This is “My Life’s Work,” a series about the unique life experiences that influenced the careers of tech founders and executives. Interviews have been edited and condensed for clarity.
For the past decade, Samantha John, 35, and her co-founder, Jocelyn Leavitt, have been helping kids learn to code. Their app, Hopscotch, teaches children programming as they create their own games. In The Information’s Kids and Technology survey, Hopscotch was one of the most popular coding apps for kids among tech industry respondents. Although she is teaching thousands of kids to code, John didn’t grow up coding herself. Here she shares her path from avoiding computer games to helping kids make them.
John grew up in Detroit, reading avidly and feeling like videogames weren’t intended for her enjoyment.
Since I was a kid, I had this sense that I always liked videogames, but I thought, “This is not appropriate for you, Samantha. Videogames are for boys. Don't let anyone see you playing videogames.” It just felt really not for me. Actually, still to this day, I’m not super good with computers. My computer breaks all the time, and I do not know how—nor do I want to learn how—to fix it.
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