Earlier this year, I received a recruiting email from Quora. I rarely pay much attention to messages like these but Quora was a company I had long admired. I gave it a quick skim and then ignored it for a few days. I was very happy with my role at my current company, Amplitude, the many opportunities to grow, and the incredible company culture and leadership. There was no reason to go elsewhere.

A few days later, Quora came back to mind. I did a little googling about the company and stumbled on an interview with its founder, Adam D’Angelo…


Photo by Luke Dorny

Faces buried in stacks of paper, no one seemed to notice as I walked in and quietly found a seat. It was my first week working at Amazon and we were all meeting to discuss growth, sales, and other key metrics.

Surprisingly, almost all of my Amazon Prime team were there including developers, designers, financial staff, and managers. This is the culture at Amazon: everyone needs to obsess over the metrics.

It was 2009, a time when Amazon Prime, a subscription service that offers unlimited 2-day shipping and discounted next day delivery, was a clear success and growing rapidly. …


Sharing photos outside of social media made me feel good about photography again

Credit: Priscilla Du Preez/Unsplash

It’s never been easier to share a photo with others than it is today. You can share photos of your vacation with friends on Facebook, perfectly frame that shot for your Instagram followers, or broadcast a moment as it happens live with your audience on Twitter. Social media has taken over how, and why, we take photos.

It has become second nature to think of the medium or the person a photo will be shared with before we even stare through the camera’s viewfinder. …


What does that teach us about future tech?

Credit: Ramin Talaie/Getty Images

“The BlackBerry was the most amazing, magical invention in the history of things you can buy,” Tom Hanks proclaimed in The 2000s, a recent CNN series that chronicled the biggest moments in the previous decade. The BlackBerry started the smartphone revolution and its release was an inflection point for how technology would become embedded into our lives.

It’s been almost two decades since the first BlackBerry was released and, as we try to unpack the complex effects of technology, it’s more important than ever to try and understand where it came from and what it is doing to us.

In…


We need better ways to feel present on video calls — and that means eye contact

Photo: Leon Neal/Getty

Unless you’ve lived under a rock the past month, there was no way to avoid seeing the photos taken on the new iPhone 11 and iPhone 11 Pro. They’re impressive, to say the least, yet I’m still left feeling like they could be so much more.

As the cameras on our smartphones keep getting better and better, I wonder if the outcomes they serve are truly improving? Particularly when it comes to the bane of modern office life: video calls.

Video calls, like FaceTime, are taking over how we communicate with one another. In fact, WhatsApp released a report in…


As a society, we’re now discussing the role of technology in our lives more than ever. How much information should tech companies have on you? Can social networks influence elections? Are laws, like GDPR, effective to protect privacy and choice? Should parents limit Screen Time for their kids?

These are needed discussions.

I do find, however, when talking about these complex and nuanced conversations, missteps get far more attention than the positive steps forward. And so, that is why, I think projects like Microsoft Presidio need their moment in the spotlight.

What Presidio does

Microsoft’s ambitious open source project, Presidio, promotes privacy by…


What the design of the first popular e-book reader can teach us about innovation

Photo courtesy of the author.

When David Pogue reviewed Amazon’s original Kindle e-reader for the New York Times back in 2007, he asked a simple question: “Are they completely nuts?”

“Printed books are dirt cheap, never run out of power, and survive drops, spills, and being run over,” he continued. “And their file format will still be readable 200 years from now.”

Fast forward 12 years and the Kindle, along with its iOS and Android apps, now dominate the e-reading market.

Have they killed physical books? Of course not. But they were never meant to.

Of course, new products start off daring and are often…


It’s not everyday that I leave Safeway emotional.

$9.99.

The cost of an Android phone today, loaded with the Google Play store, a camera, Bluetooth and Wifi. For anyone who closely followed the One Laptop Per Child project over a decade ago, seeing something like that puts you in awe.

With so much difficulty in the world right now, it’s hard not to feel immense amount of despair — and so I wanted to share this photo along with a short message of hope.

The digital divide is a real struggle and will continue to be for decades to come…


Photo courtesy of the The Verge

One would imagine that in a week where Jeff Bezos’ shares his thoughts on all of humanity moving to Mars, how Amazon will provide free training to its blue collar workers to actually leave their jobs to find better positions, and how he views criticism and censorship as a nation, that there wouldn’t be much more that he could say to top those discussions.

Yet, out of all the things he’s recently said, the following is what I found to be most impressive. Speaking in regards to Amazon’s failed Fire Phone project, he said:

“If you think that’s a big…


A personal journal through start-ups

I have always strongly felt that the culture, society and neighborhood of an area affects how a product in that area is designed and developed. After all, products are built by people and people’s views, experiences, and identities are shaped by the area they live in.

And so after accepting an offer to work at Amplitude and moving to the Bay Area, I was eager to take notice of the impact the culture of the area had on its people and therefore on the products that were developed here. …

Tareq Ismail

Design @ Quora

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