Wayne Purboo of New Relic: “Cloud and edge computing skills”

Cloud and edge computing skills, Interpersonal communication, Focus on the problems people will pay to solve, Ability to be a lifelong learner, Adaptability 5G infrastructure is being installed around the world. At the same time, most people have not yet seen what 5G can offer. What exactly is 5G? How will it improve our lives? […]

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  • Cloud and edge computing skills, Interpersonal communication, Focus on the problems people will pay to solve, Ability to be a lifelong learner, Adaptability

  • 5G infrastructure is being installed around the world. At the same time, most people have not yet seen what 5G can offer. What exactly is 5G? How will it improve our lives? What are the concerns that need to be addressed before it is widely adopted?

    In our series, called, How 5G Technology May Improve and Impact Our Lives, we are talking to tech and telecom leaders who can share how 5G can impact and enhance our lives.

    As a part of this series, I had the pleasure of interviewing Wayne Purboo.

    Wayne Purboo is senior vice president of strategy at New Relic, Inc., a San Francisco-based company empowering developers to create more perfect software with an industry-leading suite of observability solutions. Wayne is an experienced founder, executive and entrepreneur, with successful exits, including Solect Technology Group (acquired by Israeli tech giant Amdocs) and QuickPlay Media (acquired by AT&T). Born in Jamaica and raised in Toronto, Wayne approaches business with a global perspective, and he is as comfortable closing deals in Shanghai as he is in San Francisco. Drawing on his experiences as a Black executive — and often the only person of color in a team meeting or boardroom — in 2020, Wayne and his wife Nigela Purboo, founded the Onyx Initiative, a Toronto-based non-profit addressing the systemic gap in corporate recruiting of Black talent in Canada.

    Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dive in, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your ‘backstory’ and how you got started?

    Born in Jamaica and raised in Toronto, I approach business with a global perspective. I entered the tech industry as a computer scientist, believing my role would be to solve problems with intelligent engineering. My career began in earnest at Network Computing Devices, where I learned the foundational problem of commercialization for tech innovators was finding the right problems to take on.

    I achieved a string of successes and noteworthy exits with companies like Solect Technology Group and QuickPlay Media. As a top strategist at New Relic, with a history in the “Wild West” period of Silicon Valley, I lend my experience and expertise in guiding entrepreneurs tackling new and unexpected problems that could never have been predicted even a decade ago.

    Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?

    There are many stories I could share, but the most interesting would be selling in foreign countries to non-North Americans, crossing the boundaries of distance, language and race, as a black CEO at QuickPlay Media. I have always felt it important to feel very comfortable with the color of my skin. You have to be able to sell yourself before you can sell anything else.

    Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

    There is a Jamaican saying that is used in place of good-bye, it is “Walk Good”. It is not to be taken literally, it means through all your actions and interactions take care of yourself and others as you continue your life journey.

    None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

    I often feel a burden of debt for all the people that have helped me — it is my motivation to help others. There are many people, from my high school basketball coach, to my Series A board member of QuickPlay, they have all played a significant role.

    You are a successful business leader. Which three character traits do you think were most instrumental to your success? Can you please share a story or example for each?

    Empathy, Empathy, Empathy! Empathy for your employees, empathy for your customers and empathy for your shareholders.

    Are you working on any new or exciting projects? How do you think that will help people?

    Last summer’s social unrest created a desire for my wife and I to help beyond our typical donation to a worthy cause. We felt we could have an outsized impact of this social problem by leveraging our resources to do something. In an effort to close the opportunity gap for Black university graduates in Canada, I founded the Onyx Initiative with my wife Nigela in 2020. The Toronto-based nonprofit connects Black students with opportunities at Canada’s leading corporations, while providing training and mentorship to ensure their continued success in the workforce.

    Ok wonderful. Let’s now shift to the main focus of our interview. Like 4G, 5G has many different facets, and I’m sure many will approach this question differently. But for the benefit of our readers can you explain to us what 5G is? How is 5G different from its predecessor 4G?

    The key point I like to bring up about 5G is that it will increase capacity by 1000x. Think of it like a one lane highway now being 1000 lanes wide — billions more devices will be able to work on the same network and at even faster speeds. What used to take 100 milliseconds will now take 10 milliseconds.

    I founded QuickPlay Media in 2004, creating a video distribution company perfectly timed to capitalize on the changes brought about by 3G. Studying the business of tech innovation has given me the ability to “see around corners” and stay one step ahead of the market. What I’m now prescribing with this next transformation is that as 5G takes center stage, the developers’ playing field will change rapidly and observability tools will become a matter of survival.

    Can you share three or four ways that 5G might improve our lives? If you can please share an example, for each.

    As mentioned, 5G will dramatically increase capacity and speed leading to an explosion of 5G powered edge networks. It’s expected that 15.7B dollars will be invested in 5G edge networks workloads by 2025. We will finally have the speed and capacity needed for mission critical applications such as autonomous cars and smart cities. Consumers will also see a difference, especially in the gaming world, as reactionary movements have nearly no lag — games will react quicker than a blink of the eye.

    Keeping “Black Mirror” in mind, can you see any potential drawbacks about this 5G technology that people should think more deeply about?

    While not so much a “doomsday scenario”, most technology as it exists today will not be able to take advantage of 5G. Devices and applications aren’t equipped to function at speeds 100x faster due to a combination of network and computing capabilities. Technology and software, like that offered by New Relic, will need to convert their remote cloud offering to the edge of mobile networks to take advantage of the speed and capacity offered by 5G technology.

    This is where observability comes in. The only way to monitor the edge is through observability. We can’t have applications, especially mission critical applications, running amok at the edge without being able to see into their operations, and a cloud-based infrastructure will not work to monitor these new systems as they won’t be able to keep up with the speed of 5G. Luckily, New Relic is addressing the imminent concerns through our partnership with Pixie. The open source Pixie observability platform is being integrated with the New Relic One platform, allowing New Relic to extend its platform to the edge.

    Some have raised the question that 5G might widen the digital divide and leave poor people or marginalized people behind. From your perspective, what can be done to address and correct this concern?

    I do not believe 5G will be any different from other new technology introductions. The same issues will arise for people without the resources to participate in 5G. Without new programs the digital divide will continue.

    Excellent. We are nearly done. Let’s zoom out a bit and ask a more general question. Based on your experience and success, what are the 5 things you need to create a highly successful career in the telecommunication industry?

    • Cloud and edge computing skills
    • Interpersonal communication
    • Focus on the problems people will pay to solve
    • Ability to be a lifelong learner
    • Adaptability

    You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

    Our biggest idea that we are currently pursuing is the Onyx Initiative. We believe we can change the outcomes of multiple generations of black college students by opening the doors of corporate North America to them.

    How can our readers further follow your work online?


    Thank you for these fantastic insights. We greatly appreciate the time you spent on this.

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