FROM CONTRACTOR TO
CEO: THE CAREER OF ARI KAPLAN
By Andrea Snyder
Our Oct. 1999 cover story was about a man who had successfully merged America's favorite pastime — baseball — with computer technology. Pictured juggling baseballs in an empty Wrigley Field stadium, Ari Kaplan had come up with a way to more precisely calculate pitching statistics. He had also worked for two years with Oracle, set up an inventory system for pharmaceutical giant Merck, and weathered the takeover of U.S. Robotics by 3Com.
Since then, the 31-year-old Kaplan has helped Playboy magazine put together a database for its Web site, managed databases for the Chicago Board of Options Exchange, and designed and implemented the databases of Hallmark.com. Kaplan also dreamed up a software application that could revolutionize the way database administrators work. So, a little over a year ago, he founded his own company, PocketDBA Systems.
The PocketDBA software application allows database administrators to monitor and manage Oracle databases from wireless devices. It is the first product to unchain DBAs from their computers, granting them greater freedom of movement as they pocket and carry their workplaces, says Kaplan.
Why the switch from contractor to CEO? "With the idea of the PocketDBA, having been in the industry, I saw that this was really the chance of a lifetime to get involved at this moment before other people do. So that became a very easy decision," Kaplan explains. "If it were another company? You really need to think twice about starting a company at this economic time."
Although Kaplan enjoyed the freedom of switching projects and scheduling vacations, downsides to the contracting business included being compelled to work on projects that weren't always terribly interesting and being a bit of a loner at the office. "There's also excitement in running your own business; it's something real and tangible," Kaplan says. As a consultant, "when you're placed in a company...sometimes there's envy and misunderstanding and you never feel fully part of the company. Sometimes there are company picnics that you're not invited to."
That's not an issue now. His new company is rocketing along, with clients such as Verizon Wireless, Playboy, and TUSC, an Oracle consulting company. PocketDBA plans to launch a product for systems administrators at the end of this year.
Coming back to baseball: When we interviewed Ari Kaplan two years ago, he had already made a name for himself with his statistics programs and the databases he designed and managed for five baseball teams. Now, he works with one-third of the U.S. major-league baseball teams, as well as with Canada's Montreal Expos. In 1999, he told us that one day, he wants to manage a baseball team. He is still working towards that goal, and hopes to see it through in 12 to 15 years.
ird of the U.S. major-league baseball teams, as well as with Canada's Montreal Expos. In 1999, he told us that one day, he wants to manage a baseball team. He is still working towards that goal, and hopes to see it through in 12 to 15 years.
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