About Ryan Ashcraft

I am a southern boy living in the SF bay area. I grew up in Virginia and North Carolina, and went to college at Georgia Tech in Atlanta, GA. I'm currently a Software Engineer at Amplitude.

Me, 2000

My Tech Life Story

My interests in design and computer science started when I began making websites when I was 13 years old. It all started with wanting to customize my CSS on a little Apple tech blog I ran on Blogger. It quickly moved to wanting to run my own WordPress installation and helping my dad start a new online business.

I didn't realize it at the time, but working with my dad was a really educational experience in marketing, sales, and business. His business took off and we continued to iterate on the website design and sales aspects for many years. In addition to building websites, I dabbled in designing some print media for another company.

Even though I thoroughly enjoyed website design, I didn't feel like it was the direction I wanted to head for the long-term. Things changed when my school began offering AP Computer Science as an elective, and my advisor strongly encouraged me to take it.

I was instantly hooked. I found myself working nights and weekends tweaking my projects, finding new patterns and working through bugs. One of my first projects was a snake game, built as a Java applet that had a global high-score registry. It was such an inspiring feeling to see what I could make that others could enjoy. Even my peers at school were playing it and trying to get the high score.

The same year I took AP Computer Science, the iPhone App Store was really taking off. It seemed like anyone with coding ability to create an app and make some real money. I knew what I wanted to do that following summer – learn Objective-C and launch my own app.

That summer I spent days, nights, and weekends building my first app: Playing Cards. The concept was pretty simple: how can you make a virtual standard deck of cards, where you have the flexibility to play a bunch of different games. The app used the then-brand-new GameKit Bluetooth APIs and launched in 2009. Seeing my app on the App Store was one of the most thrilling things I've ever experienced.

Playing Cards did decently well in the App Store in terms of sales and reviews. The whole experience was a huge lesson in UI design, programming, and marketing.

After building Playing Cards it started to become clear to me that I should consider going down the track of studying Computer Science in college and becoming a software programmer for my career. After a lot of soul searching, I chose to go to Georgia Tech to do this.

At Georgia Tech I met my boyfriend, Tanner, who was also studying Computer Science. We shared a lot of the same interests and spent all our time together. We've been inseparable together ever since.

Tanner and I in Barcelona, 2012

Georgia Tech gave me so many great opportunities. I became active with the student newspaper, the Technique. I led a redesign of the website in 2013 and helped the paper attract advertisers with its media kit site. In 2013, I also studied abroad in Barcelona for the summer. Being immersed in Barcelona's culture was a truly amazing experience, and I still miss living there.

In 2013, I was thrilled to have been accepted for an internship at Apple. This was my dream internship. I worked on the Localization Tools team there, building tools to help PMs plan and organize localization tasks. Here I learned a lot about what it's like to work in Silicon Valley. I also honed in my design and technical skills. This also marked the beginning of my path to focusing on frontend engineering.

Apple name placard from my 2013 summer internship

I graduated from Georgia Tech in December 2013 with a BA in Computer Science. I was ready to move on – and my next move was to Sunnyvale to work at Yahoo. Yahoo was a very different experience from working at Apple. I was working inside a team that came out of one of Marissa's many acquisitions from that time, Rockmelt. So many things were different than working at Apple: an open office, free coffee and food, working on a consumer product, working with ads, etc. But most importantly was the team culture. At Apple I was mostly working by myself, but at Yahoo I really had to learn how to work well with others.

Marissa Mayer and I, 2014

Overall, Yahoo was a great experience. I learned so much and had a a really good time working with other talented people. But after a year, I was ready to move on.

One thing that was clear to me after working at Yahoo was that I needed to explore working at a startup. Through some connections I made at Yahoo, I discovered Amplitude, an early-stage analytics startup. To me it felt like a great match – Amplitude sat at the intersection of many of my interests.

At Amplitude I've had the opportunity to lead some of the technical direction on the frontend. The most significant one was migrating the entire frontend codebase from an Angular app to React. This migration had to be done over a long stretch of time, as we couldn't afford to stop everything and rewrite. It all came together in the end with the launch of Amplitude 2.0 in late 2016, which was a huge redesign of Amplitude. This was a huge effort across the engineering, design, and product teams and was really fun to be a part of.

Earlier this year, I open-sourced redux-query, a library I wrote at Amplitude for handling network requests and state for React/Redux applications.

I'm continuing to crank out features at Amplitude and working on driving the technical direction.

Amplitude engineering team, 2017

Other Interests

  • I'm not a serious gamer, but I do enjoy playing casually. I am a big Nintendo fanboy. I also have an Oculus Rift headset and am really excited about the future of VR.
  • I enjoy cooking sometimes. I mostly attribute this to Blue Apron, which for me was a fantastic way to learn how to cook. I especially like to make homemade pizza from scratch.
  • I ocasionally pick up my guitar and strum a few chords. I find it a nice way to de-stress sometimes.
  • Watching TV. Some of my all-time favorites are The Office, Shark Tank, Firefly, Lost, Fringe, Modern Family, Doctor Who, Torchwood, and pretty much all of HGTV.
  • Going on trips with my family. Last year I took part in a portion of their cross-country roadtrip.
  • Spending time with my boyfriend and our cat.