Clément Mihailescu Wants to Help You Ace Your Coding Interview

Ex-Google software engineer Clément Mihailescu is committed to using his experience to help developers prepare for their interviews.

With stints in video game streaming, software development, content creation, and entrepreneurship, it’s hard to find something that Clément Mihailescu hasn’t done. His multifaceted career goals and interests have made him a role model in the software engineering industry, especially within his online community of over 300,000 YouTube subscribers.

Let’s dive deeper into Mihailescu’s journey, from his start as a software engineer to the rise of his interview prep company AlgoExpert.

Although Mihailescu was curious about tech when starting school at the University of Pennsylvania, he thought it was too late to start coding. Instead, he decided to pursue visual studies, since he had an interest in video editing and Photoshop. However, he later discovered that that path was more closely related to art history, which he wasn’t nearly as interested in. After switching majors a few times, he eventually settled into mathematics with a minor in fine arts.

Upon graduating from university, Mihailescu tried looking for jobs in venture capital or product management, only to find that most of the roles he was interested in required a strong technical background. That’s when he decided to start learning to code and applied to bootcamps, eventually enrolling in Fullstack Academy in New York City.

Only a few months after he graduated from bootcamp, he applied to full-time software jobs while starting to build his company AlgoExpert. In May 2017, he officially started his first software job at Google.

Mihailescu launched AlgoExpert with his co-founder Antoine Pourchet, an ex-Uber software engineer. They aimed to build a resource to help software engineers prepare for coding interviews. With their product, for just $99 per year, developers can get access to 150 coding interview questions, video explanations, space-time complexity analyses, a data structures crash course, and more.

Mihailescu and Pourchet officially launched their website in April 2017 and made their first sale in September of that year. Since he was starting his job at Google around that same time, Mihailescu was pretty much working double-time. Fortunately, as a self-proclaimed workaholic, he was able to handle it for the first few years. However, two months after transferring to Facebook in the summer of 2019, he decided to quit software engineering altogether to start working at AlgoExpert full-time.

Unbelievable Success...

In March 2019, Mihailescu posted his first YouTube video, in which he introduced himself and his channel, where he’d be sharing his thoughts about the tech industry and entrepreneurship. He spoke candidly about every aspect of his career, from the best and worst things about working at Google to the breakdown of his total compensation at Facebook.

He became more involved in the online software engineering community, collaborating with tech YouTubers like Patrick Shyu (TechLead) and Matt Upham, but he didn’t limit himself to talking exclusively about software. He also shared other aspects of his life, including how he went from $30,000 in student loans to becoming a millionaire at age 25. He also periodically posted videos featuring his girlfriend Meghan Williams, starting with a post from October 2019 titled, “My Non-Coding Girlfriend VS. Software Engineering Quiz.” He also recruited Williams to take care of some of the marketing and advertisements for AlgoExpert.

As he uploaded a variety of engaging content, including advice videos, storytimes, and comedy skits, his follower count grew steadily. By November 2019, only eight months after he started his channel, he hit the 50,000 subscriber mark.

...and Controversy

For better or for worse, having a significant YouTube following and a strong online presence prompted Mihailescu to address some controversy that arose regarding his company AlgoExpert. In early November of 2019, he and Pourchet discovered that YouTubers Patrick Shyu and Jonathan Ma had purchased the domain name, which was very similar to the AlgoExpert domain, and were using it to redirect traffic to their own interview prep business.

On November 7, 2019, Clément Mihailescu posted a YouTube video where he clarified that the two companies weren’t connected in any way. He said that he’d been advised not to speak much on the issue, but gave a slightly cryptic explanation of the situation without mentioning names. However, he did allude to the end of his friendship with Shyu and Ma as a result of their actions, saying,

“There is absolutely zero relationship-- zero ounce of a relationship, business or personal, between AlgoExpert or me, and the people who are behind this domain, behind the product and website that the domain redirects to.”

The next day, he posted an update video where he said that started redirecting traffic back to his company’s website, but the situation still hadn’t been resolved. He also brought attention to a comment that Shyu had made on another channel’s video that said,

“Clement got greedy and decreased affiliate commission percentages, breaking his own terms of service as a sponsor. He screwed over all the other YouTubers he’s partnered with in the past.”

However, Mihailescu decided to quickly disprove this claim by explaining his side of the story using screenshots from his company’s website and emails between himself and affiliates. He displayed a statement from his website that said,

“AlgoExpert reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to change the discount that your promo code provides as well as the percentage cut that you make from each sale and to terminate your affiliateship at any time and for any reason.”

He also clearly detailed the reasons why his team had decided to change the structure of the deal for some affiliates in the first place.

Later on, when the dispute was settled through attorneys and the issue was finally put to rest, Mihailescu explained the situation in full, including an apology from Shyu and Ma. The apology statement concluded with,

“We would like to set the record straight and state that there was no other side to this story other than our wrongdoing, and that we are fully retracting all comments made by Patrick Shyu about AlgoExpert and its founders in order to justify our activities.”

Since going full-time on AlgoExpert, Mihailescu has continued to make changes and additions to the product. In February 2020, he announced the launch of SystemsExpert, which his company built to help software engineers succeed in their systems interviews with interview questions, video explanations, walkthroughs, and more. Customers could get access to SystemsExpert for $79 per year.

Later on, in November of last year, Mihailescu announced that they had hired two new algorithms instructors-- Tim Ruscica and Nick White, both of whom are also popular tech YouTubers. This addition took their team from four to six people, including the two co-founders, Mihailescu’s brother Alex, who works in Performance Marketing and Business Operations, and Simon Krafft, their full-stack developer.

At this point, AlgoExpert has served over 60,000 customers, with many landing software jobs at prestigious companies including Google, Oracle, Palantir, and countless more. With all of the company’s success in the industry, its reach is continuing to expand rapidly, and contrary to Mihailescu’s recent April Fool’s prank, it doesn’t look like it’s slowing down anytime soon.

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