Inside Evernote: Kenny Byun

Posted by on 18 Feb 2015

Posted by on 18 Feb 2015

What is your role at Evernote?

My role at Evernote is to make the Evernote Android app the best tool for our users’ productivity.
As an Android engineer, that mostly involves writing a ton of code, but it also involves giving valuable feedback to the design and UX of the product.

What is your background?

I’m originally from South Korea and moved to the Bay Area about 12 years ago. I’ve always been passionate about building stuff. I was naturally attracted to programming as I got exposed to it through classes in high school, and ended up majoring in Computer Science at UC Berkeley.

I started my professional career at a company called Location Labs, which was recently acquired by AVG. I worked on both server-side Java and Android for 2 years before joining Evernote.

Who has been your biggest mentor?

My biggest mentors have been my coworkers here at Evernote; they continuously inspire me to be better.

Evernote Developer Kenny Byun

Evernote Developer Kenny Byun

Can you describe a few of the Evernote features you have worked on?

I’ve helped build many key features of our app, including “Skittles”. Skittles is a beautiful custom widget on our app used as the button in the home screen that lets you quickly create all kinds of notes. It’s the first thing users see and is prominently featured as one of our best design achievements. I’ve also built our split testing framework, which is used extensively to measure and improve core features of the app. Lastly, I’ve worked with R&D in building the Post-It Camera to help digitize your notes.

My biggest work so far has been revamping the client-side sync engine to work faster with the Evernote Business service. It involved delving deep into an incredibly complex codebase, understanding its architecture, and improving it to make it run even faster. Since then, I’ve been heavily involved in the back-end work of our app, which involves not just syncing a single user’s notes, but also the notes and notebooks that have been shared to or is shared by the user.

What are the big challenges?

The biggest challenge about working at Evernote is that the work I do affects more than 100 million users globally. It’s also the best part about working here, though.

What is the most satisfying part of your job?

Building something that millions of people love to use, that number is rapidly growing as well.
I also love working on beautifully designed products, which I get plenty here.

How do you use Evernote?

I use Evernote for everything. I use it to manage my task list at work, take notes about the books I read so I never lose the key insights I learned, clip articles from the web that I find useful, scan important documents such as mailing receipts and tax documents so I never lose them… I can go on and on.

If you could only use 3 adjectives to describe Evernote’s culture what would they be?

Open, passionate, fun

What is the best part about working for Evernote?

Hours are flexible, yet the work is high impact and fast paced. The impact of my work can be immediately seen since stats and analytics are open to everybody in the company. I can also see how the feature I’ve just built impacted core metrics like user retention. During all hands, Phil Libin also makes sure that we all know how we are doing as a company and what the immediate and long-term goals are.

The managers here care about your growth and actively give help and advice.

The team is open and encourages feedback. The feedback gets incorporated into the product, which overall, makes it a better one.

The food is awesome. I’ve had food at other companies, famous for their free food, but they can’t even compete with what we have here. We don’t get cafeteria sushi (i.e. stale California rolls). We get the real deal. I’m talking fresh nigiri, salmon, hamachi, even fatty tuna. Yum.

Coworkers man the espresso bar, they make fantastic espressos. We offer barista classes here to teach you the way of the barista, so you can volunteer too.

Every Tuesday and Thursday we have cookies and pastries delivered from a local bakery. On one Friday morning, we even had people come over to make crepes on campus.

Why did you choose to work for Evernote?

I was an active user that loved the product. I then heard about the growth potential from various people I know and decided to join.

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