Our guest this week is Andres Galante, a Senior Engineering Manager at Hiro! Andres manages the user experience team at Hiro, ensuring that we deliver a best-in-class experience across the Hiro Wallet, the Stacks Explorer, and more.
Thanks for volunteering to be a guest on the Hiro’s Journey! Tell us a bit about yourself.
My name is Andres. I live in Buenos Aires, Argentina with my wife and 3 kids. I’m an Engineering Manager at Hiro, and I’ve been here for a year and a half. It’s been a tremendous ride so far—I joined the day after the launch of Stacks 2.0. Since then, I work hard everyday to make the people around me successful at whatever they want to accomplish.
How did you end up at Hiro?
I previously worked at a company in the identity space, and I really enjoyed working there. The people were fantastic, and the company had a great culture. But unfortunately there was no growth path for me there, so I started looking for something new.
At the time, I was interested in crypto, but not in it—I wasn’t even an investor. I came across a post on Linkedin from Thao-Nguyen, one of Hiro’s recruiters at the time, advertising a new job opening, and I dug into it. I ended up going down the rabbit hole and messaged her after, saying “I am the one you are looking for.” It turns out that I was right.
What are some of your favorite things about the team and our culture?
The best thing at Hiro is the people. Hiros tend to have a mixture of three things: they have lots of experience, they are highly capable, and they are extremely kind.
In terms of experience, our CEO was a General Manager at Stack Overflow, and our CTO was an Engineering Lead at Dropbox. What this means is that when Hiro makes decisions, they are grounded in experience. Sometimes you see small startups led by new entrepreneurs. They are super smart, but they make mistakes because that’s the only way to learn. Our leadership team has already gone through that.
I remember when the first big NFT mint happened on Stacks, and our API went crazy. We had performance problems, and everyone was trying to solve the issue. Our CTO Diwaker sent an email to the team on a Friday, acknowledging the problem and that it meant that we had traction. He told us to take the weekend to recharge and to come in on Monday with a fresh mind to tackle the challenge. Someone with less experience may have said, “let’s work on this through the weekend to find a solution.”
At Hiro, the team has that safety net and support. It’s an environment that supports us for the long run. We aren’t burning ourselves out in 2 months. We are here for the next 10 years.
In terms of capability, I’ve never worked with anyone who has a PhD in computer science, and we are surrounded by them here. Everyone on the team is bright and highly capable.
And in terms of kindness, I feel really welcome here. I am someone who knew nothing when I joined. Even today I ask stupid questions, and people are happy to answer me. Hiros are kind to me and to each other.
What are some of the projects you’ve been working on recently?
The UX team takes care of 3 things: the Hiro Wallet on desktop, its Web Wallet counterpart, and the Stacks Explorer. Any given project for my team is a matter of prioritization. How can we use our time and our people to make sure we can deliver the highest impact at any given point in time to help our users achieve their goals?
Right now we are focused on making sure the Hiro Wallet has Ledger support and arbitrary message signing. Looking to the future, I’m really excited about the possibilities of Bitcoin integrations. Allowing users to interact with Bitcoin through the Hiro Wallet could be a game-changer for the ecosystem.
What has been the biggest surprise since you joined?
It’s not really a surprise, but it was nice. When I interviewed at the company, I met almost the whole team because the company was so small. I accepted the job because of the people I was talking to. I knew I was joining a great team. The surprise was that the company was actually as good as I thought it was.
You know the phrase ‘the grass isn’t greener on the other side of the fence?’ It’s usually true, but it wasn’t in this case. After a year and a half I still enjoy working at this company, with these people, every single day.
What do you enjoy outside of work?
Most of the time, I am keeping my kids alive [laughing]. That’s my main job. I also play guitar and really enjoy traveling. I try to find any excuse to travel. Before the pandemic, I got really into public speaking mainly because it let me travel to different places around the world and speak at different conferences. I also love good food and spending time with my friends.
What’s the most important lesson you’ve learned in your career?
First, that you are as good as the people that surround you. That’s why it’s so important to be in an environment that has a high bar, that offers room to grow and the opportunity to learn from others. There is a saying in Spanish that goes “dime con quien andas y te diré quien eres,” which translates to “tell me who your friends are, and I'll tell you who you are.“
Second, that generosity goes a long way. There is room for everyone at the top, and the more generous you are with your knowledge to help everyone around you grow, the better off you’ll be.
I’m visiting Buenos Aires for the first time, and I’m only there for one day. What should I do?
You should probably eat. The food here is amazing. Argentineans are a mixture of Italians and Spanish. It’s a country of immigrants, and you have a mixture of two of the best culinary countries in the world, all in one place. You have to eat. You have to eat a lot. You might enjoy going to neighborhoods like Palermo or San Telmo. You will spend the whole day eating. Maybe ice cream, maybe asada, whatever you’re into.
What is your advice for someone contemplating a move to work in crypto full-time?
Just do it. It’s super early, it’s fun, it’s groundbreaking. You are going to be learning new things every day, and crypto is not as intimidating as you might think it is. It’s just a space full of really passionate people working on really interesting problems. Join us!