Written on the 23 March 2017 by Ben Hall


HE was creative director at Apple under the legendary Steve Jobs, and is now a senior Facebook executive. In his newest gig, Andy McKeon has joined the board of ASX-listed enterprise software company LiveTiles (ASX:LVT) in a major coup for the company.

Under Steve Jobs, he helped launch the iPhone, iPad, Mac and iOS software.

At Facebook, McKeon leads a team that manages relationships with some of Facebook's biggest customers, including Amazon, Nike, Ford, Microsoft, Walmart, Samsung and Visa.

LiveTiles is a global software company which was founded in Melbourne. It is now headquartered in New York with offices in Sydney, Melbourne, London and Washington State and it listed on the ASX in September 2015 with an initial market capitalisation of $57 million.

Business News Australia spoke with Andy McKeon in the US and he talks us through what he expects from his Australian mission.

How do you take a company like LiveTiles to the next level?

The product is brilliant. Simple to use, intuitive, highly useful in today's demanding digital, mobile workplace. The momentum is building, the team are signing up some of the world's best companies. Once people see and use it they are in. Because nothing like it exists we have to work out the simplest way to convey the product story, then determine the most efficient and impactful channels to spread the word. The hard product work has been done, now we have to focus on scaling it globally.

I know you've only just started with LiveTiles but what are the main differences between working in Silicon Valley and Australia?

Australians are every bit as ambitious, bright and focused as the best people I've run across in the USA. Perhaps the only difference is the Australian sense of humour, which I've missed, the meat pies in the office and the ability to reminisce about the mighty Bulldogs winning the Premiership last year. The American's don't seem to fully appreciate the finer nuances of Liam Picken's Grand Final game.

A lot of people out here bemoan the drain of IT talent from Australia to overseas destinations like the US what can this country do to try and retain this talent?

It seems a lot of the best and the brightest in Australia get steered towards law or medicine early on in life. I wish schools, universities, parents and the media encouraged a more entrepreneurial spirit. Wouldn't it be more fun and adventurous to be the next Steve Jobs, Mark Zuckerberg, Richard Branson or Hugh Hefner? Americans are fine with experimenting and failing. It's all part of the learning curve. My old flat mate tried three or four different business models and companies before hitting it big. The advantage to being in the USA, particularly Silicon Valley is that we have the whole eco system here. The idea people, the financiers, the engineers and product people and the role models who can guide, mentor and inspire. Hopefully some of the recent Australian successes can inspire the next generation and show the government, universities, kids and parents that it's possible.

What was it like to work with Steve Jobs? What influence did he have on your career/outlook on life?

I was fortunate to work for Apple when Steve Jobs was running it. What a lot of people don't know is how down in the weeds he was in all aspects of the company. The software, hardware, marketing, the stores. He was up on everything. My biggest takeaway is to strive for simplicity. Start with the end user experience and work backwards. It's easier to add complexity than it is to simplify something. Why do some people have 5 remotes to work the home TV/entertainment system? Because things are developed individually and the holistic experience wasn't considered.

What would be your five top tips for startups?

1. Get great mentors who have been through it before.

2. Be flexible with your product. Be prepared to iterate and even change course if necessary. Instagram was initially called Bourbn and started off as a rival to FourSqaure, the difference being you were able to add a photo to a geo location. They talked with people and they soon realized that the photo with location was more compelling.

3. Build for mobile first. That's how we live these days.

4. Don't rush to monetise it. It can lead to bad, short term decisions. Aim to not give away a significant chunk of your company early on if you don't have to. Make sure any investors are aligned with your long-term vision.

5. Have a long-term vision. The founder builders that are successful aren't looking for a quick flip. They are on a mission. At Facebook it's 'to make the world more open and connected' and that drives our decision making product wise and culturally.

Business News Australia

Author: Ben Hall





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