At 18, This ‘Hacker’ Was Hired By Google. The Prodigy Just Landed A $15-Million Investment For His Startup


Meet Larry Gadea, now 28, the young prodigy who started programming when he was 8. He was writing games by high school, and by 18 he was interning at Google’s Mountain View Office. After his three-month internship was over, Google hired him as one of the first few engineers at Google Canada, and allowed him to work there part-time during the full four years of college.

A teen as a Google engineer? What unusual thing did Larry do?

He developed a plug-in for Google Desktop Search that would allow users to find and index files in their computers that Google Desktop Search couldn’t. It made the search feature a lot more useful, making it popular in no time.

“Google Desktop Search didn’t allow plug-ins at the time. Mine was a hack that made Google allow plug-ins,” he told Business Insider.


Since Larry hacked into their system, he received an email from Google. But to his surprise, it read: “Why are you doing this stuff on your own? Why don’t you do this with us?”

“They wanted me there full-time. I was super excited, an 18-year-old getting a Google offer,” he recalls.

In 2009, after completing college, Larry joined Twitter—which at this point in time was still a startup—as a back-end engineer. There, he created “Murder”, a data center optimization technology that played a big role in reducing “Fail Whales”, the term used to describe Twitter’s frequent crashes in its early years.

By 2012, Larry, now 25, wanted to start his own company. And he got his idea from Google and Apple.

“It was weird that Google and Apple had you type in your information in a computer at the front desk, but smaller companies didn’t have that technology. Either the receptionist would leave the desk and find the person, or there’d be no one at all.”

So, in 2013, Larry built “Envoy”, a visitor-registration system that could be used at offices to check-in people and keep track of visitors. Essentially, the system allows visitors to sign-in through an iPad app and will print out a name tag with their photos on it. This latest app can send push notifications to the iPhone and can even show the person’s photo on the Apple Watch.

In November 2014, Envoy raised $1.5 million from Silicon Valley bigwigs, including Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff, Quora’s Adam D’Angelo, and Yelp’s Jeremy Stoppelman. In June 2015, the San Francisco-based company received a $15 million Series A investment from Andreessen Horowitz (A16z).

“Since its debut just over two years ago, Envoy’s iPad-based visitor management product has filled a void and taken off like wildfire. We have registered over 1,000,000 visitors at over 1,000 offices worldwide and now in 9 languages. Our customer base is growing 20% month-over-month and the demand is not stopping… We’ll soon be introducing an even more effortless way to sign in. Spoiler alert: it’s going to be amazing. Think of it as TSA Pre-check, minus the massage,” he wrote.

Envoy doesn’t have a free version. It offers a basic service ($99) that includes unlimited sign-in, NDA signing, photos, badge printing and SMS and email notification. A higher tier ($249 or $499) includes pre-registration, a security desk and custom badges.

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