Team Spotlight: Ethan Teng – Product Lead

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Team Spotlight: Ethan Teng – Product Lead

BLOGBillie Simmons

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Ethan is the Product Lead at Daylight. He studied Computer Science at Stanford and has worked in both tech and non-profits for the past 20 years. He was most recently the Head of Growth at Recurly where he helped lead the company to a successful acquisition. He’s thrilled to join the Daylight team and combine his work experience in Product and Growth with his lived experience as a gay, immigrant, Chinese-American to build the first digital banking platform for the LGBT+ community.

What steps led you to Daylight?

It’s all thanks to Billie and Out in Tech! I was just starting to consider changing jobs after my last company got acquired when I happened to stumble upon a job posting Billie had shared in the Out in Tech Slack community, saying Daylight was looking for a Product Manager. It was the first time I had logged into that Slack in months, and Billie’s post just happened to be the first one I saw. To whatever cosmic forces were at work that day, I’m forever grateful!

When was the first time you thought about money?

My family was quite poor when we first immigrated from Taiwan to a cramped studio apartment in Dallas, TX. One of my first memories as a child in the US was sitting with my parents around a cardboard box that served as our dining room table, eating a homemade cake for my birthday. But, no matter what our financial situation was, my parents worked hard to raise me in an environment where I never had to worry about money. I only appreciate now as an adult how stressful it must have been for them, but they did an incredible job; I never wanted for anything growing up. For my parents, their priority was that I do well in school and get into a good college; they would take care of everything else. So, I never really thought about money till I graduated college and had to pay my own bills — including $100K in student loan debt — for the first time in my life.

What was your “aha” moment with money?

When I graduated college, Google was “just another startup” in a sea of startups, and the job opportunities seemed endless. But, after only a year of working at a medical tech startup, the first dot-com bubble burst and I found myself unemployed along with so many others. The few companies that survived were only looking for people with far more experience than I had, so not only was I unemployed but I was also unemployable. As a result, I quickly blew through whatever meager savings I had. I didn’t know there was a thing called unemployment insurance, so I didn’t apply for it. I was paying full COBRA rates for health insurance because I thought I “had to”. And I still had $100K in student loans to pay off. So, not knowing what else to do, I took out a bunch of credit cards and soon found myself living off of nearly 100% credit for more than 6 months. It would take me nearly 10 years — and eventually, credit consolidation — to learn how to budget and live within my means, and slowly dig myself out of that hole.

What do you do outside of work?

I’m a classical ballet dancer! I discovered ballet very late in life: I was already in my mid-20s when I started, which is when some professionals are already considering retirement. I happened to live next to a ballet studio when I first moved to San Francisco, and decided I wanted to try something new to meet people. I got hooked from day one and haven’t stopped dancing — and performing in an erstwhile Nutcracker — since.

Favorite LGBT+ business?

I’m fortunate to live in a city (Oakland) with so many vibrant, thriving LGBT+ and Black owned businesses. With so many to choose from, I’ll focus on some favorites in my immediate neighborhood:

Alchemy Coffee Collective: an amazing coffee collective that is 100% black and brown worker-owned. And they make a legit flat white.

Nick’s Pizza: Nick grew up in this neighborhood and came back after 4 years working in fine dining and pastry in NYC to set up his own shop here in his hometown. His rotating, seasonal sourdough pizzas are a staple of my diet.

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Billie Simmons

Co-Founder, Chief of Staff at Daylight