Featured on Feb 21, 2011
"There is no substitute for hard work. - Thomas A. Edison"
Born and raised in beautiful Eugene, OR, I grew up with a large extended hippie-family of amazing people to whom I am super close. My mom always corrected my grammar, so poor grammar is a pet peeve. <3's = fam, gf CC, surfing, the outdoors, my dog Wallace and playing sports. I played a year of college footbal| at Colorado College, where I graduated in 2007 with a degree in chemistry. My two passions have always been athletics and inventing - I am a mad scientist at heart. After college I moved to SF to apply to medical schools. I was an MCAT away from becoming a doctor, when I moved to NYC to help my brother open WeWork. The plan was to be here for 5 months, then move back to SF and open WeWork SF - that was a year-and-a-half ago. :) I enjoy most the scientific and analytical qualities of technology, and have recently been leading WeWork's tech vision. Our current project is WeConnect, an experience management platform and community network for WeWork members. It's rad!
- Title: Director of Technology, WeWork
- Age: 26
- Location: SoHo
- Contact: @kyokeefesally
What is one thing from San Francisco that you wish existed here in New York?
I love the energy and liveliness of New York and the fact that you can get awesome food at 2:30AM wherever you are; however, being someone who loves to work hard and play hard, I miss catching a sunrise surf session, making it into work by 9:30am for a full day, and leaving on my road bike from my front steps for a weekend bike ride to Tomalas Bay to eat fresh oysters, and the fact that I can do all of this within a 60 mile radius from home. The Bay Area is like no other place I’ve lived, in the sense that it has so much geographic diversity within such a small area. For me, it’s the best of both worlds; I can have the big city one day, and the beautiful outdoors the next, or I can cram it all into the same day if I want. When I was living in SF, the convenience of having such a wide variety of super fun outdoor activities at my fingertips helped me maintain balance in my life, something that’s been hard to keep in New York.
Can you please explain to us how you envision WeConnect, the experience management platform and community network you are building, benefiting the members of WeWork?
We’ve always thought about WeWork as being a physical community network. There is a power behind people connecting face-to-face, which for the most part, doesn’t exist online. A purely physical community does however have its limitations (size and reach) that an online community does not face. The idea of WeConnect is to bridge the gap between the physical and virtual worlds, thus creating a community within WeWork that has the far-reaching capabilities of an online network, but revolves around tangible people who are in a specific physical location.
We also like the way people connect in the real world better than they do online. In many cases, to be someone’s “friend” online doesn’t even mean you know the person. WeConnect will aim to mimic the way people connect in the real world; we believe that this will lead to more meaningful connections. The concept of “shared experiences” plays a large role in how this is achieved. Because WeWork members can actually connect physically, they will be able to initiate face-to-face interactions online within WeConnect. These interactions will be made possible through a host of apps that we are developing.
In terms of the experience management aspects of WeConnect, we plan on leveraging technology in a way that empowers our members to get the best of their experience at WeWork. This will be accomplished again through apps that are developed specifically for our Member’s needs relative to being in our workspace.
Lastly, WeConnect will be the common thread that weaves all of our WeWork locations, business and entrepreneurs together into one community where WE ARE ONE – the success of one means the success of us all.
WeWork has grown quickly since first opening in early 2010. From a technology perspective, what have been some of your biggest challenges during expansion?
Some of the biggest challenges, relative to technology, that we’ve faced during expansion are actually challenges that I don’t think are specific to tech, but rather ones that most entrepreneurs and startups probably face. When expanding, our growth was in many directions: construction, real estate, technology, marketing, finance, HR, etc. Being part of a startup, in order to accomplish the tasks at hand, it was necessary to wear many hats.
This forced us to learn and adapt really quickly, which was awesome, but also came with some growing pains, such as the scalability of our initial IT architecture. We faced some volume issues when we grew to the point of having nearly 400 simultaneous users all on their computers and VoIP phones at the same time.
The benefit to the DIY approach, which around here we have termed the “WeWork Way”, is that it has removed black boxes from around the things that we would have otherwise accepted as really hard and complicated, and therefore found justification in paying someone an arbitrary, and often exorbitant, amount to do for us. While some things are in fact quite difficult and definitely worth paying someone else to do, knowing which ones to tackle ourselves and which ones to farm out, has really helped our ability to scale.
You mention that you’re leading WeWork’s tech vision. Can you give us some details on what is to come?
We have a few things in the works that we are really excited about. The obvious is WeConnect. We have an awesome team that is doing a great job rolling out new iterations every few weeks. We are also having a lot of fun conceptualizing and discovering the direction in which to take WeConnect. Our goal is that it becomes so cool, useful and relevant, that we will eventually offer it to people outside of WeWork. It will still be all about creating more meaningful connections by bridging the physical and virtual worlds, but ultimately we would love to be able to connect more than just those within WeWork.
Next, we have our very own Doogie Howser, M.D., Joseph Fasone @jpfasone – shout-out! He is putting a good deal of his efforts into WeLink a division that will be offering IT solutions and products to both WeWork members and non-members alike.
Finally, I am proud to announce for the first time, other than a couple tweets last night, the opening of WeWorkLabs – a totally new concept for us. Opening in just over a month, on April 1st, 2011 in our Soho building, WeWorkLabs is putting together its first class of 50 super cool individuals from all entrepreneurial walks of tech life, with the common denominator being the shared believe in the power of collaborative creation and innovation. Look for some serious NOISE at SXSW around WeWork Labs @WeWorkLabs.