Team

Spencer Whitman – Co-Founder and CEO. Spencer is passionate about solving problems that have an impact on people’s lives. After over ten years of studying and working at Columbia University and Carnegie Mellon University in topics ranging from computer security to distributed systems, Spencer was eager for a new challenge and left to start AppCertain. Spencer is also dedicated to seeing the entrepreneurial community in Pittsburgh, PA grow and thrive. Spencer has a Masters in Electrical and Computer Engineering and a BS in Computer Science, both from Carnegie Mellon University.

Jim Newsome - Co-Founder and CTO. Jim is a software engineer with experience in rapid design and prototyping of new ideas, and in solidifying such prototypes into working software. Jim recently co-designed and built a hypervisor-based security architecture at CMU spin-off NoFuss Security. Before that, Jim worked as a security engineer at Bosch, where he worked with product teams to design secure networked embedded systems. Jim earned a BSE from the University of Michigan, and a PhD from Carnegie Mellon University; both in Computer Engineering.

Sean Ammirati – Co-Founder, Investor, and Advisor. Sean is the father of two children ages 2 years old and 8 months. He is an entrepreneur and partner at Birchmere Ventures with experience building and selling businesses in the media and software industries. Most recently Sean was COO of ReadWriteWeb, one of the most influential sites concerning the future of technology and innovation. In December 2011, the company was acquired by SAY Media to strengthen its technology channel. Sean was previously co-founder and CEO of mSpoke, which was the first acquisition of LinkedIn. Sean is an Adjunct Professor of Entrepreneurship at Carnegie Mellon University’s Tepper School. He also was a founding advisor to Innovation Works’ AlphaLab accelerator. He holds a B.S. in computer information systems from Grove City College and was a research fellow at Carnegie Mellon’s Sloan Software Industry Center.

Lara Schenck – Designer.  Lara is a multi-disciplinary designer and specializes in unique branding and websites for startups in the Pittsburgh area. She has a BFA from Tufts University’s School of the Museum of Fine Arts, where she focused on digital art and design. She is passionate about games and learning, improv, and coffee. Check out more of her work here.

Megan Gilligan - User Experience Enthusiast & Expert.  Leading the AppCertain user experience, Megan draws on her design and usability studies background to implement the latest interaction design trends.  She incorporates feedback from many channels including users, developers, designers and advisers to create the best possible product.  She is dedicated to making AppCertain a parent’s first choice when it comes to managing and securing their family’s mobile devices.  Megan holds a Master of Product Development from Carnegie Mellon University.  See more of her work at megangilligan.com

Cyrus Collier – Web Technologies Wizard. Cyrus is an experienced and multi-faceted web developer, excelling at front-end and back-end web technologies, as well as web-based user experience and information architecture. Being entirely self-taught in web technologies and a musician by training (B.M. University of Michigan), Cyrus brings an artistic refinement and entrepreneurial drive to all projects he works on. He has worked with an array of different companies, including web startups, design and production agencies, and large publishers like John Wiley & Sons and Financial Times subsidiary Money-Media. In his free time, Cyrus is a freelance musician in the NYC area and enjoys hiking and camping with his wife Liz.

Neil Soni – Entrepreneur Extraordinar. Neil joined the AppCertain team because he is excited about the potential that family technologies have in improving the lives of parents and children everywhere. His past experience includes user acquisition, sales, business development, press outreach, and marketing. Neil is an engineering graduate from Carnegie Mellon and was named a Finalist for Entrepreneur Magazine’s College Entrepreneur of the Year in 2012.

Kathy Sutton – Communications and Marketing Maven.  Kathy is the mother of a 10 year old girl and an enthusiastic supporter of educational products that entertain children. Her goal is to promote positive interaction between children and technology.   She worked as a Research Assistant in the Psychology Department at Carnegie Mellon where she did visual attention span testing on infants.  Kathy  worked as a Human Resource Specialist in the Computer Science Department at Carnegie Mellon and continues to work part-time as a freelance writer and editor.  She has a BS in Professional Writing from Carnegie Mellon University.  She loves helping promote AppCertain because it empowers parents to gain insight into their child’s cyber experience and is based in the city she has grown to love.  Check out her blog at kathyinpittsburgh.wordpress.com.

Lujo Bauer – Advisor. Lujo has been an Assistant Research Professor at Carnegie Mellon University’s CyLab since 2007 and ECE since 2011. He received his PhD from Princeton University in 2003. He has done research on many aspects of computer security, with a recent focus on mobile security and policy. Dr. Bauer is particularly interested in building usable access-control systems with sound theoretical underpinnings, and generally in narrowing the gap between a formal model and a usable system.

Dave Mawhinney – Advisor. Dave and his wife Kristan have three sons: Ben (21), Sean (19) and Michael (18).  At Carnegie Mellon University, Dave is the Co-Director of the Carnegie Mellon Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, the Executive Director of the Donald H. Jones Center for Entrepreneurship, and the Managing Director of the Open Field Entrepreneurs Fund. Dave was a co-founder, Chairman and CEO of mSpoke, an internet content and advertising recommendation engine that was acquired in 2010 by LinkedIn. He co-founded three successful startup ventures before mSpoke, including Premier Health Exchange (acquired by Medibuy), Hawk Medical (acquired by McKesson), and Industry.Net (merged with AT&T Business Network to form Nets, Inc.). Dave holds an MBA with Distinction from Carnegie Mellon University and a BS in Physics, Summa Cum Laude, from Indiana University of Pennsylvania.

Jose Morales – Advisor. Jose’s research interests are in defining and modeling malware behavior, replication techniques, distribution methods and detection avoidance. Jose characterizes distinct forms of behavior derived from the execution of different malware classes. His current research focus is in creating new behavior based approaches to identify different forms of malware based on fundamental characteristics. Dr. Morales received his PhD, MS, and BA in Computer Science from Florida International University.

Jon Peha – Advisor. Jon served in the US Government in 2008-2011, first as Chief Technologist of the Federal Communications Commission, and then at the White House as Assistant Director of the Office of Science & Technology Policy where he focused on Communications and Research.  Dr. Peha is a Full Professor in the Dept. of Electrical & Computer Engineering and the Dept. of Engineering & Public Policy at Carnegie Mellon University. He has served as Chief Technical Officer for three high-tech companies, and addressed telecom and e-commerce policy on legislative staff in the House Energy & Commerce Committee. His research spans technical and policy issues of information networks, including privacy and security issues. Dr. Peha holds a PhD in electrical engineering from Stanford, and a BS from Brown. He is an IEEE Fellow, and an AAAS Fellow.