Folk Stories

Episodes about Dev:

16: Friends, Family and Startups with Robert Sweeney

May 6th, 2019 (82 minutes)

Robert Sweeney is CEO of Facet, the premier platform for hiring senior contract software engineers.

Before becoming a founder, Robert was a senior software engineer himself at companies such as Netflix and Microsoft. Robert knew from an early age that he wanted to be an entrepreneur from working at his grandpa's grocery shop. Robert left Netflix with a friend to start a software development studio with an initial verbal contract from Western Digital.

In 2014, Robert founded Numetric, a SaaS based analytics startup. After working on the company for close to four years, hiring over 40 employees, and raising over $16 million in venture capital, Robert was fired from the very company that he founded.

Today, Robert is working full time on Facet and helping other engineers make the leap from full-time work to doing their own thing.

In today's episode, we talk about negotiating contracts, hiring and firing friends, and that time Robert's house almost burned down.

Quote

We had to make the decision that day… That didn't give us enough time to sign the contract. So we quit our jobs on a verbal yes.

– Robert Sweeney

Closing

  • inspiration
    • being fired from my startup - changed my perspective on startups and venture capital and also provide extra motivation
  • surprising
    • deal with anxiety
  • principal
    • complete transparency
  • anything else
    • successful entrepreneurs out there don't have anything that you don't have

Notes

  • working at grandpa's grocery store
  • early years at Microsoft and Netflix
  • first startup and quiting Netflix on a verbal agreement
  • working with western digital and communicating expectations
  • hiring and firing friends
  • that time when the house almost burned down
  • keeping a family together while doing a startup
  • Numetric, working with family, and getting fired from a company that you founded
  • facet, how it came to be and where its going

8: Not Living on Automatic with HB Siegel

November 12th, 2018 (73 minutes)

H.B. Siegel is Prime Minister of Ideas at Amazon and also one of a very select group of people who have been at Amazon now for almost two decades. In that time, H.B. has been the Director of Media Technologies, the CTO of IMDB (an Amazon subsidiary), and helped launch the "search inside the book" feature for Kindle.

H.B. graduated with degrees in computer science and electrical engineering with a focus in computer graphics. Prior to Amazon, H.B. worked in a series of animation related companies including Wavefront, Industrial Light and Magic (ILM) and Pixar. At Wavefront, H.B. helped developed Maya, a premier 3D animation platform used to create animations for games and films that is still widely used today. At ILM, H.B. worked on the special effects for now iconic film series such as "Star Wars" and "Men In Black".

In today's conversation we'll talk about pranks and not living live on automatic, we'll discuss H.B's career and what he's learned, and we'll talk about investing in ideas versus people (and techniques for telling apart the good from the bad).

Notes

  • cocktail party introductions
  • star wars and industrial light and magic
  • pranks and not living life on automatic
  • the department of ideas
  • catalyst and the university of washington
  • investing in ideas and people
  • trends in film making and animation
  • early work at wavefront and developing Maya
  • experience from nearly two decades at amazon
  • peccy
  • removing inefficiencies
  • werewolves
  • unexpected productions and improv

3: Taking No Shortcuts with Colm MacCárthaigh

September 24th, 2018 (67 minutes)

Colm MacCárthaigh is a Principal Software Engineer at Amazon Web Services (AWS). AWS provides on demand cloud computing services to individuals, companies and governments around the world.

If you're a customer of AWS, Colm has probably had a hand in the services you use - his past projects include Route53, Cloudfront and Elastic Load Balancer. If you like open source software, Colm was heavily involved in the original Apache HTTP Server and more recently was the driving force behind the release of s2n, a popular open source C99 implementation of the TLS/SSL protocol. If you're a fan of Irish folk music, Colm is part of several bands of such sorts and plays both in Seattle and on the road. If you're concerned about privacy and human rights, Colm is the founding director of Digital Rights Ireland and remains active on issues concerning privacy and immigration.

I could go on but I think suffice to say, Colm is a man of many talents and interests. I'm super excited to have Colm on the show, not just because he's a great person to have a conversation with but also because he was my very first guest in my internal podcast at Amazon. Colm was kind enough to talk to me some two years ago then and is repeating that kindness once again by coming on to Folk Stories.

A note that this talk does get slightly technical in a few places (what happens when two engineers talk about engineering) but I would consider the majority of this talk to be accessible regardless of your technical background. There are also show notes for everything we talked about if you want to find out more.

In today's episode, we talk about what its like to be a principal software engineer at Amazon, why Colm went back to school despite having a good job and solid technical skills and matters of music and activism.

Thanks for listening and if you want to leave feedback or nominate folks to the show, please send emails to feedback(at)folkstories.org

Notes

  • a day in the life of a principal software engineer
  • blockchain and being unburdened from the man
  • prioritizing projects and themes in past work
  • going back to school: motivation and learnings
  • thoughts on dev ops
  • thoughts on engineering and healthy team dynamics
  • juggling writing code with principal responsibilities
  • activism and digital rights
  • Irish folk music and finding inspiration
  • Some tech projects Colm has been involved in
    • Amazon CloudFront: Highly programmable, secure content delivery network (CDN)
    • Elastic Load Balancer: Scalable load balancing for L4 and L7 applications
    • Amazon Route 53: Highly Available DNS as a service
    • Apache HTTP Server Project: the most popular web server on the internet since 1996
    • s2n: s2n is a C99 implementation of the TLS/SSL protocols that is designed to be simple, small, fast, and with security as a priority
  • Links to technical concepts discussed
  • Everything else
    • Travel Ban: executive order issued by Donald Trump that limits immigration from a number of Muslim-majority countries
    • Digital Rights Ireland: dedicated to defending Civil, Human and Legal rights in a digital age
    • Tulip Mania
    • Prince: American singer, songwriter, musician, record producer and filmmaker

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