About

My name is Nir Yariv. I live in New York City. You can reach me at niryariv@gmail.com. Here’s some stuff I’ve been doing, more as a series of flashbacks than a resume.

Currently, I’m Director of Engineering at Medico.com, which builds health information/community sites in Spanish, Portugese and soon other languages. I work with a developer team in Israel and various members in Argentina, Brazil and Spain. I’m particularly proud that we manage to push new code every day, while everyone works remotely.

Before that, I worked with Dimagi Inc on building mobile health apps, mostly on a project helping doctors treat pregnancy health issues in rural Bangladesh. Also spent a few weeks in Dar es Salaam doing some work on CommCareHQ.

Around that time I created KalSMS, a very simple SMS gateway running entirely on an Android device, intended as a barebones, super easy to maintain/code for alternative to RapidSMS & co. It’s working out ok so far.

Previously I did mostly consulting work with NYC startups, including a Lead Architect role at Arc90, on a Rails + AIR project which never saw the light of day. Rails turned out a great choice for rapidly building a REST API along with a web app, though beating deadlines doesn’t count for much if you never ship.

I built HelloWorldChat and TheRealURL soon after that, just to see some code go live. The former got some recognition, the latter actually got used ( >2m reqs/day when I had to start throttling it). Prixfeed came about to make some points about design and Microformats and RSS and ended up actually generating some beer green tea money – more total revenue than most startups, I suppose.

I arrived at the US in 2006. Here’s a photo to break this long text:

USA! USA!

"Cheap Android phone" filter

My first gig in NYC was as Technical Product Manager for Ecolada Inc, leading teams in India and then China to launch an eco-minded price comparison site. This was my first major remote team experience. Lessons learned:

  1. Hire for honesty/personality first, skill second. Skills can be taught
  2. If the team is not working out, quickly move on
  3. Communicate every single day
  4. Communicate visually every single day (some words, many screenshots)
  5. Communicate interactively every single day (voice best, but we used IM with the China team for easy translation)
  6. When a remote team does work out, a 12 hour time difference can become an advantage
Back in Israel, I worked with Zend Technologies for 4 years. I came in to build the Zend Performance Suite [PDF], which was to become the company’s main product. A very small company at the time, you’d sit with the founders and sketch out what it should do/look, then go and build it.
As the ZPS became our main product, the need rose for a Sales Engineer role in the company. I had a chance to observe people all over the world use the product I made, often in very different ways than expected. It was the whole spectrum of conceiving, designing, building, releasing – plus the Other Side of watching it evaluated, bought and used by clients.

Rare experience, and a highly educational one.

It also gave me the opportunity to visit & work at many interesting places around the world, and most importantly meet great people, like this guy in India:

Lunch break on the road to Bangalore

Lunch break on the road to Bangalore

Around that time I made Notifyr, which is not beautiful but is simple enough to be pretty useful for some people. It is one of the more gratifying projects I built: I witnessed a user become a professional photographer, young parents keeping their family posted on their baby’s first months, travelers updating loved ones on their trips and so on.

Before Zend I worked at R-U-Sure.com which built one of the first online comparison shopping engines. In lack of a real university experience, this was sort of an alma mater. I came in with a resume of working construction and fixing dirtbikes, and a faint recollection of teaching myself Z80 assembly and Turbo Pascal. Inexplicably, they let me code and I ended up being in charge of building the website (not as insane as it sounds, since the main product initially was a desktop client. Which in retrospect is the actually insane part).

A new sysadmin introduced us to Linux, PHP, Apache and MySQL. Soon after learning how to build a webapp I had to figure out how to scale it, and invented (unknowingly, along with others) a 404 based caching system kind of like this. It actually powered the site and an article I later published about it kept popping up in all kinds of strange places.

Once the site was stable I started getting interested in mobile, created the company’s mobile team (consisting of me) and launched what might have been the first (and only?) WAP based comparison shopping app.

Then the dot.com bubble burst and we were underwater. I came up for air, took some time to get my bearings and paddled back out. And so it goes.

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