WonderBuilders is a partnership in the true sense of the world. The three partners, having worked closely together for years at Sun Microsystems, bring a different set of complementary skills and expertise to the company.
Nicole Yankelovich, CEO
In her role as WonderBuilders’ CEO, Nicole brings to the partnership over 25 years of educational technology and engineering management experience as well as a background in distance collaboration, user research, and software design. She is passionate about working with clients to apply new technologies to solve substantive real-world problems and address pressing educational needs.
In addition to her role in the partnership, Nicole is the Executive Director of the non-profit Open Wonderland Foundation. She also holds a Visiting Scientist position at the MIT Center for Educational Computing Initiatives. Nicole started the Wonderland project in 2007 as Principal Investigator of the Collaborative Environments research program at Sun Microsystems Laboratories. This open source project, now a community-run effort governed by the Open Wonderland Foundation, is a toolkit for creating 3D virtual worlds for a wide range of training, education, business, and government applications.
Other research projects Nicole directed in her almost 20 years in Sun Labs include Porta-Person, a telepresence device; the Sun Labs Meeting Suite, a suite of tools to augment audio conferences; Awarenex, an instant messaging client with advanced presence features; SharedShell, a multi-user terminal for customer support; and SpeechActs, an early telephone-based natural-language speech application. Prior to joining Sun in 1991, Nicole worked on hypertext research at Brown University, helping to pioneer some of the now-familiar concepts embodied in the World Wide Web and working with faculty to integrate this technology in their classrooms.
Nicole holds seven patents related to interaction design and has published numerous articles and book chapters on educational software, virtual worlds, collaborative environments, speech applications, and hypertext. She has served on the organizing and program committees of international conferences such as CHI, CSCW, UIST, ASSETS, and Hypertext, and she is a long-time steering committee member of BostonCHI, the Boston chapter of the ACM’s special interest group on computer-human interaction.
Jonathan Kaplan, CTO
Jonathan, the original software architect of the Wonderland platform, brings years of enterprise software development experience to WonderBuilders. In addition to designing the Wonderland infrastructure, he has also implemented large portions of the system. His far-reaching technical capabilities along with his understanding of the corporate IT environment allow WonderBuilders to create enterprise-class virtual world software for clients. In addition, his leadership and oversight of the WonderBuilders technical team ensures high-quality workmanship in all deliverables.
From 2007 – 2010, Jonathan worked in Sun Labs on the architecture for Wonderland, an open source virtual world platform written entirely in Java. He focused on the extensibility, security and scalability of the platform, as well as the web-based management infrastructure. Prior to that, Jonathan worked on various collaboration-related projects in Sun Labs, including the Sun Labs Meeting Suite, Porta-Person and Sun Labs Conference Manager projects. Before joining Sun Labs, Jonathan worked on system management software for Sun’s volume systems. His work included hardware monitoring, as well as fault analysis and reporting.
In addition to software development and architecture, Jonathan is a frequent presenter at conferences like JavaOne and CSCW. His interests include multi-user cooperative environments, virtual worlds, web 2.0 applications, web infrastructure, Java enterprise computing, distributed systems, and real-time systems. Jonathan has MSE and BSE degrees in Computer Science from the University of Pennsylvania. He has also filed several patents, and is the co-author of J2EE Design Patterns, published by O’Reilly and Associates in 2003.
Mike Gialis, Director
Mike brings years of business experience to WonderBuilders from both the for-profit and non-profit sectors. He is the company’s eyes and ears, on the look-out for new client opportunities as well as developing ideas for business expansion.
Previously, as the lead for New Business Development for Sun Labs and Sun’s Chief Technology Office, his responsibilities included community and partner development in addition to supporting commercialization and adoption of Sun Labs technologies related to virtual worlds, mixed-reality, and on-line gaming. In his 10 years at Sun, Mike held a variety of management positions in product management, corporate development / M&A, business process re-engineering, systems implementation, e-business, and services. Four of these years were spent supporting the Asia-Pacific region.
Prior to working at Sun, Mike spent 2 years in a business intelligence / sales-force automation start-up and 10 years in the oil and petrochemical industry at Chevron. In those companies he held numerous positions including engineering, operations and financial planning, logistics and supply chain, commodities trading, business and corporate development, alliance management and CFO.
Mike participates in several virtual world community, industry, and academic efforts which further the development of use-cases, ROI realization, open source adoption, new technology development, collaborative research efforts, and investment opportunities related to virtual worlds and gaming. Mike has sat on the boards of for-profit, non-profit and community organizations and has a BSME from UC Davis, MBA from SFSU and completed the CEDIR program at the U of C at Boulder.
Nicole Yankelovich, CEO
PO Box 141
Weston, MA 02493