Returned from @Flight late Wednesday night. It was Twitter's first mobile developers conference and I was lucky enough to get accepted to attend. No real expectations going in, other than to see what a Twitter hosted conference would be all about and meet some cool people.
In contrast to my experience at WWDC 2013, Flight was much smaller. 800 attendees, plus press, vs 6,000 or so at WWDC. It was held at the Bill Graham Civic Center, near Twitter HQ and right in front of SF City Hall. Apparently also the site of punk rock shows I probably would've attended had I grown up near San Francisco.
Flight actually kicked off with #womeninflight, a panel of inspiring women discussing their challenges, triumphs, and experiences working in tech. My favorite comment of the night was probably Patty McCord's response to a question of women's wages, how to ask for a raise, and "trusting karma". She said, simply, "If you want to get paid well, work with smart people on shit that matters, and deliver on time."
A few of my favorite takeaways.
Not the most surprising comment coming from a recruiter, but a great point about knowing the data and your market value nonetheless.
On the topic of companies underpaying women engineers sometimes the only solution is to leave.
I believe the correct stat was 41% (not 61%), awfully high in either case.
This is something I believe the entire industry can fix. Engineers, product people, business-y people. We can all relate to being the only whatever in the room in some way. It's not a fun feeling. Kindness and openness to the backgrounds of others goes a long way towards the productivity of a team and the success of a company.
Since I joined Twitter in 2011 -- yes, I am a late adopter, Twitter reminds me every time I looked at my profile -- no other app has changed the way I consume information about the world more. Twitter has had a profound effect on my ability to quickly access information I want, in real-time, and with direct access to people or channels I care about. With that in mind, I was excited to see what their mobile developers conference would be all about. The biggest news at Flight the launch of Fabric, a suped-up, easy to use wrapper around Crashlytics, MoPub, and a Twitter SDK. The biggest surprise was definitely Digits, a service that allows your to log into apps by ditching the traditional username/password combo and just using your phone number.
Without boring everyone with a play-by-play that you could get on any tech blog the last fews days, here were the most interesting parts to me:
- The idea of phone sign-in taking over email/password and even social sign-in. A great point that someone made was wait... isn't SMS dying? I'd say yes and no. Declining, absolutely, but I don't think it's going away. The part that does seem a little self-serving to me is the point that people in Brazil and India with no email can now use Digits to sign up for apps. The thing is, they probably won't be using an iPhone in that case, because Apple requires an email address in order to setup an Apple ID and download apps on the app store. So while it may help people without an email address more easily use apps on the web, I don't see how it specifically helps iOS and Android developers on that front.
- I will start using Digits in my apps ASAP. Yesterday I implemented it in an app I'm working on at i.TV. It was easy to implement, but it doesn't work very well yet. We tried signing in with 4 or 5 mobile numbers across both AT&T and Verizon and none worked. The only one that worked for me was using my Google Voice number. Fabric is brand new, and not yet open to the public, so I'm not too worried. By all accounts it looks like it'll be a big time-saver for both developers and end users.
- There was no mention of Windows Phone. Not once. I'm a big fan of WP and hope it establishes itself as the third player in mobile, and honestly I thought it had. But from the presentations, verbiage used e.g. "both" platforms, and talking with other attendees it was pretty clear to me that as far as anyone is concerned, only iOS and Android exist.
- Roughly 12% of engineering grads are women. Combine that with a 41% rate of women leaving engineering careers and that makes for a very small percentage of women at current tech companies. I'm a little biased, because my wife is an Interior Design/Architecture student turned product analyst, turned front-end developer, and most recently turned product manager. The perspective and feedback she brings to my former school projects, hackathon ideas, startup ventures, and current career path is truly invaluable to me. The diversity of her feedback is such a great thing, for me, and I know diversity of thinking can be a huge benefit to all teams and companies.