#266 Cory ODaniel from a suit and a tie to one startup after the other
06:24 - Value of Side ProjectsCory's engagement with side projects has significantly impacted his career. Working on 'Bonny', an Elixir project, was not only a learning experience but also helped him make a name in the Elixir community. Having side projects can prove beneficial for exposure and building a portfolio.
14:32 - Stepping into Cloud OperationsRecognizing a gap in the market, Cory worked on 'MassDriver', a platform designed to simplify cloud operations for developers. This endeavor emphasizes the importance of finding niche areas and addressing them with innovative solutions.
24:17 - Building on FoundationsWhile Cory acknowledged the role of formal education, he believed that real-world experience and projects provide more practical knowledge. Building a strong foundation is essential, but applying that knowledge is equally important.
32:00 - The Journey of Mass DriverCory discussed the evolution of Mass Driver, a platform that aims to assist developers by handling the cloud operations components. It serves as a reminder that addressing specific pain points in the industry can lead to the creation of valuable tools and platforms.
37:08 - Continuous Learning and AdaptabilityCory touched upon the ever-evolving tech landscape and the importance of being adaptable. With new tools like TerraForm and Helm emerging, continuous learning and adaptability are crucial in the tech world.
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Cory O'Daniel 0:00
I've never been a fan of writing code. I've always seen it as a means to an end. Like I'm not. I'm not a language enthusiast, only these people. It's like, oh, the language I'm using now is the best and everyone should use it. I get over here. It's just like, like, I've always been, like out to do a thing. And unfortunately, I have to type some instructions that I hope a computer will listen to. And like, you know, like that, that to me isn't problem solving, like problem solving is thinking through the thing like, like, you're just like solidifying the work now and you're coding. So it's like I feel I feel like I've disconnected the problem solving from the the typing quite a bit, so I don't I don't think I miss it as much as one would expect. Hello, and welcome to developer's journey to podcast, bringing you the making of stories of successful software developers. To help you on your upcoming journey. I'm your host team building. On this episode I receive Corey or Daniel Correa has built startups and manage cloud operations for over 20 years. Cory is also the creator of funny, and Alex here based Kubernetes operator framework. And he's the CEO and co founder of mass driver. This company helps to improve the developer experience of cloud operations. Oh in itself describes as tackles snub and a yellow whisper, or so I've read, Cory, you've got the cognitive journey. Awesome. Thanks so much for having me.
Tim Bourguignon 1:25
But before we come to your story, I want to thank the terrific listeners who support the show every month, you are keeping the Dev 20 lights up. If you would like to join the spine crew, and help me spend more time on finding and nominal guests then editing audio tracks, please go to our website, Dev journey dot info and click on the Support me on Patreon. Even the smallest contributions are giant steps toward a sustainable dev journey. journey. Thank you. And now back to today's guest. As you know, the show exists to help listeners understand what your story looked like and imagine how to shape their own future. So as is customary on the show, let's go back to your beginnings. Where would you place to start if you'd have to any
Cory O'Daniel 2:13
GS. So it was quite a long time ago I was when I was in high school I did a little bit of development making like aim tools for like, like chatbot tools for for AOL Instant Messenger. And that's that's a that's a throwback there for some of the young kids might not know what that is. And also did a lot of cheese was at Duke Nukem 3d modeling. So like, it was very much stuff that I I did to entertain myself. And then when I got into college, I was a physics major. And I got a job working at a hospital like a low pay data entry job. And every day, they would bring down these just massive stacks of paper. And I would literally just came in, I was just keying them into this, like old terminal system. I'm sitting around one day, and I'm like, I wonder where these, like huge documents come from. I mean, it's like two inches of paper they bring down to me and I'd punch it in for explanation of benefits for for people's insurance. And so somebody comes down one day brings me the documents. I'm like, can you just bring me like the file on a disk get tomorrow, just so we don't waste all this paper? And she was like, Yeah, sure. And so I took the I took the disk home. And I spent the weekend trying to figure out like how it was encoded, and like how this little terminal system worked at my office, and I wrote a little program that let me put the disc in, as long as it had the right file name, I would double click my program and will just do all my data entry for me. And so, so like that was that was that was my first like, that was my first like real project. And so one day, I'm just I'm just sitting in the office and like a cubicle farm, right? And I'm literally reading the dungeon master's guide. And my boss walks by and she goes, What are you doing? It's just like, the middle of the day. And I'm obviously reading it. This book is huge, right? It's only a little book that you can hide like it's, it's chest width, and it's there and there's like a goblin on the front or whatever. And I'm like, I'm reading the dungeon master's guide. That's what I'm doing. And she's like, why aren't you working? And I was like, I wrote a program that do my job. And so like that's how I got into it. So they offered me a promotion onto the Help Desk team and offered the buy the rights to my software because I hadn't signed anything, anything giving over the rights to my software. And so I sold it for $1,000 which was a lot of money in college, but they fired 12 people so I could have gotten a lot more out of it. So yeah, there we go. Here I am
Tim Bourguignon 4:58
out there First of all, thank you for the for this gorgeous example of how lazy we are and don't want to work. And if we can find a way to automate our work, we will do it. Then I can picture that reference book, dungeon master's reference book very well, my son is reading it for the fifth time this week, right now. So it's somewhere above my head in the living room. So uh, yes, it is massive.
Cory O'Daniel 5:28
And for those nerds out there, I'm talking second edition.
Tim Bourguignon 5:31
Oh, okay. We're on the fifth. Okay, that dates you a little bit fun and doesn't mean that your your your contract back then had no reference to ownership of what you're creating as a software in your contract from the get go?
Cory O'Daniel 5:54
Yeah, that's a regularly hourly wage data entry clerk.
Tim Bourguignon 5:59
That's interesting. I was wondering whether you are seeing this. I, I feel that all my contracts have had some kind of this forever, always, even when I was not hired as a programmer. There was some kind of whatever you do on your job machine is just always period. I didn't build it at home.
Cory O'Daniel 6:19
So I didn't build it at home. But yeah, I mean, I think that it was just one of those roles where it was like I was hired hourly, it was it was one of those jobs was like I filled out an application. Like that was that was it like, it wasn't like I submitted a resume. It was like, I was like, I took a word per minute typing test. And I was making six bucks an hour, it was great.
Tim Bourguignon 6:40
I remember, I did that. The one that threw me off was I had to do a data entry test with numbers only. And oh, if I saw all the people going so fast, please type fast. But numbers No,
Cory O'Daniel 6:56
just keystrokes per hours on that number pad. Yeah, exactly.
Tim Bourguignon 7:01
Awesome. Awesome. So that was the beginning of your career, as he would describe it. How did you picture it going from that point at that time.
Cory O'Daniel 7:12
So I was very much still a physics major. And that was, that's where I thought I was going to be for quite a while. And so you know, I finished a lot of my I taken a fair number of AP courses in high school. And so I don't have a lot of my math and science done for, for my degree. And I remember I was sitting in talking to my dean one day about what I wanted to do. And we're just kind of like talking through careers and stuff. And he was like, realistically, like, you'll be a professor, like, you'll, you'll be, you'll be poor. Like, he didn't say it quite that way. But like, you could see it in his face. He's like, You have dreams. And realistically, you're just going to be a teacher like me, and I was like, this is I gotta figure something else out. And so like, I was in healthcare, like, I worked my way onto this, it this networking team. And I'm like, Okay, I got a bunch of math classes, like, what else can I do? I know how to program. Maybe I'll just maybe I'll do computer science. And so like, it was kind of like, I mean, like, this guy's ruined my dreams. I gotta pick something else. I'm like, halfway through this program. I want to graduate on time, like, what do I do? Right? And so it was just like, Okay, I'll do I'll do networking, networking, computer programming. And so I again, I was in I was in healthcare was working for a hospital, I can't remember if it was a hospital or a medical clinic at the time. But HIPAA was becoming this big, important thing. So I was like, You know what this is it. Like, I'll become a HIPAA security specialist. Like, that's what I ended up going to school for my master's degree is focused in that and I thought I was going to work in healthcare forever. Until a very weird day. I was at school was this was like 2000 2003, or 2004. I was on my way home from work. And this is Florida. My job I had to wear a suit and a tie, which is an absurd thing to wear to any job in Florida. Like there's just too much humidity for a suit and tie, but I'm in a suit and a tie. And there was this bar, I'd stopped by on the way home every day. And I'd sit there and I just like grab a drink and like program a little like there's there's no Wi Fi in the bar. This is this is early 2000s. So again, for youngsters like us to plug a cable into your computer or maybe even like Vampire tap into something to like, get on the internet. So like Starbucks didn't have Wi Fi at this point in time, the bar did not. And so I became like kind of a character at this bar. Like the bartender knew me like I'd come in, I'd plop down my huge like IBM, whatever. ThinkPad is massive. And con clunk, clunk, clunk, clunk, like while having a whiskey. And one day I'm in there, and there's somebody else with a laptop. And I'm like, this is weird. And so I asked the bartender, I'm like, Who's this other guy with a laptop? And he's like, he's a computer programmer. And I was like, how do you know when he's like, Who the fuck else would bring a laptop to a bar? And so I'm looking at this guy across the bars like the bizarro. version. I mean, we both have laptops, I'm in a suit. This guy's in board shorts and a T shirt. And so finally I get up and I walk over and I'm like, Hey, are you? Are you a software developer? And he was, and I was like, Where do you work that, like, you get the dress like this, and I have to dress like, like a penguin. And he's like, Oh, I work for a startup. And when he said this, like, I thought I misheard it. I thought startup was like the name of a company. I'd never heard the phrase startup before. And I'm like, oh, like, are you guys hiring? It's like, he's like talking me through this. And like, I finally catch on that he's talking about like, is a new business. And I was like, Oh, is there like, like, is it easy to get a job at a startup? And he's like, Oh, yeah. Well, next part of the story, like investors probably aren't going to enjoy. He's like, the like, he had to explain what a startup was for me. And he said, it was it was a bunch of nerds get together and trick some investors out of money. And they try to see if they can make a business out of it. And I'm just like, like, how do I how do I do this? This is I want to wear board shorts and just hack on stuff all day. And he was like, moved to California man. And so I quit my job the next day. Two weeks later, I was in California, trying to look for my first job at a startup which I landed an interesting one. I landed an extremely interesting one. Um, like, my friends have always said that I'm, I'm pretty lucky that I've fallen kind of ass backwards into like most things in my life. But as a 2324 year old guy who just like moved to California to find his first job. I didn't know where to look. I'm like on Monster, like putting together a resume and hop on Craigslist, which is probably not a place you're looking for jobs nowadays. But I was like, oh, let's go see if there's any programming jobs. And I find one and I apply for one. And my very first job like writing software, where I wasn't like an IT ish person, you know, at a hospital like doing some software on the side? Was it a porn company?
Cory O'Daniel 12:05
Somebody asked to do it. And, you know, it was funny is like, all my friends were like, You're so lucky. That's so awesome. My mom was not impressed at all. And it was actually like, a very awkward job, like I worked, didn't search. So like, things are always up on my screen. Like it was in the office at this point in time. It's like, every time somebody walked by, I felt like I was doing something wrong. So I only worked there for about three months. And I was like, I gotta get a different job. Like, this is not for me like it paid well, like, my friends are envious of it. And I'm like, this is just extremely awkward. And they would occasionally shoot things in the office, which just made it weird. It's just like, I'm just trying to make some lunch here. Like, like, That's it, like, but like somebody shooting something in the kitchen. And you're like, I hope like, I hope there's some standardization happened like around that cutting board over there. So that was that was my first like, real job. So it was just from like, within weeks, it was me and a suit in a bar, like perplexed by this other person explaining this idea of something that would go on to be most of my life startups a few years later to awkwardly waiting to cut my sandwich for somebody to finish shooting a scene. So yeah, there we go.
Tim Bourguignon 13:19
Did you get to wear the sandals and shorts and T shirts? Oh, already?
Cory O'Daniel 13:24
at that company? Yeah. I mean, I just I rolled it. I rolled in day one. And I mean, I was overdressed. Apparently. But yeah, I've never gone back. It's hard to get me in a suit nowadays.
Tim Bourguignon 13:36
Good for you. I believe you got that check early on. Okay, so how did you move away from this company and find the next one and start this startup career for real?
Cory O'Daniel 13:47
Yeah. So at that time, it was again, it was in the industry, I was developing in PHP, which is what people do in that industry, apparently. And so Jesus, yes, early 2000s. And so like, I hear the words like Ruby, Ruby on Rails, I grab a book, I'm like, this is kind of cool like this. This is much nicer than just kind of like throwing together the chaos that was like my life in PHP. And I'm like, Okay, I gotta get, I gotta get a job in this. So how do I get a job in this and so I started applying for jobs. And I got one at like, my first like, official, like real startup, which is this company called ripple TV. They're there. They're out of business. Now, I think they got bought like two or three times, but effectively, like pre iPhone. It was this great idea. Like people would stand around in coffee shops and do shops and gyms with nothing to look at because they didn't have a smartphone. So this company would essentially put in these huge monitors like big screen TVs, effectively with these Dell workstations behind them and we would stream sports scores like some ads, pretty much all the stuff you're getting off of your phone, but like we didn't have a phone so it's just like entertaining people while they're standing idly by. Oh, Um, and it was a pretty big, pretty big operations like 3000 screens around the US we had a physical data center. And we're just streaming like, gigs of data a day to all these places. You know, we had this really interesting like Bit Torrent network behind the scenes for like distributing all our content around these 3000, essentially distributed network of computers that we had that were just playing this content. And yeah, so I applied for the job, but I'd never done Ruby on Rails. It was one of these places where it was like, in retrospect, you could tell a recruiter wrote the job description was like, 45 years of Rails experience. And so I was just like, Yeah, I got a shitload of that, like, I've been doing rails forever. It's like, I've had the book for like, two weeks. I'm like, Yeah, I've got my entire career, that hospital is working out there. We're doing rails to like, I was just like, I'm just gonna make up some numbers on here. And I got an interview. And I was like, You know what, before this interview, like, I'm going to be the expert they're expecting and so I just absolutely crammed on rails for days went in, got the interview. The funny thing was, is I actually showed up in a suit to that interview, because I was like, Well, I'm going to apply for a business now, a real business, not a porn company. So I showed up in a suit, did the interview very, very bizarre, very bizarre interview, it was like one of those like, we're just like a bunch of like, questions that don't matter. I mean, I guess that's most of our interviews today is Questions That don't matter. But I still remember. They asked me like offhand to list the seven layers of like the OSI model. It's just like, I know this from like, a net plus class, but like, who cares? And then on my way out, the who would be my manager, like patting me on the back. And he's like, he did a really good job today. Everybody's super impressed. Like your rail skills are great. And my answer, that's good, because I just pulled all that out of my ass. And he's like, if we offer you a job, please don't ever wear suit here. Like, that's what he said, as I'm walking out the door. This guy ends up going on to being my best friend was my best man at my wedding. Still my best friend today, but it was just funny. It was just like, that's how he's stepping out the door. He's like, if we call you don't come back in a suit. And I'm like, I'm planning on it. I was just trying to impress you today. Same lifestyle.
Tim Bourguignon 17:14
You had to take out the suit at some point. I mean, yeah, it's been a it's the last three bones. So your communion communion suits to get what you think?
Cory O'Daniel 17:28
I think it was. It was like a Bloomingdale's like 2099 special.
Tim Bourguignon 17:35
I hear you, I hear you. So you showed up first day, as a Rails expert. Now
Cory O'Daniel 17:40
rails expert. Yeah, I'm a Rails expert. And then as as all I feel like all jobs, it's like, here's what you're gonna do. And they show up day one of the things have changed a bit, you're gonna work on something different, you know, I got handed the dumbest software project that's ever existed. So this is, again, this is early 2000s, flashes a thing. I think ActionScript, two, maybe ActionScript. Two, if anybody out there is an ActionScript nerd, and I'm guessing the wrong version, I apologize. But we had this product and you know, it displayed all these sports scores all these like local events on the screen. And they wanted to make something so local businesses could put ads on the screens. But the problem was like a local business might not be able to afford Photoshop or know how to use Photoshop. And so they wanted to make, essentially, the requirements were a Photoshop light that ran in the browser. And like 2003 2004 destined for them sometime this era. No flash.
Tim Bourguignon 18:44
That's getting tricky.
Cory O'Daniel 18:45
That's getting very tricky. That's getting very tricky. Like, there's no canvas element. Like we're, we're way back in time here. And so like, that was my very first like, job that was given to me where it's like, this is it like this is this is one of my actual, like, first time really doing software development on something that matters, right? It's just like I worked on, like, some hacky stuff at the hospital, jumped into some porno, and like, backed out of that one real quick. And now I'm like, working on that business product that like people are going to be selling. I'm like, Wow, I'm, I'm in over my head. And so, um, I just, I did what I could, I mean, we ended up working, we got it working. It was it was it was a very weird system. We did most of the photo editing was like you would you'd essentially have something in the in the browser, you would you would make a an edit that you're attempting to make and like we'd show you a white screen, like while I applied it. And what was actually happening is, since we couldn't do any of this stuff in the browser, we were sending back like approximations of what was going on in the browser to a server. And then the changes would happen. They're like we're literally made like essentially like a an API on top of image magic. Where like, you will I'm gonna put words on there with image magic, some words onto your image, and we'd send you back the new imaging and looking at it right. And like we had all this metadata describing, like your layers, and like the orientations and like rotations and whatnot. And it was just, it was a nightmare. It was an AB solute nightmare. And we spent, remember this, this was my first like, big, I'm gonna call it production bug. And also, the thing that made everybody in the office want to kill each other for about two weeks. Like, we couldn't figure out why something worked in staging, it didn't work in prod. It was one font that everybody seemed to want to use, I can't remember what font it was. But like, whenever we got the product never worked, always worked in staging never worked in prod. And it was because the font drivers weren't installed on like this Red Hat system. And so it just defaulted to something else. But it was driving this product manager nuts for weeks because like, like the I think it's the kerning, like the digits doesn't have the letters was different. So like it was causing stuff to crop. And so like, the way he is surfaced him was the text is cropping, it's like, well, it's not cropping, the math had just been done when it was like rendering the image on like a different font. But then the biggest thing was we shipped a bug one day where, again, this is all you're doing some stuff in your browser. And editing is not happening there. There's not the tools in the browser to edit photos, crop photos, rotate photos. So it's sending all these layers back that you have on this screen, it's rendering some image magic and sending back one photo. So it's like on the sidebar, you have like your layers, they're not really there. And then you're just looking at literally like a rendered photo. And something happened where we mixed up the height by width character, and like the asterik. And so image magic had this thing where if you gave it a gave it a width, without a height, the height would just be one pixel. And the width would be whatever it was. And so we're working in like images that are like 1920 by 768. And again, as it's doing the math, it's passing through this like Ruby system, and it's multiplying it and so all the images are coming out like a million pixels wide, one pixel high. So like all of a sudden, one day, like, everything just goes to absolute chaos, like people using this editor like they'd make their first change. And that would come back and it would look like the browser was just loading forever. like it'd be white. Like it's have a 200 like everything was if you looked in like, if you looked at like did some inspection like everything was coming back? 200 Okay, and it's like, everything's there, but nothing's on the screen. And it took a while before we realize like, oh, the browser's like, Horizontal Scrollbar just keeps getting smaller and smaller and smaller, and smaller and smaller until like, Firefox would crash. And it was like, What the hell just happened. So it took us hours to figure out that we were sending back like million pixel wide images. Like we couldn't even click on the image, right? You couldn't like, and so like, it was just absolute madness. So yeah, that was my that was that was me. And my first job and everybody's like, this guy knows what he's doing. He just seen his resume. And I was like,
Tim Bourguignon 23:00
well, you invented server side photo editing.
Cory O'Daniel 23:05
I mean, I would I wouldn't have killed for just like, we can install Flash. Like we get like, these people are playing Flash games, for sure. Right? They're watching. They're watching I was at Homestar. They're doing all the flash stuff. They're on E bombs world, like we could have had a flash requirement. Like, they were just super hardcore against like making people install flash. And in retrospect, like, that was a multi month project that probably could have been like, much shorter.
Tim Bourguignon 23:33
But that was that was at a time where when Apple was a ritual activity trying to kill flash, was it?
Cory O'Daniel 23:40
I don't know. I feel like I don't know. I feel like that was I think, if I recall correctly, I think that Canvas element existed in like Safari, or whatever, if it was even called Safari at the time, but it wasn't anywhere else if I recall. But I mean, our major browser at the time, I think was like IE five or six. So I mean, it was just like it was it was brutal. It was oh,
Tim Bourguignon 24:07
I learned a lot server light.
Cory O'Daniel 24:09
I learned a lot. Yeah, I learned Yeah, right. Silverlight was the other one right? My gosh, I forgot all about that.
Tim Bourguignon 24:17
Anyhow, anyhow and you're looking at the clock. Okay, where do you want to take us so that that would that was your first real project without the suit. The suit Where did you go next? What was next on the next stop that really comes to mind?
Cory O'Daniel 24:32
Yes, the next one was I left that company after a couple of years so actually, I mean the product survived and it's it did things people paid paid for. I don't know that it made the company profitable. But I ended up going on to co found a startup called vocal so this was I think around 2008. Now a vocal veo que le and vocal was a It started out as I hope hope The my other co founders don't hear this because they might be offended at what I'm about to say. But I mean, it was a Reddit clone. I don't know if Reddit existed at the time, I think. Cash What was that other one that was like where people would dig, dig. It was a dig clone. It was a dig clone. Do you hear me if you're listening, it was a dig clone. That's what we were building. It was a dig clone. Like you couldn't say that there. But it was a dig clone. You posted some articles, people have voted and people commented about them. And it was interesting, because what happened was our users, like were saying like, they Oh, they wanted to like chat about this stuff. Like they didn't want to just like comment on it. They wanted to chat about it. And so we added a small little like video chat feature around each of the articles that you can post. And then this slowly turned into like, well, like, I want to have a show. Like, I want to just have a show where people could come and talk. And so we ended up like we ended up starting out as a dig clone.
Tim Bourguignon 26:00
Or some unfinished business. Yeah.
Cory O'Daniel 26:03
On this dig clone. And so we ended up we ended up building a video chat platform that was all browser based, it wasn't flash, and it was ActionScript. Three, it ran on, I think RTMP if I remember the protocol correctly, and this did all of our chat and something called wildfire, I think so like xmpp server and cash from China Wowza some Java thing for I think it was called Wowza for like video streaming. And so we built this little platform that was all browser based, you could hop in, you could have a show. So it wasn't like a chat, it was more like a show. So you had a green room where people like your producer could like cut like so this thing like slowly just turned into like almost like a video production tool. So it's like, started out really started out as a Digg clone, added some video commenting, added some like live chat, and all of a sudden, it's like people wanted to host shows. And so we had like, like early. I don't wanna say like YouTube celebrities that would get on and they would have like a live show. And then their fans would come and watch and they can raise their hand and participate. So I mean, like, it's effectively like, what like zoom webinars is today. And we kind of joke in retrospect, like we were a pandemic away from being billionaires. But inevitably, what happened in like, 2008 through 2010 is like, I think we had a couple of problems. One, we could never agree on a revenue stream. So we built this thing. We never had revenue, we'd never made a single dollar on this on this idea. We had people like the MythBusters had used it did a show with like 5000 I so it was like, early 2000. We're streaming like 5000 video streams of Mythbusters we had Al Gore use it. One of our investors, angel investors was Imogen Heap a musician like she would do live shows on it. So she would come on and our fans could like join and like play along music with her. I mean, everything was super delayed and kind of sucked, but like it was still a fun experience. And we just never found a way that we agreed on to make money. So it was like ads. No, that detracts from like the, the the artistic nature of what these people are trying to do like charging people to ticket for tickets. That's just unheard of. And so we never agreed on a revenue stream, and eventually ran out of money. And so like after that, it was just like I'd had this like World Tour and like a number of years where I went from like being this corporate cog in like a health care office to the job that all my friends wanted. That was the dive we got burned out on very quickly to like a real, like, Death March engineering job where you work 60 hours a week, you're like, oh, it's startup startup life. They got an arcade machine at 2am. What am I still doing here? To my own startups, I feel like I got like the full full gamut. And so I ended up just randomly. As it said, this point, I'm also in like my mid 20s. Now, I'd never been out of the country. And in one day, two people. Two people like I didn't know that I just kind of ran into had both mentioned this place. And one guy is standing in front of me in a coffee shop. So this is like the this is the this is the through line on this entire story. That is my life. Fall into shit ass backwards. And if nobody catches you like the floor is not far. So I'm standing in this coffee shop. And there's this couple or these two people in front of us talking and the guy had just gotten back from a trip. And he does like the Oprah Winfrey thing. He's like, you want a car you want a car, but he's just like, oh, this place was so awesome. He's like, everybody should go. And he like points to like this random person in the coffee shop. He's like, That guy should go to row Aton Roatan Honduras. He's like, she should go, she should go. And he turns around, he points me he's like, this guy should go. And I'm like, could you go so I can get my coffee and get out of here. And I'm just like, that was weird. So like, go about my day end up going out to dinner. And I'm sitting by another couple who are actually talking about just getting back from this trip. And I'm like, too much coincidence for one day like, I'm gone. And like I had, sorry, just going on my headphones, I had nothing really going on. So I, I went on a little experiment, I'm like, I'm gonna go, I'm gonna leave the country for the first time. And I'm going to fly into San Pedro Sula, and which is a terrifying place. Sorry if anybody lives there, but good luck. Take a cab to the docks, right on a boat that maybe barf everywhere and live on a little tropical island for a couple of months and see what happens. And while I was out there, somebody had found my resume that I'd put on Monster. And they given me a call left me a voicemail. And they were like, Oh, we're looking for like, we're looking for an engineer to join the team got to go to like a startup that's gotten money. Like it's got something going and like, listen to his voicemail, and like, okay, just got here, you're gonna want to leave. And so I call the guy back. And I'm like, Hey, like, Yes, that sounds interesting. Like, we'd love to chat. Like, I was like, I, I live in Honduras. Now. It's just like, kind of like, I don't live there. I'm just like, I'm gonna be there for a while. But I'm just like, I live in Honduras. And let's see what he says. He's like this great world travel company. I don't care where you live. And but this is like to that this is like, maybe, maybe 2010. I'm sorry, I'm super bad at times. I exist outside of a normal timeline. Thing is like 2010 2009, something like that. And he's like, you can work from wherever you want. And I'm like, I just invented work from home. And so I ended up coming back to Los Angeles, kind of getting my stuff in order, met the guy did the interview, got the job, sold everything and went back to Honduras for a while, ended up living in coupon ruinous, bounced around the globe was in Angkor Wat, Korea just kind of bounced around the globe, like writing software for the next year and a half or so. And so, yeah, just and I've been remote ever since it's just like, that's it. It's like I'm sold. I'm not I'm not getting back into an office anytime soon. And so that was that was a company called deal base. And that's where like the next I think like seven to eight years of my life kind of got tangled up in like this this world of deal base. So deal base was the parent company to hotel tonight, the company ended up investing a bunch of money into my second startup, which was a company called deal science. And then I inevitably ended up rejoining a derivative of deal base years later called click trips, which is probably where I started getting most of my like operations chops, working in Kubernetes, and whatnot. Wow. So
Tim Bourguignon 32:59
it's interesting how sometimes there is really a key element that just turns the rest of your life upside down. Yeah, that's, that's really interesting. Yeah. Okay. So you, you, you kept this this startup vibe going, either funding startups yourself, or joining early stage startups and just being in this ecosystem. Until now.
Cory O'Daniel 33:21
Yeah, I took a breather. And yeah, so like deal base turned into deal science deal science turned into a click trips, like they're all kind of in like the same family. They're not all necessarily underneath the same, same org, but like St. Same family of like founders, co founders. And so I was at clique trips for a while doing some pretty interesting stuff. And again, just fallen ass backwards in the stuff. I get a call one day, I think an email from somebody that worked at a company called Google. with like, a
Cory O'Daniel 33:58
Cory O'Daniel 34:00
a Google, What are y'all what would you say y'all do here? And so it was actually it was somebody from somebody from GCP. So so their cloud offering and there was, I guess, if you if you Google that the time, elixir and Kubernetes like I was the thing that showed up, because like, I like I've done some blog posts, I was working on some some software. And I gotta be careful with what I say here for NDAs. But there was a company that was moving on to Google Cloud that was in in data centers, and they were an Erlang and elixir shop. And they were moving from data centers to Google Cloud run on Kubernetes. And so like I had this like niche expertise. So they asked if I'd be interested in like, coming on as a contractor to like, help people move to the Google Cloud. And so this is really where like the idea for mass driver which is the you know, the the product I'm working on now with some of my co founders kind of came to light so we're obviously thing was like, all these companies I worked at from ripple back in 2000, early 2000s, till two quick trips, like very different stage companies that some of them are startup. Some are like later stage like growth stage companies. But I've seen this consistent problem, like amongst these small companies of people lacked cloud operations expertise, like people like the operations expertise, like developers were getting further away from the metal and like, closer, just like their software and more of their software is turning into Cloud API's. And like there was this gap in experience there. And, you know, you grab somebody in and say, Hey, do you want to figure out how this thing works in AWS? And developers are curious, of course, they say sure, right. And this is something I thought was just just a startup and early stage company problem. But as I am getting in and working with working with Google, in this company, migrating, I'm seeing these people with tons of operations experience, even in data centers for their entire lives. But now they're like, Junior TerraForm, engineers, right? They'd never worked in the cloud before. Like, their job went from being these people that knew how to troubleshoot, you know, these Linux systems routers switches to I write some weird, declarative code that's kind of really Jason to like, put things in the cloud, right? And like, their careers has changed drastically overnight. And that's where I'm sitting I'm like, like, that, like, there are massive organizations that also have this knowledge gap, like how can we like, like, I'm seeing these people struggle on certain things like this problem is pervasive. It goes from startup to large organizations, like how can I build a product to make it easier for people to manage stuff in the cloud and like focus on their software and not feel like they're guessing or reading a white paper just to get the job done? So I was at Google for, I think, a little over a year working on that contract, and one other hat wasn't really ready to do another startup yet, like this idea is kind of like kicking it around in the back of my head. And then I joined like, my first like, big company.
Tim Bourguignon 37:01
And you're making a face when you see this? Oh,
Cory O'Daniel 37:03
sorry. Like, it was. I mean, there's lots of I mean, you know, there were lots of really awesome people there. But like, the product was something I wasn't super excited about. And the product is something I mean, it wasn't any worse, it wasn't worse than the boring company, just to be clear, but it was it was a company called it was a company called the real real, I don't really have that much of a problem. It was just it was just boring. Like, it was like there for a year. And I'm like, Okay, it's an it's an E commerce company, like it was nothing that was really like blowing me away. And so it's just like, had this like, thing grinding in the back of my head the entire time. I'm there and it's like, I've got to go and start, I've got to go and start this. Like, I'm old. Everyone knows ActionScript, two Dungeons and Dragons. To me, like there's a, there's a theme there. Like, if I'm going to do another startup again, like I got to do it. So not to say the old people can't do a startup you can. But I feel like I'm about 40 years older than I am. So I don't have much left in me. So I was I was there for a little over a year. I started working on mass driver in my spare time with one of my co founders, both of which I've known for quite a long time. And then he just seemed like we had something. And so we decided to quit our jobs and like, set our retirements on fire and see if we can make the thing happen. So yeah,
Tim Bourguignon 38:26
two years ago.
Cory O'Daniel 38:28
Yeah. So I mean, I we established the company, I think June 28 2021. So it'll be it'll be two years that the company exist. And I don't think we actually put our jobs until like October of 2020. Ones like we overlapped a little bit. But yeah, so here I am. I'm not a software developer anymore. I'm a CEO now.
Tim Bourguignon 38:50
How do you feel about that? It's cool. It's different.
Cory O'Daniel 38:52
Um, I'll tell you the nicest thing. So if anybody out there has like one of these, like mice, that's like the rollerball mice, and you got the keyboard. That's all like massive and like 25 feet apart. And you're like, Ah, I finally gotten my tendinitis under control with all these weird contraptions let me type. The easiest way to get your tendinitis under control is to stop writing software. Like that's it, like all these weird finger combinations and just like typing for eight hours straight like that, no matter what you use, I've got some crazy stuff here like still a tendinitis, but like, who a year into like being like, just CEO and like not writing code anymore. Like my fingers. All my fingers are nimble, like I've got, I've got I've got the hands of early 20 Something just and just the, just the exhaustion of an 80 year old. So I average at 50 So it's still older than I feel. feel older than I am. Yeah.
Tim Bourguignon 39:48
Do you miss writing writing code every day for
Cory O'Daniel 39:52
um, I don't I don't think I miss it. I mean, I still I still do it from time to time. It's like I still like I tried to like like Wherever we're taking on water, I see if I can, if I can help. I missed the problem solving like to think through the bigger problems, but like, I've never been a fan of writing code, I've always seen it as a means to an end. Like, I'm not. Like, I'm not a language enthusiast volunteers, people, it's like, oh, the language I'm using now is the best and everyone should use it, I get over here. It's just like, like, I've always been, like out to do a thing. And unfortunately, I have to type some instructions that I hope a computer will listen to. And like, you know, like that, that, to me isn't problem solving, like problem solving is thinking through the thing like, like, you're just like solidifying the work now, and you're coding. So it's like, I feel, I feel like I've disconnected the problem solving from the typing quite a bit. So I don't I don't think I miss it as much as one would expect.
Tim Bourguignon 40:51
Okay. Um, that's the place where I usually ask for an advice. And since you were an early definers, of home office and working remotely, what will be the one advice that you give to newcomers in your industry, in your company, about remote work to make them have a successful experience?
Cory O'Daniel 41:15
I mean, honestly, like, I think the best thing anybody can do for successful experience through remote work is read get labs remote manifested, that is fantastic. I mean, they've done a lot of work there. You know, like, unlike anything, people write its opinions, like read it, take it, take it for what it's worth. I will say the thing that will save you in 15 years and on this, I'm being completely serious, this is gonna sound silly, but I'm being stone cold, serious. Not everything has to be a video call, right? Like we say in remote like our asynchronous we're text first. Yeah, but we hop on calls all the time. Like we occasionally need to get synchronous, we get synchronous, I don't have to see your face, right. Like we, I feel like with just like social media, we're on all the time. And then like to be at work and also be on is hard. It's just like, turn like, make it fine. Like put it in your agenda, you write an agenda, when you make a meeting invite, right? You do make an agenda, when you send somebody a meeting invite, because if you don't, if you don't have an agenda, my rule in meetings is if you don't have an agenda, it's not a meeting, it's it's you trying to come up with a meeting, send me a slack. But if it's an agenda, like Senate and say, like, don't turn on your cameras, we don't need to see each other, right, like, like, make it fine to not feel like you always have to be on and then like, take that to the next I go on walks all the time. Like if somebody books a meeting with me, and it's like, we're gonna be talking through something and I don't need to be present, like say that and the agenda. Like we're not going to be screen sharing, we don't need video on I'm going to call in and I'm gonna go for a walk, like go for a walk. I tell my employees, like if you're on a call that doesn't require you looking at a screen, do your chores, like do your dishes, like do your laundry, like, if like you can have conversations while doing like mindless work, like, like, get some of your stuff done. If somebody decided to take up your time synchronously. Like, you can think while doing laundry, like get it out of the way, turn your camera off, and like get some of your chores out of the way so you can enjoy your life this weekend. So like that's it like, remote is so hard to separate our work lives from our personal lives and like, just finding little ways to like make it not so in your face all day long is going to be key. Now on the other side of this, like, I'm old, like I've had like my early 20s Where I'm in the office, like all the water cooler time. Like I think the other thing that's really hard for an entire generation of people is like you're coming out of college and like you're used you're looking for this first like social thing where you're around all these people, these new people you're meeting you've moved to a new city. That's hard. I, I think we're still struggling with like how to do that. Because we do have some younger people on the team. Like how do you create that sense of culture and fun and camaraderie when you're not seeing each other all day? That's, I mean, that's something we're still struggling through and trying to figure out and as a growing team, like that's something that kind of paying mine towards but for everybody else, like just
Cory O'Daniel 44:18
don't turn on your video okay, yeah,
Tim Bourguignon 44:25
I kind of like turning on the video at the beginning just just to get the social contact, say hi. see each other as human beings, and then turn it off if we need to. And if we want to, and I make a point of turning it off when I'm not sitting when I'm when I'm doing something else just to say hey, I'm listening to you, but I'm not there. I don't need to look at the background behind me without me in the front but, but I like to advise people to turn off the record of the video at the beginning and at least say Hey, hi, I'm there. I'm doing okay today we have the smiles we can exchange human human emotions through the are the faces we make cetera, and then go but I like the idea of reusing pushing people to if you don't need the screen, go to something else. Really go do something else, even if it is just walk around in your living room.
Cory O'Daniel 45:14
Yeah, PACE get out there and pace. I pace my pace up and down my street. I've paced so much that I had a neighbor come out and they asked me why I'm why keep walking back and forth in front of their house. I'm like, because I got another meeting that I do need to be at my computer at and like 20 minutes. I don't want to walk too far. And like, get all caught up. So I'm just pacing so sorry. Like, don't call the cops.
Tim Bourguignon 45:35
10 minutes, One Direction. Two minutes. Yeah. Cory, thank you so much. It's been a blast listening to a story and then fantastic, insightful way to wrap it up. Really awesome. Thanks so much. I appreciate it. So where would be the best place to find you? Obviously, online, wherever you are in the world at that point in time, and start discussion with you.
Cory O'Daniel 45:58
Ah, yeah, I'm pretty much choreo Daniel now II on everything. So GitHub, Twitter, LinkedIn, there is one other choreo Daniel, he's a football player. That one's not me. I'm the more out of shape older looking one. So if you see a choreo Daniel on a football field, different person, you can usually find me at a burger place or a barbecue place or in my backyard trying to smoke some meats.
Tim Bourguignon 46:25
Okay, yes, you want to plug in before we go today?
Cory O'Daniel 46:28
Um, yeah, I mean, nothing's plugged Master, I would say like, you know, we love the feedback, check it out. I mean, the goal of the platform is, again, to let developers develop with them focus on features. So we take care of a lot of the cloud operations components for you. If you have a cloud operations team, we also make it very easy to extend the platform using the tools they know, like TerraForm, and Helm. And the goal is just to let everybody kind of focus on like the parts of the world that they're experts at. And Master racks is kind of the glue to hold the system together.
Tim Bourguignon 46:57
Awesome. Yeah. Then you can find all the links that will find with Korea, Daniel, who doesn't play football in the shownotes and just scroll down, click on it. And there you go. Cory, thank you so much. Yeah. Thanks so much for having me. And this has been another episode of Ghost journey with each other next week. Just thanks a lot for tuning in. I hope you have enjoyed this week's episode. If you liked the show, please share, rate and review. It helps more listeners discover news stories. You can find the links to all the platforms the show appears on on our website, Dev journey dot info, slash subscribe. Creating the show every week takes a lot of time, energy, and of course money. Will you please help me continue bringing out those inspiring stories every week by pledging a small monthly donation, you'll find our patreon link at Deaf journey dot info slash donate. And finally, don't hesitate to reach out and tell me how this week story is shaping your future. You can find me on Twitter at @timothep ti m o th e p porker email info at Dev journey dot info talk to you soon.