Dean Nelson’s Next Chapter: Family, Philanthropy, iMasons and Startups

July 11, 2019
Industry veteran Dean Nelson has departed Uber, and is starting a consulting business that will make more time for his family, philanthropy, and Infrastructure Masons.

Industry veteran Dean Nelson has departed his position at Uber, and is starting a consulting business that will make more time for his family, philanthropic ventures, and Infrastructure Masons.

Nelson has been one of the data center industry’s busiest executives. He headed infrastructure teams at Sun Microsystems, eBay and Uber, as well as founding the Infrastructure Masons, a professional group focused on “uniting the builders of the digital age.”

On his 30th anniversary in the technology industry, Nelson said it is time to change things up.

“Today I’m taking control of my time to focus more . . . On Purpose,” Nelson wrote on LinkedIn. “I have a bad habit of signing up for too much. I have always been too busy. Like many in our field I get caught up with the work. The next opportunity. A chance to do something bigger, better and with more impact!

“What I came to realize is I am already part of many things that have that impact. Ones that have an important purpose to me. Ones that make each of my heartbeats matter – my family, my community and giving back.”

Nelson is launching a consulting firm (Dean Nelson Inc.) to provide strategy and consulting services to tech companies and investment firms. The new advisory business will allow more time to focus on philanthropy, including the Just Let Me Learn Foundation, which builds schools and dormitories for students in economically challenged areas of India.

He has also been taking time to enjoy the music career of his daughter Nina, who has been performing in major arenas across the country with Citizen Queen, which is touring with Pentatonix after signing a three-album deal with RCA Records.

“This enables me to continue doing what I love and the freedom to spend quality time with my family, growing the Infrastructure Masons community, and expanding our Just Let Me Learn schools,” said Nelson, who said his consulting will feature “focused engagements to optimize time and yield the best returns for those companies and my heartbeats. I’ve already started engagements with a few companies that I believe will be making a difference in our industry.”

From Sun to Uber

Dean Nelson is his early days at Sun Microsystems. (Photo: Dean Nelson)

Nelson shared his career transition as he marked 30 years in the field. “I can’t believe how fast the time has flown by. It seems like only yesterday when I was on the Sun manufacturing line in Milpitas, CA doing component level debug on server hardware.”

Nelson discussed his tenure at Sun last year during an iMasons fireside chat with former CEO Scott McNealy.  “I believe I went to the University of Sun,” said Nelson. “The culture was unique.”

At eBay, Nelson built new data centers in Phoenix and Utah that harnessed the latest innovations in hyperscale computing and energy management, including the deployment of modular data centers using warm-water cooling, and the installation of Bloom Energy fuel cells as the primary source of power. Nelson has also been an advocate of liquid cooling as the next phase in high-density data center design.

Nelson said he was particularly proud of his accomplishments during three years as Head of Compute at Uber, the ride-sharing and logistics specialist. Last year at Datacloud Europe, Nelson shared how Uber has developed a “building block” approach, creating a reference architecture for rapidly deploying new infrastructure in wholesale data center space.

“In less than three years we tripled the team, cut unit costs by almost 50 percent, and grew the portfolio by more than 400 percent,” Nelson wrote. “One of the most rewarding points in my professional career was hearing that Uber’s board identified our on-prem strategy as a competitive advantage for the company.”

iMasons: We Need Workforce Development

Nelson also plans to continue to devote time to Infrastructure Masons, which he founded in 2016 and has developed major initiatives on sustainability and diversity in the data center industry.

The Infrastructure Masons are helping educate and train the next, diverse generation of technologists. (Photo; Infrastructure Masons)

“I am passionate about community and building long lasting relationships with the professionals in our industry,” said Nelson. “I’m extremely proud of the work we are doing to increase diversity through our member resource groups (IM Women, IM Millennials/GenZ, IM Hispanic/LatinX, IM Veterans, and more), education initiative partnering with colleges, universities and vocational schools, and our scholarship program which targets > 50% awarded to women and other underrepresented groups.

“All this effort is to address one of the biggest risks to our members – the shortage of incoming talent to feed the ever-increasing demand on infrastructure,” Nelson added. “The only way we can solve this problem is by increasing awareness of the industry and recruiting new talent. The world depends on the foundation we build, yet the majority of the world doesn’t know we exist or how dependent they are on it.  Awareness is key, and we are laser focused on educating young people and talent from other industries on the rewarding and lucrative careers in this rapidly growing industry.”

See Dean’s full post at LinkedIn.

About the Author

Rich Miller

I write about the places where the Internet lives, telling the story of data centers and the people who build them. I founded Data Center Knowledge, the data center industry's leading news site. Now I'm exploring the future of cloud computing at Data Center Frontier.

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