Karl Mochel

I grew up in Cherry Hill, New Jersey, one of the most suburban of suburbs. I started at Drexel University, going for an engineering degree the first year they required students to own a computer - an original Mac 128!, Engineering wasn’t for me, and so when I was looking around, I was recruited to a computer graphics program in the Rutgers University Art Department as a computer literate person learning art versus artist learning computers.

Soon after graduating, when testing some software from a company I met at a conference I called the owner and asked "Why is this so hard to use?" He asked if I could fix it. I said "Yes!" and thus I was hired to redesign 3D animation software at a tiny company in Southern California.

Subsequent jobs led me to San Francisco, where I met my wife, Tanya. We’ve been raising our kids Sara and Philip here ever since. With the kids mostly out of the house now we head out to 20 acres on a lake in Nevada County we own with friends to paddleboard, play disc gold and stop it all from burning down.

Things I do

My hobbies are reading sci-fi and fantasy, swimming, creating functional things via my Snapmaker 3D printer/laser cutter/CNC, and writing about design.

Origin Story

Soon after graduating from Rutgers, I went to NCGA, a now-defunct computer graphics conference, where I saw a 3D graphics application in the Apple booth. I was (and still am) a voracious reader of computer magazines and impressed the founder with my knowledge of RISC boards for rendering. He gave me a copy of the software, and within an hour of using it, I called him in California (Long distance!) and asked why the software was so hard to use. He asked me if I could fix it, and that is how I got into what was then called interaction design.

1989-1997 - Worked for small 3D animation companies designing 3D modeling and animation applications and a virtual reality company designing a VR Integrated Development Environment (IDE).

1997-2000 - Started at Actra, which was a joint GE/Netscape company that GE divested itself from within a few months of joining. Meant I ended up working at Actra, Netscape, AOL, AOL/TimeWarner...all in the same building. Our group started as Netscape’s business group (what would now be called enterprise software) until Ben Horowitz made sure we went with AOL and became the shopping division.

My resume starts after that…