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Houzzer Profile: Tom Karni, Android

Based in our Tel Aviv office, Tom works to ensure our Android community has the best possible mobile experience. When he’s not busy exercising his mind at work, you’ll likely find him building furniture in his workshop or outside growing hot peppers to flavor his favorite spicy dishes.

Did you always know you wanted to become a software engineer? Yes, but I didn’t know that’s what it was at the time. Growing up, I always tinkered with mobile devices, questioning why things worked in a certain way, and coming up with ideas to make them better. I went to school to become a communications system engineer, which put me in the right direction, but I’ve grown away from the communications aspect of my degree. About four years ago I realized I had always wanted to be a software engineer. I’m pretty lucky that the path I took led me to my dream job (even if I didn’t know this was what I wanted when I started out).

How did you hear about Houzz? I used Houzz as a great source of inspiration for home and furniture design long before I knew there was an office in Tel Aviv. When I found out that not only was there an office here, but that it housed the mobile division, it felt serendipitous!

How would you describe what you do at Houzz? I work with the Android team to provide our community of homeowners and home professionals with the best mobile technology and tools for Android devices. We connect with the iOS team to ensure there is consistency across platforms and use the latest APIs and frameworks to keep the app up-to-date with cutting edge technical features. We were humbled to hear that Google named the Houzz Android app as the overall best Android app of the year at the inaugural Google Play Awards last year.

What Houzz project are you most proud of? When I started at Houzz, bringing videos to the mobile platform was a major focus for me. We had seen how popular our videos were on the website and wanted to offer them in the app. It was challenging to create a video component that supports both old and new devices and is flexible enough to be used in a variety of displays like lists, popups and full screen. Our video component now uses the latest frameworks, plays smoothly across the app and can be easily integrated into new features.

What is it like working with people in varying time zones? It’s incredibly collaborative, so you’re brainstorming and getting feedback from teams all over the world. It makes for a very dynamic day, where everyone makes an effort to be responsive to teams in other time zones when something is needed urgently. And it does take a little patience in those moments when you’re really excited and want a response right away, but know that the person you’re emailing might be sleeping.

What do you like about working at Houzz? I think it’s amazing that Houzz has managed to hire such talented people, who are not only good at what they do professionally, but are also driven by personal passions and talents. We’re all really good friends, so it’s a very social office atmosphere, yet we also know how and when to be professional. There is a place for everyone at Houzz to have their ideas heard by their team. No one is left behind.

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