I’ll admit it — as an old D&D player and fan of Clash of the Titans, I can’t resist a good “Kraken” pun. That’s why I like SiteWit’s new name, Kliken. Their service lets you integrate marketing campaigns in your site, and they raised $6 million in a Series B.
SKUx, based in St. Pete, creates one-time-use digital incentives to get customers to spend more at retailers. They raised $4 million in angel funding.
Covercasa’s offering is a platform for searching for and buying home insurance. They raised $1 million in angel funding.
And finally, the blockchain development studio Blockspaces, where a lot of local blockchain-related meetups are held, raised $75,000.
“Okay, so these Tampa Bay tech startups in 2020 got some money. What’s in it for me?”
For starters, all this investment activity helps raise the profile of these Tampa Bay-based tech startups in 2020, which in turn helps put Tampa Bay on the tech map. This helps to push the narrative that “The Other Bay Area” is a great place for techies, entrepreneurs, and nerds in which to live, work, and play.
Also, there’s the matter that this money is meant to grow these companies, which in turn means new job openings. If you’re looking for work in tech, you’ll want to check out these companies’ sites and see what openings they have.
I did my research — because of course I did my research — and Auth0 turned out to be a very interesting opportunity for a number of reasons:
The position leans heavily on two skills that I have that aren’t seen in the same person that often: Programming and communications. I have lots of experience in these areas, and can bring my “A” game to the position.
Auth0 is in a business that is hot: Systems and information security, which is in demand as computing and networking becomes increasingly ubiquitous. The attractiveness of a hot business is obvious.
Auth0 is also in a business that is boring: To put it a little too simply, Auth0 is in the business of logins, which doesn’t sound terribly exciting. Here’s where things get counterintuitive — why would I want to get into a boring business? Partly because of an idea from entrepreneur and NYU marketing prof Scott Galloway, which is that boring businesses make money. It’s also an idea of mine, which is that “boring” businesses produce essential products and services. And in a world where identity and access control are crucial, and identity and access control service is essential. I’m all for this kind of boredom.
Auth0 is one of the standouts in a field with a few key players. There’s the companies that specialize in identity and authorization, such as Okta and Ping Identity, and then there are the giants such as Microsoft, IBM, and Oracle. If the 2019 Gartner Magic Quadrant for Access Management is to believed (and you should always read these graphs with some healthy skepticism), it’s at the top of the “Visionaries” quadrant:
Everyone in the desirable top right quadrant, “Leaders”, is either an old guard fingers-in-every-tech-pie company (IBM, Microsoft, Oracle), or has been in the identity/access business for over a decade (Okta was founded in 2009; Ping Identity goes back to 2002 — when there were iPods, and they had click-wheels). Auth0 was founded in 2013, and of all the up-and-comers in its space, it’s at the top. That means room to grow, opportunities to apply my talents, and a chance to shine.
Auth0’s approach is developer-first. Authentication and authorization should be almost invisible for users; what they really care about is the application or service for which the authentication and authorization is the gatekeeper. It’s the developers who really have to worry about authorization and authentication, and that’s why Auth0’s focus is on developers. Not only is the platform developer-focused, but they devote a lot of time and energy into educating developers — and not just about Auth0, but identity topics, and even programming in general.
Auth0 is remote work-friendly. When CEO Eugenio Pace and CTO Matias Woloski started Auth0, they did so while 7,000 miles apart. They’ve kept it up to this day, while people working from all over the world.
The numbers above aren’t for the position I applied for, but for other Senior Engineer positions.
I really wanted this job. In order to beat these odds, my number one priority for the six weeks to come was to crush this funnel.
Step 0: Sending in an application
This is a software-as-a-service company, and in the time honored tradition of indexing in software, the first step was Step 0! This involved filling out an application form and including the following “cover letter” which was actually a large text area on the application form.
Applicants were encouraged to explain why they should be considered for the job. I first wrote it in a text editor, saved it for my records, and pasted it into the form. Here’s what it said:
I’m a technical evangelist, developer, and tech community builder, and I would love to help Auth0 make the internet safer as a Senior R&D Content Engineer!
Even though COVID-19 caused my last job to evaporate, I’ve managed to keep busy:
I’ve spent the past five weeks in the inaugural cohort of the “UC Baseline” cybersecurity program offered by Tampa Bay’s security guild, The Undercroft. All the instructors will attest to my ability to not just absorb new material, but to communicate, cooperate, and share knowledge with others.
Finally, I made revisions for the 2020 edition of the book iOS Apprentice, which teaches iOS app development by walking the reader through the process of writing four iPhone/iPad apps. I co-wrote the 2019 edition with Eli Ganim for RayWenderlich.com, and it spans 1500 pages.
In addition to this recent work, I’ve also done the following:
I’m the author/developer/presenter for the video tutorial Beginning ARKit, which teaches augmented reality application development by writing four ARKit-based iPhone/iPad apps.
I was the top-rated presenter at the RWDevCon 2018 mobile developer tutorial conference, where I gave both a four-hour workshop and a two-hour presentation on augmented reality programming for iOS with ARKit.
I have years of experience in technical communications and instruction, having done the following:
Provided wide-ranging partner and developer training as a Developer Evangelist at Microsoft, from providing presentations to partners, to writing articles and editing the Canadian edition of MSDN Flash to running hackathons, giving presentations, organizing conferences, and doing interviews with technology media. I was also Microsoft Canada’s most prolific blogger.
Provided technical expertise to SMARTRAC’s partners as they used the Smart Cosmos platform and SMARTRAC RFID technology to keep track of goods and physical assets as they are manufactured, shipped, and sold.
Whenever someone asks me for advice about identity or authenticating and authorizing users in their applications, my stock answer is “Go with Auth0. They’ve already figured out the hard stuff.” With my unusual skill set and experience, I could do that in a more in-depth way at Auth0 as Senior R&D Content Engineer.
Step 1: A phone conversation with Wendy from the People Team
The application must’ve worked, because I made it to Step 1, the “recuriter screener” phase, where I talked to Wendy Galbreath from the People Team. As the Auth0 blog puts it, it wasn’t a tech interview, but “a high-level conversation about my experience — especially with remote work, interest in Auth0, the role and expectations.”
As I blogged that day:
All dressed up for a 📱 PHONE ☎️ interview. Sure, they won’t know I’m dressed up, but I’LL KNOW.
The interview itself took about a half hour, and I did about 90 minutes of prep beforehand, looking into at the Auth0 site, checking recent news about the company, and reviewing Wendy’s LinkedIn profile.
She went into detail about the perks of working for Auth0, which further reinforced my desire to join, and I told her about my background and work experience, and why I thought I’d be a valuable addition to the team, using my best “radio voice” while doing so.
Step 2: Zoom interview with Tony, Head of Content
I passed Step 0, which meant that three days later, I had a zoom conversation with Tony Poza, Auth0’s Head of Content. This conversation was a little more technical, where I talked about my experience developing software, overseeing the development of software, doing developer evangelism, and creating content.
This interview was just over an hour, and I did around 4 hours’ worth of prep and background reading, including the Auth0 documentation, articles on their developer blog, and looking into the OAuth2 protocol, which Auth0 uses.
I enjoyed talking with Tony, and the interview only made me want to work at Auth0 even more.
Step 3: Zoom interview with Holly and Dan, two Senior Engineers
I passed that second interview, so it was time for another Zoom conversation, this time with Senior R&D Content Engineers Holly Lloyd and Dan Arias. If hired, I’d be working with them every day, so it was in their best interest to get a better feel for who I am, what I can do, and if working with me would be a good experience.
This interview was also a shade over an hour, and I’d done around 8 hours’ worth of prep, background reading, and some noodling with Auth0 and Python.
The conversation was a lot of fun, and I left it thinking Yes, I can definitely work with this team.
Step 4: Technical exercise — article + code
I’ll admit without any shame that by this point, I was checking my email very regularly for messages from Auth0.
I didn’t have to wait long. Hours after the Step 3 interview, I’d been notified that I had moved to the Step 4: The technical exercise!
I was now at this point of the funnel:
This was a good place to be. With the major interviews done, passing was no longer subject to the vagaries of me having an off day or one of the interviewers being in a bad or at least unreceptive mood. This stage is all about proving that I could do the job and do so while working with my prospective teammates.
Most other engineering candidates at Auth0 are being hired to build, fix, or maintain the Auth0 service, so it makes sense that their exercise is to build some kind of technical project and then present it in a “demo call”, where they walk the interviewer through the project, explain their design decisions, and demonstrate the working solution.
As an R&D Content engineering candidate, my primary work output won’t be software, but content — documentation, instructions, articles, guides, and other material of that sort. My assignment was to write a “how to” article and the accompanying project. The idea is to showcase things like:
Problem-solving and data sourcing technique
Writing and language proficiency
Attention to detail
The assignment: Create a tutorial blog post explaining how to build and secure an API with Spring Boot, Kotlin, and Auth0.
My first thoughts:
Securing an API with Auth0. That makes sense.
Kotlin — nice! That’s definitely in my wheelhouse.
Spring Boot? I know what Spring is, and have made a career out of avoiding it. What the hell is Spring Boot?
Since the exercise is partly a test of creativity, I was free to determine the kind of API that the reader of the tutorial would build. I thought I’d make it fun:
It was an API for a catalog of hot sauces. For the benefit of the curious, here’s a summary:
Simply returns the text **Yup, it works!**
Returns the entire collection of hot sauces.
Accepts these optional parameters:
brandNameFilter: Limits the results to only those sauces whose `brandName` contains the given string.
sauceNameFilter: Limits the results to only those sauces whose `sauceName` contains the given string.
descFilter: Limits the results to only those sauces whose `description` contains the given string.
minHeat: Limits the results to only those sauces whose `heat` rating is greater than or equal to the given number.
maxHeat: Limits the results to only those sauces whose `heat` rating is less than or equal to the given number.
Returns the hot sauce with the given id.
Returns the number of hot sauces.
Adds the hot sauce (provided in the request).
Edits the hot sauce with the given id and saves the edited hot sauce.
Deletes the hot sauce with the given id.
The article I wrote first walked the reader through the process of building the API. Once built, it then showed the reader how to secure it so that the endpoints for CRUD operations require authentication, while the “is this thing on?” endpoint remained public.
I wasn’t alone during the exercise. They set up a Slack channel to keep me in touch with the team I was hoping to join, and it’s standard procedure to assign you a “go-to” person (Dan was mine). I maintained a good back-and-forth with them, keeping them apprised of my progress, asking questions, and once or twice even sharing photos of what I was making for dinner.
While they said I could take as long as I felt I needed to complete the project, I figured that I needed to keep a balance between:
giving myself enough time to handle all the unknowns and deliver a finely-honed article and accompanying project, and
not taking so long that I end up being disqualified. As Steve Jobs put it so succinctly: Real artists ship.
On Day 2 of the project, while I was deep into working out how to use Spring Boot, a house down the street got connected to Frontier fiber internet. In the process, our house got disconnected. Luckily, I saw the truck down the street and straightened things out with the tech while he was still there.
I spent one Saturday working on the project with my computer tethered to my phone. Had I not caught the tech in time, the soonest I’d have been able to get someone to reconnect me would’ve been on Wednesday, a good four days later.
There came a point when I decided that the exercise was done and ready for evaluation. I made my final push to the repo and notified the team on Slack:
@channel I’d like to extend my most heartfelt thanks to everyone for this opportunity. It’s been fun, and I learned quite a bit in the process! As always, if there are any questions that you’d like me to answer, or anything else I can do for you, please let me know.
And then it was time to sit and wait. I checked Slack and my email a lot over those couple of days.
Step 5: BOSS FIGHT! (Actually, an interview with Jarod, Director of Developer Relations)
I got an email three days later — a Friday afternoon — asking if I would be up for a last-minute Zoom interview with Jarod Reyes, Director of Developer Relations, who came to Auth0 in June from Twilio, where he was the Developer Evangelism Manager.
Naturally, I made myself available, and Step 5 took place late that afternoon, only a couple of hours after I got the email.
The webcam lights I’d ordered had arrived earlier that day, so I set them up quickly…
…and I had just enough time to do a quick screen test for the interview. And yes, the accordion didn’t just happen to be there; it was strategically placed in the shot:
The interview was friendly, brief, and half of it consisted of me asking Jarod questions about his plans for developer evangelism and content at Auth0.
With the call done, the weekend began. It’s been a while since I’ve impatiently waited for Monday to come around.
Step 6: The offer letter
Monday, September 28th: I checked my email a lot, and at 1:15 p.m., this message arrived:
The team would like to extend an offer for you to join Auth0! Please let me know your availability today for a call so that I can share the details with you.
T minus one week
It’s been two weeks since I got the offer letter. Since then, I’ve signed it, filled out the standard paperwork, and even received the dongle for my company-issued MacBook Pro:
There’ve been some longer-than-usual shipping times for Apple products lately, but I’m not too bothered by that. I’m very pleased that I’m in and excited to be back in the developer relations / content game again.
What does this mean for the Tampa Bay tech scene?
For starters, it means that Auth0, a unicorn and player in the security space, has an increased Tampa Bay presence. (I’m not the only Auth0 employee, or “Auziro”, in the area.)
As part of the Developer Relations team, it’s my job to be part of the face that Auth0 presents to the developer community, and conversely, a way for the developer community to reach Auth0. I’m Tampa Bay’s “person on the inside”.
As a public-facing employee of a startup who service overlaps with security, I expect that I’ll be participating in local startup and security events — first virtual ones, and eventually, once we’ve all managed to control the pandemic, real-life ones.
And finally, as a public-facing Auth0 representative, as well as the writer of this blog and the Tampa Bay tech, entrepreneur, and nerd events list, I hope to represent Tampa Bay as an excellent place for techies to live, work, and play in.
Keep an eye on this blog, as well as the Auth0 blog! There are many interesting developments coming, especially if your interests are in software, startups, or security.
Once again, here’s the weekly list of events for events for Tampa Bay techies, entrepreneurs, and nerds. Every week, on GlobalNerdy.com and on the mailing list, I scour the announcements for events that are interesting to or useful for those of you who are building the future here in “The Other Bay Area, on The Other West Coast”.
This list covers events from Monday, October 12 through Sunday, October 18, 2020.
I’ve opted to list only those events that I can confirm are happening online. I’m not yet listing in-person events, as we’re still in the middle of a pandemic in one of the hardest-hit states (729,000 cases, which is an increase of 14,000 since last week, and 15,200 deaths, which is up 600 from last week) in one of the hardest-hit countries in the world (7.75 million cases, which is an increase of 350,000 from last week, and 214,000 deaths, which is up 5,000 from last week).
Events — especially virtual, online ones — can pop up at the last minute. I add them to the list as I find out about them. Come back and check this article from time to time, as you might find a new listing that wasn’t there before!
If you’d like to get this list in your email inbox every week, enter your email address below. You’ll only be emailed once a week, and the email will contain this list, plus links to any interesting news, upcoming events, and tech articles.
Join the Tampa Bay Tech Events list and always be informed of what’s coming up in Tampa Bay!
Agile Open Florida is central Florida’s annual gathering of agile practitioners for sharing knowledge, ideas, and experience, meeting old friends and making new ones, and generally staying on top of the Sunshine State’s agile scene.
This year, Agile Open Florida takes place on Friday, October 16, 2020 from 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. and it’s happening online!
Virtual Agile Open Florida will be facilitated using Open Space Technology (OST), with the ultimate goal being to connect, learn, and share. Using the Open Space Technology (OST) approach, the Agile Open Florida encourages agile practitioners from around the state of Florida to self-organize around topics that are most important to them. In this framework, participants with common issues and interests share their experiences and learn from others. There is no preset agenda for the event, rather, sessions are created “live” by the participants at the start of the day. In order to get the most out of this event, please come prepared with topics that are of interest to you, either to learn more about or to share your experiences.
The Agile Open Florida will abide by the Four Principles of Open Space Technology …
Whoever comes are the right people.
Whatever happens is the only thing that could.
It starts when it starts.
It’s over when it’s over.
… and The Law of Mobility and Responsibility (also known as the “Law of Two Feet”):
“If you are not learning or contributing where you are, find a place where you can learn or contribute.”
Tickets for Agile Open Florida are a mere $10.00, but if you feel like sponsoring, there’s a $250 sponsor package that gets you 2 tickets, your logo on the conference landing page, and the option for a virtual sponsor booth.
September has come and gone, which means it’s time for the listing of the month’s episodes from Tampa Bay tech podcasts! Here are the ones I know about, listed from newest podcast on the block, to one that’s been around for years.
Friends that Code is the newest podcast on this list, and it’s hosted by Mike Traverso, whom locals may know from the Tampa Bay Google Developers Group meetup and other Google-y events. In this podcast, he showcases…
…some amazing people I know that just happen to write code for a living. Whether they started off intending to code or just happened into it, we get to hear about the types of people you’ll meet, things you’ll get to do, jobs you’ll have along the way, and advice from some awesome coders along the way!
Episode 37: Jono Bacon
Mike sits down with Jono Bacon, leading community and collaboration strategy consultant, author, and speaker. He previously led community at Canonical, GitHub, and XPRIZE, and works with a broad range of clients from large enterprises to early-stage startups to help them build engaging, productive communities. He is the author of six books, including the award-winning ‘People Powered: How communities can supercharge your business, brand, and teams‘, is a columnist at Forbes, and published in Harvard Business Review, Fortune, Entrepreneur, and elsewhere.
Episode 36: Adam Dymitruk
Mike sits down with Ada Dymitruk of Adapt Tech Group to discuss Event Modeling, a way of thinking about software projects that will blow your mind.
At the time I’m writing this, The 6 Figure Developer — hosted by John Callway, Clayton Hunt, and Jon Ash — has posted 158 episodes. It’s…
…a show dedicated to helping developers to grow their career. Topics include Test Driven Development, Clean Code, Professionalism, Entrepreneurship, as well as the latest and greatest programming languages and concepts.
Here are the episodes from September:
Episode 163 – MLOps and ML.NET with Alexander Slotte
Alexander is a Microsoft MVP and a Managing Consultant and .NET Xpert at Excella, based out of Washington DC. He’s the founder and organizer of The Virtual ML.NET Community Conference and the organizer of the .NET DC User Group.
Episode 162 – C# 9 and .NET 5 with LaBrina Loving
LaBrina Loving is a Senior Software Engineer at Microsoft with over 18 years of experience in the Microsoft stack. In her role, she is focused on helping Startups and ISVs migrate to Azure and modernize their SaaS solutions for cloud. She works with them to leverage the cloud for cutting edge technologies like Artificial Intelligence and Chatbots, IoT/Edge, Serverless, and DevOps. LaBrina is a speaker doing conferences and user groups all over the world and has recently started a Podcast “Disrupting the Cloud” that highlights the journey of cloud newbies and professionals in cloud computing, especially women and BiPOC.
Episode 161 – Next.js with Tim Neutkens
Tim Neutkens is the co-author and lead maintainer of Next.js and is the co-author of the MDX library for dynamic markdown documents. He has a passion for creating scalable applications and improving the developer experience, and has spoken at a number of industry conferences such as dotJS and React. He joined Vercel (formerly ZEIT) in 2017 and co-authored a number of libraries the team was building internally and served as a project advisor. Prior to Vercel, he worked at We Provide for two years as a software developer and has a background in eCommerce and CMS solutions using PHP.
Episode 160 – Visual Testing with Angie Jones
Angie is a Principal Automation Architect, Director of Test Automation University, she is an International Keynote Speaker and Java Champion, and is the creator of more than 25 patented inventions.
Episode 159 – Mo Hampton: Giving Back to Tech without Burnout
Of the podcasts in this roundup, Thunder Nerds — “A conversation with the people behind the technology, that love what they do… and do tech good” — has been around the longest, with 271 episodes over five seasons to date. You’ve probably seen the hosts at local meetups and conferences; they’re Sarrah Vesselov, Frederick Philip Von Weiss, and Brian Hinton.