This is not a picture of me.

There is a lack of engineers everywhere, but finding talent is especially hard in the Bay Area.

I’m from Spain but 5 years ago I went three months to SF, to attend a couple of conferences and visited some friends.
At that time I was trying to start something, but I changed my mind and I started looking for jobs in the US instead.

Getting in contact

Every single company I visited was recruiting.

Tech companies provided pizza, beers and tons of famous, smart people to talk about smart things. All to attract talent.

I sent out many resumes, but 90% of the times I didn’t receive any response, and I couldn’t figure out what was missing.

I have a CS degree, five years of experience and lots of open source contributions in cutting edge technologies. My best guess was that US companies were not willing to sponsor me a `H-1B` visa.

I was close to giving up and going back to Spain when I received two calls from a couple of companies. One of them was Klout, the social media analytics company that sold for $200 million. The second call was from a company that was just starting up at the time, they wanted to disrupt the transportation industry.

The interviews

The first interviews are always done by telephone. They ask you about your background, some theoretical questions and some *puzzles*.


When they have decided that you’re smart enough to meet face to face, the real interview starts, and it’s not a normal meet and greet, it can last up to three hours.

You talk with people from different departments, answer more questions and solve more *puzzles* on whiteboards.

– Implement a function that calculates square roots
 — Sort and concat arrays in a optimal way
 — Guess the two missing numbers in a array with `n — 2` length containing `1..n` unsorted numbers
 — Calculate the number of digits for a given number
 — Implement a function to detect palindromes
 — …

Most of them were doable, but I think they were missing some amazing developers that may not know how to solve those problems,
but they are capable of solving real-life problems (fix this bug, port this library, refactor this code…).

Some of the theoretical questions I had (mostly javascript related):

– What is a closure and which disadvantages does it have:
 — What is hoisting.
 — How does `this` work.
 — How `float` works and which issues does it have.
 — How does the event loop work on the browser and how to delay a function to the next tick.
 — How to optimize CSS, and how does specificity work.

The offers

Both companies I interviewed for offered to sponsor me a H-1B visa and a good salary.


I ended up accepting one of the offers because they where more transparent with the stock options (which I later discovered not to be so great after all), and because they told me that I could work remotely until getting the visa.

I signed the contract, opened a bank account, left my job and came back to Spain.

The silence

Back in Spain I started to prepare myself for the new job — I was looking forward joining a new team. I learnt Python because I saw some people using it at that company’s offices.

I was super motivated and willing to start! I even sent some emails to the CTO to get some instructions on how to setup my development environment.

At my starting date I received the first email from the CTO saying that they were not able to get my visa and that they were thinking about the aspect of working remotely.

I answered them that it wasn’t a problem for me. I had been working remotely for a while and it had never been an issue.

What happened next? Nothing. Silence. I was completely ignored.

The problem

Getting a working visa in the US is not easy. If it was, most developers would be working there. It has gotten a lot better the last years, but companies should start to be more open minded about hiring remote workers.

There is a huge deficit of talent in the US, and a lot of wasted (and way cheaper) talent in other countries around the world. An average engineer in the Bay Area can cost around $100k+. In Spain, the same engineer costs significantly less.

Even though I’m happy I didn’t end up in the states, it would have been cool to be one of the first developers at Uber.

The solution

Ironically, while I was on holiday in San Francisco I was working for [Teambox](now Redbooth), a company with their development team based in Spain.

It was an amazing experience, the development was happening 24 hours a day. The git repository was constantly receiving commits, never sleeping.

It was a great time, that I now look back on as me and Jordi Romero are working on our new project Factorial.

Luckily there’s more and more great companies being built in Europe, and there’s no need to go to the US to land a fantastic job as a developer. Both Madrid (14th) and Barcelona (9th)are climbing on EDCI’s digital city index list every year, and more and more startups are getting funded.

A recent report by Atomico predicts even greater times for European tech in the years to come, so no need to apply for the green card lottery this year, just hold on to your European passport.


This memoir was written by the CTO of Factorial.

Previous ArticleNext Article

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

T.

The reasons why Disney will dominate the media industry

The perception that Disney is only a producer of children’s content is long gone. The company has managed to multiply by 10 its market capitalization in 10 years and I believe it will do it again in the next 10 years based on 3 factors: content, the entry in new businesses and spillover effects on current businesses.

CONTENT

Disney has been making movies for almost a hundred years. They have been movies for all the family but targeted to kids, which are the ultimate decision-makers when going to the movies. This is an example of the classical content they were producing up until the last 10 years.

Found in Pinterest https://www.pinterest.es/pin/129548926755761740/

Despite having a powerful content library, Disney has amassed the most impressive collection of content in the world via acquisitions:

  • 21st Century Fox: 71B
  • Lucasfilm (2012): 4B
  • Marvel (2009): 4B
  • Pixar (2006): 7B
  • Hulu (2009): ??. They acquired 30% and an additional 30% with the acquisition of Fox

With the recent acquisition of Fox, there are only big four other movie studios left in the market: SonyWarner BrosUniversal, and Paramount.

Just to give perspective. This is the list of the top 3 grossing movies for the last 3 years. Spoiler, they are all from Disney:

  • 2017: Star Wars The Last Jedi (rubbish if you ask me), Guardians of the Galaxy 2 (not great) and Beauty and the Beast.
  • 2018: Black Panther, Avengers: Infinity War and Incredibles 2.
  • 2019: Avengers: Endgame, Captain Marvel and Aladdin (Still not counting with Toy Story 4, Spiderman, The Lion King, Frozen 2 and Star Wars: The rise of Skywalker)

Having content as an asset in the movie industry is relevant because of the fact that over 90% of every year’s Top Box Office Hits are not original. Notice that the 9 hits mentioned above are not original content, including Captain Marvel which is a character well known despite debuting in theaters. Moviegoers are risk-averse and showing characters the public is familiar with is synonymous of success in a market where the production of a movie can cost hundreds of millions of dollars.

Another essential part of the content are the actors. They give credibility to a movie and top talent can’t wait to appear on a superhero movie. Just look at the roster of Avengers Endgame with cameos from the likes of Robert Redford, Rene Russo, Michelle Pfeiffer, Michael Douglas, Natalie Portman, William Hurt, Samuel L Jackson or Ken Jeong, the Asian character on The Hangover. All of this without accounting for the main characters. Where else can you see this?

Source: https://www.editorchoice.com/avengers-endgame-cast/

NEW BUSINESS

One of the acquisitions mentioned is Hulu, a streaming platform in the US which also allows watching live content. I believe this is the future. Cable TV operators are doomed. The number of subscriber to Cable TV in the US has declined over the past years.

Source https://www.statista.com/statistics/536356/cable-shopping-networks-revenue-usa/

It’s clear the consumers are opting in to streaming on-demand platforms such as Netflix, HBO, Hulu, and Amazon Prime. That’s why Disney is launching Disney +.

This is a global trend. People across the world may not own a TV, but they have smartphones and internet connection. Netflix has launched a 3$ monthly cell-only subscription in India. Check this relentless growth of subscribers by Netflix.

Take a look at the last Shareholders report by Netflix, a public company that is burning billions every year -3,5B$ in 2019- and is expected to invest 15B$ in 2019 alone in new content. In my humble opinion, Netflix has by far the best streaming platform and the content is remarkably good, just look at the masterpiece Stranger Things season 3.

Source: https://s22.q4cdn.com/959853165/files/doc_financials/quarterly_reports/2019/q2/Q2-19-Shareholder-Letter-FINAL.pdf

Netflix will be the main competitor of Disney, who will claw back its content from other platforms over the next years, reducing the earnings of licensing rights, but attracting customers to their platform. I believe there will be a time where platforms won’t share much content, but eventually, this will rise opportunities for multiplatform viewing apps and some years from now, platforms will reshare content once they settled a loyal customer base. Users will be subscribed to multiple platforms and they would still like to watch what’s best in every one of them. It’s not a winner take it all market.

My final bet is that there’s another big piece of content that is currently slipping away from streaming platforms, live sports. This is the last resort of traditional TV and cable TV operators who have been able to tell customers when and where to watch TV. This is no more, TV is dead.

SPILLOVER EFFECTS

Let’s get some perspective here. Disney is a corporation that currently (2019) has annual revenues of around 70B$ and a net income of around 13B$ (15–20%). Where do they make money from? This is a comparison YoY between the fiscal years ended on September 30th. of 2018 vs 2017. All areas grow except for merchandising. Figures in B$.

Source: company reports

MEDIA

The main source of income is Media Network, which comes from ESPN, Disney Channel, ABC… Here’s the evolution of this revenue stream fro the last decade.

Source: https://www.statista.com/statistics/193211/revenue-of-walt-disneys-media-network-business-since-2008/

With the acquisition of Fox, this chart is going to experience a huge vertical shift.

PARKS AND RESORTS

Parks and resorts are the second biggest revenue stream of the Mickey Mouse company.

Walt Disney World Resort (Flick: Atiq Nazri)

This is a chart with the number (in millions) of yearly by visitors by each park. Around 150 million people go to a venue managed by Disney somewhere on the planet. This can only be achieved by a great hospitality experience and the best content:

Source: https://www.statista.com/statistics/194247/worldwide-attendance-at-theme-and-amusement-parks-since-2010/

STUDIO

This is the revenue that comes from the distribution of movies and music.

The chart below displays the Box Office market share evolution. Disney has managed to multiply by 2,5 in ten years, and now with the inclusion of Fox, the market share could get just shy of 50%, which is ridiculous. This is a major spillover effect from the massive content acquisition.

Source: https://www.cnbc.com/2019/06/14/disney-on-pace-to-earn-9-billion-at-the-global-box-office-in-2019.html

DIRECT TO CONSUMER

This is where the new platform Disney + will come into play. Disney + is a SVOD (Subscription Video on Demand) as far as we know. Other alternatives are AVOD (Advertising Video on Demand) where the users access for free but get adds (Youtube) and TVOD (Transactional Video on Demand) which is what Google is doing among others.

One of the first screenshots Disney shared for Disney +

So far they have had Hulu in this category, but with the introduction of Disney +, this will become of the main revenue streams for Disney. Eventually, the main one if you ask me. My guess is that in one year, Disney + can produce revenues of about 20B$ and grow from there. This is what Netflix is doing right now.

The advantage of Disney + is that they already have the content and they would only need to produce specific content for the platform such as The Mandalorian or the Marvel spinoff series with Black Widow and more. That would imply big operating profits since most content has already been amortized. The downside, however, will be the loss of the licensing revenue they get from streaming onto other platforms included in the Studio section. I’m betting this will be a money-printing machine.

CONCLUSION

Disney is a company that has endured through decades and over the last years has taken on a path of content acquisition and generation that pays off very well. This is why I am “hodling” on its stock.

Disney’s stock price evolution over the years