About Shawn Tolidano

Basic Information
Statistic Value
Age38.91 (Jan 17, 1983)
Height6' 4" (1.93 m)
Weight255 lbs (116 kgs)
Blood TypeO- (Please Donate!)
EyesDark Brown
HairDark Brown
LocationSunnyside, NY
Genome23AndMe / Promethease

The Story

I was born in Haifa, Israel in early 1983 - around January 17th. My father was also born there. My mother was born in Montreal, Canada and we returned there when I was one month old. After living in the suburbs of Montreal (Dollard-Des Ormeaux for three years, Pincourt for 5 years), my parents decided to move to the United States. We could not all go at once - my father went first and lived alone for a year while I lived with my mother in my grandmother's apartment in Laval-des-Rapides for that time.

In 1993, I moved to Brooklyn, New York to a (comparatively, by NYC standards) huge apartment in Bensonhurst on 72nd St and 21st Ave. It was here that I committed the first act of computer engineering - I accidentally reformatted the hard drive in our Tandy-1000 (30MB! Dual 3.5" and 5.25" disk drives! 256 color monitor!). My mother was annoyed. I had to fix it, but sadly, there was no recovering from this (not for a 12 year old anyway). I vowed to never make the same mistake again. We lived there for just under 2 years until we moved to Hewlett, New York, a suburb in Nassau County out on Long Island. It was there that I completed middle school and high school. It was here, at 16, when I got my first job at a little telemarketing and contact lens distributor on Broadway. My very first day was data entry, but my third day was programming, and I was lucky enough to tinker with so many things - Windows, Unix, PBXs, PI, Excel, ASP, .NET, and so much more. High school provided a few courses and even a senior design project to create a school store website (they never used it, sadly) but working was the real education. I even tried opening my own call center (with a friend and another seasoned veteran of the industry, who unfortunately fell ill and was later found out, but I escaped relatively unscathed). It lasted about a year, but could not sustain itself under our growth plan. I wrote my own dialing software and shared the other technical work.

I received a scholarship to attend Hofstra University, the largest private college on Long Island, and a short 15 minute drive from home. I double majored in Computer Science and Computer Engineering (which provided an automatic minor in Math). I continued to work at the telemarketing company, but also, thanks to a man who was taking some classes with me, Harry Baya, started working on campus at FCS - Faculty Computing Support. Here I was able to put my knowledge to work and tinkered with Blackboard, Photoshop, Time tracking (to replace the outdated tool used for students to clock in and out), and more. One day near the end of my sophomore year, Harry told me there might be an opening for me "upstairs." Turns out upstairs was Web Dev. I interviewed with Brian Ferris who still runs the the web development team today, and got a job as a student assistant.

After college, I stopped working at Web Dev and soon after, stopped working at the telemarketing place as I had my first real job, with a real salary, at IDP Consulting. I was so silly - I said I only wanted $40,000 - so naturally, that's what they gave me. I only got that job through a stroke of luck - I went to school with a woman named Carolyn Cammalleri (who recently contacted me from Northwell, but never replied to my subsequent letter) and she had done a senior design at a company and asked for my CV to submit to her supervisors. They didn't have room for me, but did forward my resume onto the manager at IDP, and so here I was. IDP placed me at E&I Cooperative out on Long Island - way out at the end of the Northern. A few months after starting, the office moved to the Jericho Quadrangle, far more accessible from Hewlett (I still lived at home). There I reported to Rick Kennett who understood the struggle of being late all the time, and tolerated it far better than most others would. I did PHP and .NET work here (admittedly, I didn't know much PHP at the time, but I picked it up quickly enough having done a lot of Java and C# in college). I also got to play with a huge assortment of interesting technologies here as well, both open source and extremely expensive. After about a year, IDP offered me the chance to interview at New Line Cinema on 57th and 7th in Manhattan. Finally, I was working in the city. It was all .NET and Oracle, and I met some interesting people there. But my tenure would be brief. It was annual review time and I wanted a raise to a reasonable salary. My manager said the best he could do was 10% - up to $44,000. I wanted $55,000, figuring they had saved a ton on me over the last year and we were going to average it out. They refused, and I started interviewing.

I ended up accepting a job at Contrix, a 2-man shop in midtown. I asked them for $60,000, thinking I was pushing the envelope. They countered with $65,000 and I accepted. I told IDP I was leaving. Now they offered me $80,000 to stay (that's a 100% raise, for those keeping score). I told them to keep it, and be smarter the next time top talent asked for more money. So I worked on Magazine Agent for most of my time at Contrix, among a few other smaller projects and side work and the like. I moved out of my parents house into my first apartment in Jackson Heights, to give myself a short 15-minute commute. Then I wanted to be even closer and moved to the Upper East Side, to give myself a 10-minute commute. Then I wanted to be even closer and moved to Midtown East, to give myself a 4-minute commute.

Then one of my best friends, Jeremy (hell, only friends) wanted to move into the city and we decided to live together in a great 3 bedroom in Hell's Kitchen, which increased my commute, but who cared? I had a great place and a great roommate. In the end, I did a bad thing at work - my old telemarketing job? They decided to get into the magazine business too - Magazine Discount Center and while I never gave them any information or sabotaged anything or anything like that, I did help a competitor stay in business at some level, and even used my work computer to do it. My boss found out, and, rightfully so, fired me, but not before a lengthy and expensive investigation into exactly what I had done, and when, and if I had taken any data. All for a paltry $1,500. At the time, I was making over $110,000, and so for this, barely 1% of my annual pay, I lost a good job with a good group of people that would have never made me rich, but would have kept me happy for my whole life. Here I was jobless, and about to move again to Long Island City with my girlfriend at the time, Selene. We still moved, but I needed a new job.

I found it when I met with Frank Tissellano (no website, but he is on Facebook) at FGI Risk and got a job paying $75,000 (quite a pay cut!) doing PHP development. I worked there for only 4 months and they fired me as they were closing the doors (it was obvious, 12 people had been let go before me, and I knew I was expensive for their bottom line). They ended up dropping to skeleton crew, but it's still going strong today, and hopefully fixing all of the issues we faced back then. I saw the writing on the wall a few weeks ahead of time and started interviewing. I sent my resume to WorkBridge Associates. And I ended up getting an interview with Eric Rosenfield and John Roberts (no website, but he is on Facebook) at a small startup in NYC that sold digital comics on the iPhone and iPad.

They liked me, I liked them, and I started working as a PHP developer at comiXology, again, for $75,000. After a couple of years, I moved again to Elmhurst and then later, after a breakup, to Sunnyside. Some years later, a slightly larger company came along and presented agreeable terms for a buy-out. comiXology became a wholly-owned subsidiary of Amazon, the largest retailer ever. I was an SDE III, placing me at a level 6 on the internal totem pole. But to say I was a developer or engineer would be a lie - I did far more than just develop software. I helped the business run and succeed. I was proud and happy to do so. We saved hundreds of millions of pieces of paper, millions of gallons of gas on trips to comic stores, and we provided a new way to experience a medium that many think childish but in reality, can be as rewarding and engrossing as any other print media. My parents still live in the same house in Hewlett, and I still live in Sunnyside with my girlfriend, but who knows where the future leads.

On October 30th, 2015, I suffered the worst loss of my life to date - my grandmother, Irene Lacerte Laberge, passed away at 2:10AM. On the one hand, I am so very lucky to have had a grandparent for 32 years of my life. She was there for my first 31 birthdays to hug me and tell me she loved me. The circumstances of her death cause me a great deal of anger (see more). For a quick look at better times, you can see the 80th birthday party we threw for her here (450MB download).

On August 26th, 2016, I became a parent - Alexander Henry Yaheli Tolidano was born at 12:27AM at Winthrop Hospital in Mineola. I was supposed to cut the cord, but I passed out in the final minute. But he's very cute - started 5 lbs 15 oz, dropped to 5 lbs 10 oz when we left, all at 19.5" long. I hope to be a good parent to him for my whole life, and that my whole life is long. His mom, Angela, is also very happy and healthy.

On September 9th, 2016, I became a property owner - a 1-bedroom co-op in Sunnyside, NY. It's not a palace, but it's home. I'm delighted to stop paying rent.

On May 2nd, 2017, I flew to Las Vegas to compete in the 9-ball national singles championship. Alex is over 20 lbs now and almost 28" long (tall?). Life could be better, but it could also be a hell of a lot worse. I went 2-1 in the tournament. The guy who beat me ended up taking 3rd, so I was among his 7 victories. I did manage to win about $500 gambling.

On Friday, July 28th, 2017, I worked my last day at comiXology and Amazon (for now). On Monday, July 31st, 2017, I started the next chapter at Compass Real Estate, a unicorn real estate startup in NYC as a Senior DevOps Engineer.