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Kendall Sq. visionaries

Twitter’s Sason, Shah lead big projects for developers

Hemal Shah, left, and Tali Sason, are helping Twitter better connect with mobile game developers.
Hemal Shah, left, and Tali Sason, are helping Twitter better connect with mobile game developers.By dina rudick/Globe staff

From an ‘old fart’ to millennials, this collection of doers, thinkers, and visionaries could help to shape the neighborhood, and the world, for years to come.

Last year, after being rehired as CEO of Twitter, one of the first things Jack Dorsey did was apologize. Twitter had become an unpredictable business partner, Dorsey acknowledged, cutting ties with independent software programs without much warning. In a closely watched speech, he asked software developers for a “reset” in their relationship.

That reset for one of the Internet’s most high-profile companies would be rooted in Kendall Square.

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“We want to make sure that we have a great relationship with our developers, we have an open and honest and transparent relationship, and that we’re fulfilling and serving every one of your needs,” Dorsey said in his speech.

Even as he was making his case, work was already well underway on a major part of that mission: building better software tools for mobile game developers. The project was being led by a pair of employees at Twitter’s Kendall Square office, affectionately known as @TwitterBoston.

Engineering manager Tali Sason and product manager Hemal Shah worked with colleagues in Cambridge and San Francisco to deliver the project, which connected Twitter’s developer tools to Unity, a popular software engine for video game creators. It was released publicly in March.

Game developers represent a huge chunk of the mobile app world, both in terms of the raw number of apps and how much money they generate. But Twitter hadn’t been deeply involved in the industry before.

“Building for a community that we weren’t super linked into was really unusual for us. So we spent a lot of time trying to learn about their needs,” Sason said.

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You might expect a project of that heft to be entrusted to veteran Twitter employees. But Shah had been a product manager for less than a year when Dorsey re-took the helm as permanent CEO, while Sason had joined the company about a month earlier. Friends at other companies are “blown away by the opportunities I’m given” as a relatively junior employee, Shah said.

“Sometimes, you’re tasked with making a button get more clicks,” he said with a laugh. “And I truly feel like I get to be the CEO of a product, essentially, from when I started all the way up until now.”

Rising Twitter employees also notice the fact that Kendall Square has spawned some high-profile company leaders. Among them are the cofounders of Crashlytics, which Twitter acquired in early 2013: Jeff Seibert, who leads Twitter’s consumer products, and Wayne Chang, who directs consumer product strategy.

“Those are some leaders that were based in Boston, from startups, and are now running some really big parts of Twitter,” said Rich Paret, the Cambridge office leader and another Crashlytics alum. “It’s pretty amazing.”


Curt Woodward can be reached at curt.woodward@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @curtwoodward.