You might not recognize the name Mapbox, but you’ve seen the company’s work in services from CNN, Snapchat, Instacart, and the Weather Channel. (You can also use it to make a pretty lock screen.) Eric Gundersen started Mapbox after building open source mapping tools for international development agencies like Doctors Without Borders. We talked to him about his mobile workspace—he recently replaced his laptop with an iPad—and about putting his whole team on GitHub.
Name: Eric Gundersen
Location: San Francisco, CA
Current Gig: CEO, Mapbox
One word that best describes how you work: Mobile
Current mobile device: iPhone X
Current computer: iPad Pro with a backup Macbook
What is your working process like?
I push people to solve root problems. I like teams to be highly collaborative. The best ideas come from diverse groups working side by side to solve truly complex issues.
Take us through a recent workday.
I started in the office reviewing data updates to our logistics and navigation product, did a fireside chat keynote at a software conference in the afternoon, and hosted the deputy mayor of DC at the office in the evening for a discussion on diversity and inclusion. That was a busy day.
What apps, gadgets, or tools can’t you live without?
Dropbox Paper has changed the way I think. It’s nearly perfect on an iPad taking off on a flight to Minsk, and I use it with my team to live-direct my day, from meetings to follow-ups and reminders.
What’s your workspace setup like?
My desk is a docking station for charging things. I mostly work around the office, embedding with a product team on a sprint, in a meeting with customers or recruits—or flying to do the same in DC or our offices across the world.
What’s your best shortcut or life hack?
Booking roundtrip tickets with a far-out return flight is often cheaper than one ways.
Take us through an interesting, unusual, or finicky process you have in place at work.
We run our communications on GitHub. Not just our engineers, but everyone. It is all those things, but there’s something special about loosely coupled open systems that allow us to scale fast.
How do you keep track of what you have to do?
I have a Dropbox Paper doc where my team and I list the most important things I need to focus on each day—I cross things off—they fill it up.
How do you recharge or take a break from work?
I traveled 300,000 miles last year but only missed one weekend at home with the boys. I love that we can make a beach day work in January in SF.
Is there anything else you’d like to add that might be interesting to readers and fans?
We started out consulting for NGOs like the World Bank, UN, Doctors Without Borders—I spend two cycles in Afghanistan helping the US State Department monitor election results. Where we were mapping, the maps were blank, so we had to get good at live mapping the world and visualizing complex data. Those experiences are in our DNA as a company and core to what makes our product great.
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