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In the Field

The Accidental Techy

How Andy Miller veered off the traditional law career path and never looked back.

Photographs by Jay Watson

When Steve Jobs, the legendary founder of Apple Computer, called Andy Miller ’93 a “complicated man,” there was no question in Miller’s mind that it was not a compliment. It was 2009, and Miller had just sold his latest start-up tech company, Quattro Wireless, to Apple for $275 million. “Steve’s whole life was based on simplifying everything,” says Miller. “He wanted me to simplify my way of building businesses, to be more intuitive, to simplify the user experience.”

Clearly, Jobs thought Miller was up to the task. Having swallowed up Quattro, one of the first mobile advertising companies, which Miller had headed as CEO and founded with a handful of friends, Jobs offered Miller a top spot with Apple: vice president of mobile advertising. “I was the only VP who reported to Steve,” recalls Miller. “It was exciting and terrifying at the same time.”

But big challenges have always appealed to Miller. Straight out of law school, he went to work as an associate with the law firm Bingham Dana and then moved on to another firm in Worcester. He was on a traditional law practice path when a client inspired him to switch gears. “I was working with a client in the apparel industry and I got the entrepreneur bug from him,” says Miller, who left the law to join a small apparel company. “I went over to do legal HR but the CEO said, ‘You’re a smart guy, so I’ll have you work with every group in the company so you can learn the business.’”

Andy Miller, Co-Owner Sacramento Kings
Andy Miller, part owner of the Sacramento Kings and leader in creating high-tech start-ups.

“That was my MBA,” says Miller, who went on to serve the company as COO. But, then, that “entrepreneurial bug” bit again. “In 2000, capital was plentiful so some friends and I raised a bunch of money, even though we had no real experience, and founded WatchPoint Media. That was my way of getting into tech.”

WatchPoint, one of the first companies to develop interactive television software, was a runaway hit; Miller and his partners sold the company in 2003.

Up next was m-Qube, a mobile channel enabler that develops, delivers, and bills for mobile content and applications. “We became the first company in North America to interconnect phone carriers with short codes to do mobile marketing on phones,” he notes. “Business took off, and we sold to Verifone in 2006 for $250 million.”

And from there, it was on to Quattro, Apple, and most recently a stint as president and COO of Leap Motion, a motion control software and hardware company.

These days, Miller is focused on his part-ownership of the Sacramento Kings and spending time with his wife and two sons. “I’m looking to experiment with new tech ideas to enhance the fan experience,” he says. “And I’m looking to start another company. I’m the accidental techy. I didn’t see it coming when I was in law school, but I am passionate about the mobile space.”

Pocket Résumé

Andy Miller ’93 Leader in creating high-tech start-ups. Specialty: Being ahead of the competition in developing ideas to capitalize on mobile space innovations. Location: Palo Alto, California. Passion: He’s a sports “nut” who owns part of the Modesto Nuts baseball team and the Sacramento Kings.