For those of you who are interested in more about Thouvenin and his insight on social media, here is the full version of his interview:

Where are you from?

Toulouse, which is a city in the South of France.

What brought you here to the states?

It’s been my dream to come here to work and live and I’ve always been interested in the tech industry, the internet. And if you want to work in the industry it’s the ideal place in the world, I hear, San Francisco and Silicon Valley, so I think it’s the main reason why I’m here.

So what else did you study besides computer science?

I did my two year degree in computer science and then I decided I didn’t really want to stay all day long in front of a computer just coding and so I wanted to work with a team and manage a team and so I went to a business school in Paris, it’s called ISC Paris, it’s a three year master’s degree. And then in the middle of that I did an exchange at McGill University in Montreal, Canada.

And that’s where you learned English?

Yeah. I did an internship in Canada to finish my two year computer science degree and then that’s when I started to like being abroad, discovering new countries, cultures–and I liked it so much that I went for my second year.

You received a scholarship to attend one of Apple’s conferences, the Worldwide Developer Conference, three times—how did you do that?

I don’t know. When I was doing programming I subscribed to the program that Apple is doing, it’s basically a membership to get access to special resources to code for Apple and it’s cheaper because it’s for students and then that year I received an email they were like “oh you can apply, tell us why you are motivated and why we should invite you to go to the conference.” And I just filled out the form and explained why I was motivated and I guess it worked–I got invited the first year and then it was pretty easy to go the next years.

What was it like being there?

Oh it’s awesome. You’re in the middle of all those Apple engineers, all those great developers that are doing really cool stuff and you’re with them in the same room learning cool stuff, stuff that is going to come out in the future by Apple and that’s really cool. As a student you get access to all those resources–it’s really nice.

I bet you met a lot of great people too?

Yep. Actually, since we’re students there’s a mailing list for the students who are going there and I met a couple of people and we shared a hotel room in San Francisco so it’s cheaper and one of those people was my roommate in San Francisco when I moved here. So I met friends that I still know since like five years ago from WWDC so it was nice.

How many applications have you launched for the iPhone?


And can you tell us a little bit about them?

Yeah. The first one is called Voila and it allows you to share your location with your friends online so it seems pretty basic right now because all those apps like Four Square or Twitter allow you to share your location, but a year and a half ago there wasn’t much applications to share your location and that’s why I decided to create that. And it was a great opportunity for me to learn how to code for the iPhone, so that was the first application. And the second one, it’s called Serenade, it [launched] almost a year ago and it allows you to share on Twitter and Facebook the song you are listening to right now on your iPhone, from your iPod. And so it gives you a link to your friends so you can say “hey I’m listening to that song and I really like it” and your friends can click on that link and immediately listen to a preview of the song and buy it if they like it. And we give you the lyrics for the songs too, so you can sing on the bus, if you want.

And did you launch those by yourself or did you have some friends you launched them with?

Yeah I worked with some friends that did the design, the logo, and the website. I was focused more on the code of the application and I worked more with other people who were great designers.

How did you launch GSM? And would you say it was the foundation for all you’ve done?

Kind of. When I first got a computer with internet I started to play and see what was happening and quickly I really wanted to be part of that and create a website myself. And so at the time you could create a website with Microsoft Word and export it as a website and so I started with that and I thought it was limited and I learned how to code webpages and it’s kind of how I started. And so I created that website for mobile phones, like ringtones and stuff because I liked that at the time. I’m still really involved and passionate about everything that is mobile and that’s my job right now, so I guess it helps.

Tell us about Seesmic.

Seesmic is a company that does social software that allows you to manage, post, and receive feedback from all your social networks so if you have a Facebook account, a Twitter account, we aggregate all those social networks to one application whether it’s on your desktop, on your phone, so you can access all that information and talk with your friends from everywhere.

And how did you become a project manager there?

So that was my job when I started here as an intern and then I changed companies and then that was kind of like the natural evolution from my previous job.

How did you get the job at Seesmic?

I knew the CEO because I did an internship at his previous company when I was in Paris so it was like three years ago and so I knew him and in the meantime he left that company that he founded and created a new company here so when I arrived here for my internship I just talked to him and I pinged him and we stayed in contact. And when I said I wanted a change of job he proposed to me the job.

So what is it like being part of the tech field?

It’s awesome, especially here where there are all those great events [and] all the really important people in that field are pretty much here. And especially when you work at Seesmic we use Twitter, Facebook, Google, in our apps. And so if we want to talk with people in those companies it’s like an hour drive so it’s really easy to meet interesting people and share and do partnerships.

And how is the field changing? I mean, it’s constantly evolving.

Yeah. What’s really becoming more and more important right now is what people call the real time web. The information is almost live and pushed to you, you don’t have to go on a website to get the news you just look at your Twitter feed and you get all the information you are interested in. Another extra dimension around that real time information is geolocation, it’s really kind of exploding right now. [There are] a lot of services around geolocation, not only what info you are sharing but what info and where you are sharing, it adds an extra level, it’s really interesting. You can do really cool stuff [with it]. For example, when you search on Google, you search for doughnuts, you want a doughnut, it’s going to search for places that have doughnuts around you from your phone because it has GPS so it’s much better results than if it was from all over the world about doughnuts–you wouldn’t really care [about them around the world because] you want doughnuts that are from here right now.

Have you encountered any setbacks from the geolocation technology like of people being worried about privacy issues?

People are definitely worried about it, but most of the companies are aware of that and are doing it really well so you keep the control in your data. So I’m taking the example of Twitter, by default sharing of the location is disabled–you have to opt in if you want to share it. If you decide you don’t want to share it anymore you can just disable it or even delete all the location information from all your previous tweets in case you just don’t want to have your location on the web anymore. So a lot of companies are really careful about that and I think it’s helping people to adopt those technologies and use them.

So what is most challenging about being in your field?

It’s really interesting because lots of things are happening all the time and also in our field at Seesmic we have lots of applications and it’s really interesting because we all go really fast, we adopt ourselves into the market, and to what customers want, and so you don’t know what you’re really going to work on in a few months. You can’t really plan ahead because you have to adapt to that real time so it’s really interesting and really challenging.

And personally, for you, what is your biggest setback? What has been the hardest thing you’ve overcome?

I guess it’s to find a job here and to get a visa and to be able to work here and stay here legally… it’s not easy to get a visa, but lucky I got a chance and was able to get my working visa and now I have a green card so I can stay here.

So you were one of the few to get your visa from the lottery?

Yeah. They approximately allow 50,000 working visas per year. And so, the year I applied they got 150,000 applications in the first few days so they had to do a selection and a lottery. But last year, because of the economy, the application opened at the beginning of April and lasted until November. So, compared to a year before when it lasted like four days it lasted six months… so it depends, sometimes you have to go through that lottery process. It [getting a visa] is easy for some people and harder for others.

What is most rewarding about what you do?

Working in a startup is really cool because since you usually don’t have a lot of people working with you, you have a lot of responsibilities–you can work on pretty much anything you want–and that’s what I like the most because if I tell my boss I want to work on that project and there is benefits from that and it makes sense then I can get that project and work on it and take care of it. So, it’s not like you’re always focused on the same thing compared to I guess if you work in a big company–I have never worked in a big company but I hear that you do pretty much the same job all the time and that’s definitely not the case in the startup.

So what is your typical work day like?

So when I arrive in the office I catch up with the teams that are pretty much all over the world: we have engineers in Europe, in Singapore, all over the U.S., so in the morning everyone usually is up so it’s the end of the day for Europe, beginning of the day here, so we catch up on the work that has been done during the day, answer any questions they have, ask them questions, then I answer my email, have meetings, etcetera. And then in the afternoon everyone, all the engineers, are pretty much offline so I can work on planning, planning the resources, and specs and mockups for new features on products. So the morning is more social with the teams and the afternoon is more thinking.

You participated in a survey about jobs of the future. And im wondering if you can talk about “Jobs of the Future?”

The whole article was about jobs of the future but the second section I was in was about why brands should pay attention to what people are saying about them online and why it’s important, and that was the company I was working for before. They were doing online software. For example, if you’re Nike, you type your product name, your brand, and then we go search online on the blogs, Twitter, YouTube, [and we search] everything people are saying about your brand or product and we tell you if it’s positive, if it’s negative. We tell you what you should pay attention to because of course if you’re Nike you’ve got millions of people talking about your brand. So we we’re doing analysis on the content, on statistics, and based on that we were just showing the base for content so I think it’s really important for brands to pay attention because people are talking on the web a lot about brands and that is a really good opportunity for brands to learn what people think about their product, how people use it, what they would like to have on those products–it’s really precious information. And then if brands also can react and respond to the customer [then] that shows to people that the brand cares about them and to consumers it builds up the brand’s loyalty so at the same time it’s really interesting for the brand to know that but it’s helpful for them because it’s better for the image, etcetera.

With everything you’ve done, I’m wondering: who are your idols and why have you chosen these people as your idols?

I would say Steve Jobs is really [an] interesting and impressive man, what he did when he created Apple, and then he had to leave his own company, and then he came back, and he brought back Apple to life basically because when he came in ‘97 Apple it was in pretty bad shape, so it’s pretty impressive. And, the fact that he pays real attention to details and he really sees trends coming and creates products around them before other brands–I think that’s really interesting.

I’m going to segway and ask: what is the role of money in your definition of success?

The role of money, I don’t know… it’s just, I don’t think it’s that important. I mean, it’s a nice reward but I think it’s not as rewarding as liking your job and working on patience and being with your friends, your family, I think that’s the most rewarding. Money is nice to have, of course, but I think you can be really happy without having that money as a main reward for your job.

So what advice do you have for strivers?

I would say follow your passion, whatever you like, whatever is your passion, just work on it, do stuff  around it, create a blog, do videos about it, create a podcast, that kind of stuff–and show the world what is your passion. And ultimately, you will find people who have the same passion or that are interested in your passion and based on that you can maybe do a live-in or get a job or get hired by a company that is working that field–I think it’s really important. And feel free to just do it, whatever you like–just follow your passion, I think that’s really important.

Want more? Check out Thouvenin’s blog here, his Mac OS X dashboard widget Time Machine Launcher here, and his About Me here (which includes links to more of his work). To comment, please return to the Success Strivers post.