May 8, 2023
Serene is a hacker in the truest sense of the word. She's applied a hacker mindset to learn coding, piano, and blend art and engineering in fascinating ways. You'll find her collaborating on-stage with Grimes one night and coding censorship resistant technologies the next day.
As a self-taught coder she was the first engineer hired into Google Ideas when she was just a teenager. At Google she pioneered work on WebRTC proxies that she continued as a fellow at the Open Tech Fund and was eventually released as a Tor-enabling tool called Snowflake.
Serene took a hiatus from working as a full-time engineer to pursue a career as a concert pianist where she quickly gained recognition for her incredible talent. She became one of the few self-taught concert pianists to perform Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 3 (which I highly recommend checking out on YouTube). Serene is also known for the audiovisual artistry of her shows which is drawn from her own experiences with synesthesia that results in her seeing music as colors.
As the conflict in Ukraine started, Snowflake started to see exponential usage patterns as Russian citizens looked to circumvent state censorship and Serene decided to build a company around the technology to enhance development and build independent deployment models. That company is called Snowstorm.
With Snowstorm, Serene is focused on saving cyberspace from balkanization and censorship and ensuring that all global citizens have unfiltered access to the Internet. In this OODAcast, we explore Serene's career and then dive into ways we can preserve the original intent of the Internet with censorship resistant and privacy enhancing technology stacks that can be easily deployed and scaled.
SERENE is a concert pianist from a most unexpected trajectory. Though she never attended conservatory, her solo performances have been described by The Paris Review as a “spectacle to match the New York Philharmonic”, and today Serene has become one of the most talked about young talents in classical music, and beyond.
Beyond concertizing, Serene enjoys other collaborations such as her role as composer for Kanye West’s Opera, premiered at Lincoln Center & Art Basel, as well as pianist & technologist with Blue Man Group’s founder, bringing futuristic innovations at the intersection of music and technology while also highlighting her own audiovisual synesthesia.
Previously, Serene was a computer scientist, Google Engineer, and senior research fellow on various projects, before leaving to fully focus on the piano. In the brief years since, she has cultivated a disciplined, personal, and spiritual approach to her music. With her intersections of many disciplines, plus the “ability to enthrall audiences”, she has grown an international following.
Serene is one of very few self-taught pianists who’ve performed Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 3, which was described as “unprecedented” —Liszt Academy. Serene loves sharing the beauty and power of classical music with all audiences, everywhere, in all venues ranging from the Vienna Musikverein, to a full orchestra in Golden Gate Park, to a decommissioned Boeing 747.