Here’s the story.
Hi! My name is Diana Kimball. In the summer of 2013, I graduated from Harvard Business School, packed up all my things, and boarded a flight to Berlin to join the team at SoundCloud. There’s the story of how I got here—how I got to Berlin, specifically. But there’s a longer story, too.
Once upon a time, I studied history as an undergraduate at Harvard College. I wrote a number of curious papers while there. But halfway through college, my longstanding interest in world’s fairs shaded into a realization that technology is always the future. This realization inspired me to get involved with the Berkman Center for Internet and Society and to co-found ROFLCon. It also led me to move to San Francisco to spend two years working as a program manager on the PowerPoint team at Microsoft, a summer working with my friends at Photojojo, and weekends learning Ruby on the side.
In parallel, though, a spark of fascination with the business world—kindled by a decade of mornings spent reading my dad's copy of the Wall Street Journal at the kitchen table—had expressed itself in early application and acceptance to Harvard Business School. So, after two years in San Francisco, I moved back to Boston in the fall of 2011 to begin again.
Then, it was back to Boston for one more year of classes; one more year of focused learning. I took my first real computer science class as a capstone to the previous few years of learning Ruby. I studied social networks and supply chains and so many other things. I read a lot of books. In the midst of all that, I realized that Berlin was exactly where I wanted to be. And now I live here. It still feels unreal.
Every now and then, I write a longer letter about what I’ve learned lately that I’d love to send to you. It’s probably the best way to get to know me besides sitting down together for a long talk. Which sounds nice, actually—I hope we get to do that sometime.
Going back in time: these are things I’ve loved before.
I spent the summer of 2007 submerged in words, learning Russian in Vermont. I’d taken two years of classes, but it didn’t matter: arriving at Middlebury meant landing on another planet. In the beginning, I knew just enough grammar to get by, but my vocabulary was beyond basic. At breakfast and late at night, my friends and I would play with words and fall out of our chairs laughing, delighting in language—amazed at how little we knew, how much there was to say. The summer started with fragments and ended with sentences, with whole stories, with foreign dreams: every day felt new.
In late 2007, Tim Hwang, Christina Xu and I teamed up to start ROFLCon, a ramshackle academic celebration of internet culture. When the conference finally came to life in April 2008, you could find me running all over MIT with tattered sheets of paper—printed-out spreadsheets full of names and phone numbers, times and places, stained blue by jeans pockets. For two surreal days, Tron Guy and Alice Marwick collided, and around 800 other internet-lovers collided too. But for me, nothing could have been more important than the months leading up to those two weird, shining days: working incredibly hard with some of my closest friends, teetering between overwhelm and joy, toward something we knew had to come true.
And then, in the summer before my senior year of college, I fell in love with San Francisco. The dark pastel buildings and slanted, sunlit streets struck me first, but it was the energy of progress that pulled me in. In 2009, I moved there and knew I would stay for as long as I could. Not long after, I started techbookclub with Amit Gupta. The material of techbookclub never stopped changing, but somehow, it all hung together. We’d read about the Toyota Production System and then we’d read about screenwriting, and we’d never end up where I expected. When we came together as a group it was this electric, giddy explosion of ideas and plans, words tripping and insisting—there is so much to know!