Hi, I'm David Kong.
I do lots of things.
As a child, I became obsessed with sleight-of-hand magic, spent countless hours on top-secret magician forums, and began to create some of my own tricks.
To my surprise, a large magic company offered me a deal to produce instructional videos teaching my tricks, and at 15 my first DVD went on to sell over fifteen thousand copies. It was in the creation of that video that I discovered that I loved to teach. The proceeds funded a much fancier video camera and summer school at UCLA's famed film school.
For my next project, I decided to take things into my own hands and self-produced and published another DVD aimed at the professional magician market. That ended up being about a hundred times as much work as I expected, but the thrill of creating my own (very smal) company kept me going through the many setbacks.
So there I was with some video skills and a video camera, so I thought, "Why not try shooting a film?" As it turned out, I loved filmmaking even more than magic, and my second obssession was born. I've made dozens of films over the years, but one of my favorites is a fine art piece, Portrait of Macerata. I made this short film of an Italian hilltown where I studied for a summer. It has been viewed a hundred and fifty thousand times the last I checked, mostly by Italians.
On the documentary side, I've filmed interviews with Grammy and Oscar-winning singer John Legend, film director M. Night Shyamalan, Ariana Huffington of the Huffington Post, Sal Khan of Khan Academy, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, and many more.
As I explored the world of cinema, I discovered that many of the skills of the photographer overlap with those of the filmmaker. In doing so I also discovered the virtue of rapid prototyping, since the amount of time it takes to capture a photograph is roughly one gazillionth the amount of time it takes to create a film. Most of my favorite photographs are portraits.
Having learned the crafts of the magician, the filmmaker, and the photographer almost entirely through the internet (and, for the most part, for free), I decided I wanted to give back a bit to the resources that I had benefited so much from. I produced a series of video tutorials on how to make professional films with the ever-cheaper tools of digital cinematography. At the time of going to press, they have been viewed more than three hundred and fifty thousand times.
My love of online learning eventually led me to a job at Khan Academy, a non-profit with the mission to provide a free world-class education for anyone, anywhere. Among other tasks, I was blessed with the creative challenge of designing marketing campaigns on the meagre budget of a non-profit. Crazy ideas abounded.
One of my first projects at Khan Academy was a complete guide to college admissions (free, like all Khan Academy content) which supports and encourages students who come from low-income backgrounds as they apply to college. This tutorial series (which I created with two colleagues) contains 120+ videos and dozens of articles which cover every aspect of the college admissions and financial aid process. They have been viewed more than four million times.
Current projects include an experimental platform for teaching history online and a speed-reading app.
I spent several wonderful years at Khan Academy, where I jumped into whatever task needed to be done - I taught courses, created promotional videos, oversaw our email marketing, developed tools for social media promotion, and lots more.
I discovered the thrill of terror when you click "Send" on an email to 3 million people, and I experienced a profound joy in meeting dozens of people whose lives were changed forever by access to free education.
Eventually, I decided to return to the filmmaking world, and so I joined Frame.io, a startup that's bringing the film and video world online.
As Director of Content Strategy, I led the launch and development of a successful content marketing platform. We did a lot on the content team, but one of the projects I'm most proud of is a massive 120,000-word guide to the film world's complex technical workflows.
When I joined Frame.io, I was the 19th employee and the entire marketing team. By the time I left two years later, the marketing team had grown to 9, and the company had grown to 100.
I didn't go very far, though...
As much as I enjoyed my time in the marketing world, I've always been drawn to the product side. I had the honor of studying under some amazing entrepreneurs at Princeton and had been devouring books like Creativity, Inc., Zero to One, and The Design of Everyday Things ever since.
I recently had the amazing opportunity to write my own job description as I joined the product team at Frame.io. My new role is Research -> Strategy. I am creating a new User Research function at Frame.io, working with our product, design, and engineering teams, and then I am using those insights to inform our product strategy and design process.
It's a wild ride :)
Thank you for taking the time to get to know me a little. I'd love to get to know you, too.