What Do Crisis Negotiation, Endoscopy, and Ice Cream Have in Common? MooBella’s Steve Moysey

8/29/07

Lordy, do I love MooBella. First off, the Taunton, MA-based company is developing serve-yourself ice-cream vending machines* that mix and freeze each scoop to order. Then there’s the fact that the whole shebang runs on Linux—don’t know why, but that really cracks me up. And now the company has gone and hired its first chief technology officer—and he’s a PhD psychologist with an interest in conflict and crisis negotiation and a book due out next year about the IRA’s 1970s terror campaign in London.

Is it a sign that something has gone horribly wrong out in Taunton? I doubt it. (Although the image of the new CTO being called in to resolve some sort of standoff in an automatic-ice-cream-machine factory? Also amusing.) It turns out that in addition to being a conflict expert, MooBella’s new CTO, Steve Moysey, is a seasoned executive and engineer who’s done stints at Gillette, Bose, and Boston Scientific. At the medical device firm, Moysey was Director of Endovations and Development, according to MooBella’s annoucement. I confess I forgot to ask him what “endovation” is—I’m guessing it’s a goofy combination of “endoscopy” and “innovation” but hey, who are we at Xconomy to judge?

Moysey, who was born and raised in the U.K., was working on the IRA book when MooBella recruited him to help lead the company’s drive to commercialize its machine. He wasn’t looking for a new job, he says, but accepted MooBella’s offer because he’s “just a sucker for technology and a challenge.”

I asked him if MooBella’s decision to hire a CTO now, about 15 years after its founding as a small startup called Turbo Dynamix, signals a move away from the all-outsourcing model it has thus far applied to the development of its machines. Could it be that the 20-person firm, which closed one of Massachusetts’ top-10 venture deals of the last quarter, is realizing that it’s going to take a little more internal innovation to start rolling out its devices by the end of this year as promised? Moysey says no, that his job will be “bringing sharper focus to the development process to actually bring the product to market” while continuing to work with MooBella’s key contractors—chief among them Worcester-based DCI Engineering.

So just how long will that take, ice-cream junkies such as myself ask? MooBella’s FAQ mentions a tantalizing New England roll-out “toward the end of 2007.” Moysey—who, if our conversation is any indication, is quite a good sport—says “it’s certainly a target.” But just a couple of weeks into his tenure at the company, he says he’d be foolish to make predictions about the timing. I let him get off the phone and get back to work.

* Moysey says he wishes people wouldn’t call the MooBella device a “vending machine,” since it doesn’t actually accept cash or credit cards. (The idea is to install the gizmos in cafeterias and other venues that are already set up with cashiers.) But I really want the company to add the payment-acceptance feature and deploy one of devices in Xconomy’s cafeteria-less building, so I’m going to keep on calling it a vending machine.

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