Hey, I'm Derek

aka broox, brooks, or brooksy

I'm a 40.78 year old midwestern American dude who enjoys building, traveling, partying, and extremish sports.

Living

I grew up in the rural Mississippi River valley town of Port Byron, Illinois and then moved to Mount Vernon, Iowa for college. After that, work brought me to Des Moines, Iowa, where I've lived for the past 18.96 years.

I've also had a few apartments in Chicago, consider it another home, and try to get back there as often as possible.

Loving

I've been married to my incredible college girlfriend, Kari (Reynolds) Brooks for 16.57 years. Together, we've had a couple houses and a few dogs: Ninja, Garth Brooks, Benny the Butthole, and our newest, Durby.

Learning

I graduated from Riverdale High School of Port Byron in 1999, got my first computer, and then went on to Cornell College, where I graduated in 2003 with a degree in Computer Science.

Working

My early jobs consisted of pizza places and hardware stores. In college, I became sponsored by an awesome shoe company and got really into web dev, sys admin, and technology in general.

After school, I took a job writing research software for bio-chemistry scientists at Pioneer Hi-Bred International.

Eventually, the corporate development environment became boring so I spent some time as a Software Engineer for a small web development company called Red 5 Interactive and then a Senior Application Engineer for an awesome little San Francisco based startup named Dipity.

After all of that, I spent 16 months as the lead engineer of voter contact and protection at Obama For America, where I built software with a team of baller engineers to power President Obama's 2012 campaign.

The Obama campaign led me and a few of my colleagues to build a company that would eventually be acquired by PayPal. While at PayPal, I worked with a bunch of awesome folks to build mobile commerce and payment products (I mostly worked on Venmo).

After nearly 7 years at PayPal I decided to take a work sabbatical, but I'll be looking for new opportunities after I recharge for a bit!

Listening

Music is a huge part of my life. I've often got headphones on while out by myself, music is constantly playing at home, and throwing vinyl on the turntable is a weekend morning ritual.

As for styles, I love anything that surprises me or pushes mass-circulated norms... but for the most-part I'm into to hip hop, electronic, dance, punk, metal, hood rap, hard rock, horrorcore, downtempo, classic rock, and even some pop. I guess the only things I'm not into are pop-country, and folky "dave" stuff.

I'm also a huge fan of music festivals and live shows. Check out this list of shows I've been to.

Watching

Aside from watching movies and playing video games (neither of which I do very often anymore), TV has never really been a part of my life. After living together for 12 years, Kari and I bought our first television to watch the Cubs win the World Series. We now have 2 TVs in our home, and another in the garage. 😱😱😱

When I turn the TV on, it's mostly to display photos or watch music videos, youtube, hockey, baseball, Iowa Hawkeye football, or an occasional movie.

Reading

Kari's books dominate the storage and most nooks/crannies of our house. I really hate reading books; it's not good for my A.D.D. and I feel like most books are as much of a waste of time as television. πŸ˜‰

I do still love to learn though, and spend a lot of time reading about things on the internets. I just prefer my information in smaller doses.

Traveling

I love to travel! So far, I've been to 16 countries, 2 U.S. islands, and 31 of the 50 united states.

Other things you might find me doing

Hacking, building things, automating my home, taking photos, riding bikes, getting tattoos, driving like a crazy person, practicing yoga, homebrewing, camping, making videos, auto tuning, skateboarding, inline skating, snowboarding, snowskating, sliding on soap shoes, paintballing, having fun, chilling with friends, looking at girls, listening to loud music, playing with technology, breaking things, going out, eating foooood, drinking beer, playing dress up, and being generally crazy.

Timeline

August

1981

Hello, World.
Derek was born and went home to Rapids City, Illinois

August

1984

Moved to the countryside of Port Byron, Illinois

September

1996

Bought my first car, a 1963 Chevy II Nova

April

1997

Started working at Riverbend Pizza

May

1998

Moved to a temp/rental house in Hillsdale, Illinois

November

1998

Moved to the house on the Missippi River, back in Port Byron, Illinois

April

1999

Left Riverbend to start working at a hardware store called Payless Cashways

May

1999

Graduated from Riverdale High School

September

1999

Moved to Mount Vernon, Iowa to start college at Cornell

March

2000

Became sponsored by Soap Shoes

September

2000

Started working for Cornell College computing services

February

2001

Met the incredible Kari Reynolds

October

2001

Started making pizzas again at Pizza Palace in Mount Vernon, Iowa

May

2003

Graduated from Cornell College

June

2003

Moved to West Des Moines, Iowa to start my career β€” building software for Pioneer Hi-Bred International

October

2004

Bought my first house, in Ankeny, Iowa

November

2004

Asked Kari to go steady

December

2004

Got our first dog, Ninja

October

2005

Married Kari!

November

2007

Left Pioneer Hi-Bred to start developing software for a small web development firm, Red 5 Interactive

May

2010

Left Red 5 Interactive to start building timeline software at my first startup job: Dipity

August

2011

Left Dipity and moved to Chicago to begin working on the tech team of Barack Obama's re-election campagin

November

2012

Helped Barack Obama win his reelection campaign. Got thanked, then fired. Moved back to Iowa

January

2013

Started a company called Modest with Harper, Dylan, and Clint

August

2015

Sold Modest to PayPal and started working at Braintree

December

2015

Bought our second house, in Des Moines, Iowa. Spent the next 6 months remodeling it

May

2016

Moved to Des Moines, Iowa

March

2017

Started working on commerce research and development at PayPal

March

2018

Started working at Venmo

April

2022

Left PayPal/Venmo to catch a bit of fresh air and recharge