BitTorrent is a company made up of inventors, engineers, scientists, designers; makers and breakers of technology. The BitTorrent Interview is an introduction to the people of peer-to-peer: notes from the edge of distributed technology, and a few words from the team we’re lucky enough to call our own. In this week’s edition: Bertrand Chazot, Android engineer.
Bertrand Chazot takes his first sip of a pumpkin spice latte. He tells me that “in France, we don’t have Halloween or drink pumpkin flavored things.” “But,” Bertrand continues, “I like it.”
Bertrand is an engineer who made his way from France to begin his engineering career at BitTorrent. We sat down with him to chat about what he does at BitTorrent, the value of learning, and the importance of an open Internet.
Q: Can you tell me what you do at BitTorrent?
I work on the Consumer Electronics team as an Android engineer. I develop software for set top boxes and smart TVs. We want to bring BitTorrent to every screen.
Q: What brought you to the U.S.?
Working in the United States seemed like a unique challenge; the problems American companies are trying to solve seemed really interesting and difficult. I left France to pursue those problems. But, I do miss France a lot.
Q: How do you pursue those problems at BitTorrent?
I participate in “Palooza,” which is essentially a 2 day hackathon that’s recently merged with our 20% time. Essentially, everyone at the company can dedicate some of their working hours to outside projects and then present what they’ve made to the whole company. It’s great because it gives everybody a chance to pursue whatever problem they want.
You don’t have to convince anyone of anything to start. What problem you solve and how you solve it is up to you. You form small teams and just make what you think is good. Maybe it isn’t. But you have this opportunity to begin creating unapologetically, and a chance to show off what you make to the entire company. I think having that is important.
“The printing press allowed people to read, Internet will allow them to write.” I’ve always believed that. And, I’m happy to work for a company that builds products in service to that idea.
Q: What advice would you give to aspiring engineers?
You are never done learning. I think successful engineers are the ones who are constantly trying new things. Learn as much as possible from your colleagues, and not just your colleagues in engineering. You should learn from everyone.
Q: What do you like about working at BitTorrent?
I’ve been a big fan of BitTorrent for a long time. All of the companies I care about are the ones that stand for something bigger. Everyone who works at BitTorrent wants to make the Internet better. I love the Internet, and I admire companies that work to keep it democratic and open. Mozilla is an example of another company I think is doing really good work here.
There’s this great French expert in telecommunications, Benjamin Bayart, who said, “L’imprimerie a permis au peuple de lire, Internet va lui permettre d’écrire.”
Translated, it means: The printing press allowed people to read, Internet will allow them to write.
I’ve always believed that. And, I’m happy to work for a company that builds products in service to this bigger idea – that the Internet should be open, and that the Internet gives people, even if they are not big and powerful, a voice.