Intridea Insider: Ping Yu

It’s a typical love story. Boy becomes a developer. Boy meets Java. Boy spends years with Java in what he believes to be a righteous and dignified relationship. He hears whispers of a better language from far away lands, and her name is Ruby. Of course, the loyal and virtuous developer dismisses the rumors as unscrupulous stories, and he clings tightly to his superior languages and the comfort they bring him. But like all truly good languages, Ruby finds her way to the developer’s heart, and she makes herself at home.

This week in the Intridea Insider, meet Ping Yu, Director of Asian Operations at Intridea, former Java and C++ developer, and veteran Ruby and Ruby on Rails evangelist.

Ping received a Master’s degree in Computer Science from the University of Maryland, and another Master’s degree in Electrical Engineering from The Catholic University of America. He spent his undergraduate time studying Computer Science from a prestigious university in China, where he grew up. “A lot of my friends were applying to graduate schools in the United States. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but I decided to go along with it and apply too.” After finishing his degree programs in the states, he joined a Maryland fiber optical company during its startup phase, doing Java, C++ and a lot of J2EE. After surviving a tough round of layoffs, he moved to a network security company, hacking linux kernel.

When Ping started college in China, he dreamed of being an architect, but a degree in Architecture was not in the cards: “You know, in China things are different. You have to get into the hottest field, and the hottest field isn’t necessarily the one you like.” Although Ping was exceptionally talented in programming and did well in his CS program, he always felt like he had to force himself to program.

His experience at graduate school in the states was more positive and helped to shape his love for programming; when he met Dave Naffis and Pradeep Elankumaran of Intridea years later, he was enticed to learn Ruby. “Dave and Pradeep loved Ruby. But when I picked up Ruby for the first time I did not like it, since I was so used to Java and C++. Ruby was too tricky for me, especially Rails.” His first encounter with Ruby wasn’t love at first sight, but the fling continued. “But once I understood the language and the problems it was trying to solve, I was in love. Now I can never go back to Java or C++. The languages put too much useless burden on the programmer. They are not as fun to work with as Ruby.”

Ping came on board with Intridea during our infancy. He was employee #4, and has been part of the vision and culture of our company from the beginning. He has helped to grow Intridea from a group of four guys working at their dining room tables, to a company of 40+ Ruby and Rails developers and designers that span continents and multiple time zones. His work as Director of Asian Operations aims to bridge our Asian team of Rubyists with our centralized team in the states. “I believe in helping to extend Intridea into China. There is so much talent in China, it feels like a natural thing to do. Intridea has a culture of quality, and I want to bring that to these developers. They love Ruby, and they have so much energy.”

Although Ping spent several years living in the MD/DC area, he now lives with his lovely wife, Maggie, in Minneapolis. He met Maggie in grad school, and she later went on to Georgetown Law School before becoming an attorney and accepting a job in Minnesota. They share their home with their beloved golden doodle, Jojo (a golden retriever and poodle mix). He prefers the warmth of the DC area to the numbing temperatures and tempestuous winters of Minneapolis, and mentions that he hopes to move back in the next few years.

Ping doesn’t feel any loss over his break-up with Java or C++. A lot of his friends are still using Java and C++ though, so I asked if he gets into language wars with them, and he answered with distinct clarity: “There is no need to argue. They know Ruby is better.” Joining Intridea and learning Ruby sparked his passion for programming, and he is confident in the decisions he has made. “The the thing that matters is whether you choose life or life chooses you. I am glad I chose Intridea.”