Reddit’s Nick Caldwell, 1 Of Few Black Executives In Silicon Valley Who Came Up Through Engineering
Reddit Inc’s vice president of engineering, Nick Caldwell, is one of the few black executives in Silicon Valley who came up through the engineering track.
“I’ve only met two others,” Caldwell said this month during a talk at the Black Enterprise Tech ConneXt Summit in San Francisco.
Reddit is the fourth most-visited website in the U.S., according to Alexa Internet, and Caldwell is responsible for helping build and operate it. Reddit is a site for social news aggregation, web content rating, and discussion.
When Caldwell talked about diversity in a recent blog, he quoted Steve Jobs. Jobs cuts straight to the heart of why diversity is important to Reddit, Caldwell said:
“The broader one’s understanding of the human experience, the better design we will have,” Jobs said.
For Caldwell, diversity is about community, but it’s also very much about product.
“We believe that everyone in the world should be able to find a home — a community — somewhere on our platform. But we aren’t there yet. If we’re being honest, Reddit is still a place that can feel unwelcoming and intimidating to users, new and old.
… Is it so hard to believe that organizations are also destined to ship products that are a reflection of their employees? … The thoughts, beliefs, and culture of an organization are ultimately expressed in the software it produces.”
Prior to joining Reddit, Caldwell had engineering leadership jobs at Microsoft, where he worked for 15 years in natural language processing, enterprise search, machine learning, in-memory databases, and business intelligence. His most significant role at Microsoft was as general manager for the Power BI, where he helped transform the company’s business intelligence suite by forming multiple new product teams according to San Francisco Engineering Leadership Community.
Caldwell earned a degree in computer science and electrical engineering from MIT, an MBA from U.C. Berkeley Haas, and he has 10 patents related to natural language processing. He’s an active participant in /dev/color, a nonprofit that works to maximize the impact of black software engineers. He’s the founder of Color Code: a scholarship fund dedicated to future leaders of color in tech fields.
As a child, Caldwell cut his computing teeth on a Tandy computer — one of the earliest PCs on the market. It was “basically a pocket calculator, by today’s terms,” he said. Memories of it are tied up with memories of spending time with his dad, Caldwell said at TechConneXt.
This is Caldwell’s journey from engineer to executive.