Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Techie's Dilemma: International Edition

A few months ago, I wrote the first article in this series on the Techie's Dilemma. In this entry, I'll continue to explore the question that I spent months wrapping my head around: Where, in an interconnected world, does a globally-minded techie settle down? As I alluded to last time, I didn't limit my options to the U.S. Quite the opposite -- I actively sought out international options ranging from Cape Town to Bangalore to Buenos Aires. Today, I'll look at two of the particularly compelling international locales I explored: London and Nairobi.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Launched: One Today by Google

Just over a month ago, my team at Google and I launched One Today, a new mobile app that encourages people to make charitable giving a part of their daily lives. The gist of the app is this: Every day, One Today serves you a new charitable project. If you think it's worthwhile, you can donate $1. If you're really excited, you can challenge the community to donate to the project by offering to match their donations. We're currently in a closed pilot, but one month out, I'm optimistic about the future of One Today.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

In Praise of Great Parents

My family, as I was growing up, never resembled the "model American household." My mother was diagnosed with stage three cancer when I was six and never quite recovered afterward. My father often worked multiple teaching jobs and would wake up at 3am to meditate before his early morning commute. Neither one stayed home to take care of me like so many of my friends' parents did. There were never family dinners – we were all on radically different schedules. But for all of these seeming flaws in my family life, there were two things my parents supplied in abundance that, looking back, made all the difference: unconditional love and support.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Back at Google

Here I am, back at Google for my fourth first day at this crazy company. And I couldn't be more excited. I spent the last few months investigating opportunities all around the world, primarily at companies under 100 people, but at the end of the day, my real criteria for this next move were these:
  • Role: Some combination of software engineering and product management with a road to primarily product work.
  • Team: Smart, passionate people who will challenge me every day.
  • Problem: Work on something socially important. Provide real value for real people.
  • Technology: Web and mobile software.
  • Location: New York City.
And strangely enough, after a whole year of discussions with Google, they finally offered me exactly that.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Techie's Dilemma: Silicon Valley vs. NYC

After spending the last few years traveling the world, it seems almost every major city is an aspiring tech hub these days. No matter where I go, the locals tell me the same thing: the government has recognized the importance of tech entrepreneurship, and they're taking major steps to encourage it there. The obvious archetype for these places is Silicon Valley in California, but there's a Silicon Something-or-Other just about everywhere I visit: Silicon Alley in New York, Silicon Roundabout in London, even Silicon Savannah in Kenya. After months of trying to figure out where I should move next, the only obvious conclusion was that each place had its own pros and cons. In this series, I'll take a lens to each of the cities I considered and the facts that ultimately led me to my decision.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

New York, I'm all in.

Or alternatively, taking the Kenya option off the table.

That's right. You heard it here first. After two arduous months pounding the pavements, I've decided to take the plunge and stay in New York despite the continued job uncertainty. Looking back on when I arrived, I assumed that it would be difficult for me to break into the startup world here. After all, I haven't lived in the US for over two years, and I haven't worked in New York since the summer of 2008. A long time ago. But in the weeks since, I've gotten to speak with a number of exceptional companies, and to my great surprise, they've all been happy to meet me. But the largest moral of the story is that timing has played a much bigger role than I anticipated. No one seems to argue my qualifications or credentials – whether or not they need a product manager at that given moment is a thornier issue. In retrospect, it makes perfect sense. I've picked a role for myself where there's one of me to every five to ten engineers. Startups only need a PM at a very specific point in their life cycles. So after a great deal of thought and soul searching, I've finally decided to stay and see how it plays out.

Monday, January 7, 2013

It's Official: We're Living in the Future

A few days ago, while an old friend was visiting NY, I made the trek up to the Upper East Side to visit him at his brother's place. It was wonderful to meet his family, especially his very new little nephew. I don't see very many babies these days, so seeing how the little guy interacted with his grandmother made me remark to myself, "Wow, we're really living in the future." When I was growing up, cell phones didn't exist, and email was a largely unused technology. If a family member lived a long distance away, you got to see them a few times a year. The only middle ground was an expensive long distance phone call.