Folk Stories

8: Not Living on Automatic with HB Siegel

November 12th, 2018 (73 minutes)

H.B. Siegel is Prime Minister of Ideas at Amazon and also one of a very select group of people who have been at Amazon now for almost two decades. In that time, H.B. has been the Director of Media Technologies, the CTO of IMDB (an Amazon subsidiary), and helped launch the "search inside the book" feature for Kindle.

H.B. graduated with degrees in computer science and electrical engineering with a focus in computer graphics. Prior to Amazon, H.B. worked in a series of animation related companies including Wavefront, Industrial Light and Magic (ILM) and Pixar. At Wavefront, H.B. helped developed Maya, a premier 3D animation platform used to create animations for games and films that is still widely used today. At ILM, H.B. worked on the special effects for now iconic film series such as "Star Wars" and "Men In Black".

In today's conversation we'll talk about pranks and not living live on automatic, we'll discuss H.B's career and what he's learned, and we'll talk about investing in ideas versus people (and techniques for telling apart the good from the bad).


  • cocktail party introductions
  • star wars and industrial light and magic
  • pranks and not living life on automatic
  • the department of ideas
  • catalyst and the university of washington
  • investing in ideas and people
  • trends in film making and animation
  • early work at wavefront and developing Maya
  • experience from nearly two decades at amazon
  • peccy
  • removing inefficiencies
  • werewolves
  • unexpected productions and improv