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That kid's amazing : People of GridAKL with Sebastian Hallum Clarke

So I heard on the grapevine that we had a bit of an undercover developer whiz kid working incognito here at GridAKL, and I thought I’d sit him down to pick his brain on how it feels to be a 17 year old genius and know that you are pretty much going to run the world when you grow up. Here is what I learnt about Sebastian Hallum Clarke, the 17 year old Software Developer for GridAKL residents Weirdly.

CM. Where did you learn to code?

I taught myself, mostly through just seeing different problems that annoyed me enough to try and solve…

CM. Whats the first app you ever built?

I built my first app when I was 10 years old. When you opened it, it closed all your other apps. It was targeted for Mac, and meant that if you had heaps of things open at once you could just open that and take yourself back to a clean slate. It wasn’t a very useful app *laughs

(side note – who cares, you built it when you were 10 – I was making mix tapes of TLC and journals out of coloured-in paper at that age)

CM. Whats your favourite app you ever built?

Mac Drop Any – a free app that lets you synchronise any folder on your Mac with the cloud. Its been used in over 170 countries

(Sound of my mouth hitting the floor)

CM. And I can get this…right now? 

Yes its available on my website and right now I could use your phone even, log in and access my desktop, photos, my documents folder…all that stuff. 

CM. And you whipped that up at home…

Yep. Just kinda in spare time…after school.  

CM. How did you find yourself working for Weirdly?

I attended a conference called The Project last year.  I was presenting and so was Weirdly. 

Wait. You would have been 16 years old. 


And you were presenting.


…At a tech conference.


(Silence – accompanied by general ‘what the hell have I done with my life’ type thought scenarios)

CM. Sorry. Go on. 

We met and talked there, and I got to know a bit about what they did. I moved to Auckland at the start of the year and wanted to get a job to save for university, so I contacted a few places, and Weirdly came through with work.. I started on an initial project with them that turned into full time work.

CM. So the apps you build…are you making any money off this?

Yea actually. I give all my stuff away for free, but if people like it they can send me a donation..and honestly I have been blown away by how successful thats been. 

CM. Sooooo…where to from here wonder boy?

I’m heading to Princeton in September (Just casually guys…Princeton has a 7% acceptance rate) I’ll be living in a hall of residence as an undergraduate. Its a lot of work to apply, so you would only do it if you thought you had a good chance of getting in. I also applied to a couple of other places, including two in Canada. I actually got accepted into them all but Princeton is number 1 in the US so…

CM. So…naturally. Are you on a scholarship?

I am on a part-scholarship, so I get some financial aid. Princeton gives aid based on need rather than merit, so some people will get more than others, depending on their home situation.

CM. So whats the ultimate dream?

I want to Major in Computer Science and Economics, and afterwards, spend a couple of years in the US tech industry…getting experience, maybe go to the San Francisco area…then probably come back to NZ, hopefully with a cool idea and to start my own thing. I really enjoy being able to give my stuff away for free, but still make money from it. So if I could make a serious living, still giving my stuff away for free, that would be incredible. Most people give nothing, and that ok. But if enough that can give something, do give something, that makes it totally worth it.

As the Community Co-ordinator at GridAKL Casey knows everything about the lovely humans that call GridAKL home! If there is something that you are itching to know about, let Casey know via our contact form so that she can write a blog post about it – easy!