March 5, 2012

Phyllis Reuther

There are a lot of smart, committed people in the world, but only a few brilliant ones. Phyllis Reuther was one of them.

I just got the sad news from her former colleague and friend Charles Wilson that Phyllis died last week after a battle with cancer. At 58 she was simply too young.

Charles introduced me to Phyllis last year and suggested I ask her to serve as an advisor to Jawaya because of her search expertise. We met for lunch south of the San Francisco airport and hit it off right away.

Phyllis had just taken the role of Director of Research for Sprint, and gave me a tour of the largely empty building, explaining her vision for the labs.

The next time we met, that space was filled with people digging into the possibilities. Her expertise was search, and in particular, mobile search.

She helped me think through a range of issues; one would assume we talked about search or big data or algorithms, but she focused on people and their motivations, really challenging me to think through the rationale for the tech rather than the tech itself.

I didn't know her well, but after a few of our lunches felt I had a friend and guide I could count on--and did.

She'll be missed.

Her obituary is here: