About this site

This is a blog about becoming better product managers and designers. I share links and longer articles on product managementthe software development process, and working better together. My background in sociology also comes through quite strongly, because what I am most interested in is how all of the stuff that we make fit together to tell us something about who we are, and where we’re going. My goal is to write this site in the spirit of the Swahili word elezea, which means to elucidate, explain, clarify, and relate.

What I do for a living

I design and build software that people love to use. After spending several years working in Silicon Valley and South Africa I am currently a Product Manager at Wildbit, where I work remotely from Portland, OR. For more information about my work, see the portfolio section.

If you’re into physical music, also check out my side project, a tiny record store called Elezea Records.

My story

Rian and family

My professional story starts in Stellenbosch, South Africa, where I completed degrees in Engineering and Information Science, and caught the internet bug after seeing a full color photo of a mountain slowly come up on the screen through the dial-up connection in our Engineering lab.

After my initial studies I moved to Perth, Australia to complete a Ph.D in Internet Marketing and pursue this Internet thing all the way. I did my dissertation on Social Network Theory and its implications for Marketing and the Web. I met a girl while I lived in Australia, so after completing my studies there I moved to California to pursue her (no it’s not as creepy as it sounds, and yes we eventually got married).

I spent the next 6 years working in Silicon Valley: first at market research firm Survey.com, followed by 4 ½ years in eBay‘s User Experience Design team where I got infatuated with the theory and practice of all aspects of Design. My last position at eBay was as Senior Manager of Product Strategy, where my responsibilities included leading a team of strategists who worked with various parts of the organisation to develop and guide product roadmaps and requirements that meet user needs.

I then joined South African startup Yola.com in San Francisco as a Senior Product Manager, where I was responsible for the product vision, strategy, design, and development of a variety of areas of the Yola user experience. In March 2010 our family moved back to South Africa where I established and grew the Product and User Experience teams at Yola’s Cape Town office. In December 2010 I moved to build and head up the Product & User Experience Design teams at online retailer kalahari.com, where we built the team from 4 to 14 designers and product managers. I decided to move into full-time consulting with Flow Interactive in June 2012.

At the beginning of 2014 our little family packed our bags for Portland, OR, and I joined healthcare transparency startup HealthSparq as Director of Product in April. In July 2014 I published a book on product management called Making It Right: Product Management For A Startup World. I moved on from Healthsparq and spent about a year and a half doing product design at Jive Software, and I’m currently a product manager at Wildbit where I spend my days working on Postmark.

Product management and user experience design is my obsession, and I’m excited about the great opportunities ahead in this space. I blog and tweet regularly about these and other topics, and I enjoy the speaking circuit, so let me know if you’d like me to do any of that.


I use the following tools to make this site:

Disclaimer: You know this but I’ll say it anyway. The opinions in this blog are my own, and does not reflect the views of my employer.

Creative Commons License Elezea is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution – NonCommercial – ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License. In short, you may reproduce, reblog, and modify my content, but you must provide proper attribution.