WWD Reader Profile: Larry Salibra, Founder, Attigo


WebWorkerDaily readers are a diverse bunch. Every week, I profile a different reader and ask them to share what they do, how they do it, and some of their favorite hints and tips.

Who are you and what do you do?

My name is Larry Salibra. I am a Chinese speaking Italian-American tech entrepreneur living in South China, where I run the company I co-founded. I invented and coded the first versions of Pay4Bugs and Attigo. In the early days, I wrote a lot of code, but now my daily duties are more focused on product and market development, working with our awesome development team in Guangzhou, interacting with customers, and establishing and documenting our internal processes so they can be delegated to new team members.

What’s a typical day like for you?

I wake up around 10 a.m., check email on my iPhone (s aapl) and then check in with my U.S.-based business partner, C.S. Hsia, to see what’s happened overnight via our internal XMPP chat. I then head out to lunch and on to the office. During my daily 15-minute walking commute, I check up on the night’s Twitter and Facebook activity on my iPhone while reading the latest news on Bloomberg’s iPhone app. I spend the afternoon working with our development and support team in Guangzhou, testing out their implementations of new features to make sure they feel right for the international market.  Usually, I leave work before dinner with time for a quick trip to the swimming pool. Most evenings, I spend time working on strategy and product design and working with customers and/or suppliers in the U.S. and Canada. I tweet throughout the day and blog when the urge arises.

What gear and software do you use, and why?

Web apps allow us to keep costs down and reduce the complexity in operating our mini-multinational business.

  • Pay4Bugs, our own pay-per-bug software testing site, lets us get quick user feedback from real humans on changes to our products. This is open to third parties for testing their own products.
  • Clarity Accounting and Freshbooks let us manage our accounting and invoicing in-house.
  • Google Apps (s goog) for email, calendar and document sharing.

A mix of operating systems keeps me in tune with latest on each platform. I use open source whenever possible because there’s no reason to spend money if there’s a free solution that works perfectly well. The open-source tools I use also free me from vendor lock-in:

  • Ubuntu 9.10 on the office computer, Snow Leopard on my MacBook Pro, Ubuntu 10.4 Beta on the home computer.
  • On Mac, Tunnelblick gets me through the Great Firewall of China, Adium keeps me in touch and IMKQIM replaces Apple’s poor Chinese input method.
  • On Ubuntu, I use Pidgin for chat and Banshee for tunes.
  • All machines have Netbeans for prototyping new features in Ruby on Rails and I make extensive use of the command line across all platforms. When Google Docs won’t suffice, we use OpenOffice to meet our needs.

My iPhone 3GS is always at my side. I make extensive use of iPhone Internet tethering over Bluetooth on China Unicom’s amazing 3G network. On the iPhone, EchoFon, Facebook, Bloomberg and Skype keep me connected. Blossom lets me share my SmugMug albums on the go, while the .977music app keeps me in touch with the latest U.S. music, despite living in the Orient.

What’s your favorite web working tip?

Don’t underestimate the power and value of a piece of paper and a pen.  I carry a small notebook and pen everywhere. A blank piece of paper makes for a faster planning and design tool than all the hardware and software that money can buy.  If you can’t come up with a good design or proposal that makes sense on a piece of paper, all the web apps in the world are not going to change that.

If you would like to be profiled on WWD, get in touch with me at simon (at) gigaom (dot) com.


Larry Salibra

@John If only I was important enough that the Public Security Bureau or Ministry of Information would watch me.

The superlatives related to China-based resources are a response to the large amounts of negative press regarding China.

In regards to Chinese employees, the press typically runs something like this. “They’re unreliable and untrustworthy.” “They don’t do a very good job.” “They don’t think outside the box.” All of which I have found untrue.

Of course, the ever present “They’re stealing our jobs,” that typically comes from unemployed people that aren’t really stand outs in their field is true if you hold that assumption that one person deserves a higher standard of living than another similarly qualified person simply on the basis of their country of citizenship or place of residence. Well paying jobs are not a birthright. You need to present a compelling value proposition.

The Unicom superlative is a response to the constant complaints about iPhone on AT&T one reads in US-based tech press. iPhone on Unicom is amazing. They built the world’s largest 3.5 HSPA WCDMA network over a period of months. Coverage is ubiquitous including indoor, in-elevator and underground coverage. In the Pearl River Delta (South China), sustained 4+ megabit real world download speeds are common with 2+ megabit common elsewhere in the country. Calls and data also work fine at 200+ kph on trains.

By the way, iPhone tethering works. Did I mention plans start at US$14/month (no tax, no contract) including 200+ nationwide, no roaming minutes, free incoming calls and 300 megabytes data transfer? And they let foreigners with nothing more than a passport set up monthly, post-paid accounts with no hassle. Try doing that in the States or most EU countries if you’re not a national or at least a resident.

Mike at White Flood

Great write-up! I’ve worked with Larry in the past, and he’s a phenomenal stand-up guy. I plan to meet up with him when I get overseas.

I’ve used Pay4Bugs on my websites. It works as advertised — The users find bugs and they find them quickly! Typically they find issues with spelling, the occasional broken link or missing image, or a CSS layout issue… but I’ll even occasionally get an SEO recommendation which is awesome too.

I highly encourage any developer who distributes applications or creates web pages to try P4B. You set your own price so it’s cheap, and Larry and the gang are ultra-quick with support responses.

John Pugh

New an interesting perspective from working overseas. I couldn’t help but notice his use of superlatives when referring to China-based resources (i.e. employees and Unicom). Is it because he believes someone may be watching?

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