Rebel with a cause: Pyro learned how to program when he wasn’t supposed to, enjoys setting off fireworks, and is currently writing a book. Find out what else moves our head of Research and Development.
More about him, plus how he got his nickname, after the jump.
What’s your role at BitTorrent?
I’ve had several roles at BitTorrent but, most recently, I was picked to head up our newly created R&D (Research & Development) group.
How long have you been a BitTorrent user?
What’s the last thing you downloaded?
A video shot on a GoPro Camera of my brother skydiving in Hawaii.
How did you get into engineering?
When I was in High School, my friend Brian and I used to sneak time on his Dad’s computer to learn programming. Half the fun was that we weren’t supposed to be on his machine. The first thing I ever wrote was a D&D (Dungeons & Dragons) character generator. It was fun creating something I could use and share with friends.
I don’t think software engineering is for everyone. However, for those of us crazy enough to like programming, everyday is like getting paid to solve puzzles. If you aren’t sure if it is for you, go take some classes or play with some online tutorials. I think one of the keys to being an awesome developer is loving what you do.
Where are you from?
I grew up in San Diego, California.
How’d you end up at BitTorrent? Why did you decide to come here?
Well, BitTorrent is amazingly powerful. Essentially, I can move any file from any place to any other place. I also love the idea of a technology that the more people that use it, the better it gets.
How long have you been here?
Coming up on two years in January.
What’s the best part of your job? What do you like about working here at BitTorrent?
People. We have a team of seriously smart and creative people. I love our brainstorming sessions and paloozas.
Everyone calls you “Pyro.” What’s with the nickname?
I believe discussing this would violate the terms of my parole. No, actually it’s short for Pyrotechnician.
My other job/hobby is working on commercial fireworks shows. As a kid, I was obsessed with roman candles, firecrackers, and model rockets – so now I get to do the same thing, just scaled up a bit.
Fireworks shows are lot of physical labor and you often have to work on holidays, but where else can you blow things up and people cheer? I lost track of the exact number, but I think I’ve done more than 70 shows. I got the nickname about 12 years ago and it has really stuck, some people don’t even know my real name and if anybody at work calls me Mike or Michael it feels weird.
What are you passionate about?
My home in San Diego had to be evacuated once because of a brush fire (I assure you this was in no way related to my nickname). My wife and I ran around the house and gathered up the things that we would take with us. In the end we had a pile of keep sakes, photo albums, and several hard drives full of pictures and videos of the kids.
I realized two things that day. First the most valuable things I own are personal media and, second that many of those photos and videos have never been viewed. So, ever since then, I have been very passionate about personal media. Whether archiving, cataloging, or sharing, I love to work on projects both in my career and home that are about sharing personal media.
What keeps you busy in your free time?
I love to organize events with family and friends, especially BBQs, hikes, road trips, model rocket launches, and game nights. I never miss Comi-Con. I also love to travel and, so far, have visited 27 countries. I hope to keep adding to the list in the near future.
Tell us a secret. Or a fun fact.
Well, I’m not sure how cool it is but I have very diverse interests. I have won ribbons in our local county fair for my homemade kumquat marmalade. I’m also writing a book and I still play D&D.