Day In The Life: Meet Giphy iOS Developer Stephen Sowole

Day In The Life: Meet Giphy iOS Developer Stephen Sowole

(Image: Yemi Adewumni)

This article originally appeared on The Well, Jopwell’s editorial hub. 

Stephen Sowole
Lead iOS Developer, Giphy
New York, NY
Twitter: @StephenSowole, @giphy

8:00am: Snooze through my alarm.

8:30am: Rise and shine. I rest my phone on the edge of the bathroom sink, next to my toothbrush, and play Apple Music’s hip-hop station in the background while I shower. I get dressed and catch up on a bunch of texts my little sister sent me while I was sleeping (she’s wrapping up final exams back home in London, so I’ve recently been waking up to updates on her studying and/or stress levels).

9:45am: Off to work. My choice of transportation depends on how late I’m running: A little late: I’ll hop on the F train. Really late: I take an Uber. But today I have time to enjoy the half-hour walk from the Lower East Side to Giphy headquarters in Tribeca. Around this time last year, I got off a plane right after my last exam at the University of Nottingham and saw New York for the first time. It still doesn’t get old. Growing up in the U.K., I’d heard amazing things about the tech scene in America, and the NYC atmosphere and energy that I experience walking to work each morning is exactly what I dreamed of: The skyscrapers, the bodegas, the liveliness, and so many different people.
10:15am: I set my bag down at my desk, chat with a few coworkers about the Warriors killing it in the NBA, and pop outside to grab breakfast. There are a ton of cool shops and cafés near the office, but I go for my usual: Two bagels and a strawberry lemonade from Pret a Manger. And as always, I get the same confused look when I order bagels without cream cheese. What can I say? I like them plain!

10:30am: I get started on some coding and put on my headphones. I like to listen to loud music, but I’m less picky about what kind. It’s whatever’s on the radio — usually some combo of pop, hip hop, and jazz.

11:00am: I meet with my manager Jillian (Giphy’s head of mobile product) and our engineering team to go through people’s priorities for the day. Jillian helps us break down what everyone’s focused on and what steps are needed to create different features. I mainly work on iOS-related products a.k.a. things that function on Apple devices. Giphy was founded in 2013, and when I joined last year, we were a team of around 25 people. The growth is really exciting, and at about 60 employees, we’re still relatively small, which means everyone has a lot of responsibility and you really get to shape the product as it’s being built. I love that part.

12:00pm: I order lunch on Seamless for delivery and make a move in an ongoing “GIF battle” I’m having with my sister (We text funny and/or relevant GIFs back and forth until one of us backs down). I wouldn’t say I’m a huge GIF user compared to some of my teammates and friends, but I’ll maybe send three or four a day. Trying to explain my job to my parents was definitely a fun one. I remember sending my mom a cat GIF for the first time, thinking she would probably judge me for the rest of my life. But she sent me back a really funny “OMG” GIF two minutes later — she totally gets it!

1:00pm: I eat at my desk while working on building out a couple new features for the next app update. We recently released Giphy Keys — our GIF keyboard for mobile, and now I’m working on the ability to share a GIF from the keyboard to the Snapchat app. We code on an Mac app called Xcode and use two languages — Objective-C and Swift — to write iOS apps. I’ve got Drake’s new album, “Views,” on repeat.

3:30pm: A feature I’m working on is getting to a presentable point, so I check in with the Giphy mobile team via Slack — our interoffice chat tool — to make sure everything’s on track and that our timeline reflects the latest progress. As an office, we’re Slacking with different departments at pretty much all times, and about 50 percent of messages contain at least one GIF. Our awesome editorial team also keep us in the loop about what’s trending outside of the office. They stay on top of pop culture and news and plan what GIFs to roll out. The presidential election has inspired some of their recent releases, and for the Oscars, they set up a partnership to roll out GIFs of the entire event on the platform in real time. It’s a lot of fun to see what they come up with.

5:00pm: Demo time! Once a week, the whole company convenes to hear a team present a project they’ve been working on. This is the time for people to introduce some of the amazing work they’ve done. We recently added the ability to log into your Giphy account on our mobile website, so our web engineering team showed that off. I’m reminded how talented my colleagues are.

6:30pm: After cranking on a bit more code, I clean up my desk, clearing papers and a few programming books and putting away my work laptop. Next up: Gym time. I walk over to Equinox (the membership is part of my package at Giphy) and take the opportunity to step away from work. It’s one of the few times I turn off all notifications on my phone. I do 40 minutes of boxing for cardio and then end with a few reps on the dumbbells.

8:00pm: I walk home and cook some spaghetti bolognese for dinner. I browse Snapchat, read Yahoo News Digest, and catch up with my three housemates before watching an episode of my new favorite cartoon, Bob’s Burgers, on Netflix. A roommate recommended it, and I appreciate how digestible and easy to watch it is. I’ve been avoiding shows like Game of Thrones that you really have to pay close attention to because I know I’ll get hooked and want to binge-watch the entire season.

10:00pm: I call it a night but not before reviewing my calendar for the next day and setting an early morning alarm.

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