Humans That Code : Archer Chiang

An Interview for Bitscademy

Photo by Micropixie

“My parents are Taiwanese but I was born in South Africa. We moved back to Taiwan when I was 6 years old. I’ve been in San Francisco for 5 months now. I came here because I wanted to do more. I had founded two start-ups in Asia when I was about to graduate from college, and I needed to learn more.

When I was in my second year of college, my family had some financial issues. My parents were laid off so I became a freelancer to earn more money. At that time I founded a studio in Taipei. It grew and grew; I had eight people working there at one point. I was 19 and I was the only person earning income in my family at the time. Counting myself, there were four of us living off my income. My younger brother, who’s 21 now, was studying in New York and I was paying his tuition fees. He was going to graduate in 3 years but after his second year I ran out of money so he had to return to Taiwan. He works hard as a freelancer in motion graphics and video editing.

About two years ago I closed my studio down and that was when I created an app. It’s basically an ordering service that lets a person send small gifts like for example, a cup of coffee with a message on it, or candy or other such treats to their long-distance sweetheart. I actually created that app because my girlfriend is in Taiwan and I knew I wouldn’t see her for a long time while I was away. I haven’t been home for a while now and my family can’t come here.

I started coding in senior high school when I was 17 years old. I began by making robots and building hardware. And then after doing Computer Science as my major in college, I built other things like websites and apps and I got into data science. I actually want to learn more about data science. It’s quite a new technology and only a few books talk about it. I would love to be a forerunner in that field.

If you’re a coder, San Francisco is utopia. Walk down the street in San Francisco, and you’ll see so many people walking around carrying coding books. It’s quite funny, you could go to any place in the world and you’d never see as many people with those books as you do in this city! Here there are so many people creating amazing things.

I myself think about how I could help this city improve. The biggest problem in San Francisco is public transportation. There’s an app to help you get around but it’s not very good. Since there are three public transportation systems here — BART, MUNI and CalTrain — it would be great to combine all these systems into one app.

As I said before, I came to San Francisco because I wanted to continue learning. In Asia there is no official way to get an education in user experience. I wanted to learn more and also be close to Silicon Valley. With a degree in Computer Science, I’m an engineer, and obviously I like to code. But I also like to design. I’m 22 and I plan to graduate in 2 years.

I code because I like to solve problems. You can really change things with your own hands if you code.”

— Archer Chiang, Coder