This summer, Vibhu Norby 06S joined MySpace as one of its newest senior software engineers.
For Division III, Norby created the program, Inboxmgr, to organize email inboxes. Working with Professor of Computer Science Lee Spector and Assistant Professor of Economics Omar Dahi, he designed the program and a business plan before graduation.
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"Originally, I was going to jump right out of Hampshire and try and launch a startup around it," he said during a recent chat. "But I really needed to move out to Silicon Valley and get a little more hands-on experience with other startups before I did that."
In Div III, he researched a program called Cc:Betty, a product similar to his own designed to "dramatically improve email," he said. After graduation, he was perusing some blogs and found that Cc:Betty had become Threadbox.
"So I reached out to the Threadbox team," Norby said. "I showed them my Div III work and they were really impressed and brought me on board."
Michael Cerda and Ben Dean founded Threadbox.com, based in Palo Alto, California. The program is a platform allowing people to email, instant message, share images and files, or even hold a conference call—all on the web. Every bit of shared data is organized and saved in accessible threads. Think of it as an office in cyberspace.
"One of our big innovations," Norby said, "was bringing an IM-like presence into those threads. It really felt like when you were on Threadbox, you were in a room with these people getting work done. Our four-person team was entirely virtual and we only used our own software to get things done."
The startup caught the attention of MySpace. In July 2010, MySpace acquired Threadbox and now Norby and his colleagues are working at the social networking site to integrate their "real-time platform into MySpace," he said.
Norby has a lot of ideas still percolating about Inboxmgr, which is currently in beta testing at his website, Inboxmgr.com.
"Hampshire grads have a huge advantage in the startup workplace. Startups require a lot of self-motivation and creativity," he said. Like Division III, "at startups you have one goal and you have to do whatever it takes to get there."