It’s easy to stop sweating the small stuff once you get to the top. As a recent New York magazine article pointed out, Mark Zuckerberg used to be a coding machine. These days, not so much:
But, as the Groups team was adding the finishing touches to its product, Zuckerberg said he wanted to write a few lines. “Everybody was like, Ohhhh, Zuck’s gonna write code,” says Feross. Someone set up an easy bug for him to fix—adding a link to a picture, or something—and he went to work. Five minutes passed. Twenty minutes. An hour. “It took him like two hours to do something that would take one of us who’s an engineer like five minutes.”
Dwight Merriman, one of the original founders of DoubleClick, was that company’s CTO for a decade, helping to create the DART ad serving technology which currently powers Google’s profits. Now he is founder and CEO of 10Gen, one of the leading developers and service providers for the MongoDB database language.
Betabeat was chatting recently with a 10Gen engineer who was impressed by how closely Mr. Merriman worked with the staff. “Dwight is drinking beer with us and writing great code.”
In fact, last week’s 10Gen’s Brandon Diamond told us, Mr. Merriman “Sits in the same place where all the other engineers sits,” comes into work everyday, and “actually writes more code than most of us.”
On a technical level, 10Gen is one of the few New York companies that impresses Silicon Valley sophisticates. Kirill Sheynkman, an Oracle veteran who just started running a massive Russian venture fund out of Manhattan, says that 10Gen brings a smile to his face.
As more big companies start deploying apps from the cloud, both consumer facing and within the enterprise, the demand for 10Gen’s services will continue to grow. The company just raised $20 million which is plans to put towards international expansion and increased R&D. With his army swelling, it remains to be seen how much longer Mr. Merriman can keep coding in the trenches.
He certainly still finds the job exciting. “We’ve hit a real inflection point for the database world,” Mr. Merriman told Betabeat by phone. “Your traditional relational approach will still be there, but an increasing number of problems will need to be solved our way.”
Working at Google, Mr. Merriman saw the challenges of scaling to serve billions of ads per day. “As we looked into that future, it always seemed to us that the data layer was the weak link. So that is the problem Mongo was designed to address.”