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