Chief Operating Officer, Zendesk

2011 recipient of the J.W. Graham Medal

Zack UrlockerMMath ’86, Computer Science

In each of the last four decades Zack Urlocker has been at the forefront of disruptive changes in the software industry. He has pioneered products and companies that have been leaders in graphical environments in the 1980s, client server software in the 1990s, open source software in the 2000s and most recently, cloud-based software-as-a-service applications.

Mr. Urlocker earned a MMath (Computer Science) degree at the University of Waterloo in 1986. He wrote his thesis “Principles of programming environments” under Dr. Gordon Cormack.

Mr. Urlocker began his work in the software industry with The Whitewater Group, a startup company which created the first object-oriented programming language for Windows. Mr. Urlocker subsequently moved to Silicon Valley to join Borland International, the leader in visual development tools, and while there rose through the ranks to become vice president. At Borland, Mr. Urlocker helped create and launch such award-winning development tools as Delphi and JBuilder, one of the first development environments for Java.

As the Internet became a more significant force in computing, Mr. Urlocker joined Active Software, a startup company with innovative enterprise middleware technology. Mr. Urlocker helped take the company public and later assisted in its acquisition for $1.3 billion by webMethods.

In the early 2000s, recognizing the disruptive potential of open source software, Mr. Urlocker joined a small Finnish startup company focused on commercializing MySQL, the leading open source database. Mr. Urlocker ran marketing and engineering at MySQL managing developers in more than 30 countries. He built the enterprise subscription business model which generated approximately $100 million in revenue and led to the sale of MySQL for $1 billion to Sun Microsystems.

Mr. Urlocker is now chief operating officer at Zendesk, the leading cloud-based helpdesk software company. He is an advisor, investor and board member for several software companies and in his spare time is a marathon runner, century cyclist and blues guitar player.

Affiliation: 
University of Waterloo

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