Erik Baklid

President and CEO

A founding team member of VirtualWorks, Erik Baklid brings more than 20 years of experience and a proven track record in launching and growing new technology ventures.

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In 2001 Baklid co-founded a venture company, Proventus Capital, where he served as a board member and advisor to several turnaround and early stage companies. He led the acquisition and subsequent turnaround of Streambase Technologies in 2002, a company that was later successfully sold to Scala, Inc. in 2004. In 2005, he led the initial investor round in the IP telephony company, Phonect AS, where he grew the customer base from less than 1,000 subscribers to more than 50,000 in three years.

In 1997, Baklid co-founded TeleComputing ASA, Apptix ASA in Norway and their US counterpart corporations, where he served as the company CEO and chairman. He was instrumental in developing the concept of ASP (Application Service Provider) and its business model, which eventually led into the development of today’s cloud computing model. TeleComputing was the first company in the world to offer Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) solutions and is credited for creating the term ASP. TeleComputing and Apptix became strategic partners with many companies including Citrix, Microsoft and Compaq. Both companies had combined revenue of approximately $200 million USD in 2010.

Throughout his career, Baklid has served or currently resides on the board of eight different companies, amassing 15 years of experience as a Chairman or board member. In his free time, Baklid enjoys boating, snow skiing and playing music with his family.

Johannes Stiehler

Chief Technology Officer

Johannes has worked with advanced linguistics and information retrieval throughout his entire career.

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He began at a small technology company in Munich in 2000, which was soon acquired by Fast Search & Transfer – a leading firm in enterprise and site search software at the time. At FAST, he headed the Linguistic Software Development Team and worked on many challenging search projects in international companies as well as on FAST’s global internet search engine (later sold to Overture / Yahoo!).

In 2007, shortly before FAST was acquired by Microsoft, Johannes joined SEARCHTEQ, a subsidiary of German Telekom, as Head of Software Engineering & Operations. He built the consumer search application that enriched yellow page business data with information available on the public web.

When SEARCHTEQ changed its focus towards B2B applications in 2012, Johannes founded ideenplanet GmbH (later searchgears GmbH) and focussed on developing unique search-based applications for a wide range of customers.

He joined ayfie through a merger in early 2016 and has since headed product development of ayfie’s innovative natural language-aware text analytics engine.

Johannes holds a masters degree in computational linguistics, computer science and Romance languages from the renowned Ludwig-Maximilians-University in Munich.

Rob Wescott

Chief Revenue Officer

Rob has a diverse experience spanning over 20 years in marketing, media, technology, and product management, and he is passionate about solving complex business problems with data.

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Prior to VirtualWorks, Rob was an executive at Gannett and The Oklahoma Publishing Company (OPUBCO) focused on revenue development and marketing. While with OPUBCO, Rob lead as Chief Product Officer the spinoff of a “NewCo” start-up, Wimgo, where he lead an innovative team to build a business search engine that leveraged the Facebook graph for relevancy.

In 2011, after seeing the challenges facing the media space, Rob moved deeper into the tech space and joined Cxense, an advertising and content recommendation services company focused on solving problems for Media through real-time data strategies.

While at Cxense, Rob secured partnerships with The Wall Street Journal, using data to optimize subscription sales; Gannett Newspapers, creating a personalization strategy for USA Today and all 89 local media properties; FP Canada Newspapers, creating the world’s first completely personalized experience in the local media space.

Rob holds a bachelor’s of fine arts in graphic design and communications from the Rochester Institute of Technology.

Franz Guenthner

Technology Advisor

Franz Guenthner is a professor of Computational Linguistics at the Center for Information and Language Processing at the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universitaet (LMU) in Munich, Germany. His background is in philosophy and linguistics.

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Guenthner's research interests include computational linguistics, and has collaborated to the development of a number of online search platforms since 1996: AltaVista, Fast Search and Transfer (now purchased by Microsoft), RealNames, JobaNova, Exorbyte, and All The Web.

He was a professor of General and Computational Linguistics at the University of Tübingen (1977–1989) before joining the LMU in 1990. His research interests include all areas of text processing and in particular the transformation of textual corpora in lexical and grammatical representations (i.e. computationally deployable electronic dictionaries and local grammars).

He was also instrumental in the design and realization of a number of search engines, in particular of the first large-scale scientific search engine on the web His present work concerns the use of linguistic techniques in page and link analysis on the web, especially for the construction of vertical search engines.

The language processing technologies developed by virtualworks are based on more than 40 years of research in linguistics, computational linguistics and computer science at a number of universities in particular the University of Munich and the University of Paris. Dozens of Phd theses and research monographs in finite state technology, lexical analysis, parsing, formal semantics etc. have provided the theoretical underpinnings of the approach to linguistic analysis and computation implemented by VirtualWorks.

A small selection of relevant material is listed here (more comprehensive guides to our theoretical assumptions and methods will gladly be made available upon request):

Maurel, D. and F. Guenthner Automata and Dictionaries, 2006, London.

Geierhos, D. BiographIE 2010, Lincom, Munich.

Schuster, J. Predicate-Driven Grammar 2008, Lincom, Munich

Zangenfeind, R. Grammatik der Paraphrase, 2010, Lincom, Munich

Gabbay, D. and F. Guenthner Handbook of Philosophical Logic, Springer.

Maier, P. Lexikon und automatische Lemmatisierung, CIS, 1995.

Blanc, O. Algorithmes d'analyse syntaxique par grammaires lexicalisées : optimisation et traitement de l'ambiguïté, 2006, Paris

Blanc, O. LT-Locate Manual, VirtualWorks/Language Tools, 2015 (available upon request)

Schuster, J. TexLex Manual, VirtualWorks/Language Tools, 2015 (available upon request)