Jim Olson

Lecturer, Robert A. Fox Executive in Residence, 2013

Jim Olson founded the WestShore Management Group in April of 2007, continuing a distinguished career after leading several high technology businesses for two Fortune companies and serving for nine years as CEO of SkyStream Networks, the top rated IPTV video head-end provider worldwide. WestShore Management Group provides Interim CEO, corporate consulting, and executive development services for both public, and private, venture-financed companies.

Most recently, Olson was executive vice president of video compression systems at TANDBERG Television. He became part of the company’s senior management team in April 2006 following TANDBERG’s acquisition of SkyStream, where he was president and chief executive officer. At TANDBERG, his global role was focused on building and marketing the TANDBERG Television video compression offering to ensure that the company was in the pole position to enable operators and content owners to meet consumer needs in an all digital, on-demand, interactive, and personalized world. Olson left TANDBERG in early 2007, when ERICSSON acquired TANDBERG for $1.4 billion.

Olson joined SkyStream as its first and only CEO in 1997, bringing with him two decades of success in the broadcast video, data communications, Internet, and media industries. During his time at SkyStream, the company built a very profitable, leadership position in IP video head-end equipment. Olson oversaw the development and launch of SkyStream’s award-winning products, the Mediaplex-20 video head-end, the iPlex video head-end, the Source Media Router, and the Edge Media Router. In 1999, Olson drove the acquisition of Varuna Software, resulting in SkyStream’s expansion into the video software market with zBand Content Distribution Software, now a leading PUSH Video-on-Demand solution. Under Olson’s direction, the company earned many high profile customers and partners, including EchoStar Communications (DISH Network), Reuters Group PLC, Disney Inc., CNN, Comcast, NTT, TDS Telecom, Fairpoint Communications, SiTV – the first IPTV deployment in China, Shanghai Stock Exchange, and China Central Television; as well as many leading Telco and Cable service providers in the Americas, Europe, and Asia. 

While at SkyStream, Olson raised money from some of the top venture capital investors in the world. These include, IVP, Mayfield Fund, Norwest Ventures, Integral Capital, 3i, AOL-Time Warner, Comcast Ventures, and Shaw Communications. From 2000 through 2003, Olson led SkyStream through the steepest technology spending downturn in history and in early 2003, raised an additional $29M from these investors returning 2X their invested capital in early 2006. SkyStream grew year over year every year from inception through exit.

Before joining SkyStream, Olson was senior vice president and general manager of Wide Area Network Operations at 3Com Corporation, a multi-billion dollar supplier of advanced data networking products, where he led five operating divisions. Prior to 3Com, Olson spent 22 years at Hewlett-Packard Company. As General Manager of the Stanford Park Division, HP’s oldest business, he led a successful business transformation into the Video Communications Division, and was responsible for the company’s award-winning video server business and strategy. He oversaw the launch of a series of new products including the industry’s first plain paper video printer and the award-winning MediaStream video server product family. Olson’s leadership in this successful turnaround was featured in several business management books including, among others:  “Reengineering Management”, by James Champy; “How to Drive Your Competition Crazy”, by Guy Kawasaki; and “Megamedia Shakeout”, by Kevin Maney. This remarkable business transformation was also featured in USA Today, Fortune, Business Week, the Financial Times, and Silicon Valley’s own San Jose Mercury.

A valued member of the industry, Olson has been a featured speaker at the Business Week Telecom Summit, Vortex, the Economist’s 21st Century Internet Summit, Digital Media Outlook and DBS’ Five Burning Questions, among others. He is a guest lecturer at Stanford University’s Graduate School of Business and Executive Education program, where he lectures on leadership, entrepreneurship, and creating and sustaining growth. Three Stanford case studies on Olson’s leadership at SkyStream Networks and Hewlett-Packard are taught in their Graduate School of Business. Olson is also a guest lecturer at the University of California, Davis, Graduate School of Management, and was named the 2013 Robert A. Fox Executive-in-Residence (http://gsm.ucdavis.edu/executives-residence). He was named Teacher of the Year in 2016. At UC Davis, he teaches Teams and Technology, Negotiations, Organizational Development, Leadership, and Technology Management. Olson is an accomplished motivational speaker and author. 

Olson holds a BSEE degree from the University of California, Davis, and MSEE and MBA degrees from Santa Clara University.