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Meet the Trulian: Matt Kaye

A Series to Connect You to the Trulians Behind the Magic

This Meet the Trulian features Matt KayeSr. Manager of the Growth & Engagement Product Team at Trulia. Matt began his career in book publishing before joining Trulia in 2016. Read on to learn more about him. 

What’s your role at Trulia?
I’m the senior manager of Trulia’s Growth & Engagement product team. We build product experiences that help buyers and renters discover a place they’ll love to live. Over the past year I’ve helped with redesigning the agent lead form and supporting our property detail page redesign, among other things. We have a lot coming up in 2018 that I’m excited about too, so stay tuned for more!

What inspired you to get into your role?
I love solving challenging, important problems for real people and my role at Trulia is full of them – how do we help a new buyer or renter start their search with confidence? How do we surface the right homes, neighborhoods, and tools at the right time and in the right way so we can make the process of finding and buying or renting a place simpler, and maybe even a little magical? If we do this well, we’ll be making a real and positive impact on people’s lives. That’s what keeps me inspired.

What was your dream job growing up and why?
As a little, little kid, I had a few dream jobs – roller coaster designer, video game designer, or writer – all variations on building the stuff I loved. As I grew up, I became more and more passionate about books and realized I hated writing. That pushed me into the first phase of my career, book publishing. I’ve had many detours since then but always find joy in building stuff that matters.

If you could have drinks with one tech luminary – dead or alive – whom would it be and why? And, what would your first question be?
Johannes Gutenberg, the inventor of the printing press. When I think of more modern luminaries, I feel like I can somewhat predict the conversation – their lives and opinions are chronicled in such detail. Gutenberg changed the world as we know it with the introduction of mechanical type printing, forever impacting the way knowledge is spread. I would love to know what impact he thought he might have at the time of his invention, and I would be interested to hear how he would feel about how content is transmitted today. What would amaze him? What would terrify him? What ideas would he have on where to go from here? Could he have ever predicted the future he set in motion?

What’s the one gadget or personal tech item you cannot live without and why?
This feels like a silly answer, but I can’t live without my phone. It has made me accustomed to instant gratification – all communication, connections, information and content at my fingertips anytime I want it. I feel itchy without it, even if the reality is that my phone probably makes me feel more anxious, distracted and disconnected than my pre-phone life.

What was the last movie you saw or book you read and what – if anything – would you change about the ending?
I just finished “My Absolute Darling” by Gabriel Tallent. It’s a novel about a 14-year-old girl in horrible, nearly feral, circumstances and everything she does to survive amidst all of it. She’s an indelible, powerful and wild character, and I wanted an ending as triumphant and surprising as her. Instead, the ending was a bit timid. She deserved better.

What’s your proudest accomplishment and why?
I am most proud of the work I did to help publish unknown authors in my former role at Inkshares, a seed-stage start-up that aimed to be “Kickstarter meets Random House.” Our goal was to have readers pick the books we published, not editors. One moment makes me feel especially proud. After months and months of work – analyzing and simplifying user flows, launching new features, failing fast, iterating constantly, and enduring the anxiety of chronic instability – we had one of our first major wins. A first-time author, Katie McKenna, had been rejected by every major publisher for her memoir “How to Get Run Over by a Truck,” a funny and heart-breaking account of surviving a bicycle accident that should have killed her and her long road to recovery. She put her book on Inkshares and everything we had worked so hard to build resulted in something better than we ever imagined. Katie’s book went viral and hit its publishing  goal in three days. She called me the moment it was funded and said, through tears, “I’m so happy I lived.” To this day, it gives me goosebumps to remember that call, and it reminds me that the work we all do in meetings and in front of our computers isn’t abstract. It produces something real, and it can change lives.

If you could master one talent or skill that you don’t have now what would it be and why?
Coding. Years ago, I took classes and enjoyed it, but then abandoned it for other pursuits. It still feels like magic to me. It’s why I love working with engineers and having that skill would likely make me more effective in my role.

If you could have one superpower what would it be and why?
Stopping time. Time is the biggest constraint I have. It goes too fast. It prevents me from learning all I want to, taking time to relax and recharge, connecting with the important people in my life, and building and contributing at the scale of my ambition. It would be incredible to press pause and take all the time I need to do whatever I want.

If you could time travel, would you go into the future or past and why?
Can I preview the future to find out if it’s a flaming hellscape before I decide? Assuming it’s not, I’d probably choose to time travel to the future. Part of why I love reading is because it’s already a form of time travel. You can get in the heads of people who lived centuries before you and get a feel for what life was like, what’s different about how they viewed the world, and what stays the same across time and borders. I can be impatient, so time traveling to the future appeals to the part of myself that wants to flip forward in a book to see how everything turns out.