Interview: The CTO of HappyFunCorp's, Jon Evans
Full-stack software engineer with an EE degree and more than a decade of experience coding everything from iOS apps to billion-dollar asset-allocation services. The CTO of HappyFunCorp, Jon Evans, can build, and/or manage the building of, web services and smartphone apps for HappyFunCorp's clients. Leaving aside Jon Evans tech side, he is also an award winning author of 8 published novels and a columnist for TechCrunch. His journalism has appeared in The Guardian, The Globe & Mail, Quartz, Wired, and The Times of India, among others, and his work in its various forms has been translated into a dozen languages.
We sat down with him and asked him some questions about the industry.
How did you get started in doing what you do now?
I returned from a multi-year sabbatical from the tech industry, during which I was a full-time novelist, and Will, one of HappyFunCorp's cofounders, who I knew socially, asked me if I could do a little part-time dev work on one of their projects. That was seven years ago. Things kind of snowballed from there...
Why do you enjoy working with entrepreneurs and startups?
I'm easily bored; they're almost never boring.
What are your 3 favorite tools for doing [something your audience cares about]?
I think the power of concise, precise, descriptive prose is massively underrated, so "a text editor" is one of them. I think Git is an utter marvel despite its complexity problems. And while we're cross-platform (to say the least) Apple's XCode is my favorite development environment by far.
What do you think c-suite executives can learn from startups?
It's not the relentlessness or the agility so much as the way that startups rethink where opportunities exist.
Is Bitcoin a bubble? Is it too late to invest? Thoughts?
I've been writing about Bitcoin since 2011 and I believe it's an important and transformative technology. That said, last year's run-up was a clear sign of a bubble. I'd wait for another significant drop and consider investing then.
What 3 things does anyone starting in your industry need to know?
The ability to rapidly and reliably teach yourself new things is the most important skill. The tech industry moves so fast that you need a deliberate strategy to keep up, or else you will be left behind. Developers are not fungible.
Talk about the biggest failure you've had. What did you learn from it?
I suppose it was when my novels failed to conquer the world. You can't control most elements of your eventual success; all you can do is put yourself in a position to take advantage of them when they line up.
Do you have any advice for startups looking to get press?
Don't hire a PR person who just spams journalists with unsolicited emails. There are a lot of those.
What's your next move in your industry?
We're suddenly doing a lot more blockchain work. I'd like to find more clients with machine-learning projects, but not many startups have the datasets those need.