Hey there! My name is Carter Rabasa, and I recently joined Courier as their Head of Developer Relations. I’ve spent the last few weeks meeting folks inside the company, so it felt appropriate now to say hello 👋 to the Courier developer community!
If you’re not familiar with Developer Relations (or DevRel for short) our role is to be an interface between the engineers inside the company who are building the platform and the developer community that are building on it. This can mean a bunch of different things, everything from providing input on API specs to channeling feedback from developers to supporting community events to writing technical guides.
But all of these things boil down to one thing: serving developers. Let’s dig into how I got into service and why I have the best job in the world.
I wrote my first program in 1993 on a TI-85 graphing calculator. I was obsessed with a PC game called Doom, and I wanted to see if I could recreate something similar on this calculator. I built a program that had maps, weapons you could pick up and a couple of neat animations. I was hooked on programming forever.
I kept coding through college and graduated with a Computer Science degree. My first job out of school in 2000 was as a web developer for an agency that built custom apps for businesses. One of the coolest projects I worked on was the first SMS application to be featured during a Super Bowl broadcast. Viewers could text in to vote for their MVP of Super Bowl XXXVI, and me and the other engineers sat right next to the web server keeping one eye on the game and one eye on the error logs.
After a few years of working as an engineer, a funny thing happened: I wasn’t happy. As much as I loved programming, I wasn’t fulfilled and I felt like I wanted to do more. I wasn’t sure what “more” was, but I took a break from tech and moved to Austin, TX to pursue an MBA. After I graduated in 2009, I accepted a job at Microsoft which brought me to Seattle, WA where I live now.
At Microsoft I worked in Product Marketing with a focus on developers. I was on the marketing team responsible for launching Internet Explorer 9, Microsoft’s answer to the momentum of Firefox and Chrome. As part of the launch, I ran a world-wide contest to see what developers could build using HTML5. We officially launched the browser to users and developers at a huge event at SXSW.
But a funny thing happened: I still wasn’t happy. As much as I enjoyed my time at Microsoft, something was still missing. I knew I was ready to leave and was intrigued by a startup in the Bay Area called Twilio that was hiring for developer relations. I didn’t have much experience with DevRel, but it sounded like a blend of technical and non-technical work, so I decided to take the leap.
I joined Twilio in 2012, just as the cloud and API revolutions were kicking off. Twilio built its entire product and strategy around focusing on individual developers. Twilio believed in putting the power of SMS and voice into simple APIs and empowering developers to build the future of communications. On the DevRel team, we came to realize that the best way to empower developers was to serve them.
When you adopt a mindset of service, you become better at listening which can often teach you surprising things. During my time at Twilio, I learned that the Pacific Northwest didn’t have a good regional conference for web and JS developers. With Twilio’s support, I started the CascadiaJS conference, which has now been serving our community for the last 10 years.
I also learned that while Twilio was built for web developers, sometimes they didn't want to deal with the devops involved in standing up and monitoring their own servers. So after moving over to Product, I led a team that shipped Twilio's first serverless tools.
After 6 years of serving developers at Twilio, I took some time off. When it came time to decide what was next, a funny thing happened: I knew right away I wanted to stay in DevRel. As I looked back on my career, it was clear that I felt the most fulfilled and did my best work when I was working in service of developers and helping them be successful in their pursuits. When you treat developers not as a means to an end, but as an end in and of themselves, it’s just amazing to see what they can do. I had finally found my calling, and it felt great.
I joined Courier because I saw a company that had a vision for building the next generation of communications APIs and cared deeply about empowering engineers and engineering teams to build amazing products. When I found out that the founder and CEO was a core contributor to Express.js and liked to hack on CLIs for fun, I knew I was in the right place.
I couldn’t be more excited to be at Courier and to be leading our DevRel team. I’ve spent the last month getting to know the product and the people who ship it, and now I’m stoked to meet the developers who are building on it. If you’d like to reach out to me to talk about Courier, web development, JS conference and anything else, you can find me at:
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