December 16, 2022
By Lunar Visitor Staff Writer
Iddris Sandu, a Ghanaian born in California, was in high school when he created his first mobile software. Sandu, 21, now lives in Los Angeles and has accomplished many incredible feats, including being in charge of systems that have made Uber, Instagram, and Snapchat what they are today. The outspoken Tech Guru sees himself as a cultural architect, aiming to "level the playing field" between Silicon Valley and young communities of color.
He moved to the United States when he was three years old. By the time he was a teenager, he had taught himself computer programming, relativity theory, and industrial design by spending days inside California's Torrance Public Library. This was after his father abandoned him in a small Ghanaian Village for nine months of his life. When he returned, the first iPhone was just being released, which opened a world of opportunities for Sandu.
"I just got super inspired," he explained. He imagined that this device would change the world. The iPhone was significant because it was the first time regular consumers could develop for other regular consumers. Previously, you had to work for a tech company for several years before you could offer any kind of input or create an app, but Apple made it so famous. "I knew it had to be the future."
Sandu got his first programming experience when he was 13 after a designer at Google noticed him studying in the library. He worked on many projects, including the initial Google Blogger and Google Plus.
When he was 15, he designed an app that gave students turn-by-turn directions to their classrooms. As the only school in California with a student-created app, Sandu received widespread acclaim, earning him a meeting with former President Barack Obama. Sandu later created an algorithm that he sold to Instagram at 18. By then, he was already a consultant for Snapchat before landing at Uber, where he created the Autonomous Collision Detection Interface for its self-driving cars.
Sandu then met rapper Nipsey Hussle at a local Starbucks in 2017, and they transformed an abandoned storefront in Los Angeles into the Marathon Clothing Store in three weeks. The store drew the attention of many journalists and hip-hop and cultural icons such as Russell Westbrook and Vegas Jones of Roc Nation, among others, by leveraging Iddris' tech and design background and Nipsey's cultural influences.
Sandu's vision is to encourage the study of STEM subjects in the community worldwide. Like our ancestors before us who have made outstanding contributions to technology, such as Katherine Johnson, the NASA mathematician who made significant contributions to our understanding of space travel, or Valerie Thomas, inventor of the illusion transmitter as a Former Associate Chief of NASA Space Science Data Operations, we want to show children that there are no limits on what they can achieve as long as they work hard to pursue their dreams.