The designer and technologist had spent his early career instructing at Drexel University, his alma mater, and working at web dev firm P’unk Ave. Back in 2014, when he was readying to leave Philly for Palo Alto’s Facebook campus, the idea of a product designer wasn’t super common, he said.
“Within the apps and software we rely on, I think about the people behind them,” he said of the tech path, “the responsibility of who makes a good experience.”
Quirino made his impact on Philadelphia before he left: He’s a cofounder of Geekadelphia, the beloved geek culture blog he started in high school with band friend (now author) Eric Smith, which eventually led to the annual Philly Geek Awards.
“We were able to create a space for geek and nerd community and fandom in Philadelphia,” Quirino told Technical.ly. “It was not something I could find easily.”
But professionally, he wasn’t feeling as fulfilled as he could be. Quirino joined the corporation now called Meta in 2014 as one of about 100 product designers, he said. After years at a smaller, homegrown operation, he was expecting inefficiencies (and a lot of people to be smarter than him, he said).
He also found the challenges he was seeking.
Some of his projects included work on the platform behind Facebook ads, which was basically “Google sheets, Excel and whatever forms we cobbled up in the backend of Facebook,” until the company put a concerted effort behind it. He also participated in a hackathon with a handful of engineers who were working on a response to Typhoon Haiyan, which devastated the Philippines, Quirino’s home country. They designed an interface for donations on Facebook’s newsfeed, a feature still prominent on the social network.
“I didn’t expect to have that impact that early on in my career,” Quirino said. “The impact and autonomy was surreal.”
But after about six years with the company, Quirino said things came to a head in 2020. When the murder of George Floyd happened, the Facebook platform became a divided place for information, he said. He and a group of employees felt they had a responsibility to keep politicians and people of interest accountable, and take a hard stance on the social justice movement.
That’s not what they got from executives, who preferred to take a “hands off” approach, he said. It was an “inflection point.”
“That wasn’t enough for people like me who have been disenfranchised or marginalized,” Quirino said. “To hear that from an executive wasn’t good enough.”
Quirino left Meta in 2020 for Threads, a Slack alternative for creatives. It was founded by a fellow Facebook alum who was looking for help on the design team. The new role allowed Quirino to “flex everything I learned at Facebook”: He redesigned the company’s mobile app, created new branding and marketing, and added 3D avatars to its playbook.
With a fully remote team and an expensive lease in San Francisco, Quirino and his wife, who also grew up on the East Coast, began considering new places to live. An old one — Philadelphia — entered the picture.
Quirino is now settled in his new Kensington home, a stone’s throw from Fishtown, where he lived eight years ago. They’ve been back about a week, Quirino said Wednesday, and have gotten busy eating, especially enjoying the pizza offerings not as available on the West Coast. He’s taken note of what’s changed in the last several years about the city and about the remote culture that wasn’t as prevalent as before.
Though he doesn’t actively network, Quirino’s excited to connect with the Philly mainstays in the tech scene that were here when he left. And he’s excited to explore work culture on a fully distributed team. He and his wife did consider a few other cities, like New York, but the lifestyle here had everything they wanted.
“As a city, it supports everything we were looking for,” he said. “Food, music, culture, sports — go Birds.”
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