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Chris C. Kemp (born Buffalo, NY) is the founder and Chief Strategy Officer of Nebula, Inc., a cloud computing company that offers an Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) OpenStack cloud system.[1]

Prior to founding Nebula, Kemp was NASA’s first Chief Technology Officer (CTO) for IT.[2] He also served as Chief Information Officer and Director of Strategic Business Development at NASA’s Ames Research Center in Mountain View, CA.[3] Kemp co-founded OpenStack, an open-source cloud project with the goal of enabling any organization to create and offer cloud computing services running on standard hardware.[4] After his departure NASA concluded that Nebula was a waste of agency resources and was technological inferior to similar offerings from the private sector.[5]

Before joining NASA, Chris helped create a number of Internet-based businesses including Netran and Escapia.

Early lifeEdit

While studying Computer Engineering at the University of Alabama in Huntsville, he founded Netran, a company that launched the online grocery shopping service for Kroger. Kemp served as CEO and President of Netran from 1997-2000. At the age of 21, Kemp sold his first business and joined as its Chief Architect. In 2002, Kemp launched Escapia, a company he conceived after trying to rent a beach house on the Internet. Kemp served as CEO and President of Escapia from 2002-2006. Escapia was sold to HomeAway in 2010, which filed for its IPO in 2011.

NASA careerEdit

Kemp joined NASA in 2006 as Director of Strategic Business Development at the Ames Research Center in Silicon Valley where he helped forge a partnership with Google.[6][7][8] In 2007, he was appointed Chief Information Officer (CIO),[9] making him responsible for most of the IT infrastructure at NASA Ames (networks, datacenters, systems, etc.), and several NASA-wide services, including the NASA Security Operations Center (SOC).[3] As CIO, Kemp established a partnership with Microsoft.[10]

Unlike traditional government procurements, where the government gave money to private companies, Kemp structured unique public-private partnerships with both Google and Microsoft that provided his team at NASA millions of dollars of funding to offset the costs of making vast amounts of data available in Google Earth and Microsoft Worldwide Telescope.

Inspired by the infrastructures at Google, Kemp then assembled and led of a team of NASA contractors with the goal of enabling NASA to “leverage the web as platform and take the lead in open, transparent and participatory space exploration and government.”[11] The project to carry forward this goal at NASA Ames was called the Nebula Cloud Computing Pilot.[12][13]

Kemp’s cloud project at NASA drew the attention of the Obama Administration, and Kemp received a call from the first Federal Chief Information Officer, Vivek Kundra. Kundra asked Kemp to host the unveiling of the United States Cloud Computing Strategy, and to work on one of the federal government's first major cloud initiatives,, a website which tracks all spending from the US government. Kemp and the Nebula team launched the site, which is still hosted on NASA's cloud infrastructure.

In March 2010, Kemp was appointed as the first NASA Chief Technology Officer, or CTO, for Information Technology, a new position established to lead IT innovation at the space agency. As CTO for IT at NASA, Kemp is responsible for the agency's Enterprise Architecture division and for introducing new and emerging technologies into IT planning and implementation.[2][14] He is an outspoken advocate for the use of open-source software in the Federal Government.[15]

While NASA has been a pioneer in open source, Kemp was responsible for the first open source release under the Apache 2.0 license framework, the Nova cloud computing controller. As CTO, Kemp also pioneered the use of NASA’s unique public-private partnership authority to introduce new technologies into NASA. discovered NASA’s open source code and contacted Kemp to determine if NASA was interested in partnering together to form a project called OpenStack. Launched in July 2010, OpenStack is an open-source cloud computing platform based code from Kemp’s team as NASA, in collaboration with Rackspace. After guiding cloud computing breakthroughs with the Nebula Project and OpenStack, Kemp set a new goal for himself – to “democratize web–scale computing”.

On March 14, 2011 Kemp announced his resignation as NASA’s Chief Technology Officer for IT.[16][17]


Kemp left NASA on March 18, 2011, and on March 25, 2011 incorporated Fourth Paradigm Development, Inc. with entrepreneur Steve O'Hara and former colleague Devin Carlen. In April, the company received seed investments from the first few investors in Google, including Andy Bechtolsheim, Ram Shriram, and David Cheriton. In May, the Company received series-A funding from Kleiner Perkins Caufield, and Byers and Highland Capital Partners.


Mid-2010, Kemp received the Federal Computer Week “Federal 100” and CIO Magazine’s “CIO 100” awards for his work as Chief Information Officer at NASA Ames Research Center in 2009.[18][19]


  1. Bill Middleton, Brian Deng, and Chris C. Kemp, March 1997, SAMS, “Web Programming with Perl 5”


  1. "About Nebula, Inc. Management Team". Nebula, Inc.. July 9, 2014. Archived from the original on 2014-07-09. 
  2. 2.0 2.1 "NASA Names Chief Technology Officer for IT". NASA. May 6, 2010. Archived from the original on 2010-11-08. Retrieved 2010-07-12. 
  3. 3.0 3.1 "Chris C. Kemp, Chief Information Officer, NASA Ames Research Center". Space News. December 14, 2009. Retrieved 2010-07-12. 
  4. "Cloud-Device Startup Nebula Takes Aim at Seattle Engineers". xconomy. December 13, 2011. Retrieved 29 February 2012. 
  5. FY13 NASA Audit Report
  6. "NASA and Google to Bring Space Exploration Down to Earth". NASA. December 18, 2006. Archived from the original on 2007-08-23. Retrieved 2010-07-12. 
  7. Template:Cite news
  8. Template:Cite news
  9. Kemp, Chris (2009-01-27). "Let's Start A Conversation About NASA's Future On The Web". NASA. Retrieved 2011-02-25. 
  10. "NASA and Microsoft to Make Universe of Data Available to the Public". NASA. March 24, 2009. Archived from the original on 2009-04-13. Retrieved 2010-07-12. 
  11. "Why Make A Universe of Data Available To The Public?". NASA. March 24, 2009. Retrieved 2012-03-01. 
  12. "NASA Launches 'Nebula' Compute Cloud". Information Week. May 22, 2009. Retrieved 2010-07-12. 
  13. "NASA Blazing a Trail for Federal Cloud Computing". Space News. September 21, 2009. Retrieved 2010-07-13. 
  14. "NASA Cloud Guru Named CTO For IT". Information Week. April 20, 2010. Retrieved 2010-07-12. 
  15. "Open source is NASA's next frontier". Federal Computer Week. May 6, 2010. Retrieved 2010-07-13. 
  16. Today I announce my resignation as NASA’s Chief Technology Officer for IT
  17. Fretwell, Luke (March 15, 2011). "NASA IT CTO Kemp leaving ‘to find a garage in Palo Alto to do what I love'". Retrieved May 16, 2011. 
  18. Yasin, Rutrell (March 22, 2010). "Federal 100: Chris Kemp". Federal Computer Week. Retrieved 2010-07-12. 
  19. "NASA Chief Technology Officer for IT Honored by CIO Magazine". NASA. June 8, 2010. Archived from the original on 2012-04-05. Retrieved 2010-07-12. 

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