Andy Watson

A Brief History

TL;DR

I’m just a simple man on a mission: To make the digital world a better place.

Completely Complete History (abridged)

It Begins

I started tinkering with computers in the early 1980’s by typing BASIC programs I found in 3-2-1 Contact magazine into my parents’ Apple II Computer. I learned to pick apart sections of programs and recombine them together to get new things. I wrote a game for my sister when I was about 7. It wasn’t much but it was an auspicious beginning.

I kept tinkering all the way through high school where I wrote a blackjack program for my TI-95 programmable calculator. It had separate routines for shuffling multiple decks of cards, tracking statistics over multiple hands and even a kind of “loan shark” that would allow you to keep playing in exchange for exorbitant interest rates.

It Continues

When I went off to college at Florida State University it was mostly to be in the Marching Chiefs and I thought I was going to be a trombone player - much to the horror of my parents. My roommate mentioned he was taking a programming class and I joined him. The rest, as they say, is history.

I worked as a system administrator for The Department of Distance Learning (as it was known at the time) during the early days of “will people take classes online???”. I also worked for the Physics Department running a cluster of “high performance” computers used to analyze data from experiments involving high energy particle collisions.

Going Pro

After graduating, I got a job at Federal Express as a “Technical Analyst” which just means I was the new guy and I was in charge of making decisions about … well, nothing really. I did learn how to process many gigabytes (gigabytes! HUGE!) of data that resulted from our benchmarking activity on clusters of hardware that cost millions of dollars.

From there I went to a small startup where people wore flowered shirts and flip flops. We specialized in running out of money and being way ahead of the curve on technology adoption.

Since then I’ve worked at giant companies like Cox Communications and Walt Disney World. I’ve also worked at startups like Twilio, StarPound, and Ionic Security. I’ve worked at more stable/normal companies like Make & Build as well. Oh and I started my own company once in 2010. It was called Other Number and it was a great idea at the time but seems rather inept now in hindsight. Then again, what doesn’t?

Public Speaking

I decided that one thing I needed to do better was speak in public because my Computer Science degree didn’t involve much of that sort of thing. I went to Georgia Tech and got an MBA and had to do a great deal of presentations including a business plan competition (which my team won…) and it turned out I was not terrible at it.

When I started Other Number, I spoke/pitched at a number of events including Startup Riot and Atlanta Startup.

I’ve also given talks at a number of open source conferences such as All Things Open, Great Wide Open, Connect JS and the Palmetto Open Source Conference. All of them were amazing.

I gave talks on building web applications in Go and basic symmetric cryptography for application developers.