Aussies of the Bay – Matthew Ho

Name, job, part of the San Francisco Bay Area you live in

Matthew Ho, Product Manager. I live in SF in Potrero Hill. I’m a hill resident – represent! Love the neighbourhood. I work in Mountain View, so I decided to live somewhere close to a Caltrain station.

When did you first come to the Bay and what’s the backstory there?

I came 198 days ago 🙂 But who’s counting? I arrived on 19 April 2017. I came here for a job. My company, Atlassian opened a Mountain View office. There was an opportunity to join the mobile team there so I got a transfer from the Sydney office.

I’ve always loved coming to the Bay Area and wanted to move here for a long time.  I’ve come here almost once a year for the past 6 years. I love the innovation, sense of optimism and being able to watch NBA games live. So when I was asked, I jumped at the opportunity!

What was the hardest thing about moving here?

I was diagnosed with a heart condition called hypertrophic cardiomyopathy 9 years ago. I was playing basketball and blacked out whilst playing a basketball game. This happened in two separate games. I now have a defibrillator which is like a pacemaker.

I was concerned about moving to the U.S because I wasn’t sure about the healthcare situation or if it would even be possible to move. It turns out that its not an issue! My cardiologist recommended some cardiologists at UCSF Hospital. It turns out that they have a specialist cardiologist unit there with a lot of amazing doctors!

I had my first regular checkup there yesterday and thankfully everything is ok. That’s another factor why I chose to live in Potrero Hill near UCSF.

I decided that my condition wasn’t going to stop me from moving to the U.S. and living the life that I wanted to. It also made me a lot more grateful for everything I have in life and to pursue life with a passion. I’m also a lot closer to the manufacturer of the device which is based in Minnesota!

What was the thing you most enjoyed about the Bay when you first started living here?

I’ve only started living here so I can pick anything! The best thing I’ve done is go sailing in the Bay which was last weekend. We went on a small yacht out onto the harbor. My role was to do the tacking, which was loosening or tightening the line for the sail. I got a crash course in sailing!

It was an amazing feeling being on a boat powered only by the wind, skimming the water, getting wet whilst listening to great tunes. Here’s a pic.

What impact has being Australian had on your life here? In dating? In work?

It does make you stand out! I was at a party yesterday and someone tried their best Australian accent on me. It was pretty good! I also meet a lot of other Australians or we seem to find each other. At my work, there’s a lot of Aussies because the HQ is in Sydney, Australia. My roommates are also from Oz, So I never feel like I’m that far from home.

What do you miss the most about home?

It would be my grandma who’s 97. She was very ill recently, so I went back to see her. I aim to do a video call with her once a week.

Favorite Bay Area memory to date?

So many to pick from. As an NBA fan, I arrived late April and was able to go to one game in each round of the playoffs from 2nd round of playoffs, conference finals and NBA finals. An expensive hobby! But hey, got to do it when you’re in the Bay. Definitely going to Game 1 of the NBA finals was my highlight. Bucketlist checked!

Best brunch spot in the Bay?

I don’t want to give this away as I go there a lot. But it’s not a secret either! I go to Piccino. 1)  Because its a 5 mins walk from my house. 2) I love the decor of the place with its wooden paneling and benches. The food is good too! I was there last weekend. You can also follow my food adventures on my food page Where’s My Sauce on Facebook.

One thing from Australia you most want to bring to SF?

Our carefree, easy going yet hard working culture.

Most American thing you’ve witnessed in your time here?

When I lived in Melbourne, there was a bar that I use to go called the Kodiak Club. Upstairs there was a co-working space for startups. Downstairs at the Kodiak was an American themed bar with Tecate beers and the messiest, hottest Buffalo wings I’ve had.

When I got to America, I also noticed the same thing with the buffalo wings. So I asked one of my co-workers (pronounced colleagues in Australia): “Why is it that every time watch live sports in America at a bar, there’s buffalo wings?”. He responded “‘its ‘Murica!”. I guess that answers the question.

Biggest thing you’d want to take back to Australia with you?

Knowledge about how to build a technology business that can impact the lives of a billion people. I came here to learn from the people that have done this before. I wanted to learn how to become a world-class product manager and become better at my craft.

The people with the best product experience at doing this are concentrated in a small sector of the world, in the Bay Area. Every day I meet amazing colleagues and people that have more experience than me in this area. So I would love to bring that knowledge and share it with the Australian startup community.

What’s your advice for anyone who is thinking of coming over?

Just do it! It’s as simple as that. Pursue your dreams with all your heart and with conviction. I’ve wanted to move to America for the past 10 years since the first time I visited NYC. It might take some time.

For some, you may have other things come up in your lives, but don’t give up on it if its what you want to do. You can also follow my journey on my blog Inspiredworlds and on Facebook where I post an update every few days.

Any advice for new arrivals on how to make the most of your time here?

Read G’day SF newsletter. I’m probably the #1 reader and responder to emails – ask Christian! Join the Australians in SF Bay Area group to ask questions, get advice and share the experience. I also started a Facebook group called “BayBargain about saving money whilst living in the Bay Area. Explore the city, meet the locals and watch live sports whilst eating Buffalo wings! 




Christian Thurston


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