David Byttow Talks About How He Got Into Google Without A Degree On Foundation
Kevin Rose released another awesome and entertaining episode of The Foundation. In this episode, guest David Byttow, talks about how he dropped out of college to work for a game company. Eventually David applied for a job at Google and was able to get in without a degree. David then worked at Square after years of working on the Google + project and finally creating an extremely popular app named Secret. Below is the new episode of Foundation featuring David Byttow. For those who do not want to watch the entire 45 minute interview a more in depth overview below video.
The Foundation: David Byttow
David Byttow is an entrepreneur and co founder of the app startup Secret. Secret is an app that allows users to make anonymous post in the app without anyone knowing who you are. Until today, the app is so secured that hackers are unable to hack it. The one feature that makes Secret so special is the ability to view your friends secret, but you will not know which one of your friends posted it. For example someone can say, “I took a piss in the shower.” You know it’s one of your friends that posted that, but you have no clue who. Sounds fun eh, it’s a guessing game.
David Byttow starts off by talking about how he got started in the tech world. David says that he has been coding since a young age, in other words he’s been a passionate self taught programmer. He loved to create games and would love to create games on his own time. At the age of 19, 2 months into college, he got an offer from a local game developing company to work as an engineer. Without finishing his degree, David told his dad that he would be leaving college to work on something he was really passionate for. His family was very supportive about his decision.
After working at the game company for a while, David saw an opening for Google and decided to apply. We all know that Google’s hiring expectations are extremely high. Usually the first question people ask you at Google is, “What ivy league school did you go to?” David never heard back from Google for his first application. After 6 months, a friend of David that worked at Google, told him to apply again. David Byttow decided to give it another shot, this time fully eliminating the two semester that he took in college out of his resume. Surprisingly, because of that he was able to get an interview with a hiring manager. He believed that he did well in the interview and moved onto the later rounds. During the time, David was worried that Larry Page, who was still reviewing every applicant at the time, would reject his application because he did not have a college degree. Eventually his skills led him to join the engineering team at Google. David said that out of the entire class of 40 people, he was the only one without a college degree, but that did not stop his shine.
At Google, David worked on the Google plus project for a few years and had a lot of fun. He loved the urgency that Google presented and loved working endless hours on new projects with deadlines. Eventually, it was time for him to move on. At the time, David Byttow received many offers from other startups. He was considering either to work at Square or Medium. After talking to Ev Williams, David decided that maybe Medium is the correct place for him. After joining the Medium team, David felt that Medium might just not be for him. David had wished that there would be a little bit more urgency and he just did not see that at Medium. At the time Medium was at a young growth stage, so there wasn’t a finalized idea yet. It was just about putting different pictures together. David decided to make the leave to Square which he felt would fit him more than Medium.
At Square, David took on the position of Senior Engineer and focused on the backend systems. His main focus was scaling square since at the time Square just started a partnership with Starbucks. After working at Square for a while and being inspired by Jack Dorsey, David wanted to create something that will change the world. He also had another goal in mind, which was traveling the world. After talking with Jack, David decided to make the leave so that he could travel the world on his own savings. As he was about to leave, he talked to a few other engineers who wanted to make the shift as well. David felt that this was going to be an excellent opportunity so he dumped down the goal of wanting to travel the world for working on a new project with the 3 other engineers at Square. David did travel to Asia and Paris before he teamed up with the three engineers.
It was bootstrapping time for the team. David sold his car, his bike, and all the useless stuff that he had. He moved into a new apartment with the team and decided to get this next venture running without funding or even a solid idea. The team knew that in order to find a perfect idea, they would need to have an idea that the whole team could agree on. This was hard for the team because, two of them would be extremely passionate for an idea, while the other two would be kind of iffy about it. The team took 10 ideas and pitched them to different VCs. These ideas included consumer and enterprise software solutions. This didn’t work out too well for the team and David was feeling frustrated. David then proceeded to doing anonymous voting within the team to find the best idea. Through this method, the team thought it would be an excellent idea to create an app for anonymous sharing. Because of that, the Secret app was born.