How I got drafted for Paul English’s team

On March 16th, 2010, I was getting ready to move to New York city and make bank at well, a bank. My friend Lanthe told me I was making a mistake. I thought she just didn’t want me to end up at a hedge fund.

“Can I introduce you to my friend Paul? He runs this small company called KAYAK, and I actually work there now too. He’s cool, I think you’d like meeting him. Even if you decide to go to New York, it can’t hurt.”

“Ok sure. I’ve heard about that somewhere — something to do with booking flights?”

At 3:50pm that day, Lanthe introduced me to Paul over email.

“I’m going to be very specific about time;” Paul said. “meet me at 8:20am tomorrow at Andy’s Diner at 2030 Mass Ave Cambridge.”

The next morning, Paul and I met while walking in the door to Andy’s diner (one of the few “real” diners left in Cambridge) at exactly 8:20am. We had an intense conversation about my history at MIT and before, how I knew Lanthe, mobile tech, iOS vs Android (it wasn’t a dead horse back then). I agreed to go and meet some of the other people on the KAYAK team.

For reasons unknown (probably because of Lanthe), KAYAK made me an offer to work as a web developer. I made a spreadsheet of the pros and cons for all my career options. KAYAK ranked the lowest on compensation[*], location, and commute. My decision to join the KAYAK crew was simple and obvious; I didn’t even negotiate the offer.

Why? The people mattered more than the spreadsheet. Everyone I met during the interview was amazing. They were the kind of people that I wanted to learn from, and grow with. And Lanthe’s recommendation convinced me that my instincts were right.

It was a pivotal moment in my life, and it’s all because a friend introduced me to exactly the right person at exactly the right time.

[*] — This didn’t take into account the great stock options that became valuable 4 years later and helped me start

Who do you have to thank for your first job? Send them an email or just ❤ them in the comments :)