Interview with Makinde Adeagbo, Nigerian Software Engineer at Facebook
Makinde Adeagbo is one of Facebook’s software engineers who has worked at various parts of the Facebook stack on projects including search, new user orientation, photos, performance, events, and client software.
In this interview, Makinde believes that mobile is the “next big thing”, but gives no indications whatsoever whether Facebook has specific products planned for the African mobile market.
Loy Okezie: First, a little bit about you and your background?
Makinde Adeagbo: As my profile and website suggest, I was born in Nigeria and moved to the states as a child. Engineering was always an interest, and I settled on Computer Science in college. I received a BS from MIT in the fall of ’07 and started at Facebook shortly thereafter.
Loy Okezie: Why do you work at Facebook? What’s your proudest moment at Facebook?
Makinde Adeagbo: I mainly work within the product team at Facebook, and over the years, I have touched almost all of our user facing products (Photos, Events, Groups, User Profiles …). My proudest moment came near the end of 2009. The 6-member site speed team (of which I was a member) announced that we had reached our year end goal of making the site load twice as fast worldwide. We reached the goal with about 8 days to spare in December, so it was really close. A lot of hard work from a lot of teams came together to make it happen.
Loy Okezie: What difference have you made as one out of over 1,700 Facebook employees?
Makinde Adeagbo: In my first week, my manager told me that an aspect of profile rendering was too slow. If we didn’t improve the speed, the site would go down within the next week. He asked me to fix it. There are many items like that one, where there was a pressing challenge of vital importance.
Loy Okezie: What particular product insights have you gained from your experience at Facebook?
Makinde Adeagbo: People will use your product in ways you can’t imagine. Many users change their phone number and invite all their friends to an event titled, “My new number is (502) XXX-XXXX.” Despite many warnings we have added against this, users continue to do it. It is important to take note of these use cases, as users are showing you a real need that they have … and you can probably address it.
Loy Okezie: From my investigations, there are close to 20 million Africans on Facebook. Does Facebook have any specific planned products for Africa?
Makinde Adeagbo: I am not aware of any. The company’s approach thus far has been to translate the site into the languages of the world. To this point we have not done much true localization, customizing the size for particular regions.
Loy Okezie: Nigerian President, Goodluck Jonathan joined Facebook in June this year and is currently the most popular African leader on Facebook. What are your thoughts?
Makinde Adeagbo: Nigeria is the 8th most populous nation in the world
Loy Okezie: Are you planning on returning to Nigeria? What could motivate you to work for a Nigerian company?
Makinde Adeagbo: I don’t have any plans at this time, but I wouldn’t rule it out. I do have relatives in Nigeria who are very much into web development.
There is certainly going to be a huge market in Nigeria, as internet access reaches more and more people.
Loy Okezie: What do you see as the “next big thing” – a technology or trend – that will change the web?
Makinde Adeagbo: Mobile. While the approach to this in the United States is perhaps different from emerging countries, mobile will transform the ways that many things are done. Low cost, connected devices will provide a base for a lot of innovation.
Loy Okezie: Who are your role models?
Makinde Adeagbo: There were a few teachers in high school that always encouraged me to reach as high as I could. At some point in school I assumed that I had no chance of getting into MIT. Those teachers saw potential and got me to give anything a shot. That’s when I learned that you should never limit yourself. If a school or job wants to reject you, let them do it. No need to limit yourself beforehand.
Loy Okezie: Any final thoughts?
Makinde Adeagbo: Working on consumer internet products for the last few years has really been a special experience. We are in the midst of a significant change in how people interact with the web and one another. I’m humbled by the chance to be a tiny part of that.
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