Programmer is first Thai to join software team in US
June 19, 2012 00:00 By Asina Pornwasin The Nation
Software developer Tanin Na Nakorn, 28, is the first Thai to be offered a job with Twitter as a software engineer.
He will take up the job with the online social networking service on October 1 as part of an international team based in San Francisco.
Tanin said he’d long had a passion to work for Twitter and decided to apply after his own tech start-up collapsed last year. He admitted that although he is skilled in programming, he has had no experience in running a business and decided Twitter was the answer.
Tanin started his career as a programmer when he was 15 at Thaiware.com, where he worked for five years. After graduating with a degree in computer science from Chulalongkorn University, he went abroad to study computer science on an EU scholarship.
“At the time, I thought I would like to become a researcher in computer science. But after studying and publishing research, I realised it was not my thing. I wanted to develop a product or service that would help people, so I turned from studying for a PhD to setting up my own company,” Tanin said.
At 25, Tanin, with no experience in running a business, launched his first software company, which designed software for a restaurant. The venture failed after the first year, so he set up a second software business, developing consumer Web products.
By 2011 his company had launched five products on the market with little success, until Kamling.org appeared. This website provided flood-related information in Thailand late last year. It worked, but his company could not make the service profitable. “I realised I did not have the business and management skills to set up and run a tech company. I decided to stop doing my own business and seek work with a tech start-up firm,” said Tanin.
He searched and applied for jobs at 17 tech companies in California’s Silicon Valley. “I was interviewed by 11 of these companies by international phone and demonstrated my programming skills over their websites. Each company interviewed me four times with 45 minutes for each interview. During this time I had to answer three questions on my programming skills. [Eventually] I got the chance for face-to-face interviews from three companies – Facebook, Expensify and Twitter,” said Tanin.
But before sending in his job applications, Tanin said he had to improve his English-speaking skills. So he listened to British author J.K.Rowling making a speech at Harvard University – and then copied her talking style from a recording. He kept doing this for a month until he was confident his English was acceptable, then he sent in the applications.
From the interviews he received job offers from Expensify and Twitter – and decided on Twitter.
“I was the first Thai software engineer at Twitter at the time I was interviewed. A couple of weeks after I got the job another Thai PhD student was offered a position with Twitter as a scientist, and [they] will start working with them on October 1 also. He said he read my blog about the interview experience with Twitter before he also took the job,” said Tanin.
He said his challenge at Twitter would be to create and develop new features for Twitter users, especially for those in Thailand and in Asia. “As a member of an international team, I will be responsible for the overseas market of Twitter, that means Asia and Thailand.”
Now, Twitter is rising rapidly, and seeking opportunities in many countries outside the US. Asia is one of its major markets. “In Thailand there are around 1 million Twitter users, which is significant even for Twitter. I really hope to learn a lot from working at Twitter – how it manages the company in the growth cycle. Finally, after five years, maybe I might try to set up my own company again,” said Tanin.