About Me

My name is David Petrie and I live and work in Wellington, New Zealand. I am primarily a software engineer who happens to get involved in startups from time to time.

Currently, I am founder of DreamEngine. DreamEngine is a marketplace for selling software automation tools, starting with graphic design tools. My general hypothesis is that we're on the cusp of being able to build highly advanced software automation tools that are far more powerful than the anything currently available.


Career Highlights

Prior to DreamEngine, in descending chronological order:

  • I worked on a VR app called Vast, a tool for crafting 3D objects and environments directly in VR.

  • From 2013 to 2016 I spent most of my time in the San Francisco Bay Area, California, USA. I worked at iCracked, leading a small team of elite programmers and engineers to create Ocean, a hardware product.

  • Related to this, in 2015 I published my first US patent.

  • In 2013, I got into Y Combinator for the Winter 2014 batch, as co-founder of SocialBox (renamed Shopagram).

  • Between 2010 and 2013, I was co-founder and CTO of PlayCoMo, making mobile phone games. I ran the company's office out of Wellington, New Zealand, managing our staff in five different countries (USA, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Indonesia). We shipped a lot of games for both iOS and Android, and got millions of downloads. Here's a gallery.

  • After a trip to Silicon Valley in 2008 I came back with an iPhone, and decided to on make mobile apps. I began making indie mobile phone games under the moniker @hackdirt. Here's a gallery of games I made.

  • I also built iOS apps for various companies in New Zealand, Australia, and the UK (including Subway NZ, Pizza Hut, Wagamama, and Royal Bank of Scotland).

  • In 2007 I became lead developer at awesome education software startup Arlo. Arlo powers a training platform for a impressive number of schools and companies in New Zealand and around the world, such as Xero, Microsoft, and the University of Auckland.

  • From 2003 to 2007 I got into enterprise software. I wrote financial modelling software and business applications for various companies in New Zealand, including PayGlobal (now acquired by MYOB). I did a big consulting project for Progressive Enterprises, to power analytics for all their supermarkets in New Zealand.

  • In 2002 I started an online DVD store called Moviehouse which I later sold.

  • To fund my beer and gadget expenses at University I started a webdesign studio, as well as a tutoring company called UniTutor.

  • In my first year of university, right after the dotcom crash in 2000, I started a website called "Daily Business Review". It was like "Arts and Letters Daily", but for tech news. For whatever reason, it attracted a lot of cease-and-desist letters. Here's an archive!


  • Automation Tools
    • I'm specifically interested in how to create software that can radically increase the productivity of the average person. Software engineers have had access to these kinds of tools for a long time, via APIs or package installers like npm. What would an 'npm for everyone' actually look like?
    • Research on automating construction processes
    • Procedural generation
  • Simulation
    • Simulate an entire city, or at least a small portion of it, then test different configurations of, say, the road layout to see how it might alter traffic flow
  • Generative and procedural artwork
  • Architecture
  • Typography
    • See various font rendering libraries on my projects page
  • Health and fitness
    • It's a bit of a fad, but I do intermittent fasting and I think I'll do it for the rest of my life. I get all my calories between 7am and 1pm
    • I row (current goal is to do 2000m in less than 6 minutes, currently barely breaking 7)
    • I lift weights and throw kettlebells around
    • Bicycle, occasional running
  • Crypto currenices
    • Ethereum
    • Stellar
  • Real time 3D graphics
  • Game engines
  • History
    • Currently interested in the decline and fall of the Roman Empire and the period of "late antiquity" that followed it
  • Software engineering issues
    • Better ways to interview software engineers
    • Agile: is it still relevant?
    • Why are back-end developers dying out more quickly than DBAs did in the late 2000s?
  • Cell biology
    • The question of whether eukaryotes are unique to earth, or not
  • Machine Learning
  • Music
  • Languages


Press and media coverage of projects I've worked on:

Other Social Media

Note: I no longer use these services; this is just more proof that I'm a real person.

This Website

This website is written using React and Markdown and built with GatsbyJS. The public github repository is available here.

March 03, 2010