Leading Through Innovation

Haas Alumnus Maps the Future at Google Earth

Haas Alumnus Maps
the Future at Google Earth

Swooping over the Earth and homing in for 3-D close-ups of everything from Mount Everest to the Eiffel Tower have become routine for the users of Google Earth, who tapped into satellite imagery, maps, and search engine power to launch more than 100 million global journeys in the product's first year alone.

The man who's put the world at the fingertips of governments, city planners, realtors, and regular folks is Haas alumnus John Hanke, MBA 96, who co-founded Keyhole, the first company to make complicated virtual models of the planet easily accessible. In October 2004, Google snapped up Keyhole, which provides the foundation for Google Earth. Hanke is now director of Google Earth and Maps.

Entrepreneurship Started at Haas

Do things your own way and be your own judge of success.Hanke has built high-tech companies from scratch since his Haas School days, when he "never missed a Berkeley Entrepreneur's Forum." While still in school he partnered with classmate Steve Sellers, MBA 96, to form Archetype Interactive, creator of the first Internet multiplayer game. After 3DO bought Archetype, the duo started the Java-based online game company Big Network, later acquired by eUniverse. Hanke peeled off to establish Keyhole in 2000.

Funding for Keyhole was precarious in fall 2003, when Hanke applied his Berkeley MBA abilities to challenge conventional wisdom and seize opportunity. The startup was in negotiations with CNN, when the cable news channel decided it couldn't swing a deal for Keyhole technology. Recognizing the potential, Hanke told CNN to pay Keyhole what it could "but to put our URL on screen." When the Iraq war began, Keyhole's imagery and web address were a constant television presence as CNN used Keyhole to zoom over the lands of ancient Mesopotamia. Media attention followed and Google came calling soon after.

True to the independent thinking that distinguishes Berkeley, Hanke urges innovators to "do things your own way and to be your own judge of 'success.'" This Haas alum has clearly achieved success by any measure, and with the launch of Google Moon, the possibilities, it would appear, are limitless.

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