Wednesday 17 December 2014

Irish whizkid, 20, gets top job in US investor

Tom Lyons

Published 22/04/2012 | 05:00

James Whelton, a 20-year old Irish coding whiz, has taken up an advisory role with one of the world's most experienced technology investors.

Whelton has been named "Hacker in Residence", with Resolute.vc, a new fund founded by Mike Hirshland, a technology investment veteran, who was an early-stage backer of Polaris, a $3bn fund based in Massachusetts.

Hirshland led Polaris' investments in Automattic, a web developer best known for inventing bloggers' favourite WordPress as well as launching Dogpatch Labs, a start-up incubator based in Dublin and America.

"Mike asked me to get involved," Whelton said, "and I'll be doing everything from advising him and vetting new technology and investments to making the coffee!"

Other industry advisors to Resolute.vc include Adam Bain, a senior executive with Twitter; Ethan Beard, head of platform with Facebook; and Ellen Levy, vice president of strategy with LinkedIn.

Hirshland described Whelton as "an ambassador to the next generation of great entrepreneurs -- the teens who are imagining new ways to build and use technology to change the world".

Whelton, who started programming at age 9, said he got to know Hirshland first when Polaris set up a Dogpatch Labs unit in Dublin, and the VC veteran advised him on to how to expand Coder Dojo, the free youth coding club he co-founded.

"Mike helped us by advising us on scalability and introducing us to people," Whelton said.

Coder Dojo, which Whelton founded with Bill Liao, currently runs in 60 sites teaching young people about coding. "We're in 22 locations in Ireland," Whelton said, "and over 60 places altogether. Next week we'll open the first Coder Dojo in Tokyo."

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