Have you ever wondered who brings all the data and updates to you at CrunchBase? In our new “Meet the Team” blog series, we’re highlighting members of our amazing staff each month. In our inaugural post, you’ll meet Amanda Glosson, a CrunchBase front end engineer, artist and Georgia native with a theory about how adding constraints to projects can lead to better solutions. You can also catch her speaking on this topic July 6th at WaffleJS in San Francisco.
Tell us about yourself!
I grew up in Grovetown, Georgia (disambiguation: the state, not the country) which is a little town right outside of Augusta. As a kid I was deeply interested in both science and art. When it came time to pick a college after high school I was torn, but ultimately decided to study biomedical engineering at Georgia Institute of Technology. Biomedical engineering ended up being a bad fit for me and after a couple of years I left to regroup. I starting waitressing and also had taught myself HTML and CSS and started making websites on the side. Soon after, a school friend contacted me to ask if I had heard about the new major that had been added at Georgia Tech, which had a mix of visual design and coding. It ended up being a perfect fit for me and I left there with a lot of great experience and solid projects in my portfolio. Since then, I’ve worked on software projects of all shapes and sizes that have moved me upstate New York, LA, and now here.
Tell us about your role at CrunchBase.
I’m part of the front end team here at CrunchBase. Being a front end engineer means that I spend most of my time working in browsers and writing code that browsers understand, but it also means that I am the last line of defense in terms of implementing experiences for our users. I work closely with the rest of the engineering team, but also with our design and product teams to ensure that the features that we’re building are ones that feel great to use. I want to build software that brings our uses joy and also makes them feel powerful at the same time.
In 2014 I spoke at JSFest Oakland about how adding constraints, whether necessary or arbitrary, to a project can create opportunities for creativity and innovation. Many times people think that removing constraints can help them create more interesting things, but I posit that without constraints the task of “imagining the possibilities” can become overwhelming. Constraints help to narrow down the number of possibilities that you have to imagine and help you to define what your problem space is. Once you have a defined problem space, you are then able to focus your attention to how you can creatively leverage the opportunities inside of that space. Given a small enough problem space, all combinations of ideas can be tried and all of the creative solutions can more easily be found.
One my favorite examples of this is Theodor Geisel’s (better known as Dr. Seuss) book Green Eggs and Ham. The story was the result of a bet by Geisel’s publisher that he could not write an an entire book with no more than 50 unique words.
Geisel accepted the bet to then write one of the best selling children’s books of all time.
Since researching this topic and giving this talk, I’ve found examples of constraints at every turn and have used them in different ways to improve how I work. I’ll be giving an updated version of this talk at WaffleJS on July 6th.
What ultimately led to your decision to join CrunchBase?
After meeting the team at CrunchBase, it was clear to me that the people working here are all talented, supportive and open-minded individuals. As an engineer, I want difficult technical problems to solve, and we’ve got those, but it’s also important to me that I work with good people who like what they do and want to learn and grow from one another. Those qualities were apparent to me when I met the team and I was immediately sold.
What do you spend your time doing when you’re not in the office?
When I’m not in the office, I spend my time drawing pixel art, streaming old video games on Twitch with my partner, Frank, and appeasing our cat Tony.
What is your favorite part about working at CrunchBase?
I think my favorite part about working at CrunchBase is definitely the people. There is a lot of team spirit and support for one another. We do a good job celebrating one another’s wins and taking time out to check in with one another. We all sit down at lunch together to catch up and debate on topical subjects, which can get heated, but if you sit and listen, you’ll hear a lot of you’re-right-I-didn’t-know-thats and I-hadn’t-thought-about-it-that-ways. I love working with a team that listens, learns from, and respects one another.
What are you most passionate about?
I’m most passionate about building great experiences for the users of CrunchBase but also building great experiences inside of our team for one another.
You’re chair of the CrunchBase Diversity & Inclusion committee — tell us about what you’ll focus on as chairperson and why CrunchBase values having a diverse culture.
As chairperson of the Diversity & Inclusion committee at CrunchBase, I want to focus on enriching our positive company culture with an understanding of the challenges faced, especially in the software industry, by marginalized groups. It’s important that we’re aware of these challenges so we ensure that we don’t become part of the problem, but to also enable us to have a positive effect externally in the community. I want to ensure that our environment is a safe and inclusive one for all people and become a role model for other companies who want to do the same. I truly believe that in both building a great team and building a great product the key ingredient is the same: a diversity of ideas and opinions.
Join Amanda at WaffleJS on Wednesday, July 6th for her talk titled “Thinking Inside the Box” at SOMA StrEat Food Park.
In pixel art, constraints are not compromises but are instead some of the most powerful tools that we can leverage. We’ll take a look at how constraints can help lead us to creative solutions to our next Big Problems.
Want to be a part of the amazing CrunchBase team? Check out our open jobs here.