Introducing Carter Rabasa, Developer Evangelist Bringing Twilio Back to Seattle

Hello, world.  My name is Carter Rabasa and I am your friendly neighborhood developer evangelist.  I live in Seattle which (not many people know this) also happens to be where Twilio was born.  I joined Twilio because I believe that being able to code is the new literacy.  Being able to code isn’t just about making a living as a developer, it’s about learning to think clearly, having more control of your life and being self-reliant.  Twilio is dedicated to opening up black boxes and democratizing access to tools and technology so that people can create amazing things.

Speaking of Black Boxes: HTML5

Prior to joining Twilio, I spent two years evangelizing HTML5 at Microsoft.  Many of the developers I talked to were super confused about what HTML5 was, what it was good for and which browsers supported it.  This sucked, because HTML5 is awesome.  As a Product Manager on the Internet Explorer team, I worked to help developers understand what HTML5 was and how they could use it to build applications on the web that felt just as rich and snappy as native applications.

One of my challenges was finding a creative way to capture their attention. My first crack at it was with the launch of an international HTML5 developer contest. In order to help developers make the leap from building forms to making games, I licensed original content from Hell Boy for them use, built how-to articles to get them started and connected with them directly at events.  The winner of the contest was this amazing kid from Hong Kong who had been a Flash developer and had never written a line of HTML5 prior.  We chatted following the contest, and it was such a cool thing to hear him describe this <ding> moment he had when he realized what he was capable of building using HTML5, and that his game would run on everything from a PC to an iPad to a Android Phone.

My other challenge was inspiring developers with HTML5 and getting them to stop thinking about web apps as low-fidelity versions of native applications. I tackled this by working with partners to build amazing examples of the capabilities of HTML5. One of my favorite projects was worldsbiggestpacman.com that allows anyone to build their own PAC-MAN maze. This app is currently clocking-in at over 77k user-generated interlocking mazes.

The capper to my time on the IE team was pure sweetness: I worked with the creators of the  iOS phenomenon Cut the Rope to bring their game to the web.  This was a serious litmus test for HTML5 and Javascript, given the the richness of the UI and the complexity of the math behind the scenes. It was awesome working with them to bring out the best of HTML5 and in the process create a tool for developers to help them with their HTML5 creations.

Kernels, Kick Balls and Clouds

I joined Microsoft in 2009, but I’ve been a hacking things together since the mid-90’s when I wrote a limited version of DOOM on my TI-85.  Who cares if you could only turn in 90 degree increments? It was awesome!  I embarked on my degree in Computer Science at the College of William and Mary, which introduced me to the joys of Linux and open source software.  I vividly remember the first time I edited some parts of the Linux kernel, re-compiled, re-started my machine and saw my changes live.  It was a magical moment, and I’ve been a supporter of the OSS community ever since.

In 2006 I took a break from making a living as a developer to start a small business: DCKickball.  I wore just about every hat you can imagine, but never stopped writing code.  The business grew to serve thousands of people in the DC Metro area and I even ended up meeting my wife!  She was one of my players and a total burner on the bases. The infrastructure for this offbeat venture was built on Ruby on Rails 1.0 and evolved into Commish, one of the first SaaS products for recreational sports leagues. After running the league for a few years I spent a couple of years down in Austin, Texas getting my MBA at the McCombs School of Business before moving up to Seattle to work for Microsoft.

Which brings us full circle.  Working for Twilio in Seattle is a dream job.  Seattle is such diverse city, there is every kind of company you can imagine: local businesses, massive technology firms, web startups, retail giants, bio-tech, the list goes on.  The developer community is amazing as well, with Meetups for just about every technology and programming language you can think of.  And as software continues to eat the world, developers are finding themselves with an increasingly interesting set of problems to solve and even more powerful tools like Twilio to solve them with. It’s an exciting time to learn how to code!

If you’ve got any questions, I’m easy to get in touch with:

I am beyond excited to see what new things you build with Twilio!