Lifestyle

Computer whiz working in Bellevue

Ed Jiang checks something on his computer at his summer job with VoiceBox Technologies Inc. in Bellevue. - Mark Lowry / Reporter Newspapers
Ed Jiang checks something on his computer at his summer job with VoiceBox Technologies Inc. in Bellevue.
— image credit: Mark Lowry / Reporter Newspapers

At age 8, Ed Jiang assembled a computer to meet his own needs. At 12, he placed ads on his own Web site, making it profitable to the tune of $90 the first year and as much as $4,000 in one month at its height.

This summer, 17-year-old Jiang is working full time at Bellevue’s VoiceBox Technologies Inc., providing information technology support as well as helping to maintain the company’s Web site.

And, for the most part, he seems to take it all in stride, shrugging a bit at praise.

“At this level — the support he provides is definitely exceptional,” said Vlad Postrigan, manager of information technology (I.T.) for VoiceBox and Jiang’s supervisor.

The idea for Jiang’s Web site, www.krazyletter.com, was born after he and his friends found out that they could make money by posting ads on their sites through a Google program that searches for relevant ads for small Web masters. He started his up as a site to provide access to casual online games as well as a message and chat board for people his age, to talk about video games, other technologies and more. Jiang, who lives in Sammamish, is in the process of redeveloping the site now, but since launching it, he’s seen visitors from as far afield as Canada, Great Britain and Australia, although most are from schools and workplaces throughout the United States, he says.

Two years ago, Jiang started working part-time with VoiceBox, where his mother also works. Founded in 2001, VoiceBox develops conversational voice applications to simplify the search, access and navigation of digital content, according to its Web site.

While some of the I.T. work is routine, other portions are investigative, and Jiang’s bright, intelligent nature has made him something of a natural, Postrigan said.

“I don’t have to give him a lot of direction. He’s a self-starter. ... Ed, plug your ears,” he joked.

“I would definitely say for his age he has advanced knowledge of the I.T. field,” Postrigan said, noting that Jiang studies technical material on his own.

Soon to be a senior at Kirkland’s International Community School, Jiang is primarily self-taught, although he has taken a few online courses in coding and a continuing education course at Bellevue Community College. He also participates in several Web master discussion boards.

In school, Jiang competed this year with the Future Business Leaders of America, traveling to Georgia in June for the national competition and placing third in “Networking Concepts,” which consisted of a test with 100 multiple choice questions, he said.

Asked what he has done with the money he has earned since starting his Web site, Jiang answered, “Plenty of it is in the bank.” Of course, there have been expenses, such as server costs and equipment upkeep.

After graduation, Jiang is thinking of studying business and computer science at college, although he has thought of taking a year off to focus on his own endeavors first.

Jiang’s love of computers started at home when he was in about kindergarten.

“We were still on dial-up at that point,” he said, with a grin.

From there, the affinity grew quickly.

“The Internet is kind of an information overload, but I like how things move really fast,” Jiang said. “I spend a lot of my spare time on computers.”

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