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Living by the Code

Before You Begin

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Getting to Work

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21. An Interview with Ty Smith
Written by Enrique López-Mañas

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Ty lives in San Francisco and has held team lead and engineering management roles at many unicorn startups including Uber, Twitter, and Evernote. He has specialized in building scalable mobile apps and developer tooling since 2009. He is passionate about software craftsmanship, engineering sustainability, and building teams focused on delightful user and developer experiences.

He’s an active angel investor and advisor focused on helping startups scale their mobile and open-source strategies. He cares deeply about the open developer community, is a member of the Google Developer Expert program, regularly speaks at international conferences on Android, as well as organizes the SF Android Google Developer Group and Droidcon San Francisco conference. He’s an avid enthusiast of biohacking, longevity, and transhumanism, and, with his spare time, he enjoys science fiction, cooking, traveling, wine tasting, snowboarding, and scuba diving.

Connect with Ty

Twitter: @tsmith



You’ve been working as an Android engineer since 2009. Tell us a bit about how you got started and what the process was like developing applications for Android?

In 2009, I was graduating from college and had been working full time as an engineer, going to school during the evening. It was a very, very stressful time in my life. I was working for a small consulting company doing Ruby on Rails development; the company was targeting mobile customers, really for the first time. So we had a handful of iOS engineers, but iOS was very new at the time, especially its third-party app development. Android was just really coming out into the public, too—I think 1.5 or 1.6 had just dropped.

What considerations would you offer to a developer who is thinking of making a move to Silicon Valley?

I think it’s a personal decision for everybody. But Silicon Valley is still a unique place with this incredible amount of opportunity and energy. And some other great areas of the world have a big tech field, but it still doesn’t compare to what you will see here. It is not for the faint of heart. When I was living outside of Silicon Valley, I was a tech enthusiast and I consumed the tech news and I always felt like an outsider reading about it or hearing about it or whom you know is impacted by it.

Some argue that one solution to this problem is remote work. What are your thoughts on this?

I am a huge proponent of remote work. While I am a big believer in living in San Francisco and the Bay Area, and I did mention there are many other great places for opportunities as well—Seattle, New York, Denver, all have very booming tech scenes. Something to consider, when you start looking at remote work, is if a company hasn’t designed their culture around that from the beginning, it can be pretty frustrating for all the parties involved—things like if the meetings are remote-friendly or water cooler chat is done over Slack. At the first company I worked in, we were all remote, and it was a great experience. We felt a lot of camaraderie. We felt a lot of collaboration. A lot of alignment.

Ty’s Recommendations

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