Meet Our Team: An Nguyen

From helping create the Star Wars video game you’ve probably played endlessly to racing cars in his spare time, the guy that works on your favorite client has quite a fascinating backstory.

In today’s edition of Meet Our Team, An Nguyen tells us what he loves about working at BitTorrent and why it’s a company unlike anywhere else.

What is your current role at BitTorrent?

As software engineer, I program uTorrent/BitTorrent Windows clients including new features and bug fixes.

Where are you from originally?

Vietnam but I grew up in the US.

How did you end up here? 

A recruiter told me about BitTorrent via LinkedIn when I was at Nokia, working on mobile photo and Augmented Reality apps. I’ve lived in SF since 2006 when I moved here to work for LucasArts and then Industrial Light & Magic in the Presidio. My video game career actually began in 1996 in Santa Monica and continued to Chicago and Vancouver BC.

What are the most rewarding aspects of your job?

I’m impressed to work on and improve software used by 160+ million people around the world! The best-selling game I worked on, Star Wars: The Force Unleashed 1, sold ~8 million worldwide, I think, so the difference is huge!  I like it even more than working on movie visual effects, and I love action movies.

What is one thing you wish people knew about BitTorrent?

BitTorrent’s work environment is better than any other office I’ve worked at, including 5 game companies and 4 big tech corporations. Some of our benefits include:

  • Beer keg can flow after 5 pm every day; contents change about every 2 weeks
  • Every 2-3 months everyone gets 2 days to work on anything they want related to the company
  • Foosball/pool/ping pong can be played any time
  • Our CEO updates us 2-3 times a month on all projects
  • Gym is free, the one next door is super convenient

You like to race cars in your spare time. Can you talk more about that?

I’ve been autocrossing 10 years, ever since I discovered it existed. It’s basically the safest, cheapest form of legal car racing involving turns [skill ha], as it’s timed laps around orange cones in an open lot where cars are spaced apart, unlike the wheel to wheel racing of say Formula 1 or NASCAR.

There are many classes so that cars of similar performance can be grouped together. Even though it’s amateur, it boasts the biggest car race: SCCA Solo Nationals tends to have 1,100+ drivers over 4 competition days. Also, middle aged adults have turned into pro race car drivers! You see, racing is heavily about anticipation, not reflexes. And it’s a skill that must be learned and developed; a race champ is not merely born. These skills can also make drivers safer on public roads.

I have tracked side by side w/ other cars at raceways in 5 states, but only on fun hotlap sessions. The speed and danger are higher than in autocross but that makes it more exhilarating! But competing wheel to wheel is far costlier and riskier, not something for me.

I’ve also raced off-road in my ’95 Eagle Talon AWD. Rallycross is like autocross but in an open dirt/grass field. It has more fun sliding but also more damage risk. My most exciting race was Midnight TSD Rally on Vancouver Island; my navigator/co-driver and I hit the gravel/logging road around dusk.

On the 1st stage a rear shock perch broke and we also got lost. I thought it’d be the first race I wouldn’t finish. But car was still drivable and we got through the fog and darkness, finishing all stages by 11:30 pm or so. We came in dead last but I considered it a success that we didn’t go off a cliff or crash into the small concrete bridge that surprised us!

Wow. Well, glad you’re still here and working with us.

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