Taylor Gibb: Young KZN School Dropout Making Waves at Derivco

Derivco developer Taylor Gibb is an extraordinary young man. After dropping out of school at fourteen, he has gone on to become an integral member of the research and development team at Derivco (Tech Inc.) and has recently been appointed to regional director and most valuable professional at Microsoft. All at the tender age of twenty-three. Taylor is a big dreamer and high achiever, and we are proud to call him one of our own.

Taylor’s love affair with computers began at a young age. His family owned a Pentium III, which he would use to access the internet. One day, after buying fifty rand’s worth of airtime for data, Taylor was frustrated to find the computer wouldn’t power on. He was even more frustrated when he discovered the airtime would soon expire. Determined not to lose the money, Taylor borrowed money from his mother to go to a local internet café, where he downloaded and printed a 300-page guide on building computers; a document he devoured within a few weeks.

“It was the turning point,” said Taylor. “It ignited my passion and I knew from that moment that I wanted to spend my life developing software.”

After working at a local IT company, Taylor was approached by Derivco, and was soon proving his star quality. Now part of a research team, Taylor’s job is to create software based on future technologies that the team can only predict. Taylor is loving it. “We’ve done some awesome stuff,” he said. “For example, we worked extensively with augmented and virtual reality, and created some amazing gaming software on these platforms.” Taylor explained that the role of his team is to forecast technology three to five years into the future, so that by the time the technologies have hit the market, products have already been created for it. “It’s a great team to be in – I get to change my mind three times a week about what I want to work on.”

Derivco is not the only company to recognise and support Taylor’s genius. Thanks to his contributions to the technology world and his involvement in technical conferences, Taylor was chosen by Microsoft to be a Regional Director – one of only 100 in the world. Microsoft regional directors are “independent technology enthusiasts” expected to be adept in many different areas of technology and who form the contact point between Microsoft and the developer community. Although not employees of Microsoft, regional directors form part of an official Microsoft programme and “[deal] with and [evangelise] one or more Microsoft technologies in a particular region.”

Taylor was also selected as a Microsoft Most Valuable Professional (MVP), described by Microsoft as an “annual award that recognises exceptional technology community leaders who actively share their high-quality, real-world expertise with users and Microsoft. By sharing their knowledge and experiences, and providing objective feedback, MVPs help people solve problems and discover new capabilities”. They are, according to Microsoft, “technology’s best and brightest”.

“I am living the dream,” said Taylor. “I get to do what I love every day of my life, and I never want to stop working. It doesn’t feel like work though, so I guess that old cliché holds true.”

His parents have been hugely supportive through his journey. “They supported me when I left school and they tell me every day how proud they are of me. They inspire me to do better and achieve even more,” he said.

Taylor also believes his time at Derivco has influenced his journey. “I love it here,” he said. “I’ve worked at a few different roles, but I’ve definitely found my niche. I’ve learnt so much from working with older and more experienced developers at Derivco and I think this ability to learn is my greatest strength.”

Although he has achieved so much so soon, Taylor is humble about his success. “I think people are impressed because of my age,” he said. “If I was older, no one would probably care. But people are just amazed that I’ve done all this at twenty-three,” he said.

We are definitely impressed and amazed, and we can’t wait to see what Taylor will produce in the next twenty-two years.