Spring Summit Diary

David Hendee ·

Last week all of Carbon Five converged on Santa Monica for our bi-annual Summit to talk, eat, and play together. The theme for this season’s summit was Mobile, but as expected some of the most interesting conversations ranged far afield: from the challenges and opportunities of integrating design on Agile teams, to silly employee origin stories, and a thoughtful discussion about diversity.


Following is a summary of the two-day event. If you’re curious about the presentation content, let us know and we’ll figure out a way to share the outcomes with you. More photos of the event can be found on our Facebook page.


Day 1


After early flights for the Bay Area folks, we assemble at the Annenberg Beach House in beautiful Santa Monica for coffee, breakfast, and chit-chat. Everyone from out of town quickly realizes they overdressed for the occasion.


Mike kicks off the event wearing a blinking LED shamrock lei, thankfully yielding to Veronica, Jonah, and Clark, who give a presentation on user testing for mobile apps, which leads to an interesting discussion about when and how to best validate different kinds of product design assumptions.



Lunch is next, then the group splits up as some folks take a dip in the ocean, and others throw the frisbee around and even play a reasonably accurate version of volleyball. There’s also a strong board game contingent back up on the deck.



After dusting the sand off, Tommy and Jon give a talk on the state of the art in “Mobilesque.” While we don’t normally use Cordova/Phonegap for anything other than prototypes, mixing web views into native apps is super common and there will be more and more gray area between native and HTML-based apps.



Don presents our official code of conduct for Carbon Five events, and Christian gives an update and facilitates a discussion about our continuing push for diversity in our offices and our community.


While it’s tough to pry ourselves away from the talks, we head back to the C5 Santa Monica offices to try and make a dent in Mike’s wine collection and pass out the exclusive employee swag designed by Elias: a stealth hoodie.


Too much food and just enough pitchers of tequila follow at Blue Plate Taco. We follow up those bad decisions with a few rounds at Chez Jay, which Boram reminds us was the bar from Three’s Company. Sadly, no photos of the evening were ever found.

Day 2


The early birds hit the beach path for morning runs while the rest of us did our best to hustle back to the Annenberg Beach House for another day of talks and play. After loading up on caffeine and bagels, we kick off the discussions with a presentation by Courtney about the various steering committees that meet at Carbon Five. We all try to think of a better name.


Kris, Suzanna, and I, with help from Sean give a talk about effective techniques for integrating design on Agile teams. This quickly evolves into a fascinating discussion on both the challenges and opportunities presented by our way of working. There’s also a stickies explosion on one wall that captures the zeitgeist of the topic.


We break for lunch and more walks on the beach, old schoolers skateboarding, and power napping. Someone exposes the group to Spaceteam which, along with some light “indoor soccer” creates a fair bit of chaos.



We’re all feeling our second wind and August takes the floor to talk about test-driving iOS application development. Our current stack includes Kiwi 2, XCTest, Objection, and KIF. We all wish for decent iOS CI as a service.


Jeremy leads a discussion (with help from Jason and Ian who couldn’t make it in person) on architectural best practices for mobile and web APIs. It turns into one of the liveliest conversations of the Summit, covering versioning, async, and tooling best practices for APIs.


We do a quick “I like, I wish” reflection on the two-day summit. It seems that everyone liked the two day format and wanted more hands-on workshop activities. Maybe next time we’ll roll straight into project day. We’ll let you know how it goes after the Fall Summit.


If the summit looked like fun to you, and you’re a developer or designer looking for work in the Bay Area or Los Angeles, drop us a line. We’d love to have you at the next one.

David Hendee
David Hendee

David is the Director of Design at Carbon Five. He joined the company in 2004. Before that he was a freelance illustrator and a co-founder of the web development firm Fire Engine Red. David lives in Alameda with his wife Jenny, their dog Daisy, and a tiny dinosaur named Dorothy.