Something about working for a company called ExtraHop just begs the question: Do you like beer?
The Seattle-based IT analytics company may not have anything to do with brewing, but it does have beer on tap at its offices and technical marketing engineer Ryan Corder is a hop head on the side.
Corder, who is GeekWire’s latest Geek of the Week, has been at the company for three years, after first moving to Seattle for a job at F5 Networks in 2007. He said a lot of the breweries in town that are now considered “the best of the best” hadn’t even gotten started then. But they have certainly influenced him since, as he started home brewing about five years ago.
“I like to make things (and beer is a pretty great thing to make), and I wanted to be a part of the growing beer community here,” Corder said.
That crafty spirit is well in line for a guy who says he was born during an ice storm, driven home in a soft-doored Jeep to a house with no power and grew up around the National Forest in Arkansas with a love of the outdoors and backpacking.
He got his first real tech job at a startup and from there did sysadmin work at companies both big and large. At ExtraHop, it’s the people that are worth raising a glass to, Corder said.
“I mean, sure, our technology is amazing, but the culture that we have built at this company is second to none. There are virtually no egos, everyone works extremely hard, and we all know how to have a good time,” Corder said. “It is very refreshing to work at a place where it is obvious that we are all excited about what we are doing and working toward making ExtraHop as successful as possible. It may sound clichè, but it is the honest truth.”
As for what’s brewing on the side, Corder told us he currently has a cider, bourbon barrel-aged oatmeal stout and a wee heavy kegged and serving. He’s also got a Kölsch on the way for his neighborhood’s summer solstice party, a Märzen coming for Oktoberfest season and a “hazy New England-style IPA fermenting away that I brewed last weekend.”
Now we’re thirsty. Learn more about this week’s Geek of the Week, Ryan Corder:
What do you do, and why do you do it? “I’m a Principal Technical Marketing Engineer (TME). Essentially, my job is to showcase the product and demonstrate what the platform is capable of. In a way, ExtraHop is like iOS, and the TME team is like the app store. We build our version of apps (called ‘bundles’), customers do the same, and we work together to make the platform as effective and useful as possible. Working with the field, acting as a cheerleader, and engaging with the community is incredibly rewarding, and it’s a pivotal part of making a better product.”
What’s the single most important thing people should know about your field? “Almost always, people see marketing in my title and assume that our team is not a team of ‘real engineers.’ But we all come from strong engineer backgrounds, from disparate parts of IT — everything from sysadmin to IT ops to infrastructure building. This offers a wealth of experience, so we can approach any topic from five or six different perspectives.”
Where do you find your inspiration? “The outdoors. At least once a year, I disappear on a backpacking trip to recharge and reassess, and I always come back more motivated and more driven. I love being able to take a step back and escape the noise. Which is probably why, every Christmas, I take a train trip across the country, from Seattle to Chicago. All said and done, it takes 48 hours (used to be 57, so they’re making progress!). But there’s something about rolling across the tracks at night, seeing the oilfields glow, and getting away from the hustle and bustle.”
What’s the one piece of technology you couldn’t live without, and why? “I’d have to say radio. People forget about the radio, but there’s so much there! Everyone is constantly trying to stream stuff (which I do too), but you can’t go wrong with some KEXP.”
What’s your workspace like, and why does it work for you? “I tend to keep my desk very clean. I don’t like fluorescent lights, so I have three lamps and always keep the overhead off. I also have a speaker that I quietly play music on (with my officemate’s consent, of course!).”
Your best tip or trick for managing everyday work and life. (Help us out, we need it.) “I once had a job where I had to be on call, and it was a real turning point for me. One night, we had a large data center migration happening, and my pager was going off every 30 seconds in the middle of the night. I realized at that point in time that there’s no paycheck worth that. Ever since then, my mantra has been: When you leave work, you leave work. Obviously, that’s not always possible, but I try to live by that as much as I can, and it allows me to clear my head and have greater work-life balance.”
Mac, Windows or Linux? “Linux.”
Kirk, Picard, or Janeway? “Sisko. ‘Deep Space Nine’ was highly underrated.”
Transporter, Time Machine or Cloak of Invisibility? “Transporter.”
If someone gave me $1 million to launch a startup, I would … “I’d open up my own brew pub.”
I once waited in line for … “This is slightly embarrassing now, but I stood in line for the original Wii. It was a freezing day in Arkansas, and by the time the sun came up, my breath had frozen to my moustache. I also recently stood in line to receive a ticket, for a random drawing, for the opportunity to buy an actual ticket for a dinner at my favorite brewery. I’ve tried this for 4 years now and finally won, but of course the dinner is on a day that I cannot attend.”
Your role models: “My family, but especially my parents: Through thick and thin, they got me here and I think I turned out alright. Everyone was ‘blue collar’ and worked extremely hard. Being, essentially, the first ‘white collar’ worker in the family, I hopefully bring in that hard-working mentality that I learned from them.
“My old Scoutmaster: I spent all my boyhood being a Boy Scout, which is where I learned how to lead by example and take responsibility for my actions. Amazingly, my Scoutmaster actually called me up a couple of years ago to do a 100 mile trip in the Rockies of New Mexico. He was 83 at the time, a veteran of the Korean War, and he kept up the whole way. I’d be lucky to be like him when I’m that age.
“Finally, I’d say Ryan Giggs and Zach Scott: Both were my favorite soccer players and examples of ‘one-club men.’ That kind of loyalty is exceedingly rare.”
Greatest game in History: “‘Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past’ — for Super Nintendo. It’s a classic.”
Best gadget ever: “A leatherman, though you still need a dedicated knife if you are going to ‘get lost’ for a while.”
First computer: A Tandy 3100, with a 80486SX 33Mhz processor and no sound.
Current phone: “Nexus 5X.”
Favorite app: “Untappd (do you sense a theme?)”
Favorite cause: “I really like the the PCC Farmland Trust, which raises money to dedicate certain chunks of farmland for organic and sustainable farming. I’ve also been a long-time supporter of the Electronic Frontier Foundation. Without them, we wouldn’t enjoy what little control we do have over our data and the technology we use everyday.”
Most important technology of 2016: “Honestly, a lot of new tech seems a bit superfluous. Bigger phones, faster processors. It is pretty standard for technology to just be revisions of the previous generation with little innovation. That said, all of the reusable rocket technology being developed is really exciting. I’ve always been a space geek (I even taught Astronomy merit badge in Boy Scouts).”
Most important technology of 2018: “I’d guess something IoT-related in the industrial or healthcare sectors, involving sensors or monitoring. For example, IoT apps in farming that can sense the amount of water being used. Or in healthcare, being able to better collect and monitor people’s vitals and the amount of meds they’ve been given. Innovations like that could have incredible impact.”
Final words of advice for your fellow geeks: “Find something non-tech related you like to do, and keep doing it. When your hobby becomes your job, it stops being interesting. So I think it’s essential to find things outside of work that you’re passionate about, and embrace them.”