Daniel Makoski going to Capital One?

I just found out that Daniel Makoski—Founder of Google’s Project Ara Modular Phone—is leaving to work at CapitalOne. So what, you say? Let me tell you what.

First off, Dan combines user-centered software and hardware design with a business acumen to solve real problems for a lot of people. That’s what this guy has done during his ridiculously star-studded career. According to his site:

Dan creates breakthrough products by combining his experience in interaction design, executive leadership, and enabling meaningful collaboration between companies and the people who inspire them to innovate.

He is VP of Design at Capital One, initially focusing on breakthrough experiences in mobile commerce and payments.

Previously, Dan worked for Dr. Regina Dugan, (former head of DARPA and now captain of Google’s ATAP: Advanced Technology & Projects), who exclusively hires innovation leaders for fixed 2-year terms. He started and guided design for Google’s Project Ara and led design and/or research for products including the Moto X, Moto Skip, new RAZR, Mac Office, Microsoft Surface 1.0, Dell Studio Hybrid, Verizon.com and United.com.

Dude. Microsoft Surface? Project Ara? DARPA?? Software. Hardware. Dark arts. To say this guy has a lot going on is like saying Dr. Dre sort of understands the music business.

Secondly, Dan has set and achieved unimaginably unrealistic goals. For instance, check Project Ara’s site:

The smartphone is one of the most empowering and intimate objects in our lives. Yet most of us have little say in how the device is made, what it does, and how it looks. And 5 billion of us don’t have one. What if you could make thoughtful choices about exactly what your phone does, and use it as a creative canvas to tell your own story? 

Introducing Project Ara.

Designed exclusively for 6 billion people.

And lastly, according to Dan’s blog, finance is ripe for his talents.

But starting tomorrow, I also open my next chapter as VP of Design at Capital One, with an initial focus on mobile commerce and payments. Yes, you heard right. The bank with the “What’s in your wallet?” Samuel L. Jackson ads. And I don’t blame you if you’re like a few of my colleagues who think I’m a bit insane to leave one of the world’s most admired tech companies for a bank.

But what you might not understand is that:

  1. there are few spaces as ripe for technology and human-inspired re-imagination as how people relate to their money,
  2. Capital One has been steadily building a quiet but extraordinary design thinking, strategy and execution culture on top of its already legendary data analytics capability,
  3. and when you stir the above and throw in the spark of vision & leadership:


Boom, indeed.

Remember that blog post I just wrote? Well, last week Dan wasn’t with Capital One. This week he is. With guys like Mr. Makoski on any team other than yours, you’re already tragically behind the curve.

What I think we all want to know is what on earth is Dan going to cook up in his new role? Gobs of money? Endless streams of sophisticated data? All wrapped up on a silver user-centered design platter?



Drummer. Techie. Futbolisto. Daddy.

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