Sarah Allen is a serial innovator with a history of developing leading-edge products, such as After Effects, Shockwave, Flash video, and OpenLaszlo. She has a habit of recognizing great and timely ideas, finding talented teams, and creating compelling software. She has led small and large teams and confidently turns vision into reality. She is interested in large scale cultural change, and worked for three years in the US Government, first as a Presidential Innovation Fellow, and later at 18F. She volunteers as Program Director of the global grassroots organization, Bridge Foundry, a leading force behind the learn-to-code movement.
In both technical and leadership roles, Sarah has been developing commercial software since 1990 when she co-founded CoSA (the Company of Science & Art), which originated After Effects. She began focusing on Internet software as an engineer on Macromedia’s Shockwave team in 1995. She led the development of the Shockwave Multiuser Server, and later the Flash Media Server and Flash video. An industry veteran who has also worked at Adobe, Aldus, Apple, and Laszlo Systems, Sarah was named one of the top 25 women of the web by SF WoW (San Francisco Women of the Web) in 1998.
At the moment
In her day job, Sarah works at Google, leading engineering teams that work on server-side events and application security policy.
Sarah is working to transform the tech industry to be reflective of our society, so that we might have our best and brightest minds solving our next generation of technical challenges. She co-founded RailsBridge in 2009, which grew into Bridge Foundry in 2013, which became an independent 501c3 organization in 2017. She serves as volunteer CEO and board chair of Bridge Foundry.
Sarah is also co-founder of Mightyverse, a mobile startup focused on helping people communicate across language and culture.
More details on recent history
In 2013, Sarah served as a Presidential Innovation Fellow at the Smithsonian Institution. The Presidential Innovation Fellowship was established by the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy in 2012 to pair industry experts with government innovators. The Smithsonian is one of several agencies sponsoring fellows in support of the Administration’s Open Data initiative. This spring, President Barack Obama signed an Executive Order establishing the Open Data Policy to make information generated and stored by the federal government more open and accessible, with the goals of increasing government transparency and efficiency and fueling entrepreneurship and economic growth. In 2014, she joined the founding team at 18F, and worked for two years to transform US Government digital services from the inside-out, practicing human-centered design and agile development, with open source solutions.
In 2009, Sarah founded the innovative product strategy, design & development company, Blazing Cloud, where she articulated an agile/lean UX methodology known as the Blazing Path. The company is not actively accepting new clients, since the team joined Indiegogo in 2013.
About this website
This is my personal space for writing and experimentation. If you are curious, you can read about the orgin of the name.
- follow me twitter/ultrasaurus
- or send me an email: sarah (at) ultrasaurus _dot_ com
I believe that software should be fun. Software should enable someone
to do something meaningful that they couldn’t do otherwise.
Interests: crowdsourcing, learning, language (both spoken and code), experience design, mobile, social computing, video and motion graphics, communication, art, science …
- Open Opportunities (source code)
- College Scorecard (API) (source code)
- Smithsonian Transcription Center
- OpenLaszlo v1-4
- Laszlo Webtop v1-1.5
- Laszlo Mail v1-2
- Macromedia Flash Communication Server v1 (renamed Flash Media Server)
- Flash Player 6
- Macromedia Shockwave Multiuser Server v1-3
- Macromedia Director v6-8
- Macromedia Shockwave v1-8 (only 5 versions, they skipped from 1 to 5)
- Adobe ScreenReady v1
- Apple’s Open Collaborative Environment (AOCE) released as System 7 Pro
- CoSA After Effects v1
- PACo (PICS Animation Compiler) aka QuickPICS v1-2
- Introducing Cloud Firestore (video), Firebase DevSummit, Nov ’17
- How to Build Robust Mobile Applications for the Distributed Cloud (video),
Google I/O, May ’17
- Erlang/Elixir Keynote: Language Encodes Wisdom (video), Mar ’17
- Communication is a Technical Skill (video), Rocky Mountain Ruby, Oct ’16
- Technical Leadership (video), hack.summit(), Feb ’16
- What is your software saying behind your back? (slides), Business of Software, Sep ’15
- Transparency Wins (slides, video), Taiwan Ruby Conference, Sep ’15
- Making Software Fun (slides), Brighton Ruby, July ’15
- Designing for Fun (video, slides), AltConf, June ’15
- The Power of Transparency (slides), MagmaConf, June ’15
- Ripple Effects (video, slides), Hack Summit, Dec ’14
- Ruby in Government, Ruby Rogues podcast, Mar ’14 (podcast)
- Why no Ruby in Government? SF Ruby Meetup, Jan ’14 (slides, discussion)
- Lessons Learned and Future Thoughts, Louisville High School, Aug ’13
- Video for the Mobile Web, Dutch Mobile Conference, Jun ’13
- Reflections on My Career as a Computer Science Entreprenuer, Immaculate Heart High School, Feb ’13 (slides)
- Crafting Software Products, SCNA, Nov ’12 (slides, video)
- Agile Business Development, JRubyConf, May 2012, (slides, video)
- What It’s Like To Be A Software Engineer (video)
- Teaching Code Literacy, Strange Loop, Sept ’11 (slides, video)
- Pie: the Making of a DSL for Simple Games, RubyConf, Nov ’10 (notes)
- Test First Teaching, Golden Gate Ruby Conference, Sept ’10 (slides
- Learning TDD through Test First Teaching, East Bay Ruby Meetup, April 2010 (video)
- International Web Applications, Ruby Kaigi, Aug ’10 (slides, video)
- Cross-Platform Mobile Applications with Ruby, Mountain West Ruby Conference, March 2010 (video, slides)
- Mobile Ruby, LA Ruby Conf, Feb ’10 (slides)
- The Mobile Phone is the new PC. Ignite Bay Area | Women Innovators, Dec ’09 (slides)
- Mobile Applications with Ruby, RubyConf, Nov 2009 (slides)
- Rails Webservices APIs and always up-to-date documentation with Cucumber aka Streamlined Geek Talk, July ’09, (notes, video)
- Cinematic Interaction Design, Interaction 08, Feb 2008
- How to Build Webtop Applications, AjaxWorld, Sept. 2007
- The Cinematic Web, presentation, DCamp, May 2006
- The Future of Digital Product Design, panel, BayDUX, Dec. 2004
- Designing Next Generation Web UI in a Declarative XML Framework, GraceHopper 2004
- User Interface talk: The future of the Web is not the past of Windows with Bret Simister, July 2004
- W3C Workshop on Web Applications and Compound Documents, June 2004 (position paper)
- Making data easier to use with Laszlo, Macromedia User Forum, 2003
- Developing Multiuser Applications, Macromedia Web World 2000
- ChikTek ’97, keynote speaker. A showcase of women using interactive technologies for artistic pursuits. Sponsored by San Jose State University and the San Jose Museum of Art.
- How to be a Software Engineer, SFWebgrrls, 1997
- Streaming Shockwave Futures, Macromedia User Conference, 1997
- CyberDog Unleashed (Shockwave demo), Apple WWDC, 1996
If you would like me to speak at your event, email me.