At only 20 years old, Feross has already created a website visited by millions. His application entitled YouTube Instant was coded in just three hours. He's also been headhunted by Facebook and created his own music playlist-sharing website, the details of which he exclusively shares with us here.
Feross Aboukhadijeh, 20, is a computer science major in his junior year at Stanford University in the US. When he was only 19, he built an application called YouTube Instant [new window]. It only took him three hours of coding and gives users the ability to search YouTube videos instantly. The site went viral and he received one million visitors in ten days. Since then, it has continued to be immensely popular and in total the site has received 2,500,000 visitors. On the back of this, YouTube offered him a job but he had to turn it down as he had already committed to a project at Facebook. Here he tells S&YP what it's like to work at the social media site, his plans for the future and advises others to subscribe to his Cult of Done.
What did you work on at Facebook?
I was part of the team that worked on the new Facebook Groups [new window] product that was released a few months ago. We built Facebook Groups to help you share and chat with small groups of friends quickly and easily. You can send and receive messages from group members over email, on Facebook.com, or using your mobile phone. Facebook Groups is already becoming a fundamental aspect of the way people use Facebook to communicate with their friends.
What did you enjoy most about the experience?
My favourite part of working at Facebook is the fast pace at which the company moves. Facebook's engineering motto is "Move Fast and Break Things" and boy is it true. Facebook builds products in weeks that would take months to build at other companies. Facebook engineers are smart and self-motivated so it's really a great environment to work and learn. Facebook gives engineers plenty of freedom to be creative and work on stuff for the fun of it. My time at Facebook has been an unforgettable experience.
What is happening with YouTube Instant?
YouTube Instant is still online and as popular as ever. I'm planning to add a whole host of new improvements to the site over the coming months. YouTube Instant has the potential to really solve the video discovery problem. Every minute, more than a day's worth of video gets uploaded to YouTube. Right now, finding the good stuff is like finding a needle in a haystack. It's impossible. We need better video discovery tools and with a few tweaks, I believe YouTube Instant will solve this problem handily.
Do you have any other projects on the go and what are your plans after graduation?
I'm always working on several side projects all at the same time. In a few days, I will be announcing my latest creation, Instant FM [new window], the easiest way to share music playlists online. Instant FM fills a real gap in the music experience today, which is social sharing. I believe music listening should be a social activity; everything is better with friends. I believe Instant FM will be a real game-changer and can't wait to share it with the world in a few days!
Graduation is still far away. If I had to guess, I see myself starting a company or working at an innovative start-up in Palo Alto. I really enjoy working with small teams on impactful products that millions of users will use.
What advice do you have for other young software engineers who aspire to do something amazing in their careers?
If you have ideas, just start working on them. Don't think about it too much - just start! Sometimes it's easy to spend all your time thinking about stuff and putting off the most important step of building something cool: starting! So, just start. You can figure things out as you go. Also, I highly recommend reading the Cult of Done Manifesto [new window] and adopting this philosophy when building stuff.