B – Talks: Daniel Feldman

Dan_Feldman

What is your name?
My name is Daniel Feldman.

Tell me a little about yourself?
I studied at University of Michigan, where I majored in Computer Science. I didn’t know I wanted to do that originally, I sort of played with code, made a few websites and got more and more interested in it. I was lucky enough to get an internship at apple between my junior and senior year. While I was there I worked on a feature called Dashboard. Dashboard is an application for Apple‘s Mac OS X operating systems, used for hosting mini-applications known as widgets.

At the end of my internship, I was offered a fulltime position so I went back to Apple and worked full time. I worked there for the last six years up until a week ago Friday.

*Jaw Drop* You QUIT? Isn’t Apple the Holy Grail of companies?
(Laughs) It is… Even though I quit, I would not disagree with that. Apple is an amazing place to work for a variety of reasons when compared to several different companies. Personally, compared to other large tech companies, it’s where I would want to work, but like any one place Apple cannot teach you everything.

It was my first job out of school and it’s a big company. So I have learned a lot about working in a big company. So now I want to learn is what it takes to build a company almost from scratch; what are the ups & downs of a small company.

What Did You Do At Apple?
For the first few years I was an engineer/programmer for a variety of pieces of OS 10. I did a bunch of things; Dashboard, System preferences, help system and a few other things throughout the OS.

Then for the last few years, I worked entirely on the Mac App store. I was part of the engineering team that helped create the first version of that. After about a year and a half I was promoted to engineering manager of that team; I oversaw the team and the features that we were working on.

I learned a ton of things over the 6 years and worked with some very amazing people

Was it a huge transition from Engineer to Manager?
It was definitely a transition and there were definitely challenges that were new to me, but I wouldn’t say it was super difficult because I already knew some of the features that we were working on and I knew the team.

One of the challenges was I kept trying to be the engineer it was hard to let go of some of that, when i really needed to get out of the way and let my engineers do what they do best, sort of unblock them and let them do what they do best.

Design vs Engineering – What comes First
(Laughs) I think it depends on the situation. There are certain large projects where the designers first make some mockups and approach engineering with a lot of the look and feel already figured out. However, it’s much more common to have projects where there’s lots of iteration between design and engineering (and executives and marketing). You evolve the design over time through iteration.

Where are you going now?
I shall be joining a start-up. I am learning from the leadership team which I think is really strong. The company is out of Palo Alto, California – it’s called “Up There”. It’s a data in the cloud company. They haven’t released their product yet, so their being a little bit secretive about what they are building

So What Are You Doing in Kampala?
I first learned about Hubs at the SxSW conference and have followed them a little bit online over the last few years. They seem to have incredible energy about them a lot of momentum, so I came to see them for myself. I also wanted to get outside of the bubble of Silicon Valley and see how technology is being used in very different ways and challenge some of the assumptions I might hold as someone who has worked on technology in California.

So I just came out from iHub in Nairobi and I shall also be visiting Outbox, here in Kampala. I really wish I had a lot more time to visit other hubs in Africa.

What Advice do you have for Tech Start-Ups in Kampala?
Believe in Yourself. If you have an idea, go out and try it – Don’t let anyone tell you that you cannot do something. First and foremost, believe in yourself. (314)

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