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Mike Vernal
Mike Vernal

It’s easier to change the world than it seems. Most people just slowly learn to think it’s impossible. It’s one of the reasons so many great companies are founded by really young entrepreneurs.

The best products tend to nail one use case. Once you find it, make it really awesome and only then expand.

I’m interested in the next generation of mobile products. I think we’re reaching the end of the “app” era and I’m excited for what comes next.

I try to avoid mistaking motion for progress. It was one of my favorite sayings at Facebook. I’ve seen a lot of talented achievers confuse being busy with actually moving the ball forward.

When I first graduated from college, I thought you were supposed to design novel, elegant solutions to problems. I eventually learned to just find the quickest, simplest solution and move on to the next problem.

I started out believing that you could build a great developer platform and let someone else build the killer app. When that didn’t work, I figured you had to build both at the same time. I finally realized that great platforms evolve out of killer apps.

Whenever an interesting new platform opens up, a bunch of companies rush in. The successful ones go in with a sustainable model, rather than just trying to grow as quickly as possible.

Back when XML and SOAP were really popular, I ended up being Microsoft’s representative on those standards committees. At the time, I thought it was pretty prestigious. In retrospect, I realized I was the new guy and no one else wanted to attend those meetings.

My first computer program was a 50,000-line version of Battleship, complete with ASCII animations when the ships sank. When I learned that you could define your own functions, it got a lot shorter.

My favorite class in college was CS161 (Operating Systems). Each assignment involved writing a huge chunk of the operating system – the memory manager, the file system, etc. It was the best possible training for understanding how computers really work.

When I was 11 years old, I won a trip for my family and me to Denmark. There was a contest at a toy store to guess the number of pieces in a giant Lego display. I think I was off by seven.

I grew up in a tiny apartment outside New York City. One day when I was 5, my oldest brother told me to stand between two chairs and started shooting hockey pucks at me. Thus began my 15-year career as a goalie. Eventually someone bought me a helmet.