Interview with Matt Haughey(@mathowie)

It has been almost eight months since I last posted on instantbight.com. I realize now, looking back on my handling of the college process and the "crunch time" of my high school career, that this blog was absolutely something I could have continued -- but alas, teenage and adolescent laziness and disinterest caused me to stray from a great project.

However given a wonderful turn of events, I have been gifted an abundance of free time(in actuality I haven't been gifted any time just a relief of stress that allows for flexibility). And thus, I am rededicating myself to instantbight.com and the interviews I have done. And let me just say, it is going to be better than ever.

For anyone that actually reads this, here is an update on myself:

I completed a summer at Camp Moosilauke

This past summer, I was in charge of six, seven-year-old boys at my old sleep-away-camp in Orford, New Hampshire. The summer was incredible; I had an amazing technology and connectivity detox and also gained a newfound respect for the dedication and patience my parents had to have raising me and my sibling through...what would you call it...some tough ages.

I was accepted into the Class of 2020 at Northwestern University

Thank god. Through a lot of stress, handwork, and amazing assistance from my parents, I have finally been accepted into college. All of my schooling has lead up to this point and by some stroke of luck, it worked out perfectly. I am so happy and excited to be able to move on to a new phase of my life in Evanston and Chicago.

But enough about me, here are the goods for today.


Matt Haughey is a truly incredible person. Why? Well let's just say he is the only person I have ever interviewed with his own Wikipedia page. Among other impressive ventures, Matt is the founder of MetaFilter and the co-founder of Fuelly. However, now Matt works along side an amazing team at Slack.

Side note: I have abandoned my five question format. It was about time to start learning more from the amazing people that answered my questions.

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If you had to describe yourself in three words, what would they be?

Curious, compassionate, and fun. 

When you were a senior in high school, do you remember what you told people when they asked: “what do you want to do with your future?”

Yeah, at the time I really loved graphic design so I would tell people I was going to college and likely major in art (I wasn't 100% sure at the time).

How did you get into the tech industry?

In 1995, I fell in love with the web and quickly taught myself how to build websites myself. I was in graduate school at the time for environmental chemistry and seriously considered leaving school to build sites for others. I stuck it out though but by Fall of 1997 I was working at an environmental engineering firm and totally unhappy with the work. I loved the web still, and my big break was replying to an want ad in the LA Times for a web designer/developer at UCLA. It was probably the best job interview of my life. I connected with everyone there, made it clear I spent every second of my free time building sites, and got the job.

What is it like working at Slack?

It's incredible and fantastic and I wake up every day feeling lucky to be at Slack. My coworkers are fantastic and the work never stops being interesting. No two days are the same, my work there is mostly with words and that can take any shape or form. Sometimes I'm interviewing customers to write up on our blog, and sometimes I'm arguing with coworkers about which precise emoji combo we should use in a tweet, and sometimes we're talking about what words to put on a button that comes up rarely in an error message. I love the variety and unpredictability, the job is never boring. 

When you aren’t working, where could someone find you?

Most likely on Twitter. If I'm not on a computer, I'm on a bike. Generally I'm out on long slow rides in the Oregon countryside.

What does your workspace look like?

Currently my home office is a disaster area, but I get more/better work done either at a library (wearing headphones, cranking classical music to drown everything out) or a coworking desk (same headphones/music combo).

If you could only listen to one song for the rest of your life, what would it be?

That's an impossible question to answer for me. One food item, one song, one movie—I'd get sick of all of my favorites if I was confined to just one of anything so frankly I'm pretty happy we live in a time of almost unlimited choice for any of these things. 

And finally, if you had to give one piece of advise to your 17 year old self, what would it be?

Chill out, things will get better. You'll eventually find places where you'll be rewarded for going above and beyond what is expected of you. Also, your high school friends are all total jerks, and it's going to be alright when you move away and never talk to them again—you'll soon find new friends that are supportive and respectful and you'll quickly learn what real friends are like. College will be a great challenge, and moves so fast you'll look back at high school as glorified baby sitting years from now.

Also? Remember that essay you wrote in 4th grade in 1981 where you said you'd grow up to be a computer programmer and the teacher thought it was ridiculous and other kids thought you were nuts? Well, even though you don't currently own a computer at age 17, it comes true in less than a decade.

 

 

Big thanks to Matt for being my comeback interviewee. 

David Silverman