What is your current professional role and how did you get here?
I’m the co-founder of Smile, makers of PDFpen and TextExpander. I started my own software company in 2002, partnered with Philip Goward in 2003, and we’ve been at it ever since.
What was the first app you worked on and what did it do?
My first app was a Mindvision game for the TRS-80 CoCo, written when I was nine years old.
My first commercial app was PageSender, fax software for OS X, which shipped in April 2002.
Both seem rather quaint now in the age of iPhones, iPads, Apple Watches, etc.
What went well? What could have gone better?
I managed to sell enough to build a business and eventually to grow the company to where it is today, with the help of many fantastic team members. The original PageSender software allowed you to address and send a fax from the print dialog via efax.com. I did not anticipate how quickly nor desperately our customers wanted a telephone modem based solution for sending and receiving faxes. The first year was a mad scramble to be able to offer them what they wanted, but it was a great lesson in listening to the needs of one’s customers.
At App Camp, we emphasize that it’s important to have interests outside of tech and to take breaks from looking at screens. What are some of your interests outside of tech? What do you do when you need to take a break from work?
I love to cook, and I love to read. I blog irregularly about my three passions at codecookread.com. My most recent cooking accomplishment is a passable paella, and my most recent read was Rabbit Cake by Annie Hartnett. I also enjoy distance running, which I use to clear my head.
Why do you support the goals of App Camp?
Technology is for everyone, and technology is best if everyone contributes and brings their unique perspective to it. The current tech workforce is clearly short of women and people of color if it is to be able to serve everyone inclusively. App Camp encourages girls, including girls of color, to participate in tech, to get excited about tech, and ultimately to pursue careers in tech. App Camp is vital to prime the pump for a more inclusive future generation in tech.
What do you recommend to those who want to support more diversity in tech?
Support App Camp for Girls, Girls who Code, Black Girls Code, and other organizations working tirelessly to build a more inclusive tech industry. Reach out beyond your own networks when hiring. Build an environment which is supportive of everyone on your team. Listen, and act on what you hear.
How can technology be a force for good?
I don’t think technology in and of itself is a force for good. I think technology is a force multiplier. When people with a good goal in mind get together and use technology to its fullest, I believe technology can make them far more effective at what they’re doing. Consider App Camp for Girls. Technology in the form of communication tools allows a group of 100 geographically disparate volunteers to manage several camps per year. Technology in the form of Indiegogo helps fund App Camp for Girls. And, in turn, App Camp for Girls provides encouragement and opportunity for tomorrow’s technology leaders, who themselves will be a force for good.