Narrative Resumé

Unlike most resumés, this version tells my work history in chronological order, with more detail than would normally be included (including non-employment projects that have informed my career). An abridged version is also available in traditional, reverse-chronological order.

I’m a technology leader, open source startup founder, software developer, and open web advocate. My mission is to work on technology projects in the public interest that have the potential to make the world more informed and equal.

This is the story of how I got there.

Assorted Games (1985-)

Developer / Designer

My mother taught me to program BASIC on an 8-bit Atari XE. I was enthralled by text adventures in particular: interactive stories with a strong narrative flow. As a child I wrote my own, which were closer to Choose Your Own Adventure branching stories than real Infocom-style text adventures, which had a parser.

In my early teens, I started writing more graphically-focused MS-DOS games in Pascal. I began to release them as shareware: a form of software releasing that was popular before open source became mainstream, where a small version of your software was freely distributed, and the more complete product could be bought. My games found their way onto magazine cover CDs, anthologies, and Bulletin Board Systems around the world.

I also started Spire Magazine, a hypertext “e-zine” that included tech news and games reviews. (I received free review copies, which I gave to my friends in exchange for reviews; I was in it for the magazine itself.) I interviewed celebrities like Roger Ebert and Nicholas Negroponte over email. The magazine became an experimental space to play with the hypertext medium (using Windows Help files), which eventually informed the work I built on the web.

Daily Information (1994-1997)

BBS System Operator, Webmaster, Web Developer

Daily Information is an information sheet in my hometown of Oxford, England that has been published since the 1960s. Its proprietor, John Rose, was a local legend.

He originally hired me — as an after-school job — to run the Bulletin Board System. Anyone in Oxford could dial in and read the entertainment listings or the classified ads.

In 1995, I learned HTML in order to create Daily Information’s first website, which was one of the first – possibly the first – classified ads websites, pre-dating even Craigslist. Over the years to come, I would revamp the website many times, and continue to offer support to the team as a consultant. I last worked with them in 2009.

University of Edinburgh (1997-2002)

BSc (Hons), Computer Science

Fueled by an interest in the web as a storytelling medium, I decided to undertake a degree in Computer Science at the University of Edinburgh.

For my final dissertation, I built an accident reporting system that helped investigators figure out the root causes of an incident by adding contributing factors to a weighted, directed graph. I built the system as a collaborative web interface — because the web platform of that time was significantly more limited than today’s, I had to invent a new way to display directed graphs. Today, I could have just used the canvas element or any number of libraries.

I also studied Artificial Intelligence, and took a course in Forensic Medicine (because I thought it would be useful for telling certain kinds of stories). In general, I was frustrated by how purely mathematical the course was — those topics were important, but to me computers were an inherently human medium. I craved instruction about what I’d later call human-centered design and the impact of networked computing on society. Absolutely none of that was present, and it was sometimes hard to stay motivated.

I took a year out between my third and fourth years, wherein I did some work for Daily Information and continued to learn web development.

Rum & Monkey (2001-2010)

Founder, Writer

Annoyed by the personality tests that were beginning to swamp the early web — which Care Bear are you? — I set out to write an acerbic parody. I put Which Evil Criminal Are You? out on the web on a Friday night, and by Sunday morning it had been taken over 100,000 times — an incredible number for a tiny personal whim published on the 2001-era web.

I turned that personality test into a meme and humor site that often received over a million pageviews a day. Its memes intentionally made fun of politicians and conservative institutions, and it received coverage in media around the world.

The site taught me about virality, meme culture, and how to build for social media. When we added a forum that attracted a community of teenagers, many of whom were in vulnerable situations, it also taught me about moderation and community standards. Some of the work we did influenced later, more profitable sites like Buzzfeed. The revenue I made from Rum & Monkey made projects like Elgg possible. I wrote about the experience in a Medium piece years later.

Eventually, as it became less of a focus for me, the site began to fade away. It was eventually sold to a social media advertising firm.

Edinburgh University Media and Learning Technology Service (2003-2004)

E-Learning Developer

I was originally hired to build and support the Coaches Info Service, a site run by the International Society of Biomechanics in Sports and the University of Edinburgh in order to help make sports biomechanics accessible to professional coaches. I built a new CMS that incorporated precise sports science videos which could be iterated frame by frame as well as played conventionally.

I was also involved in the promotion of the Center for Aquatic Research and Education, which included a high tech swimming pool that included a battery of cameras and a variable depth floor that could be used for sports research and training.

I moved on to support the wider Media and Learning Technology Service, where I worked on a variety of tools that supported the campus learning management system. This is where I learned about the EdTech industry, learning management systems, and their underlying technologies and business dynamics. It’s also where I met Dave Tosh, who I shared a tiny office with. I would go on to co-found my first startup with him.

Elgg (2004-2009)

Co-Founder, Technical Lead

Elgg was one of the first white label social networking platforms. I co-founded and developed the platform, built a thriving open source community, and worked on everything from sales and marketing to cultivating deep partnerships with institutions around the world. Elgg powered networks for governments (Australia, Netherlands, Canada), NGOs like Oxfam, and Fortune 500 companies like Hill & Knowlton. It was translated into over 80 languages and attracted hundreds of active contributors.

Dave Tosh and I shared a tiny office at the Moray House School of Education. He was studying for a PhD in e-learning; I was working as an EdTech developer. We both agreed that existing learning technology platforms didn’t actually help anyone learn — and because I’d been blogging since 1998 and building web systems since 1995, I knew that people were learning from each other all over the web.

We wrote a paper that described how reflective blogging could form the foundation of a more useful learning technology platform, which was widely read. Someone fatefully commented: “it’s one thing to write about it; it’s another thing to build it”. So we did.

Dave and I both built prototypes. I built mine in PHP and put it on a domain name I used for my email, which related to Elgg, the town in Switzerland my Dad’s family is from. Dave wrote one in ColdFusion. In the end, we developed mine further, and tried to give it to the university. When they declined to pick it up (letting us know in strong terms that social platforms had no place in education), I quit my job and started to develop it full-time on my own.

I established the core codebase and both wrote and designed the first versions of the software. With Dave Tosh, I did extensive user research, intentionally designing the software to directly meet user needs in a human-centered way. I later led the expanded technology team and turned the open source platform into a startup, guiding the project from an education-focused application to a broader social networking platform.

I presented at venues including Stanford University, Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government, the University of Southern Denmark, the University of Barcelona, the ALT-C educational technology conference, the University of Cambridge, and events across Silicon Valley.

The platform continues to exist today as an open source project, with a new core team.

Saïd Business School (2005-2006)


The Saïd Business School was in need of a new website that could serve as a recruiting tool, as well as a resource for its students, faculty, and staff. I joined the IT team as its Webmaster.

I integrated a new design by Loewy into Microsoft Content Management Server, as well as a set of interactive templates and application code in C#. I served as a resource to the whole IT team, collaborated with academics and the events team, built intranet tools, and led presentations on web technologies.

In particular, it became clear to the MBA students that I knew a lot about the web and startups, and I began to serve as an unofficial resource to them. I also attended Silicon Valley Comes to Oxford seminars with leading names in the tech industry, like Craig Newmark, Marc Benioff, Ev Williams, and Biz Stone (the latter of whom joined my startup as an advisor).

Curverider (2006-2009)

Co-Founder, Chief Technology Officer

Curverider was the startup founded to provide commercial services for Elgg. I served as CTO, while Dave Tosh was CEO. In reality, we both led business operations and collaborated technically.

Working on Elgg full-time as part of Curverider taught me about software architecture; engineering leadership; startup business strategy; sales; marketing; community management; fundraising and much more.

We bootstrapped the startup to profitability: our first client was MIT, with whom we worked on the first OpenCourseWare platform. We subsequently worked with the University of Brighton to launch the world’s first social network to roll out campus-wide at a university. We received extensive coverage in outlets like the Guardian, ZDNet, and TechCrunch, and received a Best in Open Source Software award from InfoWorld.

We launched a hosted social networking platform in direct competition with Ning, and created a semi-distributed social network called Explode that attracted the attention of press and investors. The latter led to us raising investment and hiring a team.

Ultimately, the working relationship between co-founders became toxic. We had strong differences of opinion about how a company should be run and which values were important. I chose to leave in early 2009.

Curverider was ultimately acquired by Thematic Networks in 2010.

Latakoo (2010-2014)

Chief Technology Officer

I met the founders of Latakoo at a talk I gave at the Kennedy School of Government in 2009. Seeing some emerging issues with the journalism industry in America, and in particular in their home state of Texas, they were hoping to create a new model for local journalism. I agreed to help them.

On the way, we discovered that TV news crews were being sent out into the field with digital HD cameras, but had no efficient way to get that footage back to the newsroom. They were often using 3G cards to FTP uncompressed footage, which took many hours. We realized we could use a combination of existing compression techniques and a simple user experience in order to reduce the transmission time to minutes. It worked — and was faster than solutions that were orders of magnitude more expensive. They named the product Latakoo and began to sell it to local newsrooms around the country.

Latakoo allows TV journalists to swiftly transfer videos back to their newsrooms, where it arrives in the format of the newsroom’s choice, via any internet connection. Its customers include NBC News, Nexstar Media Group, and Spectrum News.

I was its first employee and helped the startup define and build its core product. I also conceived of its co-located enterprise product, Latakoo Hub, which has helped bring the startup to profitability. While I was on the team, Latakoo’s software facilitated news video transfers from locations including the Sochi Olympics, Syria, Mount Everest, and Air Force One.

I’m the co-author of two patents that were granted for this work, and remain a member of the Latakoo Board of Directors.

Known (2014-2016)

Co-Founder, Chief Executive Officer

Known is an open source publishing platform that powers mobile-first communities. I co-founded the startup and both wrote and conceived of the first versions of the software.

I started writing the platform that would become Known as my mother recovered from a double-lung transplant. When it became clear that she had a terminal illness, I moved to the US to be closer to her. The transplant prolonged her life, but she remarked that there was no community platform where she felt safe discussing her experiences. Known was originally built in 2013 to be a self-hosted, private community platform for her. It also helped me answer the question: if I’d built Elgg in a world with iPhones and ubiquitous broadband, what would it have looked like?

I began to collaborate with Erin Richey on its design. She suggested that we turn it into a startup and pitch it to Matter, an accelerator for media startups. We were accepted and became part of the third cohort. We also shifted its focus from community platforms to becoming an indieweb publishing platform that allowed people to own their own social spaces on the web. Kevin Marks joined us as advisor, helping to guide us in myriad ways.

I built an open open source platform and community, and secured funding from Matter Ventures. Customers for our platform included KQED, Davidson College, and Harvard University; KQED received a NAMLE media literacy award for the site we built together.

The open source platform continues to exist today, but the startup was acquired by Medium, which allowed me to repay Matter’s investment.

The open source platform continues to exist today, but the startup was acquired by Medium.

Medium (2016-2017)

Senior Engineer

Medium is a top 100 website focused on in-depth, quality writing. I joined the team after it acquired Known. I was an integral member of the publications team, building features to support major platforms like The Ringer and ThinkProgress. I built export tools, supported the use of custom domains, and co-founded an Openness Circle that worked on support for standards like Do Not Track. I also facilitated discussions about Medium’s response to the 2016 election.

It was my first time working at a well-funded startup, or at any organization with over a hundred engineers. It taught me a great deal about team culture in particular: ways to give everyone from engineers and designers to marketers and salespeople the space they needed to be creative and do great work. Medium was particularly thoughtful about creating a more equitable environment, having tried and moved on from holocracy, and went so far as to open source its hiring process. I’ve carried elements of Medium’s culture into every subsequent job I’ve held.

Matter Ventures (2017-2018)

Director of Investments (San Francisco)

Matter was a venture capital accelerator for media startups backed by partners like PRX, KQED, the New York Times, and the Associated Press. As its west coast Director of Investments, I was responsible for sourcing, investing in, and supporting startups that participated in the accelerator in San Francisco.

Corey Ford, Matter’s CEO, had previous funded Known as part of its third class. When Known was acquired by Medium, I continued to support the Matter community, taking part in interviews and helping community members whenever I could. I’d secretly daydreamed about joining the team and investing directly in startups — so it was incredibly exciting when Corey asked me to do just that. I was happy at Medium, but Matter was particularly special.

I led and executed the west coast investment strategy, ultimately investing in 24 startups across diverse verticals, and helping to support a total portfolio of 73. I led mentorship sessions for portfolio startups that included fundraising, technical decision-making, and team culture. Additionally, I co-taught the product design side of the accelerator itself: a 5-month course on venture design thinking and product strategy for startups and teams drawn from our media partners.

Because of my varied background, mentorship meetings ran the gamut: it wasn’t uncommon for them to start with fundraising advice and then segue into database schema design or software architecture help, all within the same half hour. Many of the people who were involved in Matter — both as founders and colleagues — remain my friends. Helping to run the Matter program, as well as the community around it, changed my life.

Unlock (2018-2019)

VP, Product Development

Unlock is an open source startup building a protocol for membership on the open web. I was its first employee, helping to establish the engineering team and guide its initial strategy.

I’d known Julien Genestoux, Unlock’s founder, for years: we traveled in the same open web circles. We’d discussed our previous projects, Known and Superfeedr, with each other, and I’d been surprised when I started at Medium and discovered that Superfeedr had also been acquired. He had subsequently decided that the open web was missing a protocol for membership, and needed a partner on the product side. Matter’s media partners, facing a more uncertain future for journalism, had consolidated their funding. I was, therefore, free to join.

While I was (and remain) a blockchain skeptic, I cared deeply about Unlock’s mission to help every independent creative sustain themselves on the web. Targeted advertising encouraged a surveillance society, and consolidated wealth among a small number of platforms. An open protocol had the potential to empower everyone to control their creative destinies. Julien is inspiring, and his energy is infectious; I thought (and think) that he was more likely than most people to succeed in this mission.

As well as establishing a cross-disciplinary, open source development team, I actively worked on the core Node and React / Redux codebase, including some integration with the Ethereum blockchain.

In 2019, my mother faced serious health complications from her lung transplant, and I spent eleven weeks at her side in the hospital. Because of my need to attend to her and stay in California rather than relocate to New York, I left Unlock.

ForUsAll (2019-2022)

Head of Engineering

ForUsAll aims to help more people save for retirement. I was the Head of Engineering, reporting to the CEO, and effectively acted as the CTO for the organization.

My friend Phil Balliet, who had previous been a member of a Matter-supported founding team, was the Head of Design. He let me know that ForUsAll was looking for a new technical leader. While fintech is not my core interest, I was drawn by ForUsAll’s mission to make retirement savings accessible to people on lower incomes. Although I believe a real social safety net is necessary, in a world where that doesn’t exist, companies like ForUsAll have the potential to make a difference.

I built and led a 22-person engineering team, and oversaw all technology decisions. This included revamping the hiring process for engineers to become more open and equitable. I also shepherded the company through a SOC 2 security audit process, established digital security practices like an encrypted VPN, and helped to transition the company to remote working in a post-Covid environment.

ForUsAll pivoted to allow savers to include alternative investments in their retirement portfolio. I assisted in this process, helping to scope and design integrations with third-party trading platforms.

Over the three years I was there, I learned a great deal about operating in a well-regulated industry, as well as implementing security practices across an enterprise organization. I’m particularly grateful for ForUsAll’s support when my mother died.

The 19th

Chief Technology Officer

The 19th is a non-profit newsroom focusing on gender, politics, and policy. I was its first CTO and defined the technology team’s role within the newsroom.

This was one of those jobs where five or six people sent me the description and said, “this sounds like you.” It did, and I was very excited by the prospect of returning to work alongside journalism — particularly at a time when democracy seemed to be at a critical juncture. Years later, when I was asked what I did in this moment in history, I didn’t want to have to reply that I was sat on the sidelines. The 19th’s inclusive mission spoke directly to my worries.

I led the hiring and mentorship of engineers, cultivated an open, transparent team culture, and served as the lead engineer, building everything from features for the website to establishing a self-hosted encrypted VPN. I steered a transition to WordPress VIP as the core CMS platform, and developed an equity-focused process for making technology decisions overall. I was also an integral member of the senior leadership team, helping to shape organizational strategy.

The 19th has the most intentional, thoughtful culture of any organization I’ve ever worked in. I was delighted to contribute to it, but more than that, I was excited to learn. Like every organization, there was room for growth and improvement, and the conversations around change were always open and participative.

ProPublica (2023-)

Interim Tech Lead (2023)
Senior Director of Technology (2024-)

ProPublica is a Pulitzer Prize-winning non-profit newsroom founded to expose abuses of power and betrayals of the public trust by government, business, and other institutions. I joined the team to guide the engineering and IT teams after a staff transition, initially as an interim contract worker and then as the full-time Senior Director of Technology.

In a world where it’s easy to feel powerless, ProPublica makes people feel like someone is fighting in their corner. That mission is important to me, and from stories about Supreme Court corruption to revelations about Peter Thiel’s oversized Roth savings plan, it’s making a real impact.

It’s a privilege to be a small part of the team; when I heard that ProPublica needed an interim tech lead, I jumped at it.

I established team policies like code review and spearheaded new hiring initiatives with more equitable hiring standards. I have co-organized staff summits, providing design thinking training, and facilitated discussions with external engineering and product leaders. I worked on a transition to cloud-based, zero-trust enterprise technology, including Google Workspace and Okta. Additionally, I am a hands-on individual contributor across multiple projects, writing code and convening stakeholders as necessary. Where appropriate, I provide technical assistance to journalists who are actively reporting on stories.