In June 2021 I made the largest purchase in my life (so far)— a 1.5mn townhouse in Sunnyvale, CA. It’s unfortunately not the most pleasant purchase in my life — for reasons I’ll explain in the next section.

But luckily, I ran into a solution to the problems just 1 month later — in July, I met FrontRock , a start-up trying to tokenize real estate transactions w/ blockchain technology, and now I’m part of the team :)

What made me jumpship from big tech life to start-up so quickly? Why do I think FrontRock can solves many of the…


It’s been a while!

As you might know, I graduated from Stanford’s Econ PhD program in 2020, and wrote a series of article on the transition from econ research to tech. …


In Jan 2021 I wrote an article about Chefus.com, a new Bay Area cloud kitchen + food delivery start-up. The article attracted 10+ investors to contact us. Given the popularity, I decided to reveal 8 more facts about it.

Central Kitchen in San Jose and in SF


In Oct 2020, I wrote a series of article on ‘how to break into tech’ from an econ phd perspective. The enormous attention the series got made me realize this sort of public good may be under provided. Thus, I decided to fill in the back-stories as well: how to ‘break into’ the Econ PhD.

In Jan 2014, I came to study at Harvard University as a ‘Visiting Undergraduate Student’ (VUS) for a semester. At that time I just finished the first half of my junior year at Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST) in Economics and Finance…


Chefus.com is a Chinese Cloud Kitchen + Food Delivery Start-up in Bay Area started in March 2020. As one of their early users, and now investor + team member, I’ll spend this article on why I think Chefus is the future of food.

March 2020 was both a very bad and very lucky month in my 2020.

Bad because, I was trying to write my PhD thesis while COVID hit. Already swamped, I had no time to cook, but Stanford dining hall sucks, and food delivery was expensive.

Lucky because, that’s also when I got to know Chefus, a Chinese…


On Dec 15, 2020 I posted this series on Twitter and got a lot of replies — on the one hand I was glad that it was helpful, on the other hand I was surprised to see these sorts of info weren’t more public before. Based on the many questions I got, I decided to add a running Q&A part to the series, to answer any question people might have.

Links to other parts of the series:

Part 1: Interview prep + Networking

Part 2: Interview experience

Part 3: Wage negotiations part 1

Part 4: Wage negotiations part 2 +…


Links to other parts of the series:

Part 1: Interview prep + Networking

Part 2: Interview experience

Part 3: Wage negotiations part 1

Google offer

Now that (1) it’s clear I have an offer from Google and (2) there’s real time constraint on both of my counter-offers, Ralph recommended me to directly share my ask with the Google recruiter to speed things up— typically, it’s only after a firm gives you Offer #1 that you share your ask with them. But in this case, since we’re under pressure, we’ll skip Offer #1, and directly go to Offer #2.

At that time, Ralph…


Links to other parts of the series:

Part 1: Interview prep + Networking

Part 2: Interview experience

Part 4: Wage negotiations part 2 + Decision

I know that for a lot of PhDs going into tech, the moment they got their first job offer, they pop a champaign and sign it. But that is terribly, terribly, terribly wrong — your negotiation has just started. Only 1.2% of the US population has a PhD, not to mention a PhD in a specific discipline (e.g. Econ) and specific topic (e.g. housing) and from a top program. It is not your fortune to…


Links to other parts of the series:

Part 1: Interview prep + Networking

Part 3: Wage negotiations part 1

Part 4: Wage negotiations part 2 + Decision

I know it sounds like cliche at this point, but my interview experience again showed how important connections are: at firms where the hiring manager picked up my profile to begin with, i.e. Uber and Zillow, I had an extremely fast and smooth process; at firms where I applied through the general pipeline, i.e. Facebook and Google, my experience was painful and long.

The Start

On Aug 7th, a Stanford econ phd circulated a Data…


In Oct 2020, I wrote a series on ‘how to break into Tech’ for Econ PhDs. That series was written with a very objective tone, meant to be a guidebook. However, I’ve always found reading other people’s stories very useful. For example, it wasn’t until I read Haseeb Qureshi’s ‘From AppAcademy to Airbnb’ that I realized how the job hunting process in tech actually looks like. So I decided to share my own story of ‘From Econ to Tech’ to help make yours easier.

Links to other parts:

Part 2: Interview experience

Part 3: Wage negotiations part 1

Part 4…

Scarlet Chen

CEO @ frontrock.io; Senior Data Scientist @ Shopify. Prev: PhD in Economics @Stanford. scarletchen.com

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