Day 5: Xero, Twitter, Kiwi Landing Pad and Yelp
Written by Liam Ottley
Posted Mon, 19 Mar: Thu, 14 Jul: Wednesday 13th July: A late night and early start got me drinking coffee with my usual American breakfast: Scrambled eggs, bacon and a waffle (with a healthy portion of syrup).

I tried to be productive on the long drive into central SF, but passed out I'm my reclined chair after being hit by a wave of car sickness.

I found Xero to have a great Kiwi vibe to it, which made me feel at home and in a environment of learning. The people were nice, the building was nice and the vibe was nice (the food was too!). It was amazing to hear from a Palmerston North guy named Max, who didn't have the ideal environment early on, but he used his competitiveness to drive through school and go on to be working with Xero in their SF office. Main learnings here were that competitiveness can get you through tough times and times when you lack motivation.

Twitter to me felt different to many of the companies we have visited already. It is clear that Twitter is facing some issues lately, but they are working towards resolving these and once again becoming the global leader in the information and social industries. Bureaucracy seems to somewhat restrict some innovative ideas, with multiple different sectors influencing changes to the service because of thing like region and culture. Still a neat facility with great people. Main learning was that innovation is even more important for large companies than startups as they are at risk of losing all they have if they do not change, pivot and reassess.

Kiwi Landing Pad was much smaller and empty that I imagined it to be. However, Jason from BookTrack was in the building to talk to us. BookTrack is essentially a programme that knows where you are on a page, and plays a track of music or ambient sound to fit that scene, which increases reading comprehension and connection with the book. The amazing thing for me is that it is free for schools! I intend to bring it to Dilworth as a trail. Main learning was the effects such a small product can have on communities when generosity is shown.

Yelp, although not big in NZ, is huge in the US. Unique structure with nice interior design. Eat24, which was a 24 hour call room thing had a great work/play vibe with music, laughter and calls happening. Christian, who went on the 2014 SV trip organised a meeting for us with all other Kiwi employees. I found it very useful to talk to all of them about their paths to Yelp and what sort of study they did. Main learning was that getting into a US or UK college is not an impossible dream.

A quick Mexican dinner with Christian was delicious.

Catch you later,