I’m happy to have a chance to share this book with you. Publishing this book has been quite a ride and a fantastic learning experience. When I was about nine, my dad brought home an old IBM XT computer, and that started my lifelong love affair with computers. I spent many summer afternoons writing little programs and games. Deep down, I always knew software would change the world. What I could never have guessed was how quickly it would happen.
I eventually graduated with a Bachelor of Computer Science from the University of Delaware and soon after jumped into the world of technology startups. Over the course of a few years, I created two startups where I had the chance to build some amazing products with a small passionate team.
Dealing with complex technical problems and the stresses of building a business got me thinking deeply about the concepts and philosophy that I’ve written about in this book. I was struggling with a major technical issue while building my second startup (Socialwok) when I discovered the cloud. My experiences with building a product powered by the cloud really opened my eyes to the power of building on a solid foundation. The cloud helped. We had thousands of users and were growing fast. That same year, we were Demopit winners at TechCrunch50. Our users voted us onto the stage.
Our product was ahead of its time in so many ways, and this got us an audience with Silicon Valley and a chance to work at LinkedIn, a company I much admired. As serendipity would have it, one of the judges of the TechCrunch event was LinkedIn founder Reid Hoffman, who saw the value in what Socialwok was doing and how it could tie into a LinkedIn-powered enterprise.
One thing led to another, and in 2010, I joined the engineering team at LinkedIn to work on APIs and to help LinkedIn be a platform. Our team was named “Connect” internally and was responsible for creating technology that would let publishers embed LinkedIn on their own websites. One example of this was the LinkedIn share button. This button continues to stand its ground beside the Facebook like button and the Twitter tweet button on millions of sites across the Internet.
After working with the platform team for a couple of years, I moved to the ads engineering team primarily to learn about the ad business and tackle some serious technical challenges around high-scale distributed systems, ad targeting, analytics, and building innovative native ad products.
Building startups was a learning experience, but working at LinkedIn taught me a lot about building great products, getting them into the hands of millions of people, and understanding the value of data. I’m always hungry to learn, and Silicon Valley was a great teacher. The value of concentrating so much talent into such a small geographic area cannot be overstated. It was a humbling yet inspiring experience.
I’ve lived and worked in India, Singapore, California, and Toronto. Outside of writing code and the occasional book, I love spending time with my wife and two little boys, with whom I go chasing squirrels and exploring the local parks. I’m a huge fan of audiobooks and podcasts. I use them daily while walking as a tool to spark creativity and relieve stress. Hiking the redwood forests of Santa Cruz, California, has been our favorite family activity. I believe getting away from connectivity and technology combined with engaging in physical activity is a great way to do some deep thinking, which often results in your greatest work.
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