What is your role at Decent?
I am the COO here — which is really just a fancy way of saying I’m the Chief Obstruction Obliterator. I help the team get stuff done faster, remove roadblocks, and ensure they have the tools to continue doing the amazing work they’re doing.
What is your background?
Originally I thought I was going to be a novelist.
I started building websites for fun in 1994 as a way to power through a particularly long bout of writer’s block — and a year later, on a lark, launched Pif Magazine to showcase the work of my writing friends. I thought this would be a one-off, but the magazine led to my landing a job at a telecom company in Olympia, WA, which led to me being recruited by a startup in Seattle during the height of the dot-com boom, which led to me being hired by Amazon to lead the dev team launching Amazon.ca.
Sometime after that I started my own software consulting company, building applications for various telecom companies around the Puget Sound. In early 2012 I participated in a particularly fateful Startup Weekend where I met Nick Soman (our team won the demo, btw). He asked me to join his new startup as CTO and the rest, as the saying goes, is history.
Why were you motivated to join Decent?
The opportunity to help build a team of really smart, inspirational people who are all aligned around solving a very difficult and very real problem that affects millions of people’s lives in a tangible way was, quite frankly, too good to pass up. It’s not every day you get a chance to make a real dent in the world. And the opportunity to do it with this amazing group of people? That’s what drives me every day.
Why is improving healthcare important to you?
I spent my fair share of time in and out of hospitals when I was younger. Besides the usual bi-monthly stitches and x-rays, when I was sixteen a fry cooker spilled at the restaurant where I worked and burned my feet, requiring an extended hospital stay, skin grafts, and several months of physical therapy and doctor’s visits. Navigating the insurance world then was pretty straight-forward for my parents. There was a question of who’s insurance was going to cover the hospital bill, but after that it was taken care of.
Fast-forward a few dozen odd years. My 12 year-old son breaks his arm mountain biking and we take him to urgent care, which fits him with a temporary splint and refers us to an orthopedist. Pretty simple procedure. Yet two months later I’m still getting bills from clinicians or third party providers for “services” he supposedly received. If you were to ask me “how much does it cost if I break my arm?” I couldn’t tell you. I’m still waiting to find out.
That’s just wrong and one of the many things we’re going to fix.
Describe something not-work related you are passionate about.
I have a lot of interests and few of them are related to each other. I continue to publish Pif Magazine. I’ve recently taken up pottery and have thrown a large collection of (mostly spherical) coffee mugs. I think the extra-curricular activity I participate in the most, however, is running.
Two and half years ago I was pushing two-hundred pounds (the most I’ve ever weighed), felt lethargic and unmotivated all the time, and knew that something had to change. Lucky for me, I found a great running partner and took up running with the goal of completing the Rock-n-Roll Half Marathon within 6 months. I’ve since run 10 half-marathons, a number of 5k “fun runs” with my kids, and will complete my third Ragnar this year.