working full-time at Yahoo while completing his degree.
“I don’t think I could have made the transition without the MBA from Saint Mary’s,” Clothier says. “The MBA instilled a lot of confidence in me and helped me understand higher-level thinking. It also helped that I that I had a good relationship with engineers having come up through the engineering ranks. It made it easier for me to do my job and I understood their concerns.”
After a decade at Yahoo, including two years as the software unit’s chief of staff, Clothier decided he was ready for a new business venture. He and Saint Mary’s MBA classmate Caroline Everett have teamed up to start VetEdge, a company designed to provide financial analysis and profitability recommendations to the veterinary industry. Everett brings her 12 years of experience in the animal health care field, while Clothier is writing the software that will provide veterinarians with financial analysis.
“I didn’t know as much about finance until I got my MBA,” Clothier notes. “We learned so much from each other in the program.”
Since graduation, Clothier has done much to promote the Saint Mary’s graduate business programs that he credits for facilitating his recent opportunities. As chair of the Graduate Business Alumni Chapter, he has helped establish regional alumni chapters in Silicon Valley and the East Bay and organize quarterly events on topics such as venture capital and business ethics. He also serves on the SMC Alumni Association Board of Directors.
“The MBA program was an extraordinary experience and we’re looking to keep that going by linking up with the large network of Saint Mary’s business alumni in the Bay Area.”
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