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Columbia Business School - Technology Business Group

Eric Metelka, technology fanatic, talks about his club at Columbia Business School

Eric Metelka, previously Associate Consultant at The Cambridge Group, before deciding to undertake an MBA at Columbia Business School. Eric hopes to use the skills he has achieved from his MBA to work in the technology industry, hopefully at a start-up. As co-president of the Technology Business Group, Eric outlines the main initiatives of his club, describes what he thinks of technology today, as well as discussing his most exciting speaker, Aaron Levie.

What is the main aim of your club?
I believe we have a three-prong mandate: the first is to expose the student body to what is going on in the tech world. This means keeping them up to date with the latest tech cases in the classroom and informing about trends and noteworthy news items. The second is creating experiences where students can connect with people in the technology industry. This includes bringing speakers to campus, office visits, and our West Coast Trek to Silicon Valley and Seattle. Lastly, we help our students get employed in the tech industry. Roles span finance to product management and companies span startups to the biggest companies to the country.
 

Who has been your most exciting speaker this year?
For our West Coast Trek we visited Box and I think we were all blown away by the pure genius of Aaron Levie. Honestly, at first I didn't know what to think about this guy with the crazy hair. However, he very quickly won me over and I am now very bullish on Box even with the launch of Google Drive. I'm not saying you need an MBA to understand business strategy, but he knew exactly what challenges he faces, why he faces them, and how to overcome them. And he's built an amazing product. You know how Venture Capitalists say they invest in people? I think Aaron is the epitome of that.
 

What do you see yourself doing after you complete your MBA?
I want to be contributing to the technology industry in a marketing role. I ideally want to work at a startup, but am also considering well-established firms or perhaps striking out on my own as an independent contractor. I am currently gaining experience in SEO and community management at an internship this summer so I can take this leap.

To what extent do you think the failure of the dotcom market restricted investment in the technology sector?
Let me preface this by saying that I am 27 so the dot com bubble happened when I was pretty young so I mostly learned the lessons about it after the fact. That said, I don't think the technology sector suffered. Sure, there was a temporary deficit of capital, but it was deserved. The grifters and charlatans needed to be cleared out and the landscape reset. As a consequence, we now have a more robust investment system with smarter angels and longer timeframes until IPO. I don't think anybody can look at the last year of IPOs and say that there were any long-term negative consequences in terms of technology investment. By the way, we're currently not in another bubble. When everyone worries if we're in a bubble, we're not in one by definition.

Do you think it’s the responsibility of the government to fund advances in technology?
I don't think it is the responsibility of government to fund advances in technology. I think it is the purview of government to invest in growth when there are market inefficiencies. Two secondary criteria should also be that investment will increase employment and bring a long-term return on investment. For example, the problem with cleantech currently is that there are no exits because the big energy companies aren't buying. No exits means few investors means less startups. Is cleantech our best long-term energy option? I have no idea. But I do believe the government should be making small investments in all energy alternatives because of the exit problem, the likely employment gains, and the long-term ROI from decreased cost and energy independence.

Is the sovereignty of space going to be captured by the wealthy nations?
Travelling into space is by definition an extremely expensive trip. So if there's sovereignty to be had it'll either be by wealthy nations or wealthy individuals. In high school I wanted to be an astrophysicist, so you'll be hard pressed to find someone more optimistic about our opportunities in space. Even so, I am doubtful about James Cameron mining asteroids anytime soon. In other words, in the future I think we're more likely to be going to be fighting over the orbits for satellites but not who owns the Moon.

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Wednesday 20th June 2012, 23.02 (UTC)

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omg Aaron Levie is 25... Eric do you think the youth of most tech entrepreneurs (the ones you read about anyway) means we are missing out on products that affluent over-60s can use? My dad struggles to copy-paste...

Wednesday 20th June 2012, 23.43 (UTC)

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forget the over-60s - what about the over-30s? good point Alexandra! great interview eric. although i personally believe governments should invest in technology where there's benefit for society but not necessarily an obvious commercial market - for example green energy, biotech treatments for rare diseases, space travel etc...

Thursday 21st June 2012, 09.57 (UTC)

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Cool photo!!!

Thursday 21st June 2012, 09.57 (UTC)

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not sure you pull off the 'band' look though hehe

Thursday 21st June 2012, 10.59 (UTC)

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Efe

Yeah, totally don't like a band. Is the guy on the front in the navy blazing sticking his tongue out? That's so rockstar! hehehes

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