Meet Ben Pasternak, the Aussie Teen Taking Silicon Valley by Storm

When we last wrote about Ben Pasternak, the 15-year-old Sydney tech prodigy was one of our 28 People Under 28 You Should Get To Know, thanks to his maddeningly addictive app Impossible Rush.

The app, which Pasternak designed with a friend one day when he was bored in class, racked up hundreds of thousands of downloads in the weeks after its release, and shot to the top of the app store.
The pair didn’t see much money from Impossible Rush, which they initially weren’t even planning to release, and which they sold to another friend for $200, but it didn’t matter – Pasternak seemed destined for bigger things.
At the time, he had teased that he and some friends were working on another app called One, aimed at heavy social network users and designed to bring Facebook, Twitter and Instagram together into the one unified feed
The success of Impossible Rush caught the eye of tech companies at home and abroad, not least of all giants like Facebook and Google, both of whom are courting the young entrepreneur. 
Pasternak is due to start grade 10 this year, but as we speak, he is visiting California with his family, and about to tour the headquarters of those massive companies, with an eye to a possible internship.
In short, then, Pasternak is kicking all kinds of arse right now, and we were able to catch up with him over email to ask what it’s like being a 15-year-old Aussie in the world of Silicon Valley.

best city in the world

A photo posted by @benpasternak on

Pedestrian TV: You’re in California right now, about to tour the headquarters of Facebook and Google. As a high school student from Sydney, what’s it like for you to be the focus of all that attention?
Ben Pasternak: The current situation I’m in is somewhat surreal, it’s kind of hard to comprehend what is going on until I visit the offices. I haven’t really stopped thinking about it since I was originally invited.

PTV: What have you been up to on your American trip so far – have you had the chance to meet any of your heroes yet, or friends that you’ve previously only spoken to online? 

BP: So far I have only been in LA, done all the touristy things like The Grove, Universal Studios, Disney and so on. It’s all been fun, but when I get to San Francisco, I will meet HS Hackers [a meet-up for school-aged code enthusiasts] for the first time, and people who I have been speaking to for months over the internet. I really do love the US, knowing that I’ll be back in Australia soon really upsets me.

PTV: How did Facebook and Google initially reach out to you, and for that matter, are you at all nervous now the day of your visit is approaching?

BP: For Google, a friend, who is the Vice President of Google’s son, got me an invite. For Facebook, I reached out to a few people for a tour, but then was put on to the internship department and was offered a full tour. Currently, I am somewhat anxious but I’m sure on the day that will all go away. 

see you soon @ellie__gay @sophieeteooh @sensei_brezh

A photo posted by @benpasternak on

PTV: You’ve said that you’re keen to eventually start a venture for yourself, but that you’d like to get an internship out of this trip – what are you looking for in an internship?

BP: At the moment I could see an internship being important as I could learn how these large companies work and are run. I’m really not sure what to expect, though.

PTV: I’d like to ask about One, the app you’re working on to combine Facebook, Twitter and Instagram feeds, and apparently attracted some interest from investors. How’s that going?

BP: Currently I am hoping to launch One next month, but certain limitations have been added by social networks we are working with. The app is still awesome. I have also been working on another app that I will announce later this year.

PTV: When you think about the future of tech, what excites you, and what do you think you might have to contribute?

BP: In the near future the Apple Watch will launch, which is exciting. As an iOS developer this really brings interest to me. I am curious to see what apps for the watch will come soon. I will definitely be exploring this field.

PTV: How does school fit into the picture for you at this point – is it tough to balance that with your extracurricular interests?

BP: School at the moment has been a massive problem for me, honestly not too sure where it’s going.

PTV: Dumb question, but what do you like to do in your downtime? Are you a gamer or anything like that?

BP: When I have down time I am usually working on my apps but if I really have nothing to do I enjoy watching YouTube videos.

Image via Instagram