David Williams

Led teams from 3 to 50, managing development, QA, documentation, release and product management.

Designer or principle developer for: 7 web browsers (Netscape / Mozilla, AvantGo, Danger); 6 different virtual machines (2 Java VM, 2 JavaScript, 2 other); applications from pharmaceutical and delivery to education and entertainment on everything from bare metal handhelds to cloud based enterprise systems; 20 US patents.

Successful products you might have used: Descript audio editor, Detour immersive audio tours, NOOK e-reading devices and applications, Danger Hiptop (T-Mobile Sidekick), Netscape Navigator, AvantGo, Kaleida ScriptX, Lucid Energize and XEmacs.

Apple Inc.

Building insanely great products!

Descript, Inc.

Descript is building the next generation of media editing tools for spoken word media. Descript's first offering provides simple word processor like editing of spoken word audio; editing audio is as simple as cut, copy and paste of text. Using AI speech recognition Descript takes spoken word audio and provides a text transcription that is editable, with the text edits cutting back to the audio.

A founding employee, I worked on expanding the platform reach of Descript from MacOS; to Windows, Linux and Web.


At Detour we created high quality, content driven, location based walking (and later riding and driving) tours that brought together the worlds of old school professional journalism, research and storytelling with high tech mobile audio driven augmented reality and gadget centric social interaction. We developed the tools, infrastructure and processes for this new medium and crafted 100s of fun experiences in major cities, must see locations around the US and the world. In 2016 we pioneered the use of indoor location tech to create SFMOMA's award winning curated tours, and began offering museums around the word a fast pass into the digital world. In early 2018 Detour was acquired by Bose to drive the iconic audio company's AR endeavors.

At Detour, I built Descript, Detour's creative tool for creating and managing audio tours. Detour's Descript incorporated mapping tools to layout and edit geo-location based paths, outdoor or indoor; audio tools for multi track sample based editing and sound design; and audio word processing capabilities that let producers write storylines and generate scratch audio for testing and timing, overlay with production audio, and refine using that same audio word processing magic. In late 2017, we spun off the Descript project to form Descript, Inc.

NOOK Media (Barnes & Noble Digital)

NOOK Media was started within Barnes and Noble to provide a digital reading ecosystem, with the best content, e-reader devices, Apps, and services for publishing, management, discovery and delivery of digital books, newspapers, magazines, comics, picture books, and, later, movies and TV content.

At NOOK Media, I headed the Applications Engineering Organization. My team built the NOOK application suite for the NOOK E Ink and LCD readers and tablets; and the NOOK Apps for Android, iOS and Windows 8. I managed about 50 engineers, engineering managers, contractors and consultants in half a dozen locations and four time zones. I streamlined the development process, improving quality, enabling a more complete product offering. I led the organization wide development of several key products, and instigated the ecosystem for a number of new content types.


Sentilla started out making an easy to program, easy to deploy platform for pervasive computing - tiny (coin sized), wireless networked, phantom powered computers inside of furniture, walls, roads, and beer glasses; all running Java, and providing eyes and ears in the real world for an Internet that largely lives in the unreal world. We built a very compact OS, Java VM and libraries, wrapped that software in a sliver of silicon and added an easy to use IDE to create our Sentilla Work and Perk development kits. Later, we wrapped all that teeny technology up into some energy measurement gear and built a vertical app for energy management in data centers: Sentilla Energy Manager. Sentilla was acquired by Ericsson in 2014.

At Sentilla I led product development and support, harassing the team through 3 or 4 direction shifts, 7 product releases, a Java compliance coffee cup, and 32 different kinds of power connector. I hacked the Java VM and Java class libraries, built hardware to test the aforementioned sliver, ported our code between 16 bit and 32 bit hardware, and beat everyone around the Malibu race track (yea!).


At Danger we made the Hiptop (known in the US as the T-Mobile Sidekick). When it was released in 2002, the Hiptop was the first smart phone to really be true to that moniker. Running on dirt cheap hardware, with a Java OS, integrated multitasking apps, always on instant messaging, mail, web, PIM, phone, camera, music player, all integrated with a backend server farm providing data security, Internet presence and a web based desktop app. The Hiptop was an affordable, easy to use, mobile communication and entertainment system that didn't need cables or a desktop computer to function. Danger's partners sold millions of Hiptops and Sidekicks, and on the verge of an IPO, Danger was purchased by Microsoft.

At Danger I headed the browser team, developing the Hiptop's browser and related technologies. We ran a farm of thousands of back end servers to support the ARM powered Java code on the handset. I wrote Java, C and assembler for the Java VM and browser client, C++ for the servers. I managed a team of six engineers across three continents, and worked closely with our design, OS and NOC teams.


AvantGo was a pioneer in the mobile web, developing the first true web browser for early PDAs and smartphones. The AvantGo public service and browser had 12 million users using everything from old Palm PDAs to Blackberry and Symbian smart phones. The AvantGo enterprise products integrated mobile devices, web, PIM and enterprise application data into an easy to manage, mobile intranet. AvantGo had a very successful IPO in 2000, and later merged with the iAnywhere division of Sybase.

At AvantGo, I was the principle designer, and lead developer for the bulk of AvantGo's handheld technology, including our high performance, cross platform (Palm, Blackberry, Symbian, Windows Mobile, Linux) HTML4 and JavaScript enabled browser. I managed 20 engineers and 2 first level managers, I finished up as Chief Engineer for the company, with overall responsibility for technical decisions on all products.


Netscape changed the world. Maybe someone else would have done it eventually, but the web connected world we live in today exists because of Netscape's browser and the servers and other products built around that. 70 million users (when I left, a lot more later) got connected with Amazon, Yahoo, Wikipedia and (even) Google with Netscape Navigator.

At Netscape I was a Senior Engineer in the Browser Engineering team. I developed the Netscape HTML editor, wrote a bunch of stuff in the browser, ported to many Unix platforms, worked on the mail piece of JavaGator (Navigator re-written in Java), wrote some nifty tools, helped establish mozilla.org and spent a lot of time reminding people that not all computers sit on a desktop running Windows.

Kaleida Labs

Kaleida Labs was a joint venture of Apple and IBM. We built ScriptX, a multimedia programming language and cross platform virtual machine. Think JavaScript, HTML5, bunch of other good stuff integrated into one platform and language for making games, multimedia applications, cool stuff - that you wrote once and ran anywhere (yea, I know that got used later). ScriptX was really good, but was mixing with the wrong crowd when the web came along, promising animated GIFs and the blink tag.

At Kaleida I worked on the core VM, focusing on an elegant and programmatically seamless way of providing persistence to objects in your application. The scheme worked well, was easy to use, fast, and a snap to do things like move data in and out of storage or back and forth across the network.


Lucid Inc. was a gem of a company. Lots of crazy, smart folk in one place. Lucid got started as the Lisp provider to every major workstation vendor, but I joined later when we got into the C/C++ tools business. We made Energize, which was a really powerful (and productive) development environment. Integrated editor, graphical browsers, incremental compiler, incremental linker, non-stop debugger, a nice system.

At Lucid I coded a bunch of C++ for the GUI tools and libraries. I did the design work for our UI, wrote our call tree and class tree browsers, gave Lucid Emacs (now called XEmacs) a modernizing face lift, worked on installers and I18N stuff, and played drum kit in the company band.


Back in the day, I started my professional career at HP. Those were the days of the HP Way, 9000 different products and gold plated circuit boards. I worked at HP's first software-only development lab on visual programming systems, database technology and later a laboratory management system. I won a lot of awards, invented an archiving system (which still ships on HP-UX!) and got to see a lot of the world.

© 2010-2022 David Williams <djw@djw.org>