Tony Criswell: CEO for Wiser and Senior Software Engineer for DataFirst Corporation
Youth: Born in Waynesville NC; raised in South East TX. The youngest of a family of 4. I grew up with a love for family and the outdoors. My parents would tell my brother and I to “Come home before dark” and we would spend our days fishing, hunting, and playing sports (especially football). Later I did Boy Scout’s, DeMolay’s, and excelled in trumpet.
USAF: About the time I was turning 18 my dad explained to me that due to a corporate bankruptcy they could not help with college; my future would be entirely on my own. I knew I would have to leave my declining oil refinery community to find opportunities, so I joined the Air Force to be a Security Policeman. I finished training and was stationed with the 22nd SPS at March AFB, CA for my entire 1st tour. I was awarded a Humanitarian Service medal for the San Jacinto floods. I also received Outstanding Unit, Small Arms Marksmanship, and other awards and decorations. I attended Calvary Chapel of Riverside and was an avid Bike Rider.
USAFR: In 1982 my first tour ended but it was not a good year to start a civilian career; a global surplus of crude oil caused gasoline prices to collapse and a brief but severe recession began in the United States. So, I retrained to be an Aero-Medical Technician in the 68th AES, USAF Reserve and was stationed at Norton AFB CA. I also began working my way through college at Cal State University San Bernardino, CA majoring in Computer Science while performing aero-medical missions around the world.
Desert Storm: In November 1990 I volunteered and was deployed for operation Desert Shield and Storm. My most interesting mission occurred on the first day of combat when we flew into western Iraq on a C-130 to pick up injured special forces personnel with laser guided munitions on board and was struck by a lightning bolt on the nose cone. Upon returning (released July 1991) it was time to settle down and get on with my life; Separated USAFR and married (August 1993) Siko, my beautiful island girl from Taiwan who I met at college.
Career: Shortly thereafter I entered Corporate America beginning with Eastman Kodak (October 1993) where I grew to become a technical lead, then to Koch Industries, and eventually to Landmark Graphics which was when the dot-com-crash, Enron fails, and Corporate America went off shore occurred at the same time. I was laid off December 2001. The situation was bleak; no jobs, many neighborhood homes were in foreclosure so selling the house and moving was not a likely option. Once again faced with no opportunities I started my own company, MyDICOM, with no business plan, no help, and no investors. I buckled down and started coding. I used severance, unemployment, savings, credit cards, and family donations. One year later (2002) I completed our first product (SDK) and to my surprise it sold quite well worldwide. I expected to just fatten my resume to improve my chances of being hired but so many good things led to one another. After 16+ years as CEO. I helped hundreds of companies’ worldwide.
2018 It’s time to be WISER: a re-branded company in a time of “Disruption”.
I have a daughter studying flute performance at Yale and a son that just graduated who is also inclined for the arts.