Do the crazy thing


I build high performing teams. 


In the spring of 2018 I lived on a Buffalo Ranch in the Canadian Rockies and became friends with a singing cowboy named Leo. When the snow melted, I camped and surfed my way to San Diego.

In 2017 I drove out of New York City with my backcountry ski gear. I spent the next few months skiing and living along British Columbia’s Powder Highway.

In 2016 my cofounders and I led our startup, Hightower, through a merger with VTS and effectively doubled the size of the company overnight. The Wall Street Journal reported on the deal

Crain's New York named our young company one of the "Best Places to Work" in 2015.

I moved from Seattle to NYC in 2014, sharing an apartment with my cofounders at 147 Mulberry Street in Little Italy. 

Boarding my flight to NYC, I was radioactive enough to set off dirty bomb detectors. I had to carry a note telling Homeland Security I wasn't a terrorist.

In 2013 I got divorced. I spent nine months sleeping on a couch in my cofounder's living room. 

I was also diagnosed with cancer in 2013. It was a tough year. 

I studied customer development with Steve Blank in 2012. His guidance and advice changed my life. 

In 2011 I started an innovation consultancy with one of my best friends. We worked with Nordstrom Labs and the Microsoft Garage to launch products and innovation practices. We were very good at this. 

My writing on startups went viral, eliciting the praise and scorn of the internet. The most surreal moment was going to Linkedin and seeing something I wrote as "trending on the web".

In 2010 I facilitated the first Startup Weekend events in the Middle East and Central America. This is some of the most rewarding work I’ve done.

In 2009 I dropped out of a master’s program at the University of Washington in Human Centered Design.

In 2008 I hit 47 miles per hour on a bicycle with a bee in my spandex. I didn't know about the bee until the bottom of the hill.

In 2007 I joined Redfin and was laid off when Lehman crashed. I nearly went broke, coming home one day to find a foreclosure notice on my condo. I tore it down before any (more) of my neighbors saw it.

I was married in the town of Ganges, a small haven off the coast of British Columbia. 

In 2005 I crashed my motorcycle.

In 2003 I opened a music production studio and arts space in Seattle, where I got to work with incredibly talented people. When the business failed, I ended up delivering pizzas for nearly a year. This taught me a lot about dealing with failure and setbacks.

In 1999 I snowboarded off a cliff at high speed (on purpose) and hit a tree before I hit the ground (not on purpose). I actually hit several trees and spent the next few months in pain, on crutches, and smoking lots of pot.

I didn’t like high school and graduated in three years instead of four.

In 1994 Ms. Dooley called me out in front of the entire class for filling my math workbook with songs and poetry. 

In 1990 I got into the Edmonds School District's "gifted" program – after cheating on the test. On orientation day, I stapled my finger. 

In 1988 my parents signed me up for a ski lesson, transforming me into a gravity-powered adrenaline junkie at the ripe age of six.

In 1984 I went to Disneyland for my birthday. They were celebrating Donald Duck's 50th anniversary with "Happy Birthday, Donald!" parades. I thought these parades were for me.

I was born on June 11th 1982, in Seattle’s Capitol Hill neighborhood.


Writing, Talks, and Interviews


Building a company, building a team, and nailing a merger

Giant and Crowns, January 5th 2018 


The one investment most startup founders don't make early enough

Fast Company, April 4th 2017


Donald DeSantis on discovering what you want

Entrepreneur Takeover, June 20th 2015


Donald DeSantis on the absolute power of product market fit

Growth Hacking Podcast, June 11th 2015


Designing your career path

Design Driven NYC, April 17th 2015


How I fought through cancer to launch my startup

Inc, February 5th 2015


Thoughts on turning 30 in the tech biz

Geekwire, June 11th 2012


What startups can learn from a crime boss

New York Times, January 17th 2012


Everything I need to know about startups, I learned from a crime boss

GigaOm, January 7th 2012


What being hopelessly single taught me about pitching tech celebs

Geekwire, November 6th 2011