MJS 029: Matt Creager
[01:00] – Introduction to Matt Creager
Matt works for an interesting company called Manifold. They sponsored the show.
[01:35] – How did you get into programming?
Before Matt fell in love with programming, he was in love with technology. They bought his first computer. It was a Gateway 2000 and he got access to the internet around the same time. He spent all of his time on that computer because they were moving around so much. That became the way that he stayed in touch with people. He remembers taking it apart and formatting the hard drive accidentally.
His uncle has been in the IT industry since he was a kid too. Matt was always associating him with spending time with his computer programming, a role model, and stabilizer in his life. He was switching tapes. And then, his cousin decided that he was going to start scripting his character’s actions in a game that they were playing. And now, looking back, it was some combination of Lua and C++. He started taking his cousin’s scripts apart to automate his own character in the game. He was 13 or 14.
The first programming book that he bought was a result of not being able to figure out how to get his character what it wants to do. It was one of the C++ bibles. And then, he became active in the forums around the scripting language. He was sharing the scripts and he started to realize that he can harvest stuff in the game and sell it for real cash.
Matt never considered himself technical and never considered programming a career. He was just translating CPU and RAM for people who were shopping for computers. And then, he wanted people to measure theirs so he built tools that took the data they had in an office and turn them into reports. When the manager started using that, it became a nationwide program and suddenly, he was on the map. He was leading a team.
When Blackberry started a technical interview, he realized that he has the answers to these questions. Initially, he was just a Technical Issues Manager. He had a Data Science team and that team was responsible for identifying and prioritizing issues. They were using Node 0.4, very early version of Node. And then, he discovered Angular and dived head first to the Angular community.
[15:30] – Hackathon
On the side, a couple of local companies started to run hackathons. Matt was going to hackathons all the time. Then, he ended up of hopping from BlackBerry to becoming a full-time front-end developer at a start-up.
Matt was talking with one of the organizers at LA Hacks. She was telling him that the reason why people are going to these hackathons is that they want to win and they want to put that fact on their resumes. In his day, that was not hackathons were like. The prizes can act as a negative incentive. They really work hard for the prizes. Sometimes they actually end up becoming more creative as a result because they know they need to use this specific combination of API’s.
When Matt joined GoInstant, it was very early days of RTC. Web sockets are new at that point. You’re probably more familiar with Firebase. In the early days, GoInstant and Firebase are competing for the same developers. They’re working on the same problems. The tools that they were building are real time synchronization between the state you have on the client and the state you have on the server. A lot of those that they build, open-source tools, they went with GoInstant to Salesforce. But they inspired the libraries and a lot of it is probably on the same code base that you now see in libraries that pretty much does the same things with Firebase.
And then, most recently, Matt and the team built Torus. They realized that if they are going to be building smaller applications, going to start to use more cloud services, more services tailored towards developers, and going to manage a lot more credential, a lot of credentials that need to be secured and shared with the teammates, they needed to take those credentials and put them on applications wherever they are running, whether that’s a Docker container or Heroku. That’s his most recent open-source project.
[20:50] – What are you working on now?
Manifold is their latest project. They’re trying to build a market place for developer services. It’s been 3 months. They moved from Torus to building Manifold earlier this year. The official launch hasn’t happened yet. That’s hopefully to come earlier this year – September. If it’s something that you want to try out and experiment with, there is a coupon for My JS. Give it a try before they launch a $25 credit that they can use to provision a logging instance, monitoring, or database. You can use it with any type of services that you might need to build your app.
[23:45] – Development to Marketing transition
Until two or three weeks ago, Matt was the sole front-end developer on the code base. Now, they brought front-end developers. For developers who are thinking about starting their own company, that’s the reality of it. Those skills are something that you just have to keep applying to problems that matter to you in a given moment. He started building less and less and managing more and more.
[28:10] – Advice
One of the things that have worked for Matt is identifying the people in your life and career that make you better. A lot of people don’t know enough to jump in and start a company, either they’re not comfortable with marketing, operations, they don’t know if they can raise enough money, or they don’t have anyone to talk to. In some cases, they try it anyway and they focus only on what they good at and what they know. Maybe that works out and maybe it doesn’t. The reality is it ignores your greatest resource, which is your friends, the people you know, and the people you’ve worked with. As we moved through our careers, we find people who we love working with, who have answers we don’t have, who complement our skill set. If entrepreneurship is something that you’re thinking about or starting a company, the first question that you would have to answer is who is it that you want to do it with? What do they have that you don’t? What do they bring to the table?
Charles Max Wood