Jack is a self-taught super passionate web developer at Depop. Just like our senior web developer Andy, he’s also from Shropshire — no, we didn’t do it on purpose. He loves coding, photography, travelling, reading and obviously Depop. Would he eat that infamous bowl of crickets for £40k? Read through, and find out below.
How did you first hear about Depop?
During our first year of uni my girlfriend was selling her whole wardrobe on Depop. I think she heard about it from @llymlrs and then she sold me on it, she was so into it! When she sold out her wardrobe, we kind of forgot about it for a while until a year ago, when I came across a Depop stand at a tech job fair.
Did you download the app back then or just used her account?
I never made an account back then. I created my own account just before my interview at Depop. I was @jackreid, now just @jack.
When did you join Depop?
I started working here in May 2016, I think. I’m so bad with dates!
And what do you do here at Depop?
I’m a web developer, which basically means I write the code that dictates how things are presented to the users, the code that turns designs into the visual website that you see.
What do you like the most about Depop?
I love the culture. When I was going around interviewing I met many nice people, but they were all like me, 18–25 year old white male engineers, I couldn’t find any diversity at all. Depop is different. It’s very diverse, we now have a female CEO for example, and it’s not just an engineering company. I want to work for a place that cares about building the best product, and not just having the best engineers in the world.
Where do you see Depop going in five years?
Such a difficult question! Depop has got an independent spirit, a sort of Depop-ness that is part of its community, of its style… I think I’d love to see it growing but without losing this. It would be a real shame if it did.
Can you explain us a bit more what this ‘Depop-ness’ is?
Depop was founded in Italy, so there’s a lot of Italian pedigree in terms of fashion. But that got mixed with London’s Shoreditch scene when we opened in the UK, and then with Brooklyn’s Williamsburg vibe when we launched in the US and opened our office in NYC. It looks like wherever in the world we go, we always focus on strong subculture spirit and alternative fashion. There’s a bit of punkness even within our Italian community, alongside its high-end Milan fashion touch. This ethos is what makes us different from others.
What’s the weirdest thing you purchased on Depop?
My sister is an on-and-off veggie and on-and-off Communist, anti-establishment person — so for her birthday I bought her a funny kale badge. She’s all about that ‘kale lifestyle’… sometimes.
Where are you from originally?
I’m from a tiny town in Shropshire, in the Midlands, no-one ever heard of it except Andy, our senior web developer at Depop who’s also from there, so weird! The town is called Newport, which is not Welsh Newport. There’s a few Newports, the most famous is in Wales, everyone thinks I’m from there. I had to go there once to renew my passport, as that was the closest office, and it’s really not nice! But I love Wales, my Newport is super close to the Welsh border so there’s a lot of Welshness in Shropshire too.
And what’s your background?
I thought I was destined to be an English teacher. My mum is an English teacher, my dad is an electrical engineer. I’ve always been more inclined to my mum’s side and I went to do a degree in literature, so nothing computer-related. Doing an English degree leaves you with a lot of spare time — never believe people who say it’s a hard degree because it’s not! — so I used that time to start doing tech-y things. I started a University music magazine online with some friends which I built the website for, and that was the first time a product I created was actually used by people. I got really excited about this, so I started doing freelancing web design on the back of my English degree.
How did you learn coding?
I’m kind of self-taught. I was always good with computers since I was a kid, thanks to my dad. I also had a Myspace, laughs, which laid down a fundamental knowledge of coding. Since I was good with computers, when we were talking about doing that uni magazine and had to build a website everybody looked at me, so I just had to figure out how to do it. Pretty much all the knowledge I have I got it for free from the internet. People really underestimate how much in terms of learning to code you can get completely free online.
Outside of Depop, what do you do in your spare time?
I have way too many hobbies! One of them is photography. I took a course, which was really fun, I played around with cameras even before then, I borrowed my sister’s camera, developed films and really got into it. I really trained myself up only before going travelling around America, though. I took hundreds of photos before and after getting there and I started really enjoying taking photos of cities. Even now, I go around town taking photos before and after work.
I also do design and coding side projects, like most developers do. At the moment I’m working on a better alternative to Goodreads, it’s a site where you can track and share what you read which is really ugly, so I’m trying to create something better! I also read a lot.
What are your top three favourite books?
My favourite fiction book is The Great Gatsby. I liked it for so long that it’s just part of my identity now. I’m not even sure it’d still be my favourite book if I read it again.
How do you identify to the Great Gatsby?
I read it when I was around 17 or 18 for my A levels, I was really into it. That’s the age when you’re kind of setting the mould of who you are, and the books you read at that stage become part of your identity. Same with music, people still listen to the music it was around when they were 18 or 20 for the same reason, because it’s part of who they are. I also read a lot of non-fiction, more than fiction probably. My favourite non-fiction is probably The Better Angels of Our Nature by Steven Pinker, it’s about the decline of human violence.
Cool. Now on to our philosophical questions. What have you always wanted and haven’t got yet?
Pause. To be honest I don’t hold dreams for that long. One thing I can think of is wanting to find a job I really liked. When I graduated I had a clear vision of what kind of job I wanted to have and I was basically really unhappy until I found it. Between graduating and coming here I was so obsessed with finding it, so focused on it that my girlfriend had to convince me to go travelling on this amazing trip around America. I wanted to find a job where I could use the engineering skills I learnt, where I could build things and give them to people, which is a very interesting concept to me. And I wanted to work in a city. I was so done and bored with the countryside, I just wanted transport links and access to life!
Are you living in London right now?
I live in Essex at the moment with my girlfriend, but we’re planning to move to London.
Is Depop fulfilling your dream for a great job then?
Yes. Although it’s weird, for such a long time I used to see myself as someone defined by his own dissatisfaction, I was so pissed about where I was and I just wanted to move forward… but now that I am where I am I’m like ‘What now?’ (laughs).
If I ask you to look back at your life, what’s the happiest moment?
I guess some of the happiest times happen when you are a kid, when you’re just playing and doing nothing all day and the worst thing that could happen is that you can’t get more food or something! I think I had some of the happiest days of my life when I was travelling around the US too. Waking up in Bernal Heights in San Francisco was mindblowing.
The question we ask everyone in the team. What’s your perfect pizza?
I had to change it, as I’ve recently stopped eating meat…
Is this an influence from your sister?
An influence from San Francisco, I only eat kale now! Joking. But yes, it’s kind of an influence from America. We gorged ourselves there so we when came back we decided to go healthy. Now I’m pescatarian, I still eat fish to make my life easier. Before then my favourite pizza would have been an Italian meat one, with any combination of pepperoni, salami… all of that.
But now it’s kale pizza…
Haha! No. I think now is mushroom, garlic, onions, lots of cheese… simple pleasures. By the way, anchovies on pizza are not a replacement for bacon, people should stop trying. It’s just gross!
Who is your hero? Fictional, alive or dead.
Heroes are a dangerous thing, the more you learn about them the less interesting they become, at least for big figures. The best heroes you can have are always personal. There are people I admire massively like my girlfriend, I know this sounds corny but her work ethic and kindness, her being able to combine focus and bravery, are something that I constantly try and feed back into myself. I was so lazy before Uni, an English-student type, you know. Then when I went to Uni, and it might be because of the environment or because I met someone with such a strong work ethic, suddenly my problem is not being able to stop working.
Silly questions time. Would you be willing to eat a bowl of crickets for £40k?
Depends. How big is the bowl?
Like, say, a cereal bowl…
Then yes. I have a crazy auntie who lives in a hobbit house in the Shropshire hills, she’s very into Eastern mystics, Buddhism and stuff, and she once brought back for Christmas a packet of curried crickets. I tried them, they’re not too bad. A little bit chewy but for forty grand yes, I’d eat a bowl.
Here’s one last question. If you could retire tomorrow what would you do?
I can’t really wrap my head around the concept of retiring… I mean, if you retire than what do you do? If I retired then I guess I’d have time to do this or that project, but that’s technically work, right? (laughs). I don’t know, I’d travel but I’d still want to work, there must be something my brain has to chew on…
You could just say you don’t want to retire
No I guess I’d retire, but also cheat and keep working. Whilst travelling.