Welcome to this week’s edition of the “Meet the Team” blog series! In this edition, we chat with Gene Yoo, Lead Front End Engineer, to ask him questions about his professional and personal life.
Gene is a born and bred New Yorker and joined MadHive in February 2017. Check out what he has to say!
What is your hometown?
I’m a born and bred New York native. When I was young I lived in Queens and then moved out to Long Island. I consider Queens as my hometown. I’ve also lived in Evanston, Illinois for four years during college to experience a different vibe. But, I wanted to come back to New York, because my whole family lives here.
Where did you study engineering? How long have you been a developer?
I went to Northwestern University and actually studied industrial engineering, which is a different route than most developers. The closest I got to coding in college was taking a C++ class or modeling in AMPL / MATLAB. I always enjoyed coding but didn’t have much use for it in my last job as a strategy consultant. This past September I attended the Flatiron School to pursue coding professionally. The rest is history!
Favorite programming language and why?
Why’d you become a developer — what drew you to it?
After graduating from college, I spent about 4 years in strategy consulting helping companies build business cases, assess technology investments, and redesign business processes. I was traveling a ton and really enjoyed the breadth of work experience I was getting early in my career. However, over time I began to realize that while any strategy can look good on paper, 95% of the game is in execution or implementation. I was fixing a process or assessing an investment decision, which could take years to unfold assuming everything went smoothly from a corporate political standpoint. I was never around to see the finished, tangible product.
More out of personal interest, I started coding and immersing myself in web development. Being able to build things and have an immediate feedback loop is an aspect of development that instantly drew me in. It feels like there’s constantly something new to learn, which was a natural grab of interest for me. Although it’s not a competition, the dev community really makes you hungry to push yourself to learn more and contribute.
How long have you been at MadHive and why did you decide to join?
I joined MadHive in February 2017. When I initially talked to Chase (our engineering lead), I didn’t know much about the company. The general feeling I had about advertising was that the industry was overly complex and felt a bit dirty in terms of how user data was being thrown around. When Chase explained the company vision of applying blockchain in advertising, I immediately bought in. I had heard about blockchain from my consulting days and was excited to contribute to building a platform in an untouched space.
When I came in to meet the rest of the team, I got the sense that everyone was super intelligent and/or experienced as a developer. More than that, the office felt very family-oriented and there were no egos involved. Coming from a 300,000 person company, the startup atmosphere felt new to me, but it was awesome to see that there are no political hurdles and everyone is on the same mission to build an amazing product. I’m a few months in and it feels like we’re growing or building something new every day. It’s an exciting environment to be a part of and I’m looking forward to seeing what’s to come.
What drew you to ad tech & blockchain?
As a consumer, you get the sense that your data is being used in more ways than you think or know of. It feels like your privacy is being disregarded for the benefit of whoever’s paying. Given the number of data breaches in recent years, I feel like the next big tech conversation everyone needs to have is around privacy and security of user data. For MadHive to leverage blockchain in this space, at this time, is really a perfect storm. Not only is our platform empowering personal data, but it is also making the whole process transparent. I feel like we have the potential to fundamentally change a broken industry and rethink how we as consumers should be treating our data. That’s definitely exciting.
What advice do you have for developers getting into adtech or blockchain?
Keep grinding. If there is any time to grind, it’s right now. Continue to educate yourself in this space and be relentless in your approach because things change every day. There are so many great resources online so there are no excuses.
And now the fun stuff…
Favorite thing to do outside of work?
I grew up playing a lot of sports and that’s stuck with me ever since. Basketball and golf are my top two. Really anything outdoors is my jam. I’m also a big concert person. I typically go to 10–12 concerts a year, give or take. Next up is Smino at Music Hall of Williamsburg.
I grew up on hip-hop/rap. Aside from that, I’m always trying to find new music on SoundCloud. Shout out to Soulection.
It’s funny you ask. I recently changed my diet to pescatarian just to see how my body would react and now I’m trying to go all veggie for a couple of weeks. It’s bizarre because anytime I see food now all I can think of is eating a steak. But really my favorite is any Korean food.
Favorite sports team?
As a New Yorker, I’d have to say Knicks and Giants. No regrets.
Favorite video game?
I’m not a huge gamer, but NFL Blitz on the N64 was one of my favorites. I also never back down from a FIFA challenge.
Something I’m definitely proud of is teaching myself how to read and write Korean over the past couple years. I’m a fluent speaker, but reading and writing never really stuck with me when I was a kid. Every now and then, I’ll bring my workbook to a cafe and chip away for a couple of hours on the weekends. I’m still learning, but I’ve gotten to the point now where I can text my relatives comfortably and even read some articles. By the end of this year, I’m targeting to get through my first book.