Today we are talking to Matt Walker, the CTO and Co-Founder of Simon Data. And we discuss connecting the engineering team back to the customer, building a strong remote culture and removing emotion from mistakes to grow and learn from them.

All of this, right here, right now, on the Modern CTO Podcast!

Matt Walker is a co-founder and the CTO of Simon Data, the first enterprise customer data platform with a fully integrated marketing cloud. Prior to Simon Data, Matt was the first hire at Adtuitive – a technology platform that automated the entire online advertising process for small retailers – where he was brought on to research domain-specific page-to-product matching algorithms.

Once Adtuitive was acquired by Etsy in December of 2009, Matt worked as a Staff Software Engineer at the online marketplace, where he created an EMR-based analytics platform. From Etsy, Matt joined the Data Science team at Apple, after which he co-founded Simon Data in 2013. Matt holds a B.S. in Electrical and Computer Engineering from Rice University and a Masters in Computer Sciences from The University of Texas at Austin. He currently resides in Austin, Texas with his wife, four children, and three dogs.


  • What is Simon – Place for retention marketers to collaborate with data team
  • Cut his teeth at Etsy, at a company that got acquired by Etsy
  • Jason – CEO is an old colleague from Grad School.  
  • Customer Data Platforms – accumulate all data about a customer
  • What was the inspiration for Simon Data.  Came from experiences at Etsy.  Apply data science to real world problems
  • Interface in a variety of ways.  If there is a data engineering team, they bring them in to client services.  If they don’t have it they provide Data Engineers
  • Sales at Simon.  Great group of people.
  • Moving towards larger and larger companies because they support the scale
  • What has the growth been like at Simon?  Been in market for 3 years.  Hire jr. engineers out of bootcamps and pair them up with a sr engineer
  • 26 engineers not including integration teams and looking to double in the next year
  • Customer Success – TCSM’s technical customer success managers.
  • Chief Mistakes.  Not anticipating the scope of the product
  • Can be very incremental with how they onboard data.  Bring in the smallest amount of data initially.
  • Outcome Driven across the board
  • What are some signs of a great engineering culture.  Distributed engineering team. Daily stand-ups amongst teams.  Weekly meetings. Quarterly off sights – Mentorship.
  • Highly effective due to the flexibility remote hours allows.  
  • Lead by doing kind of guy
  • Plans to have less management from the HR perspective.  Keep up the Architecture perspective
  • Building a team you can trust
  • Do you have a right hand person?  Has a team of team leads, It’s been a very iterative process.  Doubled last year, and will double next year
  • Focus is one of the scarcest commodities.  Pick your priorities.
  • ntegrates with Segment.  Makes it easy to deploy multiple beacons.
  • GitPrime – Goes through git repos and give you real measurable kpi
  • Use Asana for project management
  • Are there any challenges being remote?  People has hesitancy to jump on the phone or get on a video call.  When to escalate the convo from slack to call to have conversation in real time.  Extremely active in slack
  • Haven’t trotted Simon out on the engineering side as much as the marketing side.  Looking to start getting in to the conference circuit
  • What are you most excited about today.  Excited about the team. Executing growing the team that he has in mind.  Next round of Tech Problems. Passionate about solving problems.
  • Utilizes memcache
  • Benefits of living in a big city
  • Technical Brown Bags.  Great way for Jr engineers to share over lunch
  • Booting up a SR engineer can be more challenging
  • Engineering can lose context when it’s separated
  • Forgetting – Post Mortem Culture.  Never forget. Lessons learned, don’t do this again
  • If an incident occurs they post mortem it – 5 whys – take blame out of it – take ego out of it

Joel Beasley

Joel began writing code at age 13 selling his first technology by age 18 for one million dollars. In his first three transactions, he developed key relationships and began working with Investors and Chief Technology Officers collaborating and building products in Real Estate, Law, Finance, and Fitness.

Today, Joel is a Chief Technologist volgging the process of building a company Joel is an author of the book Modern CTO a #1 New Release on Amazon and a #1 Technology Podcast with 70k active listeners. Joel has a clear vision and passion for modern technology, placing him as one of the most exciting Chief Technology Officers to watch out for.

Joel is the President of a charity that designs STEM related children’s books Back to the Moon and Princess Physicist. These books are then donated to orphanages, homeless pregnant woman and in-need children. Beasley Foundation was formed in February 2017 after Joel, Mitch and Valerie lost their Mother to Leukemia after being diagnosed 6 weeks earlier. Joel and his siblings wanted to do something unique with her life insurance money and the Beasley Foundation was formed.

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