What is gdgt?
Wait, you haven’t heard of gdgt.com? One cool thing about joining gdgt (pronounced “gadget”) is that most of my friends have already heard of it. It’s a social network for consumer electronics; a place where people can create lists of the gadgets they have/had/want, and find out more about those gadgets. With the latest redesign there’s a focus on Q&A and Reviews (who do you trust more than your friends?). You can ask or answer questions like “Should I Switch to the Verizon Iphone?” or “Is Netflix Worth it on the Wii“, or read reviews on gadgets your thinking about buying. I’ll let Veronica take it from here…
Why the change?
I’ve always wanted to work for a company who builds a product I use. Haven’t you ever used a product and been like “damn, I wish it had this feature!”? Or better yet, if your a developer “I wish I could just code this feature for them!” (god bless API’s btw). If you can find a company to work for that’s building a product you would have liked to create anyway, something you can be passionate about, then work doesn’t feel like work any more.
That’s what drew me to gdgt, I used the site since they were in beta. I even went to their launch party in ’09 (watch TWIT at gdgt Launch Party) – I just so happened to be interning in SF at the time and got a chance to attend with my friends Frank Leng (checkout his blog), Jaime Wheeler and Tom Hill (check out his site RigSmith). The event went over so well by the way, it spawned a whole events side of the business (upcoming events on the gdgt Blog).
Anyone who knows me knows I’m pretty addicted to social networks, I’m on just about all them (or so my friends tell me) and have always been fascinated by the social web, so being a developer, getting the chance to help develop a existing social network seems like a great fit.
Joining the Startup Scene
I’ve always wanted to join a startup, it was one of my main reason’s for moving from Canada to SF, and this is the time in my life to do it (I’m young, no wife, no kids, no major debts, less risk). I’ve worked for corporations all my life (Web Developer at QuinStreet, Data Warehouse Architect at IBM, SharePoint Developer at Cognos), all jobs I’ve been lucky enough to say I’ve enjoyed and learned a lot from, which I’m thankful for and is often not the situation when working for 500+ employee corporations. I honestly don’t believe I’d be able to say I’m at where I am today without what I’ve learned at those companies. In particular I learned a lot while I was a web developer in the education vertical at QuinStreet (they run hundreds of high profile websites like schools.com, worldwidelearn.com and onlinedegrees.com), both from the projects I got to work on (including a new found love for PHP Framework CodeIgniter) while I was there and the amazing co-workers I now consider friends.
My parents thought I was crazy at first, “why would you ever give up a reliable job at a successful corporation?!”, but they came around and my family’s been supportive of “going after your dreams”. They understand times have changed since they were my age, it’s not about the “9 to 5 and get out” lifestyle anymore, there’s less of a bridge between your work and personal life now-a-days, so you better find a job you enjoy.
I’m going to get the chance to work some amazing people; founders Ryan Block (former Editor-in-chief of Engadget) and Peter Rojas (Co-founder of Gizmodo and Engadget), and a team of great developers and designers.
How It Happened
Now here’s an story for you; an example of how people can end up getting jobs in our industry has changed. Like I said before, I was already a user on gdgt and I was getting a lot of emails (gdgt sends you an email when one of your friends does something on the site like asks a question – it’s actually a great feature), so I posted in the feedback section that it would be great to have settings for bulk email notifications, like once a day, or once a week (quite an entertaining post now).
Ryan replied to my feedback, that night, at like 11pm (how many founders do you know are responding to feedback at 11pm on a Saturday?) and said it was on the roadmap “but we’re constrained by how hard it is to find awesome developers to add to the team. Did I mention we’re hiring? Even Canadians, Mitchell!”. I was impressed, that he was willing to do a little background check on me had caught my attention. Ryan pulled my email out of the system (not sure if they’re allowed to do that, but I won’t tell Ryan ) and contacted me directly. I fired off a link to my LinkedIn resume, we had a phone interview and an in-person interview with the team, and the rest ladies and gentlemen is history.