Award-winning entrepreneur, software engineer, and CEO of Automattic (the company behind WordPress), Toni Schneider says, “I started out as a software engineer, then learned various marketing and business jobs, and ended up as a CEO. I’ve worked with outstanding teams in areas including blogging, web mail, digital music, audio chip design, virtual reality, and DSP software.” While he has worn many hats in the computer science industry, his foundation in computer science started at SBCC. “As a group, my SBCC instructors were among the very best of my entire school career. Some that stand out in my memory are Jim Chesher, who made philosophy come alive for me; "Coach" Dependahl, who made computer science accessible and fun for everyone; and Jack Sanford, who got me into shape as a tennis player. I also have fond memories of Gerry Floyd, who was my advisor and helped 'fresh off the boat' International students like myself get comfortable at SBCC.” Toni grew up in Switzerland and initially moved to California for a year to learn English. He ended up staying and studying computer science, playing tennis for SBCC, starting a car exporting business, and generally, greatly enjoying himself.
After SBCC, Toni transferred to Stanford University and received a B.S. in Computer Science. Regarding his transfer to Stanford, he recalls, “I got very inspired about school and learning at SBCC, which made me work hard and earn pretty much straight A’s (a first for me!). Those grades and attitude helped me get into Stanford and do well once I got there.” Toni almost finished a Masters degree, but as he puts it, “…the siren song of Silicon Valley startups was too tempting and I dropped out to join Crystal River Engineering (and never looked back).” Highlights of his career include operating WordPress.com, one of the top 10 web sites in the world; running Oddpost.com, an exciting startup that was acquired by Yahoo; co-founding another phenomenal startup, Sphere, which was acquired by AOL; being named best startup CEO of 2007 (for Automattic); starting the Yahoo Developer Network; co-developing 3D audio software for NASA; and giving Bill Gates a Virtual Reality demo a few months into his first job at Crystal River Engineering, one of the pioneers of Virtual Reality.
Currently, Toni is CEO of Automattic, which was founded by the core development team behind WordPress.org, the #1 open source blogging software that is used by millions of bloggers worldwide. Automattic runs WordPress.com and a network of online publishing services that together reach an audience of over half a billion people. He is also a venture partner in True Ventures, a leading venture capital firm focused on supporting technology entrepreneurs at the beginning stages of creating companies. While he may be leaps away from his computer science beginnings, Toni says, “I discovered a true joy for learning at SBCC, and I made some great, lifelong friends there as well.”