Current position: Tech Yahoo, software engineer, principal, Flickr (www.flickr.com)
Career path: Willis held the title “captain of the ship” at LookFlow when the company was purchased by Yahoo! in October 2013. Currently, as part of the “vision team” at Flickr, he is helping to build software that will analyze images for the purpose of improved searching.
“It’s incredibly hard to do. I work with a group of incredibly smart people. I love it here.”
It’s a change from LookFlow, where the five-member team had office space on a 30-year-old converted cargo vessel floating on San Francisco Bay. During his two years with the company, Willis was responsible for web and API (application program interface) design and development.
His career has alternated between startups and large organizations; prior to LookFlow, Willis was a team leader at Rakuten, an international e-commerce company, from 2010 to 2012. His team was responsible for building a self-service advertising platform from scratch.
He was CTO and co-founder of Offbeat Guides. Prior to moving to the Bay Area in 2007, he was CTO and co-founder of RareEdge Design Group, an IT consulting firm he started while at RIT. He was lead developer at Van Damme Associates in Rochester for four years, and also taught several courses at RIT as an adjunct professor.
“I love the startups. But at a large company, resources are available. All we have to do is ask.”
On the Bay Area: “We love it. Everything you want is here.”
Remembering RIT: Shortly after arriving at RIT, Willis got a job creating websites, applications and designing the IT infrastructure for a Rochester company. He was able to pay for college while gaining valuable experience.
“It was fantastic.”