We are thrilled to launch our Team Spotlight series, a dedicated space where we celebrate the talented individuals helping drive XMTP's progress. This series aims to showcase the incredible developers, designers, and researchers whose collective efforts are propelling XMTP forward. Our inaugural feature shines a light on Daria Jammal, a senior software engineer at XMTP Labs, whose commitment is playing a crucial role in the evolution of the protocol.
Join us as we explore Daria's journey with XMTP, the aspects of her work that ignite her enthusiasm, and her collaboration with the increasingly vibrant XMTP community.
Could you share a bit about your background and what led you to join XMTP Labs?
My background is very untraditional, so I’ll give a quick overview of how I ended up here! I’m a career changer into software engineering after working in the tech industry for awhile in non-technical roles like community management and just having a general curiosity around building software. After ~3 years working as an engineer, I learned about XMTP Labs through a women in tech group and there was something I specifically remember that stood out to me and made me want to explore a position here: the problem space the company was working in was unique and interesting, and the intentionality around the company culture the team was building seemed equally unique and interesting.
I’ve been here over a year now and when I’m asked how I like working here, that’s still my honest answer: it’s the most thoughtful culture I’ve seen anywhere, with equal parts invested in the big challenge we’re up against as making it a sustainable, enjoyable place to work at along the way. And I appreciate that long-term thinking. There are so many examples of this, but here’s an email I got here that I think highlights it well!
CC: My manager
Hi Daria, Looks like it has been at least two months since you logged time off. We want to make sure you are able to regularly take time to relax and recharge. Please talk with your manager if you need any support in planning that time!
I feel so fortunate to be part of a company that values its employees this way.
How do you think XMTP is changing the way the world thinks about secure, private and portable communication?
I think it’s a huge shift to give users ownership over their communications. I keep seeing use cases for this over and over — like needing to join an app just because a set of people having a conversation you need to be in are already there, not because it’s your actual messaging app of choice. Or having the cold start problem of it not being worth the effort of joining App Y because all of the info needed to make it valuable is on App X and you can’t migrate that info. Or getting a notification for a spam text message that you haven’t consented to receiving.
And those are just mild inconveniences; in some parts of the world, this isn’t just a nice-to-have, this can fall into personal safety territory. The list goes on but I think at the end of the day, XMTP has really illuminated for me how much we don’t actually own our communications (even when it can feel like we do).
What are some of the key projects you've worked on at the company?
My role is in product engineering, and I work on the developer experience (DX) team — this means building example apps that consume the protocol to showcase and experiment with different protocol capabilities (e.g. attachments, reactions, consent), integrating changes in XMTP SDKs to stress-test them before integrators do to fend off any integration challenges, prototyping concepts to encourage integrator feedback, things like that!
There’s also a small project that was a personal favorite of mine: a little feedback widget we have on xmtp.org that is built with XMTP. The reason that made me so excited was it was such an unexpected use case of XMTP that really helped me form a broader mental model of how powerful this protocol can be outside of its typical use cases; we couldn’t find a tool that met all of our requirements and it felt like such a serendipitous moment that XMTP was exactly the tech we needed. We even wrote a blog about it here, if you’re interested. 🙂
What's a typical day like for you at XMTP Labs?
Depends on the day of the week! The company is great at being conscious of meetings and focus time (even resourcing tools around this), so there are some days where I have mostly meetings and collaborative work, no-meeting days where I can focus on code, and a few of us who live in the Bay Area even get together IRL occasionally to work together which leads to a lot of organic and interesting discussions. Even though the work itself is continuously changing which is exciting, I appreciate that the “type” of day I have is pretty predictable.
What are some goals or milestones you’re particularly excited about for the future of XMTP?
The one that jumps to mind is definitely the long awaited group chat! For 2 reasons — 1 is obvious (that integrators really, really want this).
But the other reason is that I’m glad this is still a milestone and didn’t already happen. That’s because there was a much faster way to do this last year, and it could have gone out much sooner with some tradeoffs. I am really glad the path chosen was to do it the right way and not the fast way. It made me very proud to work on a team making hard decisions like that for what I felt were for the right reasons — and in partnership with the developer community. The type of collaboration, leadership, and long-term thinking that went into that decision makes me very optimistic about the future of XMTP.
One of your passions is bridging the gender gap in tech, why is that important to you?
There are so many reasons this is important to me that I almost don’t know where to begin! I’ll use one reason that relates to my personal journey into software engineering and illustrates a larger pattern we see all the time: that because of systemic barriers, many women who could have an interest in this field may not even see this as a viable career path.
That was definitely my experience. When I first started learning to code, it wasn’t with the intention of a career shift. That didn’t even seem like a possibility at the time. It was that I had wanted to better understand the industry I worked in and to optimally interface with engineers I worked with. But once I started learning, I found it unexpectedly empowering, and it challenged some assumptions I had about this type of work. It was far more creative and collaborative than I thought it would be. And the more I learned, the more I wanted to keep learning. Eventually I was investing enough time where I wanted to go all-in with it.
I often think about how I wish I had discovered an interest sooner, and I’m convinced there’s this massive, untapped pool of women who would enjoy this work too. So one of my long-term goals is to play a small part in changing the narrative to a place where more women can envision themselves in this field — hopefully much earlier than I did. (Also, if you happen to be working on initiatives around this I would love to hear about it. Please feel free to message me over XMTP at hellodj.eth!)
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