Eric Diep is the cofounder of A Thinking Ape. Eric was one of the earliest developers to gain traction on the Facebook platform and the iOS mobile platform and his startup was recently highlighted in the New York Times as one of the top grossing developers on the iPhone platform worldwide. You can find him on Twitter @ediep and on Facebook and Quora as well.
Tell us a little about yourself
I grew up in Toronto. Started writing code when I was probably in grade 7 or 8 for the hell of it. In university, I studied mathematics because I was told that it would be the most challenging discipline at Waterloo. I dropped out after a year because I realized that academic challenges were limiting my scope of problem solving to a vary narrow spectrum. I booked a one-way flight to San Francisco during my final exams and I never really returned. I met a lot of insanely smart people when I first lived in Silicon Valley, two of whom, Wilkins and Kenshi, are now my cofounders at A Thinking Ape.
What does A Thinking Ape Do?
A Thinking Ape builds products for mobile devices and we hope to change how people socialize and play online. We believe that mobile social gaming and social applications are still at its infancy and our goal is to accelerate its evolution and adoption.
One of our more popular products is a fantasy-themed role-playing game called Kingdoms at War, and it's available for Apple and Android devices. It's one of the top selling products on the Apple App Store worldwide and it's always fun to see people playing it in public spaces. I once had the barista at Starbucks giving me tips on how to play my own game. That was enlightening.
I know that your team decided to grow the company in Vancouver. What’s so special about Vancouver as opposed to the Valley or some of the other tech hotspots?
Building our core team in Vancouver was ultimately a fully-loaded experiment driven by our vision for creating a world-class technology company that could prosper beyond the Silicon Valley hype cycle. Vancouver itself has many relevant advantages and my cofounder, Kenshi, wrote about it on Quora.
What’s the most exciting technology announcement you’ve seen this year?
I think the work that SpaceX is doing is inspiring. Earlier this year they became the first independent company to launch a spacecraft to the ISS. That's a pretty big deal.
Closer to home, and perpahs at the opposite end of the spectrum, I think it's interesting to hear about the on-going news at RIM. It's unfortunate that skilled people are losing jobs, but at the same time it's a good wake up call for one of Canada's most looked upon technology company. We should never tolerate mediocrity, even if it's homebred.
What phone are you rocking right now?
What apps do you use most?
Right now, apps on my main dock on my iPhone are: Messages, Phone, Notes, Evernote.
If you had one piece of advice for up and coming developers, what would it be?
Don't be afraid to break things.
A little birdy told me that you play a little ice hockey. How would you describe your game?
I often run into a defensemen with a #5 on his back; he's usually on the same team as me. Hey, it's my first season okay?
In interviews with developers, logic questions are quite common, so here’s one for you: Given 25 horses, find the best 3 horses with minimum number of races. Each race can have only 5 horses. You don't have a timer. Go! (don’t’ cheat!)
To be honest, I've heard of this in passing but never tried to solve it. Here we go. Let's try this while typing an email...
- Split up the 25 horses into groups of 5 and race them. That's 5 races, call them race A, B, C, D, E.
- Pick the winners of the race and call them: a1, b1, c1, d1, e1.
- Race the winners.
Ok... let's assume the race coincidentally ended as: a1 > b1 > c1 > d1 > e1...
Jotting my thoughts down...
a1 > b1
b1 > c1
a1 > a2 > a3
b1 > b2
c1 > ...doesn't matter
a2 > b1?
a3 > b1?
b2 > c1?
Positions of a2, a3, b1, b2, c1 are ambiguous. Don't care about d1 or e1 since we're looking for top 3.
Turns out a2, a3, b1, b2, c1 is only 5 horses, so you can race them. Do that. (This is race 7)
Done: a1 is #1 overall, and the top two in the last race are #2 and #3 overall.
I'm pretty certain that's the optimal answer. I'll buy you nachos if you can do better.