Flipboard is, and always has been, one of my favorite iPad (and now iPhone) apps. It’s often imitated but never, ever duplicated. It’s not just a news reader, it’s an experience. Part of what I love is discovering new sites dug up by Flipboard’s curation team. The user experience and interface were game-changers and continue to be considered among the upper echelons in my book. The intermingling of social content in the “cover stories” section is beautifully, and smartly, done and adds that extra bit of flair and convenience needed to keep Flipboard from disappearing off my home screen. So, ya, I love Flipboard and I’m excited to give you a behind-the-scnenes peek at the company via this interview with Mia Quagliarello who heads up the aforementioned curation department at Flipboard. Enjoy!
If you could describe the essence of Flipboard’s culture in one word, what would that be? Explain.
Awesome. That’s probably our CEO’s favorite word and he usually utters it with so much passion that you can’t help but smile. It does describe Flipboard, though: the team, the experience of building something that people love, and this time and place we’re in right now in history, with so much innovation and ways for us to connect with each other.
Describe your favorite part of the office/campus.
I love how clean and minimalist everything is, with just touches of color—mostly “Flipboard red.” I like that the team here understands that the physical space has a big impact on morale and productivity. Employees seem proud to show off the modern office space, but also, the open, clutter-free environment helps to foster the creativity and collaboration that is so central to our culture.
How would you describe the best day you ever had at Flipboard? What made it so great?
The iPhone launch last December. It was a big moment for the company. We all stayed late into the evening to turn on the switch, monitor the service and follow user reactions and feedback. Todd, a product manager here, brought an airplane drink cart into the office, from which he served a signature Flipboard cocktail. There was all kinds of food and a chocolate fountain. There was a lot of excitement that night, especially for our engineers, who were dealing with huge demand. But it was amazing to be part of and experience.
Describe your workspace—what does your immediate (desk) and/or surrounding work area look like? Have you done anything to customize it?
Everything is white and everyone works on Apple computers, with iPads, iPhones and other devices close by. Our desks are big white tables, attached together to form islands that make it easy to just lean over and ask questions or collaborate. I haven’t really customized my space but that’s what I kind of like about it: there’s little clutter and it’s easy to be mobile.
How would you describe the quintessential Flipboard employee?
Smart and down-to-earth. I work with so many smart people that I am humbled every day. And not only does it feel like we have the best-in-class employees for their disciplines, but everyone is very nice and grounded.
Describe one unique/goofy/crazy/weird/quirky thing your team does for a little fun (such as office olympics, birthday celebrations, etc.)?
We have Beer O’Clock many Fridays, where we have beers and chips and people show others their ideas for new designs, technologies… Another thing is that we ring a gong during every major release. And we had a one-minute dance party on 11/11/11 and plan to do it again on 12/12/12.
If there was one thing you could describe to an outsider to make them feel like a Flipboard insider, what would that be?
Well, Flipboard makes Instagram photos look even more awesome (if that’s possible). So, I would tell the person to come to Palo Alto, snap a photo of a cool car from the front, and post it to Instagram using the #pacars hashtag. Then I would tell them to search for #pacars on Flipboard and flip through what has become a popular internal meme, full of cool cars that were spotted in Palo Alto, mainly by members of the Flipboard team.