A Texas Bootcamp Grad’s First Days at a Silicon Valley Startup

A month ago, I finished out at Hack Reactor / Makersquare. Two days ago, I started working at Electric Imp.

This city is different, these companies are different. In Houston, I was a recruiter in Oil and Gas – visualize an open work space with meetings about KPIs, people constantly on the phone. Headsets. A prominently displayed whiteboard with sales targets. British people in suits. Coming into work at 7:15, leaving at 5. 12:30 on Fridays, if your numbers were good enough for that month. “You worked until 9 last night? That’s impressive, you’ve got management written all over you.” “I like to pop the game on and do some work from home you know, that’s why I make the big bucks.” Some people love it. It wasn’t for me, that’s why I left.

My first day of work, we have a standup. Just me and two others on my team are in the office, it’s 10am. We’re sat around a table and have a monitor on the wall. Little boxes appear with people’s faces on them as they remote in. One guy is in his car, camera flipping all over as he juggles his phone. Others at home. “Sorry I’m not in yet, I’ve got a piano lesson. I won’t be in until around 1, after this I have my flight lesson.” “Hey guys I’m on my way over, just got out of the water, great surfing this morning.” I’m given the option of a chair or an exercise ball to sit on. “Want a standing desk? Here try mine we can order you one if you want.” I joke as I sit on the exercise ball, “look at me, converted Texan gone native,” they say, “no not until you’re able to sit cross-legged and barefoot on it while you work.” The CEO bought an HTC Vive and put it in one of the conference rooms – “play with it whenever you want, maybe we can do something cool with it. The CEO plays racing games, mostly.”

Day two I get invited to play “pool basketball.” We roll into what is a forest – no, there’s houses here actually, tucked away. Park on the street – “won’t I get a ticket?” “No this is where the rich folk live.” “How big is this property?” “An acre? Maybe? Guy was employee number 17 at Amazon.” He’s got a massive place, covered in solar panels. Marketing director at Amazon or something, then some more people show up. Ex NY detective now doing some sort of gene sequencing for a local startup. Obscure other positions I don’t really understand. We spend two hours beating the crap out of eachother in a pool, then move his giant pumpkin to the porch – “we’re gonna blow this up next week. Family tradition.”

My coworker posing with an enormous pumpkin.

This giant pumpkin’s gonna explode.

Quality of life through the roof. 5 minute bike ride to work in the morning – 5 to the gym as well. Still usually one of the first in the office, nice and peaceful in the morning. Free range to play around with the Imps. Given work straight off the bat – trusted to finish it with no micro-management. No manager huffing over my shoulder about brand, or KPIs, just a ticket and a “let me know if you get stuck.” Simple stuff to start, of course. Actually labeled in the system as “low hanging fruit.”

Hardware "imps," small pre-built circuitboards with sensors and easy-to-use ports.

They give me tons of little “imps” to play with on my off time.

Somewhat regretting choosing a mac. Might install ubuntu on this thing?

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