Tue, 28 Sep 2021

David Catzel

Over the past few years, recognition that climate change is real has pushed the world to switch to renewable energy sources to reduce carbon emissions. The International Energy Agency suggests that in 2020, more than ten million electric vehicles hit the world's roads. Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, electric car registrations have dramatically increased since then. By 2025, EVs are expected to hit 10% of global passenger vehicle sales, rising to 28% in 2030, representing six million vehicles

Major global conglomerates invest in electrification and respond to market signals, driven by corporate responsibility and financial realities. Microsoft, which has been carbon neutral across the world since 2012, has upped the ante and announced plans to be carbon negative by 2030. The company has committed to promoting sustainable development and low-carbon business practices globally through sustainable business practices and cloud-enabled technologies. Driving innovation in the automobile sector at Microsoft is Industry Digital Strategist and thirty-year digital transformation veteran David Catzel.

Born on May 17th, 1953, in Boston, Massachusetts, Catzel is a leading business innovator and strategic multimillion-dollar business builder. His journey to Microsoft is characterized by equal measures of curiosity and dedication to innovation. Catzel entered the job market as a producer at a multimedia and events production company. He worked on a broad variety of projects, including new product introductions for major car companies. Catzel diversified his skill set to combine media and technology to create synchronized experiences of imagery, lights, lasers, and special effects. After building his portfolio in the corporate communications arena, he and his partner, Kit Thomas, launched KitCat, a music video production company in the early days of MTV. His agency produced music videos for various artists, including Donna Summer, John Denver, Kansas, and The Judds. The documentary division created films about multiple personalities, such as Roger Waters, co-founder of the progressive rock band Pink Floyd.

KitCat grew to become one of the most prolific producers of music videos of every genre. However, the partners' interests evolved, and Thomas decided to pursue a career in music production, and Catzel followed his passion for technology as an agent for transformation. He joined IBM Partner Company North Communications, a global leader in software and interactive kiosk development.

As Vice President of Business Development, Catzel drove transformational change using technology and media to provide citizens access to Federal, State, and Local government services. He oversaw the development and deployment of interactive, transactional kiosk networks worldwide that harnessed powerful technology to provide citizens seamless access to government that showed the way for internet deployments more than a decade later. The kiosks were embedded with a graphic user interface, colorful touchscreens, and on-camera narration in several languages to render complex programs easier for people with different literacy and linguistic skills to comprehend.

After helping build North Communications' global business, Catzel was recruited in 1994 by LucasFilm as Technical Director on a first-of-its-kind entertainment marketplace concept. His task was to develop a next-generation technology systems control package with features that could be sponsored to offset costs. The solution would combine several elements, including lighting, projections, electronic signage, lasers, and effects, to offer visitors an engaging shopping and entertainment experience, which varied according to demographic and time of day. Catzel built and led Lucasfilm and the third-party team to design and develop a complex technical control system that foreshadowed many of the features of today's IoT (Internet of Things) technology.

While his design was not executed, the experience further honed his media, technology, and digital innovation skills, leading to his six-year stint at Intel from 1996 to early 2001. He was hired to create demand for the company's newly launched processor, Pentium II with MMX (multimedia extensions). Catzel leveraged his media and entertainment experience and contacts to get the major studios and TV networks to create rich media destinations on their sites for fans. Catzel quickly transitioned to Intel Capital as the Director of Strategic Media Investments. He developed and executed strategy and built and managed a multimillion-dollar equity investments portfolio of global sports content, technology, and infrastructure companies. Some of the key strategic investments he led included CBS SportsLine, SportVision, and Quokka Sports, who powered NBC's coverage of the 2000 Olympics in Sydney with Intel technology. The approach was enormously successful, resulting in a multi-hundred-million-dollar demand for high-end processors in personal computers in under three years.

After building an impressive digital transformation track record across promising young ventures and established corporations like ESPN and Barnes & Noble, Catzel was hired by Microsoft in 1976 in a Senior Developer Platform Evangelist role to lead the teams' engagement with the entertainment industry. Subsequently, with Microsoft's Government Cloud launch, he drove the Justice and Public Safety Sector engagement, helping key strategic ISVs launch their apps in the secure Government cloud. In 2019, Catzel left to join an Israeli cyber firm but returned to Microsoft in early 2019 as a member of the newly established automotive industry team.

As Senior Industry Digital Strategist, Catzel works with the C-suite of leading automotive, mobility, and transportation companies and partners to understand the tectonic shifts in their business, envision what the future might look like, and then help them adopt the technology today that will make the future possible. His primary focus areas include Electric Vehicles (EV), Mobility as a Service (MaaS), Autonomous Vehicles, Smart Cities, and Sustainability. His partners range from major automotive OEMs to airlines

Catzel's journey has been of resilience, determination, intellectual curiosity, and ongoing adaptation to change to create opportunity. He has built his career on the belief that nothing is static, circumstances continually change, and one can transform this change into opportunity with a little intellectual curiosity.

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