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Business and Philosophy

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Business, philosophy, and culture episodes of SE Daily

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Business, philosophy, and culture episodes of SE Daily

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Best weekly hand curated episodes for learning

Cover image of Business and Philosophy

Business and Philosophy

Latest release on Jan 13, 2021

Best weekly hand curated episodes for learning

The Best Episodes Ranked Using User Listens

Updated by OwlTail 21 days ago

Rank #1: Plaid: Banking API Platform with Jean-Denis Greze

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A bank account is a platform for apps to be built on top of.

If that sounds like a weird idea, think about the features of a bank account. Most users only have a single bank account, making it a tool for identity and authentication. The series of transactions in a bank account provides a data set that can be used for analyzing payment history and issuing loans, or insurance.

But there are difficulties to building a platform on top of banking. There are thousands of different banks. If you want to build an application that integrates with a user’s bank, you need to be able to integrate with any bank that the user might use–whether it’s Bank of America, Wells Fargo, or Chase.

Plaid is a company that builds APIs for users to connect to banks. Applications such as Venmo, Betterment, and Coinbase use Plaid to connect with the bank accounts of their users. Jean-Denis Greze joins the show to explain how applications use Plaid, and how Plaid has scaled its infrastructure to handle a high volume of requests. He also discusses the potential of banking as a platform, and the strategy for expanding the APIs that Plaid can offer to developers.

Fintech Daily is a new podcast from Software Engineering Daily covering payments, cryptocurrencies, trading, and the intersection of finance and technology. We are looking for volunteer hosts for Fintech Daily, and if you are interested in working with us to conduct interviews, send an email to host@fintechdaily.co. You can find the podcast on iTunes, Google, and everywhere else, and if you are interested in hosting, don’t hesitate to reach out.

The post Plaid: Banking API Platform with Jean-Denis Greze appeared first on Software Engineering Daily.

Dec 13 2018

1hr 3mins

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Rank #2: Software Chasms with Martin Casado

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Infrastructure software can be a great business.

An infrastructure software company sells core technology to a large enterprise such as a bank or insurance company. This software has near zero marginal cost and generates a large annuity for the infrastructure software company. Once a bank has purchased your infrastructure software, the bank is likely to renew every year and never remove the software.

Selling infrastructure software is like selling concrete or steel, except the software is cheaper to produce, easier to distribute, and generates an annuity rather than being a one-time sale.

The fundamental economics of enterprise infrastructure software are extremely appealing, and every year more businesses enter the space–but few businesses ever leave. If you are starting an infrastructure software company, you can expect a complex battle for market share. There is no easy trick to get it into the hands of your target customer.

Martin Casado studied computer science at Stanford before founding Nicira, a company that pioneered software-defined networking and virtualization technology. In 2012, Nicira sold to VMware for $1.26 billion. Martin now works as a general partner at Andreessen Horowitz.

Martin writes about the modern strategies of building a successful infrastructure software company. He describes two methods of selling into an enterprise: bottoms-up and top-down.

In a bottoms-up model, engineers within an enterprise start using your product to solve a well-defined problem, such as API management. As more and more employees within the organization start to use your product, you can begin to engage the enterprise about becoming a paying customer for your product. Since the enterprise is already using your product, the sales conversation is much easier.

In the top-down model, you engage the CIO, CEO, or CTO directly and try to convince them that your product is worth paying for. When the senior leadership of a bank buys into your product idea, you can count on that senior leadership to convince their developers to use your product within the bank.

It is a rare occurrence that your infrastructure software company will be able to fit cleanly into either of these models–bottoms-up or top-down. More often, there will be some bottoms-up usage, and some top-down buy-in for your product. But you will have to evangelize the product on all fronts. You will have to convince both the engineers and the senior leadership.

Your product probably won’t speak for itself. You will have to develop expertise in sales, marketing, and consultancy. And in many cases, you might end up in an unending chasm.

The unending chasm describes a mode in which an infrastructure company must function as both a product company and a consultancy. Your consultancy is necessary to integrate your product into the enterprise, and ensure that your software actually gets used. But it reduces the appealing economics of a pure software company.

The unending chasm does not prevent you from being successful. Companies who have had very successful IPOs remain in the unending chasm. But it’s useful to know whether you are heading for an unending chasm–or if you are already in one.

Martin Casado joins the show today for a discussion of product development, software engineering, and go-to-market strategy.

To find all 900 of our episodes, including past episodes with a16z partners, check out the Software Engineering Daily app in the iOS and Android app stores. Whether or not you are a software engineer, we have lots of content about technology, business, and culture. In our app, you can also become a paid subscriber and get ad-free episodes–and you can have conversations with other members of the Software Engineering Daily community.

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The post Software Chasms with Martin Casado appeared first on Software Engineering Daily.

Jan 28 2019

1hr 4mins

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Rank #3: Stripe Atlas with Patrick McKenzie

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Starting an Internet business is harder than it should be. You need to incorporate, create an operating agreement, set up a system to accept payments, and many other straightforward tasks.

In the 1990s, this was how it felt to set up anything on the Internet. You always had to stand up a web server on your own infrastructure, before you could get to the interesting part–which was building an actual product. With the popularization of cloud computing, it became massively easier to stand up a server. Because of that lower activation energy, millions of applications and thousands of software businesses got started.

But the activation energy required to start a business remains higher than necessary. It feels like standing up a web server in the 90s–lots of tedium and reinventing the wheel that has been done by people before you. This is the motivation behind Stripe Atlas, a project to simplify the process of starting an Internet business.

Patrick McKenzie works on Atlas at Stripe. He was previously on the show to discuss his experience leaving a large corporation to work on his own small software companies. And his name has become synonymous with the modern phenomenon of the small software company–he has been writing about this topic for over a decade at Kalzumeus.com.

It was great to talk to Patrick once again about Internet businesses, and I’m excited to see Stripe Atlas become something huge.

Transcript

Transcript provided by We Edit Podcasts. Software Engineering Daily listeners can go to weeditpodcasts.com/sed to get 20% off the first two months of audio editing and transcription services. Thanks to We Edit Podcasts for partnering with SE Daily. Please click here to view this show’s transcript.

Sponsors


Azure Container Service simplifies the deployment, management and operations of Kubernetes. You can continue to work with the tools you already know, such as Helm, and move applications to any Kubernetes deployment. Integrate with your choice of container registry, including Azure Container Registry. Also, quickly and efficiently scale to maximize your resource utilization without having to take your applications offline. Isolate your application from infrastructure failures and transparently scale the underlying infrastructure to meet growing demands—all while increasing the security, reliability, and availability of critical business workloads with Azure. Check out the Azure Container Service at aka.ms/sedaily.


There’s no need to reinvent the wheel when it comes to making your app “realtime.” PubNub makes it simple, enabling you to build immersive and interactive experiences on the web, on mobile phones, embedded into hardware, and any other device connected to the Internet. With powerful APIs, and a robust global infrastructure, you can stream geolocation data, send chat messages, turn on your sprinklers, or rock your baby’s crib when they start crying (PubNub literally powers IoT cribs). 70 SDKs for web, mobile, IoT, and more means you can start streaming data in realtime without a ton of compatibility headaches, and no need to build your own SDKs from scratch. Go to PubNub.com/sedaily to get started. They offer a generous sandbox tier that’s free forever (until your app takes off).


Airtable is hiring creative engineers who believe in the importance of open-ended platforms that empower human creativity. Airtable is a uniquely challenging product to build, and they are looking for creative frontend and backend engineers to design systems on first principles— like a realtime sync layer, collaborative undo model, formulas engine, visual revision history, and more. Check out jobs at Airtable by going to airtable.com/sedaily.


GoCD is a continuous delivery tool created by ThoughtWorks. GoCD agents use Kubernetes to scale as needed. Check out gocd.org/sedaily and learn about how you can get started. GoCD was built with the learnings of the ThoughtWorks engineering team, who have talked about building the product in previous episodes of Software Engineering Daily. It’s great to see the continued progress on GoCD with the new Kubernetes integrations–and you can check it out for yourself at gocd.org/sedaily.

The post Stripe Atlas with Patrick McKenzie appeared first on Software Engineering Daily.

May 08 2018

56mins

Play

Rank #4: Build a Bank: Nubank with Edward Wible

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Nubank was started in 2013 with a credit card that was controlled through a mobile app. At the time, it was the first service in Brazil that allowed customers to do banking without going to a physical bank branch. Since then, Nubank has expanded into additional financial services and currently has 850 employees working in Brazil.

Edward Wible is a co-founder and CTO of Nubank and in this episode he discusses his work growing Nubank from a small team of less than 10 people into a company with almost 1000 people.

We have covered two other banks in the past few weeks: Monzo and N26. In terms of software engineering and product management, Nubank is similar to Monzo and N26. One characteristic that stood out was Nubank’s use of Clojure, a functional programming language built on the JVM.

A question that came up during this show: what is the line between “fintech company” and “bank”? We hope explore this more in future shows about the intersection of money and software.

Transcript

Transcript provided by We Edit Podcasts. Software Engineering Daily listeners can go to weeditpodcasts.com/sed to get 20% off the first two months of audio editing and transcription services. Thanks to We Edit Podcasts for partnering with SE Daily. Please click here to view this show’s transcript.

The post Build a Bank: Nubank with Edward Wible appeared first on Software Engineering Daily.

Jul 10 2018

59mins

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Rank #5: Autonomy with Frank Chen

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Self-driving, electric cars will someday outnumber traditional automobiles on the road. As transportation becomes autonomous, it is hard to imagine an industry that will not be affected by the downstream effects of this change.

These cars will likely be managed by fleet operators like Lyft and Uber. We will need fewer cars, and the amount of space dedicated to those cars will shrink dramatically. Parking lots, massive roads, and gas stations will be reclaimed or repurposed. City planning departments will have to devise entirely new strategies.

As the self-driving cars reach consumer availability, an intricate supply chain for these cars will develop. When smartphones became mass-produced, the costs of GPS devices, accelerometers, and other small components dropped steeply. A consequence of the smartphone supply chain was that other devices like consumer drones became affordable. The self-driving car supply chain will lead to the mass production of building blocks for other new devices.

With fewer automotive fatalities, the economics of the car insurance industry might collapse completely. At a minimum, the costs of car insurance will likely shift to the fleet operators, who can purchase that car insurance at prices factoring in their large risk pool.

Frank Chen is a deal and research partner with Andreessen Horowitz. In a series of presentations on the Autonomy Ecosystem, Frank explores the effects of our impending shift to self-driving electric cars. His analysis considers changes to energy infrastructure, the competitive landscape of software companies, and a range of other topics. Frank joins the show to discuss autonomous vehicles and the side effects of widespread autonomous deployments.

Transcript

Transcript provided by We Edit Podcasts. Software Engineering Daily listeners can go to weeditpodcasts.com/sed to get 20% off the first two months of audio editing and transcription services. Thanks to We Edit Podcasts for partnering with SE Daily. Please click here to view this show’s transcript.

Sponsors


Azure Container Service simplifies the deployment, management and operations of Kubernetes. Check out the Azure Container Service at aka.ms/sedaily.


Triplebyte is a company that connects engineers with top tech companies. We’re running an experiment and our hypothesis is that Software Engineering Daily listeners will do well above average on the quiz. Go to triplebyte.com/sedaily.


GoCD is a continuous delivery tool created by ThoughtWorks. GoCD agents use Kubernetes to scale as needed. Check out gocd.org/sedaily and learn about how you can get started.

The post Autonomy with Frank Chen appeared first on Software Engineering Daily.

May 25 2018

59mins

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Rank #6: Emerging Markets: Vietnam with Charles Lee

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From Africa to India to Asia to South America–computer science and programming are rising in popularity in every emerging market. Each of these markets has regional needs for technology. Just like every culture develops its own food and television, every culture needs different types of applications to run their lives.

In Vietnam, the day-to-day life of a citizen is different than it is in the United States. Yes, everyone needs Google and YouTube and Instagram. But the trends in messaging, food delivery, gig economy, and other B2C technology sectors are considerably different than the west.

Charles Lee is the founder of CoderSchool a coding school in Vietnam. Before moving to Vietnam to start CoderSchool, he worked as a software engineer in San Francisco for several years. In today’s show, Charles describes the difference between the US and Vietnamese technology sectors, from consumer applications to business software to coding education.

ANNOUNCEMENTS

  • New SEDaily app for iOS and for Android. It includes all 1000 of our old episodes, as well as related links, greatest hits, and topics. You can comment on episodes and have discussions with other members of the community. I’ll be commenting on each episode, so if you hear an episode that you have some commentary on, jump onto the app, or on SoftwareDaily.com to share your thoughts. And you can become a paid subscriber for ad free episodes at softwareengineeringdaily.com/subscribe. Altalogy is the company who has been developing much of the software for the newest app, and if you are looking for a company to help you with your mobile and web development, I recommend checking them out.    
  • FindCollabs is a place to find collaborators and build projects. FindCollabs is the company I am building, and we are having an online hackathon with $2500 in prizes. If you are working on a project, or you are looking for other programmers to build a project or start a company with, check out FindCollabs. I’ve been interviewing people from some of these projects on the FindCollabs podcast, so if you want to learn more about the community you can hear that podcast.
  • Upcoming conferences I’m attending: Datadog Dash July 16th and 17th in NYC, Open Core Summit September 19th and 20th in San Francisco
  • We are hiring two interns for software engineering and business development! If you are interested in either position, send an email with your resume to jeff@softwareengineeringdaily.com with “Internship” in the subject line.

The post Emerging Markets: Vietnam with Charles Lee appeared first on Software Engineering Daily.

Jul 22 2019

1hr 1min

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Rank #7: Software IPOs with Tomasz Tunguz

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Software companies such as Slack, Zoom, and Uber have recently gone public.

When a company goes public, they issue a document called an S-1. Within the S-1, there is a wealth of information about the company, providing a detailed story about the company’s business model, economics, and future prospects. The S-1 describes the operating model and the philosophy of a newly public company.

Going public serves several purposes. Being public allows a company to gain access to the public capital markets. It allows previous investors to have a liquidity event, by selling the shares that they purchased from the company in private markets. Being public also puts some constraints and visibility on a company, which can be useful for a company that is trying to develop internal discipline.

In the software industry, it is useful for most people to understand the dynamics of going public. A technology worker who is earning equity at a private company needs to understand the roadmap to their company going public, or potentially getting acquired. Anyone who invests in public technology stocks is evaluating the different available options for investment, and considering the best software companies to place a bet on.

Tom Tunguz is a venture investor at Redpoint, and the author of a popular blog at tomasztonguz.com. In a recent series of posts, Tom has evaluated the S-1s and compared the growth dynamics between a variety of newer public software companies. Tom joins today’s show to discuss his writing, and offer reflections on what can be learned about company building from the recent series of IPOs and direct listings.

ANNOUNCEMENTS

  • New SEDaily app for iOS and for Android. It includes all 1000 of our old episodes, as well as related links, greatest hits, and topics. You can comment on episodes and have discussions with other members of the community. I’ll be commenting on each episode, so if you hear an episode that you have some commentary on, jump onto the app, or on SoftwareDaily.com to share your thoughts. And you can become a paid subscriber for ad free episodes at softwareengineeringdaily.com/subscribe. Altalogy is the company who has been developing much of the software for the newest app, and if you are looking for a company to help you with your mobile and web development, I recommend checking them out.    
  • FindCollabs is a place to find collaborators and build projects. FindCollabs is the company I am building, and we are having an online hackathon with $2500 in prizes. If you are working on a project, or you are looking for other programmers to build a project or start a company with, check out FindCollabs. I’ve been interviewing people from some of these projects on the FindCollabs podcast, so if you want to learn more about the community you can hear that podcast.
  • Upcoming conferences I’m attending: Datadog Dash July 16th and 17th in NYC, Open Core Summit September 19th and 20th in San Francisco
  • We are hiring two interns for software engineering and business development! If you are interested in either position, send an email with your resume to jeff@softwareengineeringdaily.com with “Internship” in the subject line.

The post Software IPOs with Tomasz Tunguz appeared first on Software Engineering Daily.

Jul 26 2019

1hr 1min

Play

Rank #8: Facebook Leadership with Arturo Bejar

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Facebook leadership has a significant amount of engineers in its ranks, and engineers understand how to create an environment that appeals to other engineers. 

Engineers do not like working on projects that they are not interested in, so Facebook optimizes for matching engineers to enjoyable work. Engineers do not like taking orders from managers, so Facebook optimizes for a collaborative relationship between engineering and management.

Arturo Bejar was a director of engineering at Facebook for more than five years. Arturo managed a team that built site integrity tools, as well as the Product Infrastructure team, which created the groundbreaking React and GraphQL open source tools. Arturo has a deep understanding of what engineers want from a manager, and this is apparent in the results of the teams he has worked with.

Arturo also cares deeply about the human side of technology. When he was at Facebook, he started the Compassion Project, which looked at ways that technology could help support people through difficult times, and alleviate suicide and bullying.

Arturo joins the show for a conversation about engineering management, humanity, and the ethos of Facebook.

Sponsorship inquiries: sponsor@softwareengineeringdaily.com

Show Notes

Articles by Arturo Bejar

Managing Your Manager

Challenges and Opportunities in Communication Online: Summary and Full Version

Check out our active projects:

  • We are hiring a head of growth. If you like Software Engineering Daily and consider yourself competent in sales, marketing, and strategy, send me an email: jeff@softwareengineeringdaily.com
  • FindCollabs is a place to build open source software.
  • The SEDaily app for iOS and Android includes all 1000 of our old episodes, as well as related links, greatest hits, and topics. Subscribe for ad-free episodes.

The post Facebook Leadership with Arturo Bejar appeared first on Software Engineering Daily.

Nov 01 2019

1hr 13mins

Play

Rank #9: PlayStation Engineering with Tony Godar

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The PlayStation is a line of game consoles created by Sony. PlayStation devices include the PS2, PS3, PS4, and the PSP mobile system. Tony Godar worked as an engineer in the PlayStation ecosystem for 15 years, and he joins the show to give a retrospective on his time in the console industry.

Developing hardware and software for game consoles differs significantly from the world of web development. Tony describes the culture of the game development world, and the challenges involved in the domains of software tooling, custom operating systems, and streaming media. In 2010, the PS3 was hacked by notorious tinkerer George Hotz, a previous guest on the show, an event which Tony also discusses.

We also discuss the world of modern gaming and VR technology. Tony currently works as an engineer at MelodyVR, a company that makes virtual reality live music experiences.

Sponsorship inquiries: sponsor@softwareengineeringdaily.com

ANNOUNCEMENTS

  • FindCollabs is a place to find collaborators and build projects. We recently launched GitHub integrations. It’s easier than ever to find collaborators for your open source projects. And if you are looking for some people to start a project with, FindCollabs we have topic rooms that allow you to find other people who are interested in a particular technology, so that you can find people who are curious about React, or cryptocurrencies, or Kubernetes, or whatever you want to build with.
  • Podsheets is an open source podcast hosting platform that we recently launched. We are building Podsheets with the learnings from Software Engineering Daily, and our goal is to be the best place to host and monetize your podcast. If you have been thinking about starting a podcast, check out podsheets.com.
  • New SEDaily app for iOS and for Android. It includes all 1000 of our old episodes, as well as related links, greatest hits, and topics. You can comment on episodes and have discussions with other members of the community. I’ll be commenting on each episode, so if you hear an episode that you have some commentary on, jump onto the app, or on SoftwareDaily.com to share your thoughts. And you can become a paid subscriber for ad free episodes at softwareengineeringdaily.com/subscribe. Altalogy is the company who has been developing much of the software for the newest app, and if you are looking for a company to help you with your mobile and web development, I recommend checking them out.   

The post PlayStation Engineering with Tony Godar appeared first on Software Engineering Daily.

Aug 13 2019

58mins

Play

Rank #10: Facebook Management with Jocelyn Goldfein

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Facebook engineering is designed to self-assemble.

When an engineer joins Facebook, the engineer goes through boot camp, where they are exposed to multiple projects to find a good fit in terms of technical skills and personal preferences. Since there are so many different initiatives within the company at any given moment, a new hire can usually find something to work on through this exploration.

As an engineer builds credibility within Facebook, opportunities to move to other projects or to become a manager will present themselves, allowing the engineer to move within the company as they mature and their interests change. The sense of autonomy and freedom to explore is one feature of Facebook engineering that distinguishes the company.

Facebook is a flat, decentralized organization by nature. But there have been existential moments in Facebook’s history where an executive mandate was required. During these existential situations, Facebook centralizes and becomes a more top-down environment.

Facebook’s most crucial inflection point to date was its shift to focusing on mobile computing.

Even two years after the launch of the iPhone, it was not obvious that the world of consumer computing would change completely due to mobile devices. Facebook was becoming a dominant place where consumers navigated to on desktop, and Facebook engineering was focused on optimizing that desktop experience.

As the impact of the iPhone became noticeable, Facebook found itself with a desktop web product in the middle of a platform shift away from the desktop. During this same time, Facebook was beginning to succeed with its advertising platform and was evaluating an initial public offering.

Facebook leadership was able to recognize the importance of mobile computing in time to develop high quality mobile applications, but there were numerous challenges.

The Facebook desktop web app had been difficult enough to build due to the unprecedented data requirements and amount of interactivity. Mobile introduced the additional hurdles of limited bandwidth and distinct native operating systems in Android and iPhone.

Facebook’s early efforts to build a mobile application involved a cross-platform HTML5 solution. HTML5 had insufficient performance for Facebook’s needs, and the company needed to develop native apps in order to deliver the desired experience.

Facebook’s ability to pivot to mobile is comparable to the classic story of Intel pivoting from a memory company to a microprocessor company. To succeed at mobile application development, Facebook had to shift its focus dramatically, reallocating engineering resources and acqui-hiring small mobile companies in order to build up the domain expertise for mobile.

As a side effect of this transition to mobile, Facebook developed an understanding of how dramatically software engineering was changed by the introduction of smartphones and the high bandwidth requirements of social networking. The challenges of this new paradigm led to the development of open source tools such as GraphQL and React Native, which have allowed countless projects to build applications more easily.

Jocelyn Goldfein was an engineering director at Facebook for four years, from 2010 to 2014. She currently works as an investor at Zetta Venture Partners. In her time at Facebook, Jocelyn saw the shift to mobile firsthand. In today’s episode, she describes how Facebook management works, and gives her perspective on the distinguishing characteristics of the engineering organization as a whole.

RECENT UPDATES:

The FindCollabs Open has started. It is our second FindCollabs hackathon, and we are giving away $2500 in prizes. The prizes will be awarded in categories such as machine learning, business plan, music, visual art, and JavaScript. If one of those areas sounds interesting to you, check out findcollabs.com/open!

The FindCollabs Podcast is out!

We are booking sponsorships for Q3, find more details at https://softwareengineeringdaily.com/sponsor/

The post Facebook Management with Jocelyn Goldfein appeared first on Software Engineering Daily.

May 15 2019

1hr 13mins

Play

Rank #11: Courier with Troy Goode

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A gig economy application generates lots of notifications. 

There is SMS, mobile phone updates, emails, and native application updates. If you order a ride from Uber, you might receive a text message and a push notification at the same time. If an app overloads the user with notifications, the user might end up annoyed and delete the app from their phone. 

But perhaps all of these notifications are necessary. You would rather get three simultaneous notifications from your food delivery app than fail to get your food on time. If you are the mobile application developer building the food delivery app, what other choice do you have?

At large companies such as Linkedin, there are entire teams devoted to figuring out how to optimize the notifications that they send you. It has a surprisingly large impact on the usability of a mobile application. Troy Goode is the founder of Courier, a company that provides notification optimization.

This might sound like a small, trivial problem. But it actually has a large impact on the usage of apps. And it is not an easy engineering problem. Troy joins the show to talk about the problem that Courier solves and the backend infrastructure that powers it. Courier is built entirely on serverless APIs. This is a great case study in how to build a completely scalable infrastructure product based on serverless tools.

Sponsorship inquiries: sponsor@softwareengineeringdaily.com

The post Courier with Troy Goode appeared first on Software Engineering Daily.

Feb 21 2020

1hr 16mins

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Rank #12: Facebook Strategy with Mike Vernal

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Facebook’s strategy is shaped by long term goals, short term requirements, and the available resources of the company.

Long term goals are necessary for thinking through big decisions such as acquisitions, hardware product investments, and open source software ecosystems. To implement long term goals, Facebook needs to communicate the vision of the company and foster an internal culture that supports that vision.

Short term requirements can affect how the company is thinking on a more immediate time horizon.

When Facebook realized the importance of mobile computing, the mentality in the company quickly shifted from looking at mobile as a tax on engineering resources to a long-term source of business value. When Google started to work on Google+, Facebook engineers focused their resources on the potential competitive threat.

Facebook’s strategy is implemented by the engineers, product managers, and other employees of the company. Facebook is unique in its ability to allow those employees to self-assemble into work that is meaningful to the individuals as well as to the company.

As the long term goals and short term requirements of Facebook change over time, company resources are shifted to focus the company on the correct set of priorities. Some of those priorities might be speculative investments in new technologies. Other priorities might include doubling down on areas of the company that are showing promise.

Mike Vernal worked as a VP of product and engineering at Facebook for 8 years. He left the company in 2016 and joined Sequoia Capital, where he now works as a partner. In his time at Facebook, he helped architect and implement strategies relating to product direction and engineering.

Mike joins the show for a discussion about his time at Facebook and the strategic lessons that he learned from his time at the company.

RECENT UPDATES:

The FindCollabs Open has started. It is our second FindCollabs hackathon, and we are giving away $2500 in prizes. The prizes will be awarded in categories such as machine learning, business plan, music, visual art, and JavaScript. If one of those areas sounds interesting to you, check out findcollabs.com/open!

The FindCollabs Podcast is out!

We are booking sponsorships for Q3, find more details at https://softwareengineeringdaily.com/sponsor/

The post Facebook Strategy with Mike Vernal appeared first on Software Engineering Daily.

May 17 2019

1hr

Play

Rank #13: Leadership with Ben Horowitz

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Photo credit: Elisabeth Fall

Ben Horowitz started Loudcloud with Marc Andreessen in 1999. He ran the company for eight years and chronicled his experience in his first book The Hard Thing About Hard Things.

In his time running Loudcloud, the dotcom bubble burst, but Loudcloud needed cash so badly that he took the company public in 2001. Loudcloud went through layoffs, downsizing, and a difficult strategic maneuver in which Loudcloud sold its cloud provider business for cash, then used the core competency it had developed to create new software for building and running cloud services. This new software was the core product of the company Opsware, which was sold to HP in 2007 for $1.6bn.

The Loudcloud story looks like a rational, straightforward execution in retrospect, but at many points in the timeline, Ben was unsure he was making the correct decision. As the subtitle of his first book states “there are no easy answers.” 

The Hard Thing About Hard Things tells the story of Loudcloud and Opsware in harrowing detail. Most founders of software companies will end up reading the book at some point when they are building their company, because there are so few books which capture the granular details of what it feels like to run a company.

A CEO is completely alone in their understanding of the company. Nobody else has nearly as much information as the CEO–not the board, not the market, and not the employees. When you are a CEO, there is simply nobody to turn to who can give you the actionable advice that you wish you could have access to. And because there is nobody else, it means that the CEO’s own psychological state is extremely important.

The Hard Thing About Hard Things provides a CEO with solace: while the CEO is alone within their company, they are not alone in the world. Every CEO has a set of issues which they have never faced before, and the CEO can learn to face those issues confidently and competently. 

Like any influential book, The Hard Thing About Hard Things presents the reader with useful answers, but also raises many questions. How can a normal person foster the mentality of a leader? How can a leader convince smart people to follow their direction? How can a seemingly crazy direction be framed as completely rational?

The second book by Ben Horowitz is called What You Do Is Who You Are. This book surveys a set of case studies in leadership, including a Haitian slave revolt, the Mongol empire, and a dominant prison gang. By studying violent environments, Ben frames leadership in the context of the highest stakes. 

These stories are about life and death. When a leader’s performance is measured in blood, it frames the true nature of leadership in the starkest resolution. Ben uses each distilled example as a base case which inducts into broader applications: the cultures of Netflix, Facebook, Uber, and McDonalds are explored alongside editorials about Hillary Clinton and hip hop culture.

Throughout all of these stories, the most important thread is continually reinforced: the leader creates the culture. The culture is the leader. What you do is who you are.

Ben joins the show to discuss his writing, and how he has applied these beliefs to Andreessen Horowitz, the venture capital firm he co-founded and leads today.

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The post Leadership with Ben Horowitz appeared first on Software Engineering Daily.

Nov 04 2019

48mins

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Rank #14: Facebook Engineering Process with Kent Beck

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Kent Beck is a legendary figure in the world of software engineering. 

Kent was an early advocate of Test-Driven Development (TDD), and popularized the idea of writing unit tests before writing code that would satisfy those unit tests. A unit test isolates and tests a small piece of functionality within a large piece of software. Practitioners of Test-Driven Development write tens or hundreds of tests in order to cover a large variety of cases that could potentially occur within their software.

When Kent Beck joined Facebook in 2011, he was 50 years old and thought he had seen everything in the software industry. During Facebook Boot Camp, Kent started to realize that Facebook was very different than any other company he had seen. Facebook Boot Camp is the six-week onboarding process that every new hire learns about the software practices of the company.

After graduating Facebook Boot Camp, Kent began to explore Facebook’s codebase and culture. He found himself rethinking many of the tenets of software engineering that he had previously thought were immutable.

Kent joins the show to discuss his time at Facebook, and how the company’s approach to building and scaling products thoroughly reshaped his beliefs about software engineering.

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The post Facebook Engineering Process with Kent Beck appeared first on Software Engineering Daily.

Aug 28 2019

56mins

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Rank #15: Ad Fraud Engineering with Praneet Sharma and Shailin Dhar

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Advertising fraud occurs when a brand pays for an advertisement online and that advertisement is shown to an automated bot account that has been created to view ads. Advertising fraud is rampant on the Internet. It’s not possible to know how much money is lost to ad fraud, but the costs are in the billions of dollars.

Praneet Sharma and Shailin Dhar are the founders of Method Media Intelligence, a company that builds solutions around improving advertising quality. In previous shows, Praneet and Shailin have described the online advertising ecosystem in detail. They have told stories of bot farms, replay attacks, and adtech companies.

In today’s episode, Praneet and Shailin return to the show to discuss how advertising fraud is getting worse–not better. Praneet and Shailin worked with BuzzFeed reporter Craig Silverman, who was a previous guest on the show to talk about his remarkable findings about mobile advertising fraud, which accounts for hundreds of millions of dollars in theft every year.

The post Ad Fraud Engineering with Praneet Sharma and Shailin Dhar appeared first on Software Engineering Daily.

Mar 12 2019

52mins

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Rank #16: Software Moats with Astasia Myers

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Investors often use the term “moat” to describe the durable competitive advantage of a company.

When an investor puts money into a company, they are making that investment based on a valuation. That valuation is subjective–it is how much the investor thinks the company is worth. A valuation is determined by the present value of future cash flows. What are the future cash flows of a company? In order to figure that out, the investor needs to know how the business will look in the future.

This is why moats are so important. If an investor looks at how much money a business made this year, it does not tell the investor very much information about how much money the business will make in the future. If the business has a durable competitive advantage, then that means that the cash flows of the company are also durable. It also means that any compounding of those cash flows will be durable growth.

It is easy to understand durability for some businesses. Why do we keep using Google? Because there is no substitute search engine that is so integrated with our daily lives. Why do we keep using Facebook? Because there is no other social networking company that has all of our friends and family.

But what about companies with substitutes? There are lots of cloud providers, log management companies, and analytics providers. These are crowded markets, and yet in each of the crowded markets there seems to be a dominant player who captures the most market share. Why is that? How do software companies in competitive markets develop a moat?

Astasia Myers is a venture investor with Redpoint, a software investment firm that makes large bets on technology companies. Astasia joins the show to discuss how software companies form competitive advantages, as well as several specific markets such as log management and cloud cost optimization.

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The post Software Moats with Astasia Myers appeared first on Software Engineering Daily.

Sep 30 2019

1hr 4mins

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Rank #17: freeCodeCamp with Quincy Larson

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freeCodeCamp was started five years ago with the goal of providing free coding education to anyone on the Internet.

freeCodeCamp has become the best place to begin learning how to write software. There are many other places that a software engineer should visit on their educational journey, but freeCodeCamp is the best place to start, because it is free, and there are no advertisements. 

For most people learning to code, the price of that education is important, because they are learning to code to build a new career. It’s also important that a new programmer learns from an unbiased source of information, because an ad-supported environment will educate the new programmer towards products that they might not need.

freeCodeCamp has not been easy to build. Building freeCodeCamp has required expertise in software engineering, business, media, and community development. The donation-based business model of freeCodeCamp doesn’t collect very much money. Why would somebody build a non-profit when they could spend their time building a highly profitable software company?

Quincy Larson is the founder of freeCodeCamp, and he joins the show for a special episode about his backstory and the journey to building the best place on the Internet for a new programmer to begin.

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Show Notes

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The post freeCodeCamp with Quincy Larson appeared first on Software Engineering Daily.

Dec 20 2019

2hr 20mins

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Rank #18: Bugsnag Business with James Smith

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Crash monitoring emerged as a software category over the last decade.

Crash monitoring software allows developers to understand when their applications are crashing on client devices. For example, we have an app for Software Engineering Daily that people download on Android or iOS. Users download the app to their smartphone. When the user is playing an episode, and the app crashes, the details of the crash are sent to a server that collects all of these crash reports.

Crash reports allow a company to understand where their application is breaking on client devices. This is important, since there are so many client surfaces to test, from iOS to Android to browsers.

As a business, crash monitoring is a category that has some similarities to log management. There are lots of companies that offer crash monitoring. At first glance, it seems like a simple problem to solve. It seems like a market without winner-take-all or winner-take-most dynamics. But at scale, crash monitoring becomes a deeply complex engineering problem. From indexing to database choices to complex distributed systems tradeoffs, crash monitoring is not a simple business, and it promises to provide an extremely good business for the few companies who are able to out-execute the crowded market.

James Smith is the CEO of Bugsnag, a company that makes crash monitoring and application stability tools. James returns to the show to discuss the growth-stage engineering challenges of error monitoring, and the business opportunities that come with them.

Sponsorship inquiries: sponsor@softwareengineeringdaily.com

The post Bugsnag Business with James Smith appeared first on Software Engineering Daily.

Nov 13 2019

1hr 1min

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Rank #19: Technical Investing with Sunil Dhaliwal

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Robotics, genomics, and backend infrastructure: as an investor, it can be difficult to assess the viability of a startup that is on the cutting edge in any of these areas.

A robotics startup requires a team with an integrated understanding of hardware and software. A genomics company will not only have to develop a successful healthcare product, but will have to bring it to market through regulation. And in the world of backend infrastructure, building a business that will be differentiated from giant cloud providers gets harder every day.

Amplify Partners is a venture capital fund with an emphasis on technical investments. Their portfolio includes infrastructure companies like Datadog and Gremlin, as well as pharmaceutical and hardware companies.

Sunil Dhaliwal is the founder of Amplify Partners, and joins the show to discuss the thesis of Amplify. The investments that Amplify makes are in technical companies–which makes these financing decisions complex enough to require detailed, individualized research. But there are commonalities among the founding teams. Sunil lays out a useful rubric for anyone who is looking to learn about venture capital investing.

The post Technical Investing with Sunil Dhaliwal appeared first on Software Engineering Daily.

Dec 07 2018

1hr 1min

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Rank #20: Facebook Fallout with Antonio Garcia Martinez

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Chaos Monkeys is a book about Silicon Valley startups and Facebook. It is one of the most accurate books written about the modern technology industry, and captures both the negatives and the positives of software companies.

Antonio Garcia Martinez is the author of Chaos Monkeys. He wrote the book after going through a gauntlet of prototypical Silicon Valley experiences. Antonio founded an adtech company called AdGrok. His company was funded by the startup accelerator Y-Combinator, and during his time at the company there were many dramatic events that Antonio tells in great detail. AdGrok was acquired by Twitter, and Antonio went to work at Facebook on its ads platform.

Antonio is a fantastic writer. What makes Chaos Monkeys special is that it reads like a book written by an author who accidentally found himself in a technology career, rather than a technologist who opportunistically wrote a book.

Note: This episode contains explicit language.

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The post Facebook Fallout with Antonio Garcia Martinez appeared first on Software Engineering Daily.

Oct 31 2019

1hr 11mins

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