Hi, I'm Thomas!

Thanks for stopping by! This page shows a snapshot of my work which keeps evolving as I learn and create new things every day.

I'm a passionate Leader, People Advocate, Product Builder, AI innovator, Entrepreneur, Mentor, Coach, Educator,
Eternal Learner, Electronic Musician, Chocolate Addict, Human.

How are you making the world a better place today?
Share your thoughts. Say Hi! Thanks for connecting.

Thomas
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Facebook

I joined Facebook in January 2018 to lead the International Product team and "Women in Emerging Markets" initiative. I drove growth experiments and launched innovative product features for international users like Facebook for the Reliance Jio phone in India, new safety features for women in emerging markets, music streaming in Russia, and user identity in Japan. I then took over leadership of Facebook's AI Applied Research product team for Speech: my team launched voice features across Facebook platforms incl. voice control and speech output for Portal and Oculus.

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Savvy – Learn from anyone

In 2014, I started Savvy, global education platform that makes anyone with expertise bookable and connects them with learners for 1:1 learning sessions over live browser-based video chat. Savvy democratizes teaching and connects teachers and learners anywhere. The platform is designed to quickly create a strong relationshop between learner and teacher. Savvy builds on their relationship, puts learners in charge of their goals, and handles all the logistics (scheduling, payments, cancellations, communication) so both parties can focus entirely on the learning experience. My company got acquired in 2018.

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Airbnb – International Product

I led Airbnb’s global product and market strategy to grow the two-sided marketplace in 192 countries. In my role as International Product Lead, I ran strategic experiments and directed growth efforts such as the Airbnb localization platform. I introduced dramatic changes to the platform's user interface outside the U.S. (e.g. in Japan) to create a "local" experience with great success.

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Twitter – International Product

At Twitter, I led the International Product Team, ran growth experiments and grew usage in strategic international markets: I launched Twitter in bi-di languages, built unique product features for users in Japan, onboarded all major German public media and Bundesliga soccer clubs, relaunched the "verified" accounts program, got the first #hashtag on air on German Primetime News, launched special event pages for Oktoberfest, introduced live soccer scores, and made Twitter the primary partner for the 2012 ICC World Twenty20 cricket tournament, connecting hundreds of millions of people around the globe.

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Mozilla – Firefox for Android

As Product Lead for Mozilla, I launched Firefox for Android, the first browser of it's kind that was designed around the user's privacy and data safety bringing the "do not track" feature to mobile phones. The innovative browser established new standards for HTML5 and CSS3, featured add-ons, "personas" customization options, and seamless integration and synchronization of bookmarks and passwords across web and mobile Firefox browsers. Did you know that a real firefox is actually not a fox but a red panda?

Firefox for Android
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Google Homepage Innovation

I joined Google in early 2006 and relocated from Germany to San Francisco (via Zurich, Switzerland) to drive the company's localization across all product portfolios. I launched dramatic improvements for users in Asia and set standards for the company's approach to global success. I managed iGoogle and launched a customization feature which led to significant increase in search volume as users designed their own Google page and made it their browser start experience. The feature was so popular that news about it "fail-whaled" Twitter for several hours :)

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SAP Mobile Technology

I joined SAP in 1995 as a software engineer. My empathy with users and passion for building great product led me to Product Management. At a time when barely anyone had mobile phones and only nerds had handhelds called "PDAs", I saw the potential of mobile tech and hence initiated a project that would put SAP on the map as innovation driver: SAP CRM for Tablet PC. I drove SAP's corporate strategy in the office of the CEO for three years before I relocated to the U.S. in 2006.

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IBM AI Speech Technology

From 1990 - 1995, while at University, I worked for IBM in Berlin and in Heidelberg, Germany. In their Scientific Research Center, I applied my AI skills using Knowledge Base Programming Language PROTOS-L and helped advance speech technology in products like Viavoice. Machines that understand human speech was considered quite futuristic at the time. Today, even simple wearable devices has some sort of speech-enabled Assistant built in. Good times.

IBM Viavoice

Select publications

Global Innovation

Leading Global Innovation: Facilitating Multicultural Collaboration and International Market Success
Responding to the need for organizations to improve global strategic planning and execution, this book presents a framework for effectively conceiving and executing new concepts for international markets. Filling an important gap in knowledge and research on global innovation, the author demonstrates how leaders can facilitate multicultural collaboration in service of organizational performance. Cases and findings are shared from international studies of over 200 leaders and 45 multinational firms with headquarters based in Asia, Europe, and North America. Leading Global Innovation provides a practice perspective with specific models and solutions for facilitating multicultural team collaboration, from concept to market. This book offers crucial guidance for executives, managers, consultants, and educators who would like to understand how to lead and orchestrate innovation in a culturally diverse and networked business environment.

Cracking the PM Interview

Cracking the PM Interview: How to Land a Product Manager Job in Technology
How many pizzas are delivered in Manhattan? How do you design an alarm clock for the blind? What is your favorite piece of software and why? How would you launch a video rental service in India? This book will teach you how to answer these questions and more. Cracking the PM Interview is a comprehensive book about landing a product management role in a startup or bigger tech company. Learn how the ambiguously-named "PM" (product manager / program manager) role varies across companies, what experience you need, how to make your existing experience translate, what a great PM resume and cover letter look like, and finally, how to master the interview: estimation questions, behavioral questions, case questions, product questions, technical questions, and the super important "pitch."

Entrepreneur Magazine

Entrepreneur Magazine: One-to-One Teaching Platform Savvy Launches, Tapping a $105 Billion Market
A new startup launching today, Savvy, allows students and teachers to schedule appointments and join live video chats through an online platform. The San Francisco-based startup aims to tap into a smart education-technology market that was worth $105 billion in 2015 and is expected to balloon to $447 billion by 2020, according to a report from market research firm Markets and Markets. Savvy gives teachers in all manner of disciplines -- ranging from voice training for individuals who have recently undergone transgender surgery, managing your career as a dancer, somatic body movement to becoming a private investigator -- a way to advertise their skillset, book appointments either via live video chat or in person and accept payment.

Startup Mixtape

The Startup Mixtape – The Guide to Building and Launching a High-Growth Tech Startup
The Startup Mixtape is a book dedicated to unravelling the complexities of building a technology startup that's poised for scale. Based on over 100 interviews with VCs, startup founders, and executives, it combines their knowledge and experience with the best practices of startup ecosystems in Silicon Valley and beyond.

PhD Thesis

PhD Thesis: Expert Machines – Machine Experts. Commercial Knowledge-based Systems (German)
Dr. Arend's interdisciplinary scientific research examines current and historical expert systems in various fields of commercial application. The dissertation provides foundations and in-depth details on the subject of AI and knowledge-based systems. It combines essential aspects of technology, engineering, philosophy, and sociology. With the "SAP Automated Diagnostic System", the author presents a practical example and discusses its structure and impact in detail. Finally, Dr. Arend's research examines the limits and visions of knowledge-based systems as well as their local and global economic and socio-cultural relevance, opportunities, and risks of AI systems. AI has seen spectacular successes and dramatic failures over the past decades. The book teaches classic concepts and new ideas in applied AI and is a valuable read for system architects and users of computer systems and software solutions based on AI, Machine Learning, and Knowledge-based systems.

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