A Tale of the Consumer and the Consumed
ike inakami (aka The M) is a veteran in the consumed products space with a well-honed palette in the dried and fermented theobroma cacao seed and a specialization in its pelletized forms. Or M&M’s in the common vernacular. He is well-known for managing a supply chain that keeps Silicon Valley engineers energized with M&M’s varieties spanning the classic Milk Chocolate to the flavorful Pumpkin Spice Latte. Mike also has an extensive background in consumer electronics, in particular media technologies, and has held various engineering and management roles in that space. From media workstations to DVRs to streaming services, Mike’s enjoyed working with some of the industry’s most talented teams in crafting cutting-edge products and services. He is a passionate advocate of cord-cutting and over-the-air television as well as dark chocolate raspberry M&M’s.
Mike’s foray into consumed products began in the early ’90s while an engineer at IBM working in the VRU and video server spaces. Armed with a single dispenser and a bag of plain chocolate M&M’s he was tasked with keeping the IBM Mountain View Ultimedia Server team well-fed. He subsequently honed his skills at On Command Video and Silicon Graphics. Soon after Silicon Graphics wound down its Consumed Products Division (CPD – sometimes incorrectly referred to as the Consumer Products Division) in 1999, Mike headed to TiVo where he held various roles in M&M’s procurement and supply chain management. While not refilling M&M’s dispensers, he also found the time to manage a platform software team, serve as partner manager to key (silicon) chip vendors, and led development of several DVR platforms. One of Mike’s great achievements was developing a process for assessing product readiness through the monitoring of consumed M&M’s. A trial of this process predicted schedule slips and product readiness with greater accuracy than the metrics then employed by the project management team. Mike is also known for kickstarting TiVo’s high-definition television efforts from a skunkworks project to the launch of the first commercially available HD DVR.
In 2003 Mike was on the founding team of TGC, a multi-national company bringing the magic of DVRs to the Greater China market. (Mike is obligated to note that TGC is not an acronym for Tastes Great Candies. Really, it’s not. Neither is it an acronym for TiVo Greater China.) At TGC, Mike’s responsibilities expanded to providing both M&M’s and soft drinks. He was also responsible for TGC America’s engineering organization, providing direction to the R&D group at TGC Shanghai, and overseeing the technology roadmap for TGC, Inc as a whole.
Mike currently provides consulting services through Koherence, LLC, which he founded in 2006 to provide M&M’s (and, when time permits, product development and management services) in the consumer electronics space. Mike also had a hand in founding the Taiwan streaming service LiTV, although logistical challenges in establishing the Taiwan supply chain has limited the flow of M&M’s. Mike is currently limited to advising LiTV in its technology and engineering direction.
Mike continues to keep abreast of the ever-increasing M&M’s varieties and recently spent much time evaluating the subtle difference between Hot Chocolate and Hot Cocoa M&M’s. The engineer in him is also intrigued by natural language and human-computer interaction, the expanding capabilities and uses of deep learning, and developments in consumer electronics. He has started a DVR platform project (Project Entangle) within Koherence to pursue the many untapped opportunities in broadcast television. For example, why is it no one has implemented Season Passes to M&M’s commercials? Mike is actively seeking co-
consumers developers. If you’re interested contact him. Contributors will be well-compensated via a variety of M&M’s candies.
Mike has a Bachelor of Arts & Sciences in Psychology and Computer Science from Stanford University. He is also a member of the M&M’s Inner Circle and is frequently sighted in the candy aisles of Bay Area Target stores.