Tell us about yourself
I was born in Mexico City and grew up mostly in Palo Alto, California. My dad started a software company (Palo Alto Software) so I started to learn to code when I was very young. I’ve never fit in any boxes very well, and the developer box didn’t suit me either.
My passion is contagious media and creating big pop culture, high traffic sites. I built Avaaz.org as their CTO and then joined HuffPost when it was a few months old. At HuffPost, I ran design, product, and engineering. We sold the company to AOL, and I ran those teams for all the AOL media properties for a year before starting RebelMouse.
RebelMouse is a technology company and creative agency, we are building the next generation CMS. We built The Dodo, Axios and United Airline’s Hub. The platform reaches over 50 million people a month powering media properties and brand content hubs.
How did you first get started in your career in tech?
I began coding as a hobby and a passion. I spent most of my life in the closet as a trans person where the only place I could express my true identity was online. So I fell in love with it and wanted to be part of building its future.
I got very lucky and have had a privileged life with the ability to start working for my father’s company and from there everything just happened by following people I really trusted and admire like Jonah Peretti, Ken Lerer, Eric Hippeau and more.
What are the most important skills in your current position? How did you develop these skills?
Empathy and creativity. I probably owe 80% of my success to being creative at night. I loved that in my teenage years and my 20s. Now as a mom of 4 I barely ever can stay up past 10, but enabling creativity on my team and being creative as a morning person has been vital. But none of it would be worth anything if I didn’t have a sense of empathy for the people who work with me. So few people see the person and just see the labor and it’s incredibly important to me.
Confidence in not doing things the way I’m told but inventing new ways to work. RebelMouse has no office. We’re 52 people in 26 countries and finding people who deserve opportunities nobody else is giving them has been perhaps the most important part of my success (which I did at Avaaz and HuffPost as well as RebelMouse).
Explaining tech to non techies in a way that excites them and that they can understand has been vital as well. There’s a stereotype of developers being anti social, not caring about product/design or revenue that I had to fight very hard to get where I am.
What are some resources that helped you in your journey in tech?
I don’t know why I’ve always been allergic to business/career books. I learned from liberal arts more than anything, and my graduate degree from NYU is at ITP which is a technology school in an arts school. So the most important books in my life have been written by Wallace Stevens, Rigoberta Menchu, Anne Patchet and more.
What difficulties did you face in your career? How did you overcome them?
RebelMouse is nearly 8 years old now. Three or four of those years were absolutely without any doubt the hardest of my career. I woke up every day with an impending sense of doom. We had a big sales team that drove me crazy. We had a huge burn rate--at our height of stupidity we were losing $800k/month. I would wake up and wonder how I could make it through the day.
I overcame this with the help of many people but probably I owe more to Katia Vereesen than anyone and her thoughts on abundant thinking. Katia told me about the Warren Buffet documentary where he said he made very key business decision based on his own personal happiness. I tried that, and wow, did it work. As my happiness came together our business started to grow in all the right ways. Now, happiness is the most important KPI in our company and the north star for all the key decisions we make. Not just my personal happiness of course, but the personal happiness of everyone in the team.
Looking back on your career, what advice do you wish someone had given you that would have helped accelerate your career?
Put happiness first. Everything, literally, everything follows that. Life is too short to lose years in anxiety and unnecessary suffering.
Thank you for sharing your story with us. How can we support you?
- We would love the word about RebelMouse to spread. If any of your readers are working on a high traffic or high value website, our solution is really awesome I promise.
- We are hiring developers, evangelists and technical account managers from all over the globe and encourage applications.
- We are building an ecosystem of partnerships so that others can make money by building on our platform instead of WordPress VIP/Drupal and custom CMS solutions. We empower smart developers and agencies to give more to their companies and clients.