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Youtube Instant creator gets instant job offer (venturebeat.com)
240 points by ajg1977 on Sept 10, 2010 | hide | past | favorite | 76 comments


Worst part of the article:

"Aboukhadijeh announced the launch of YouTube Instant on Y Combinator’s Hacker News feed, a news aggregation site similar to Digg and Reddit."

Hi, I'm the author of YouTube Instant. Actually, I never "announced" this site anywhere. I posted a status update to some friends to get their feedback. They shared it and it spread from there. I woke up this morning to the sound of my phone ringing - a Washington Post blogger wanted to interview me. It's been a crazy day, to say the least.

Which means that the YouTube CEO is scouring Hacker News.

Just like being a rock star, successful CEOs continue to be normal people, which is for some reason surprising to the public, and their former peers.

Which I hope wouldn't surprise anyone.

Scouring? Doubtful. Maybe he's just clicking around like everyone else.

Or, the link was shared within YouTube/Google quite a bit.

Why? Do you really think we are much different than Digg or Reddit?

The main difference is that we value slightly longer comments. (But so does Slashdot, and they have a lot more users.)

I know how he feels... Reddit has begun to suffer from a massive AOL effect, and he's afraid that the publicity may attract an unwelcome crowd here :)

It's silly to think that technology makes the site. That's about as sensible as comparing books by their binding and type face.

Longer comments, they are only LONGER? Slightly longer??

I know Feross Aboukhadijeh personally. He graduated from my high school a year before me. For those who are talking about the "lengthy hiring processes", he just completed an internship at Google this summer. He also founded http://www.freetheflash.com/ and http://www.studynotes.com/.

Check out his impressive resume at http://www.feross.org/Resume_Feross_Aboukhadijeh.pdf

He's definitely more than capable of producing at his new YouTube gig (assuming he will take it).

He also, most importantly, runs the ACM LAN parties at Stanford. ;)

oops, I messed up. he worked at Facebook this summer as a software intern.

Just looking at his resume makes me feel... Well let me just say, he's very accomplished!


I'm sure this guy has no problem finding a job at any company he wants probably doing anything he wants. I don't understand why this is such a big deal.

Most sensible comment here. Working at a big name as some low level software developer is not a big deal. By virtue of being at Stanford alone he had a good chance at the job.

I completely agree, but this is still a nice little story.

"want a job?" means "want to interview for a job?"

Yes, when a recruiter is saying that. It's different when it is the CEO saying it.

Congrats to the creator of Youtube Instant.

"Everytime Google or Facebook hires someone another startup dies" - may have not quoted right, but you get the idea.

Not sure I agree with you there, mate. Plenty of startups have been founded by people who cut their teeth at these companies. I know 19yr-old founders are all the rage, but there's a lot to be said about getting some experience before doing the whole startup thing.

Hi everyone, I'm the creator of YouTube Instant. Thanks for all the nice comments. This discussion has been quite interesting to read. Great feedback.

Is YouTube exempt from Google's lengthy indirect hiring processes?

Probably not. But when the CEO knows someone who he wants to hire, the rules can be bent.

Remember, a lot of people working at Google got there via acquisitions. And they are afforded all the rights of "normal" employees that had 10 weeks of interviews (including moving to a "normal" team).

I assume Google's official hiring process is mostly for recent college grads, because they don't have any experience (or code) to prove that they know anything. Once you are established, via reputation or open source or otherwise, I'm sure the rules are more flexible.

(I bet Guido didn't have to explain linked lists on a whiteboard.)

Acquisition employees still have to go through a round of intense interviews in order to continue through the acquisition

And the number of acquisitions that Google has started and not completed because of an employee interview (excluding something like outright fraud)?

I parsed it as the employee has to interview for their particular job to continue, not for the acquisition to continue.

I think it's both...the acquisition won't continue if most of the people are dimwits, but it's also possible that the company will get acquired but a couple individual low performers won't be offered positions at the acquirer.


Not when they bought Performics.

I know someone well who went through the process recently

They should have made Guido explain tail call optimization.

Don Dodge went from being fired at Microsoft to hired at Google in 11 days. So if the person is senior enough they can just hire you. Apparently Vic Gundotra hired Don (VP of Engineering).

someone from youtube recently reached out to me about some stuff and as an aside commented that i'd also probably make a good google employee. but my college GPA (2.8 or so) pretty much rules out that possibility. too bad.

Who told you that your GPA rules you out?

If you have actual experience, nobody should care about your GPA. Or even whether you have a college degree. Lots of people at Google don't. If you're still in college it might be an issue, but if you have something to point to you still have a shot at getting into the interview process.

The interview process is hard. I won't lie to you about it. Even if you belong at Google, there is a good chance of not making it through on the first try. But your odds are infinitely worse if you don't even try.

Speaking personally, I didn't apply to Google for years because the core Google languages are Python, Java and C++, while my professional experience was all in Perl. Eventually I did apply, and discovered that it never would have been a problem. And in fact I'm doing most of my work in internal languages that nobody comes here knowing.

Internal languages? Why would Google make new languages when there are already many great ones already available? It sounds counterintuitive and inefficient. Please answer if you can.

There are lots of good reasons to create specialized languages for hard problems. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Domain-specific_language and http://www.paulgraham.com/onlisp.html both address this. Google has lots of people who are capable of creating those languages, who faced hard problems to solve that hadn't been tackled on the same scale elsewhere. Sometimes they wrote languages, and some of those have been widely adopted internally.

If the language is well-suited to the task, this is in fact an efficient approach.

Most of the "great" languages were at one time internal to a company or research group.

That one actually seems more supply-driven than demand-driven. Google hires huge piles of accomplished people, and the senior ones then continue to work on whatever it is that they do, because they're well-known and independent enough that it's hard to assign them to projects they don't want to work on. So they hire Rob Pike and Ken Thompson, and the result is a programming language inspired by C and Limbo, because that's what they do. =]

to be fair, nobody explicitly told me that gpa rules me out. but after i revealed my gpa, the youtube employee who reached out to me suggested that my resume would be discarded if my gpa was below 3.5, and even then, they unofficially shoot for 3.7. i only graduated in 2009, and as a self-taught programmer who graduated with a Psychology major, i have almost no training in computer science (i couldn't tell you what a bubble sort is; i find abelson and sussman totally uninteresting save for the box and pointer diagrams). but i did at least make it through real analysis and abstract algebra for fun and i do have a unique combinatoric proof of a summation identity to my name.

The GPA comment refers to people being hired for a first job straight out of college. Get industry experience, and nobody will care what your GPA was, or whether you even have one.

That said, you won't get through the Google interview without filling in some of your CS holes. You don't need to know what anything is called, but if you don't understand why quick sort and merge sort are efficient, you'll have trouble with the interviews.

That said, if you made it through real analysis and algebra, then the CS stuff you need shouldn't be too hard for you to learn. Really. If your interests include math and CS, one fun place to start is trying to tackle Project Euler problems. While doing that, read a few books, and you should be good to go.

My GPA was 3.0 and I was hired without much of a problem. Had about 4-ish years of industry experience.

It's the lack of formal CS that'll do you in...you have to know some of the theory to get past the interviews. They don't care how you learned it, but they care that you know it.

Just apply. Try. It's worth it.

The stuff about the GPA seems like a giant myth. I don't even remember my college GPA and I had a few rounds of interviews at GOOG.

I call bullshit. My college GPA was 2.90 and Google still went through the entire hiring process with me. No, I didn't get it after 6 different rounds of talking to people on the phone for phone interviews, but they certainly didn't look down upon my GPA.

My GPA was worse and it never didn't prevent me from getting any of the phone interviews or the on-site. Don't count yourself out.

Must have been one of the most exciting days of his life. Not just the job, but the recognition for something cool he made!

I'm the author of YouTube Instant. You're right - the last two days have been the most exciting of my life! I'm still high on adrenaline from the whole ordeal. I never expected my little hack to make it this big, and for that I'm grateful.

I just finished recounting my last two days running YouTube Instant here: http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=1683100

Regardless of whether or not YouTube could build this with the team they have, it makes perfect sense to me that they'd want to hire a smart, self-motivated person who's passionate about their product.

So, did he accept ?

Very cool. Didn't think it be such as big deal, since others have already played around with the official Youtube player and API. For example: http://www.yvoschaap.com/youtube/, http://www.flatvid.com.

Yes, we know, we know - the existing discussion is at #5 on the front page.


Actually, I didn't know.

what's next? twitter instant?? suggests a tweet for you. I will actually like to see/indulge in a stab at that.

Big congrats man

Kudos to Feross! An inspiring story.

Good for him and all, even though the search results were:

1) Painfully slow compared to Instant's realtime. 2) Only one at at time. 3) Text. (People respond to visual cues, and for a vid site, better to have thumbnails display in the results with captions.)

Minimum viable product, heard of it?

Functionality, heard of it?

Um, it's not a serious product if you couldn't tell.

a DAY!

It was slow because he was going through his server to get the query suggestions from Youtube and lots of people were on it. It's been updated to get the suggestions directly from the source and it's significantly faster. Google's servers can handle the load better :)

You are correct!

I even ran into issues when Google automatically blocked my server for making too many repeated requests to the search suggestions endpoint.

However, I rewrote the site to query YouTube directly for search suggestions, eliminating the round-trip to my server. Now, all the magic happens in each visitor’s browser, so it’s faster and Google can’t block it.

He made it in a day.

It's using existing mechanisms in YouTube's JSON API to find suggestions and play them. All the true "magic" is provided by YouTube's engineers. Not to take it away from someone who writes the right lines of JavaScript at the right time, but you don't have to place the guy on a pedestal.

The real lesson here is for yourself and others here who think like you -- if you tell yourself that things like this take superhuman efforts, how will you ever be able to produce something creative yourself?

Nothing is more enjoyable than seeing posts on the internet by programmers who look at an idea, then scoff at its simplicity while making a list of all the idea's component parts, pointing out how easy each component is.

But this is an easy idea, and it's been done before. The only thing that's really different here is the timing of the announcement. And the "omg chad hurley reads hacker news" angle.

(Of course, everyone thinking that this is even remotely the same thing as Google Instant is also completely missing the real innovations in that product.)

And I’m sure they'll give him time to work it out further, but is this the innovation YouTube is looking for? Hard to believe their UX people and dev teams haven’t already toyed with something like this.

I don't think this was a technology acquisition. :)

I'm pretty sure they just want the person.

He threw something together that people could get a feel for. I'll concede that it was hardly usable given the performance. But it was only a demo, enough of one to show just how usable the real thing could be.

I get the feeling you're just bitter they didn't hire you instead.


I actually think it's interface is vastly superior to Google, Facebook, and YouTube. Zero clutter. Entertaining (I lolled at much higher rate). No interface elements distracting from the content (video).

edit2: had mentioned an error the site was having, but it appears to be fixed now.

it was clearly hacked to show proof of concept. site is getting lots of traffic which would explain the slow results.

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