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From Moldova to Palo Alto: Designer Ilie Ciorbă of Mixbook

Palo Alto company Mixbook has drawn talent from around the world, including Eastern Europe.

Engineer Ilie Ciorbă of Mixbook made the move from Moldova to Silicon Valley. (Courtesy Photo)
Engineer Ilie Ciorbă of Mixbook made the move from Moldova to Silicon Valley. (Courtesy Photo)

It no secret that the battle for talent in Silicon Valley is fierce. Engineers and designers come here from all over the world to cast their lots with top companies, startups and those in between.

Among them is Ilie Ciorbă, who works for Palo Alto-based Mixbook. We asked him 5 questions about his work and his experiences:

1. You're a native of Moldova, why did you choose to come to Silicon Valley?

Ciorbă: It really has to do more with my career than anything else. Moldova didn't have a design community strong enough to hold me there, so I decided to move on. Silicon Valley was the obvious choice, it has an immense talent pool, it is by far the best place to be as a designer today, the market is unbelievably hot already and it's only getting better; when you arrive here for the first time, your mind gets blown away. We are at the time when designers are given more power than ever, “beautiful experiences” is Silicon Valley's new obsession and that's exactly what I do. Besides, nothing beats California's weather.

2. Native Californians may not understand what Silicon Valley means to the rest of the world. Can you explain to locals what 'Silicon Valley' means beyond our borders?

Ciorbă: People that are outside the bubble can only see the picture painted by news media, this sort of like gigantic war-field of faceless tech corporations fighting over the booming market. They don't see it fully. It is very different when you are actually here and you're part of the thing. Yes, it is the world's innovation capital, but there is life behind code and pixels, and it's magnificent. You come to realize that there are real people behind every single Google or Apple product that are just like you, young and inspired, it's just that they managed to group together, here.

3. Have you connected with a Moldovan community here in this country?

Ciorbă: I have Moldovian friends all over the country that I keep in touch with, unfortunately none of them live in California. I meet people from my home-country here too, but it's always by accident. I think about my presence here as a good chance to meet new people, those kind of people that I would have never met back in Moldova. Silicon Valley has a truly diverse community and it's one of the things that I really love about this place.

4. Tell us about the work you do. 

Ciorbă: I'm a User Interface Designer. I like to think about myself as a modern day craftsman. My clients approach me with an abstract idea for a product they have in mind and I take care of the rest. I define what the end user experience is going to be like, how people will interact with it, how it's going to work, look, sound and most importantly how it's going to *feel*. I'm the link between the cold robotic world of technology and the fragile world of humans.

I'm currently working at Mixbook, shaping the future of their services. First thing I did when I got here was to redesign their brand, which was getting a bit dated, since then, I also worked on their mobile app — Mosaic, improving on its interface and porting it to Android. Bigger things ahead.

5. You work for Mixbook, a rising star in the tech world. For those unfamiliar with the company, tell us about it.

Ciorbă: Mixbook is an online platform for social expression that allows customers to create photo books and scrapbooks with an online editor. We offer our customers to upload their photos and print them in a  beautiful photo book that we'll ship to your door. We help people bring their memories to life. Print isn't dead, not for us, not for our customers. Mixbook is a very honest company and a truly great place to work.

Editor’s Note: Mixbook is located at 409 Sherman Ave. in Palo Alto. The company currently has openings in engineering and design.



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