News

Events May 29, 2013

The Hackers Behind Greylock’s Hackfest: Ritik M.

Ritik Malhorta Discusses His Career to Date

In our 4th installment of the Hackers Behind Greylock’s Hackfest, we chat with Ritik Malhotra: a 2012 Thiel Fellow, Class of ‘14 studying Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at UC Berkeley, previously a Software Engineer for Twitter and now working at a Y-Combinator backed start-up.

Ritik

 

Ritik chats to us about his early entrepreneurial drive including leveraging his tech skills to flip websites in Middle School (that’s one way to earn your lunch money!) to his strategy for this year’s Greylock Hackfest.

What was the first project you ever built?

When I was eight years old, I built a website on everything related to Dragonball Z. I was interested in the content itself, so the site was full of great material — character profiles, power level comparisons, storyline comments, and more — but my web development skills were severely lacking. The site had no pagination so it was one gigantic page with the scroll bar less than a centimeter in height, I had no idea what Javascript was so the entire site was static, and it contained the usual marquee-scrolling text with flashy colors inserted for no apparent reason (the year was 2000, what else do you expect?).

In middle school, I went on to try my hand at making some money online — I built a lot of flash-based game websites (that I ran and flipped online for some cash), ran a web hosting business, and started a web forum that received 6 million hits in less than a year (made money off ads).

I’m now working on a YCombinator-backed, seed-funded company.

What tech or language are you are most excited about it & why?

Meteor.js. I’ve been using it even before its public launch, and 100% agree with all the public reports that rave about Meteor. It takes care of a lot of the regular plumbing that developers originally have to build out on their own when making single-page, real-time, or even just regular database-driven apps. Meteor automatically handles efficient data synchronization between connected clients and the server (no more manual XHR requests to send data back and forth), easily manages separating the web application into different templates and makes template switching easy (for the single-page, no-reload app feel), provides live page updates (no need to write boilerplate to modify the DOM every time new data arrives), and more. It’s easy to pick up and especially great for hackathons — I encourage everyone to try it out at some point — maybe even at the Greylock Hackfest.

Who have you been most inspired by in technology?

Bill Gates. He’s one of many great examples of how a heavy technologist learned his way through business and made a great technology product viable and ready for the mass market.

What would be surprising to your friends to learn about you?

I love playing basketball, played on the school teams in middle school and for a year in high school, and continue to play every Friday at Stanford!

How did you first become aware of Greylock Hackfest?

I went to it last year, and originally heard about it through Hackers@Berkeley (http://hackersatberkeley.com).

What was your project that qualified you for Greylock Hackfest?

It was a peer-to-peer file sharing network built completely in the browser called LiMEWiRE.JS, which I built and presented at The Cal vs. Stanford Big Hack earlier this year. LiMEWiRE.JS was built with a variety of technologies, including Meteor.js for the single-page web application, WebRTC DataChannel for the in-browser peer-to-peer connectivity, and the HTML5 FileSystem API and IndexedDB to manage user file libraries. Unfortunately WebRTC DataChannel isn’t at a fully stable state and only certain builds of browsers have it working properly (even then, their implementations are different from one another), so it needs a few more months before everything works seamlessly.

What are you most looking forward to at Greylock Hackfest?

Working on something cool with friends. The best hackathons are the ones where you’re not gunning for a win, but rather are just there to have a good time working on something fun with your friends. Oftentimes, those (unexpectedly) end up to be the winning projects!