Meet the Team! (Part 3)

Hi everyone!  This installment of ‘meet the team’ introduces you to a member of our web team, Aston Motes.  Aston originally hails from South Carolina, and… you guessed it, went to MIT before moving to San Francisco to work on Dropbox.  Aston is also Dropbox’s very first employee, and spends his workdays coding many of the things under the hood of our website (including the file browser that you’re sure to have used at some point or another).

What do you do/what’s your claim to fame at dropbox?

I spend my days on the web side of Dropbox. If you’re using anything.dropbox.com, odds are good I coded it or broke it or fixed it at some point in time. Ostensibly, my claim to fame is being engineer numero uno (after the founders). Within Dropbox, I think my claim to fame is probably my ability to unintentionally generate company-wide catch phrases. I haven’t figured out whether it’s a good thing or a bad thing yet.

Since you’re the first employee, joining Dropbox must’ve been a difficult decision. What made you decide to join?

It was definitely a tough decision. At the time, I was the biggest Dropbox fanboy ever–I’d kept an eye on the product since I saw Drew’s original screencast, and I’d known Arash since before he started at MIT. However, I already had a really cool job in New York City I really liked, and the prospect of flying across the country to join this tiny, unproven company seemed almost too risky to consider. In the end I think I went with my gut that this idea could be a great, and that getting in on the ground floor would expose me to the startup world in a way I couldn’t get anywhere else. Two years in, and my gut seems right so far.

What OSs do you prefer?

For coding purposes, Ubuntu 100%. Linux has its charms. When it comes to less-serious business, Windows. My (ancient) desktop machine at home triple-boots Windows XP, Vista, and 7.

Was Windows 7 your idea?

Yes!

Current favorite apps?

Canabalt and Words with Friends, both on the iPhone. With their powers combined, it’s impossible for me to be bored.

How’d you get into programming?

My first programming memory goes back to futzing with LOGO on the Apple IIgs machines at my elementary school and being told you could make games with it. I remember wishing I knew how they got the little turtle to make Oregon Trail. My first “real” coding experience was a few years later, when I discovered the web, or more specifically, Geocities. I learned HTML and Javascript solely to trick out my first homepage. I went to Computer Camp after 8th grade, where I found out I actually had an aptitude for coding (apparently, few 14-year-olds grok pointers) and the rest is history.

I hear you’re working on a rap about Python. Care to share any highlights?

These aren’t the highlights. These are all I have written. Basically just punchlines to unwritten verses. But if you insist…

Some cats complain to me sayin’ Python’s slow/I just look ’em in the eye: dog are you psyco? (pypy!)
Faster execution model under Unladen Swallow/And Stackless is way faster than Go

Beyond comprehension like the lists I make/Need intel to predict which branch I’m gonna take.

I rock the GIL like an MVP/I be lockin’ threads atomically.

What do you do in your freetime?

When I moved to San Francisco, I shipped my drum kit out, too. It’s now set up in the corner of the Dropbox office, and I try to bang on it anytime the office is empty (a rare occurrence). I’ve also got a keyboard and microphone at home that I jam on when not at Dropbox, and I’m working on picking up a bass guitar to add to my arsenal. In general you’d be hard pressed to find me not doing something music related if I can be. I carry
headphones with me 24/7.

What’s in your recently played list?

This question should be “What’s on your Zune?” (yeah, I’m part of the Social). The most recent albums I’ve thrown on there are Wale’s “Attention Deficit,” Mayer Hawthorne’s “A Strange Arrangement,” John Mayer’s “Battle Studies,” and The Dirty Projectors’ “Bitte Orca.” All definitely worth checking out, especially “Two Doves” on that last one. Haunting.

What cool things are you working on right now?

We’ve got some heretofore unannounced things coming on the web that I’m super-excited about. Unfortunately, I can’t share them with you, so you’ll just have to wait and see! Half the fun of secrets is keeping them.