This is a part of a series of posts introducing team Iggy. Meet Tucker Wash, product engineer!
Talk to me about your background - how did you get here?
I guess I’ll start with college. I thought I wanted to be an engineer for a Formula One team (kind of ridiculous in retrospect), so at the time I majored in mechanical engineering. Long story short, I was programming every night instead of doing my mechanical engineering homework, so I eventually decided to leave to find a job building software.
I got my first internship at a real estate company. I did a lot of data migration work that saved their accountants a ton of people-hours. Then I worked in a computer vision lab for a while, helping the grad students translate their AI models from MATLAB to C++ so they could take their ideas from simulation to physical robots.
Eventually I got a job as a salaried engineer at a real estate site called homes.com. I worked on the backend, mostly focused on ad delivery systems. It was an awesome experience and I have some friends for the rest of my life from my time there. After that I worked at a product agency based in Richmond, VA called Mobelux. That was a really interesting experience because I got to work on a variety of different projects in different languages.
In 2020 I joined Hopin during the middle of the pandemic. At the time, the org was less than 100 people. I think I was hire number 76? I saw the organization grow to over a thousand people in less than 18 months, which was a wild ride. I started on the payments team, building out features to expand our subscription offerings and eventually built a bunch of internal tools for support and content moderation.
Last spring, I was introduced to Lindsay through a mutual investor in Hopin, and the rest is history!
Looking back, I’ve always been drawn to maps and navigation. When I was a kid I would help my parents navigate road trips (before GPS, so with a physical map), and when Google Earth was released I remember spending my spare time in the school’s computer lab exploring the world. These days I spend a lot of time with maps to plan trips and find new trail running routes. I think that’s why building software at Iggy – and specifically building products that bring context to the world we live in – resonated so well with me. The take-home project was legitimately fun to do, and the team here is so talented and friendly! Joining was a no-brainer for me.
Without using complete sentences, can you describe what’s going on in your life at the moment?
Searching for a new house and techno music
Quality time with loved ones
If you could choose a career besides the one you have now, what would it be?
I really love making and fixing things. I probably picked that up from my Dad, he was a radar engineer and loves to tinker. So I would probably be a machinist or mechanical engineer. Maybe both? I’d love to open a workshop one day and build custom resto-mod cars.
Where’s your favorite place in Virginia?
When I'm with my family, it’s the beach. Being at the ocean with my family is a memory from my childhood I cherish. It’s a tradition that we do visit every summer, and it's really special to me. I love to surf when the waves are good (not often in Virginia) and swim.
When I’m with friends, my favorite place is the Appalachian mountains during Autumn. A beautiful drive, a hike, and a round of golf is a perfect weekend to catch up and reconnect.
If I’m solo, the trail system around the James river in Richmond. Running trails is a great exercise that gives me space to think through problems. It's like a form of meditation for me.
What quality do you most admire in someone else?
Honesty & being impeccable with their word.
If you could eat only three dishes/meals for the rest of your life, what would they be?
I’d say pizza, but that feels like cheating. The permutations of pizza toppings are effectively infinite, so to be fair I’ll pick a Detroit-style pepperoni pizza. A close second would be carnitas tacos. Carbonara is my favorite dish to make at home, so that would be my third choice.
What’s your favorite clothing item you own?
I have this really cool hoodie from Boiler Room, it was a gift. Boiler Room is a music broadcaster/promoter that I started following in college. Their streams of DJ sets around the world exposed me to an underground scene I otherwise would probably never have known existed. It’s well made, super comfy, and has a cool tie dye pattern that reminds me of a foggy night outside a nightclub in London.
What’s the first app or website you open when you wake up, and the last one you close before you go to sleep?
Twitter is definitely what I open when I first wake up. Before I go to sleep, I try to not touch my phone, so it's hard to say. It could be email, or maybe Slack. But I do try to give myself a solid hour or two of no screens before I go to bed.
What do you hope the epitaph on your tombstone says?
“World’s best aux. cord DJ” But seriously, I’m not sure. I will say that by the end, I hope I have given my family and the people I love a comfortable life, positively impacted the world with my work, and given most of my wealth back to my community.
What’s your worst habit at home?
Not folding laundry, I hate it. I actually really enjoy doing dishes and other chores around the house. But if I had the time, I’d build a robot that would fold my laundry for me.
What was a formative turning point in your life?
Most recently, it was probably during COVID – my mom was diagnosed with cancer for the second time right as lockdown started. She was extremely immunosuppressed, so I couldn't visit her this whole time..I’d actually camp out in her backyard just to see her on weekends.
She had a stem cell transplant scheduled for the Fall and it was supposed to take 14 days, but due to complications it turned into a 6 month stay. The turning point for me was learning how to maintain the intense focus required to handle the needs of my family, my job, and my personal health. I developed a resilience and a genuine confidence in myself that I will carry throughout the rest of my life. This is also how I started to develop a passion for cooking. I found that making nightly dinners and sharing them with loved ones helped us all reset and unwind a bit – which was critical to maintain a positive outlook through an otherwise horrible experience.
What is a current podcast that you’re listening to/book you’re reading that you are enjoying or ones that you connected with recently?
The only podcast that I listen to on a recurring basis is the All-in podcast with Chamath Palihapitiya, Jason Calacanis, David Sacks, and David Friedberg. I really enjoy the format and the way they challenge each other’s ideas. Sacks is conservative, Jason fairly liberal, Friedberg is focused on science, and Chamath brings a macroeconomic perspective. I think this intersection of frames leads to interesting discussions and their predictions are usually directionally correct.
I recently read Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl. It's about his time in the Nazi concentration camps. The first half of it is about his story, and the second half is about his philosophy. This is the first book in a long time that I picked up and actually could not put it down..I stayed up until 4 in the morning that day and read it to the end. It speaks to human’s ability to withstand great suffering and still find meaning..highly recommended.
Singing or dancing?
Beach or mountains?
Tattoos or piercings?
Movies or Theater?
Weightlifting or cardio?
Hot tub or hot spring?
I'm more of an ice bath kind of person, but if I had to pick between the two, I'd say hot spring.
Sunrise or sunset?
Fiction or nonfiction?
Horror or comedy?
Future or Young Thug?
My background is mixed. I was an English major originally, and pivoted to environmental science and biology later in college. In graduate school, I got interested in quantitative / computational ecology and testing ecological theory using historical observational data, experiments, and computer simulations. I worked as an applied ecologist at Northern Arizona University for a couple of years, before co-founding a company called Conservation Science Partners in 2012. We had a tremendous amount of success over the last 10 years, but I was feeling ready for a change in focus.
As I was finishing my PhD, I did Insight Data Science and got hired at Airbnb where I hoped to use geospatial data to work on host growth or something. I was working on the host team as a Data Scientist and I realized that we didn't have any concept of the “context” of our listings… we knew a lot about the listing and its specific characteristics but we didn't really have a way to understand what was nearby. That matters because if you know what’s nearby you can market listings differently (which is sort of what Airbnb is (finally) doing w Categories), you can price more accurately, and you can drastically improve search. That became really compelling to me. I tried to work on an internal project there, but it didn't get a lot of support. So eventually, I decided to leave Airbnb and start Iggy to solve this challenge.
I am an astronomer by background - I did a PhD in astronomy. I studied the evolution of the galaxy since the Big Bang. Very different from what I do today. My interest in astronomy was motivated by the discovery process. You get to discover something interesting that no one's ever discovered before. But as I was going through that, one thing that I realized - and it led to my transition to data science and ultimately to product - was that I liked working on these sorts of big questions, but I wanted to do so in a bit more of an applied way.