The university dropout from Halifax, West Yorkshire, learned to code as a child. As a teenager, he built an app that hit No 1 in Apple’s App Store, and another that was featured in the iPhone’s giant TV adverts. And at 21, he landed a spot at the vaunted start-up boot camp Y Combinator, which brought him to California. He never left.
The autodidact went on to create courses in flying cars and virtual reality for the billion-dollar education start-up Udacity — despite no formal training in those fields. He founded the self-driving car firm Voyage and in March sold it to Cruise, a subsidiary of motor giant GM.
I first spoke with Oliver years ago when applying for an engineering position at Udacity. I didn’t get the job, but a year later I was at Ford, working on self-driving cars, when Oliver wrote me out of the blue. He asked for advice on how to teach self-driving cars at Udacity.
I met with Oliver for a few weeks, suggesting a curriculum and projects. Eventually Oliver recruited me to join Udacity and teach the program myself, together with Sebastian Thrun, the founder of both Udacity and Waymo.
While I built the Udacity Self-Driving Car Engineer Nanodegree Program, Oliver incubated a self-driving startup called Voyage, within Udacity. Eventually, Voyage spun out as its own endeavor.
Years later, I wrapped up my own Udacity work and followed Oliver to Voyage, and now to Cruise.
I’ve had a great experience working with and learning from the lad from Halifax.