Women 3.0: Jessica Kahn

Name: Jessica Kahn

Short biography: Before venturing into the tech sector, Jessica Kahn attended Dartmouth College from 1993 to 1997 and graduated with a degree in Psychology. After graduating, Kahn worked in quality assurance and software engineering at a few small companies, then moved on to a not-so-small company—Apple—where she worked as a software engineer and engineering manager from 1999-2008.1

After working at Apple for nearly a decade—on Safari projects, collaborative OS features and the Social Software team—Kahn left to become the Vice President of Engineering at Tapulous, Inc., the company behind the best-selling iPhone game Tap Tap Revenge (a hand-held iOS version of Dance Dance Revolution). The company was bought out by the Disney Interactive Media Group in July 2010; Kahn remained in the VP of Engineering position at the new Disney Mobile Games for a year after the move, and in July 2011 she became the company’s Vice President of Product, Engineering and Operations.1

What they do: In September of 2012, Kahn received another promotion at Disney Mobile Games, this time to the top—she is now the Chief Technology Officer and Head of of Business Operations. In this position, Kahn “oversees all technology development and use across Disney Mobile Games' three studios” and, “assists the GM in operation of the Disney Mobile Games business, including participating in budgeting, strategy, and HR-related activities at an executive level.”1

Why they matter: Kahn has a knack for seeing trends before they happen, as evidenced by her ability to lead Tap Tap Revenge into the top spot in the iTunes store. According to a 2011 Fast Company profile, Kahn believes that music is a “social glue,” and “the genius of the Tapulous team was to capitalize on the music zeitgeist, funneling some of the energy to their app.” She also knows how to lead a team: “When the [Tapulous] team noticed that Ke$ha's single ‘TiK ToK’ was trending toward the top of iTunes, the team rushed to act. They managed to secure a license to the title in 48 hours, and a team of coders worked through the night to create a custom level.”2

Kahn also gives back to the development community through speaking engagements. In 2011, she gave a keynote speech on designing family-friendly apps at the Voices That Matter iPhone Developers Conference in Seattle.3

Her other achievements include:

  • Being named one of Fast Company’s “Most Influential Women in Technology” in 2011.2

  • Holding multiple technological patents.1

How they got where they are: While in college, Kahn was leaning toward a career in law until a fateful coding class her senior year. According to the Fast Company profile, Kahn says: “I just sat there and thought, 'Oh my god, people will pay me to do this? This is so much fun! It was logical like law, but there was more tinkering and playing games and solving puzzles.”2

References: 1, 2, 3

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