Arianna Huffington Visits Groupon

By
at April 17th, 2015

On Monday, Groupon employees experienced a more seamless segue into the work week when Arianna Huffington paid a visit. Huffington, co-founder and CEO of Huffington Post, as well as author of the book Thrive, spoke about her professional and personal life, and the importance of a healthy balance between the two. Thrive focuses on unplugging, mindfulness, and getting a good night’s sleep in order to feel more centered and also be more productive at work.

Arianna Huffington Visits Groupon

Many employees received a copy of her book

Groupon is known for its quirky culture and our offices boast plenty of oases for when employees need some R&R. But behind the irreverent and relaxed facade is a business that is propelled by the hard work of our employees. Growing from a small team in 2009 to 10,000+ employees worldwide was no easy feat—plenty of hours of dedication, passion, and not-taking-ourselves-too-seriously affirmations enabled Groupon to grow so astronomically in half a decade.

Arianna Huffington Visits Groupon

Arianna poses Nicole, Nadia, Cassandra, Nicole, Noelle, and Melissa, members of our Live, HR, Talent Development, and Events teams

Working at a tech company, the thought of unplugging and practicing more mindfulness can be difficult to put into practice, but Huffington gave sound advice on how to effectively integrate these ideas into daily life. Neglecting our well-being is something many of us are guilty of from time to time, including Arianna Huffington. The main driver for her to re-evaluate her priorities was an unfortunate incident 8 years ago where she collapsed from exhaustion, sleep deprivation, and burnout. “As I came to in my own pool of blood, I had to ask myself the question ‘is this what success is?’” After recovering, she began to assess how she got to that point, and how to avoid a repeat of that event in the future. She spoke about the 4 important pillars to living a more fulfilling life:

1. Well-being

2. Wisdom

3. Wonder

4. Giving

Arianna Huffington visits Groupon

Employees absorbed wisdom and shared laughs with Arianna, who quoted The Onion and cracked jokes about ex-husbands as well as the benefit of having a thick accent in America.

View From the Top aims to educate, enlighten, and develop Groupon employees via speakers from different industries, backgrounds, and cultures who have interesting and inspiring stories to tell. Previous speakers include Reshma Saujani, CEO of Girls Who Code, Sheila Talton, former SVP of Cisco, and Laura Rickets, co-owner of the Chicago Cubs.


Tech Spotlight: Clojure, Data Highways, and Friends Episodes

By
at April 16th, 2015

Today we get to know Lingyong, a Software Engineer in Chicago. He works on sales optimization and metaphorically rides the data highway to work everyday.

Name: Lingyong Software Engineer Chicago using Clojure

Title: Software Engineer

Start Date: August 2014

What do you do, exactly? I’m a Software Engineer, so my job is to write high-quality code that doesn’t break. My team focuses on sales optimization—we work to compile merchant data so when a sales rep calls a new business they can leverage years’ worth of merchant interactions, so it’s more customized and informative for everyone across the board.

My team’s challenges stem from the fact that we move data around from multiple different sources and then try to understand what the data looks like. It’s our “data highway”—we transport the data from once place to another and in between we make it into the shape we like and make it useable.

What has surprised you about working here? Before I joined, I thought Groupon was more focused on front-end work that revolved around the deals. I didn’t consider that there would be many big data problems. Now that I know the company’s scale and depth, many questions come to mind:

  • How do you manage the plethora of deals?
  • What do you do when they’re sold out?
  • How do you manage the merchants?

These are the questions I didn’t anticipate at first because the site is so light. In reality, there are so many technologies and challenges behind the scenes in order to make it simple for customer.

What is challenging about the work you do? One challenge is the fact that we’re using Clojure, which is a brand new language for me. It’s a functional programming language, and in school we only learned object-oriented programming languages. I have to understand how Clojure works while also dealing with big data.  Before, it was just a matter of putting the data into our memory, do some processing, and you’re done. Now you can’t just put everything into memory because the data is so big. So, how do you overcome the performance issues? That’s our biggest challenge.

What’s next to work on for you? I really like my team right now. (It’s probably because of his proximity to the LaCroix Rainbow.) I learn new stuff from them everyday and I feel confident that eventually I can help them in the future. Something interesting about Clojure is it’s hard to figure out when there’s a problem, and what the problem is. If you use another language, you can just Google anything you’re confused about—there’s a quick solution. Because Clojure is so new, that information isn’t out there. It’s challenging and exciting to learn a new language; the learning curve is steep, but it’s more rewarding to figure out the intricacies of the language on your own.

Bottom line: I’m really glad I joined Groupon and got to learn Clojure. Lingyong’s manager, Dan, is also glad he joined:

“Lingyong is exceptionally bright, a pleasure to work with, and he’s become a top performer in the short 6 months he’s been here. As his manager, it’s been fulfilling to see him grow professionally and absorb information and ideas like a sponge.”

Anything else? I moved to the U.S. from China about 8 years ago. I did my undergrad at Michigan State, then moved to University of Illinois for my Master’s. I use Groupon a lot now that I’m in Chicago! My favorite deal has been King Spa in Niles—a Korean-style spa where you are in a large room with other people. I’ve also seen every single episode of Friends at least 5 times each. (Impressive.)

Thanks for reading the People Blog—a blog about people at Groupon. If you’d like to commute to Groupon on the data highway with Lingyong, click here to view some of our current openings.


Sales Miniview: Joe, Military Veteran and Sales Rep

By
at April 15th, 2015

We have a new category on the People Blog! With Sales Miniviews, we’ll feature a face from the Sales organization to talk about their Groupon journey. Today’s interview features Joe, an Inside Sales Rep and military veteran.

Name: Joe Screen Shot 2015-04-15 at 9.02.22 AM

Start date: January 5th 2015

Title: Inside Sales Representative

What brought you to Groupon? I used to be a Mortgage Banker with Citifinancial Mortgage. When the mortgage industry imploded, I was forced to find a new career. I’ve worked as a flight attendant, sold cars, worked in technology and education (I was a military admissions rep for Colorado Technical University online), and even sold mattresses. After working in those different industries, I was looking for more than just a 9-5 job—I wanted a career. I was looking for a company that would not only be accepting of my outside-the-box thinking, but would embrace and encourage it. Also, because of my extensive travels, I consider myself to be cultured and I wanted a diverse work environment. I found all of these things in Groupon.

What do you enjoy about your role and working at Groupon? What I enjoy the most about working at Groupon is having the opportunity to work for the fabric and the pulse of America: the small business owner. It’s rewarding to help small businesses devise marketing strategies in order to expand their customer base, sell inventory, and get their name out there, all for no upfront cost to the business. Also, being a people person, it’s great working directly with merchants in order to help them grow their business.

How does your experience as a veteran help you perform in your role? Loyalty, commitment, and strong ethics and values are badges that all veterans take with them when they leave the military. I use these traits everyday when speaking with merchants. I work with business owners to craft deals that will benefit their business, our customers, and Groupon; it’s important to consider what is right for all three when creating a Groupon campaign.

What is your involvement in Vets4Groupon? My role with Groupon4Vets is to brainstorm ways to attract veteran talent to work here. I research what events to invest in as well as what events would successfully attract this type of talent. At Groupon, we are proud to support veterans for their service to our country, and we support their families as well. We want not only veterans to recognize Groupon as a welcome employer for vets, but all of Chicago and our many locations around the country.

Thanks for reading the People Blog—a blog about people at Groupon. If Joe’s story resonated with you and you’re interested in a career here, check out our available roles.


Women in Technology: Melody, Groupon Software Engineer

By
at April 10th, 2015

Today’s Women in Technology (WIT) blog entry is from Melody, a Software Engineer at Groupon. Melody started her technology career here and is currently working on our Goods homepage.

Groupon Software Engineer Name: Melody

Title: Software Engineer

Start Date: June 30th, 2014

What brought you to Groupon? This is my first job out of college! I was really excited to move to Silicon Valley. I wanted to come here to develop my skills, learn new technologies, and become a better developer. I like that Groupon has a start up culture and provides mentorship as well as employee resource groups, such as “Women@Groupon”. In the 10 months that I’ve been here, I have met many passionate and driven developers—many of them women!

What are you currently working on? As a software engineer, my biggest project currently is the Groupon Goods homepage. I was so excited when it launched for the first time in production for the US. I got to revamp the entire webpage and now I am rewriting the application and putting it in its own repository for better maintainability. We also started internationalizing the homepage earlier this year and now it is live in three countries. It has been great to own an application that impacts thousands of users! Shoutout to Calvin, Ray and Ruichuan for contributing to this project as well.

What are some tech challenges that are unique to Groupon?

1. InternationalizationGroupon Goods is currently live in ~25 countries and we also need to support countries with multiple languages. All of this is done from the same repository so it’s really important that we think globally when planning our projects.

2. Mobile First – Groupon is one of the top mobile e-commerce applications. We always need to think about mobile for every feature and service that we develop.

What do you enjoy about working here?  Everyone is so friendly and welcoming. I was really nervous at first—Palo Alto was a new city for me and I had no idea what to expect for my first job out of college. Groupon provides a great culture and environment in which to work. I look forward to coming to work everyday because of my team and the support and mentorship that everyone here provides.

Thanks for reading the People Blog—a blog about people at Groupon. If you’re interested in beginning (or continuing) your career in Groupon Technology, click here to view some of our current openings. 


Tech Spotlight: Mike in Mobile Engineering Pt. II

By
at April 9th, 2015

Today, we continue our conversation with Mike, our Director of Mobile Engineering in Palo Alto. Click here to read the first part of Mike’s story! (But remember to come back for the second part. It’s worth the clicks.)

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Can you explain some of the key differences between working on mobile for Android v. iOS? There are definitely some differences (also a lot of similarities). At a high level, there are a lot of devices on Android so there are many more screen sizes you have to design for. On iOS there are only about 10 to 20 devices, whereas on Android you have hundreds or thousands. Android is more open, so it lets you experiment and do new things that you can’t always do on iOS. For example, we have a lot more control over Bluetooth LTE on Android, so we can experiment with things like Bluetooth Beacons in a way that is a little bit harder to do on the iOS side.  On the flip side, it’s a lot easier to shoot yourself (and your customers) in the foot with Android.

You oversee both Android and iOS teams – are they mortal enemies? Only when we play trampoline dodgeball. [Apparently this is a real thing. –ed.]

What initially motivated you to write “Android App Dev for Dummies”? I wrote the RoboGuice library and a bunch of companies started picking it up. So I started doing the talk-circuit—going to different conferences presenting on RoboGuice and Android topics—and through there I met people who put me in touch with the publisher.

What has kept you at Groupon and what’s exciting about the future of mobile tech at Groupon? Part of it is a personal thing for me. There have been a lot of opportunities for me here at Groupon. I went from being an individual contributor and writing the first Android app from scratch to leading the Android team, and now I’m running Mobile Engineering. From a career perspective, it has been one set of new and exciting challenges after another.

I’m also really excited about the Groupon vision. I like the idea of providing local businesses the same kind of tools to sell things that an online company would have. If you’re selling something online, you’ve got all these SEO, SEM, and advertising tools that give you insight into who your customers are and how to find more of them.  I was recently on a panel for a Meetup about mobile marketing, and it’s amazing the sets of tools you have when you want to market something to people online.

But if you’re a mom and pop shop or a small brick and mortar chain, you don’t have a lot of options for measuring the success of your advertising. You can try putting something in the paper and maybe you get more foot traffic the next day… but who really knows how to measure that? So the vision of Groupon and giving these local businesses the tools to figure out who their customers, how to reach more customers, and drive repeat business to their companies is really exciting to me.

How does Groupon tap the outer space marketplace? It’s an exciting time for the space industry! I went to see the last Space Shuttle launch a few years ago, and it’s been fascinating to watch NASA transition from being very big and bureaucratic to having a startup mentality with a lot of different companies partnering up. I would love to see Groupon get into more space-related deals. I would be first in line for a 50% off deal to Mars!

You can read more about Mike’s book Android App Development for Dummies on Groupon’s Engineering Blog!

 Thanks for reading the People Blog—a blog about people at Groupon. If you would like to help launch Groupon into space, or just work on our Mobile team for now, click here to view our open opportunities.


Miami University’s Women in Business Chapter Visits Groupon

By
at April 7th, 2015

Last Friday, Women@Groupon hosted a group of students from Miami University’s Women in Business chapter for a panel on career development. The panel, which was comprised of women from Groupon’s Marketing, Sales, Finance, Tech, and Recruiting organizations, shared career advice and Groupon stories.

Screen Shot 2015-04-06 at 12.26.46 PM

Top 10 pieces of career advice from the panel:

  1. Never stop learning: read, research, etc.
  2. Accept that not everything will go as planned, and that’s OK (and exciting!)
  3. Be precocious
  4. Be an autodidactic person (great word to add to any vocabulary)
  5. Utilize your managers to map out a career path
  6. Surround yourself with people who are smarter than you
  7. You learn more from your failures than your successes
  8. “It’s not the grades you make, it’s the hands you shake”
  9. Network
  10. Relax

Screen Shot 2015-04-06 at 11.50.23 AM


Employee Spotlight: Sales Training Manager Donnie

By
at April 6th, 2015

Donnie shares his career path from Merchant Research to Sales Training Manager and enjoys posing in front of oddly-named conference rooms.

Donnie Meurer - Sales Training

Name: Donnie

Title: Sales Training Manager

Start date: August 2011 as a temp, hired on full-time in January 2012

Tell us about your Groupon journey: I started as a temp in Merchant Research in August 2011, and I was hired on as a full-time employee around January of 2012. I’m a very extroverted person, so I was always trying to find ways to engage with the people around me. We launched a team where merchants could call in and ask questions about Groupon. I was one of 9 original members on this team which eventually became a dedicated Sales team within our larger North American Sales organization.

From September to December of 2012, I was the top-performing rep on that team. We were growing and generating a lot of revenue and we were going to be hiring more people. I put together a training proposal while I was a rep and had talked with my manager about my desire to eventually become a manager. In March of 2013 I became a team lead for my team, then in June of 2013 I moved on to training. We developed a comprehensive training path when the GOB (Group OnBoarding) sales program started, and I eventually became the manager of all Sales new hire training.

What advice do you have for someone wanting to get into Sales and/or Sales training? Start with proving yourself and your work ethic, and think about where you want to be professionally. Also, talk with your manager about career development because they are there to help you reach your goals.

Sales is hard, but selling Groupon has two benefits:

1) Groupon can sell itself; it’s a product that’s head and shoulders above anything else you could use to advertise.
2) Groupon has a mission. We help people save and grow their businesses. My background was in non-profit, and that’s why I appreciate Groupon: it’s clearly mission focused. Especially for people in our generation, people want a purpose in their daily work.

Similar to the creation of the word “Groupon,” what two animals would you pick to create a new animal? E.g.: dirds? My wife and I used to have a Chihuahua who was so ugly that she was cute. I also also love monkeys though, so I think a Chihuahua-chimpanzee mix would be great. A chimpanhuahua.

Thanks for reading the People Blog—a blog about people at Groupon. To learn more about our Sales opportunities, click here to either apply or refer a well-qualified stranger.


Desk of the Week: Somewhere Over the LaCroix Rainbow

By
at April 3rd, 2015

For years, the LaCroix rainbow has stood tall and proud on Groupon’s 6th floor, where Engineering resides. Although there’s no pot of gold on either end, an 8×10 glossy of Meryl Streep and a horse head donning a wig serve as great consolation prizes.

 

Groupon LaCroix Rainobw Desk

 

Gary, owner of both the rainbow and the correlating desk space, shares the rainbow’s history:

“The rainbow was constructed over two years ago while I was out of the office for a week. I believe it was a joke about empty LaCroix cans infringing on other people’s desks. The horse moved in over a year ago, after I was compelled to purchase it as a mascot for an internal software application we were building named “Palehorse.” The Meryl Streep photo is on the pillar as a reminder to everyone to “Streep on Streepin’ On.”


Tech Spotlight: Mike in Mobile Engineering Pt. I

By
at April 2nd, 2015

Today we get to know Mike, Director of Mobile Engineering in Palo Alto, who has published a book, launched a digital camera into space, and participated in trampoline dodgeball. (Not all at once, however.)

Screen Shot 2015-04-01 at 10.37.46 AMName: Mike

Title: Director of Mobile Engineering

Start Date: May 2010

From NASA to Groupon: describe your tech journey in 1 sentence: (Laughter ensues) In one word, it’s been exciting.

What are some similarities between the aerospace industry and Groupon? I worked with Dr. Sally Ride on a NASA project to put a camera on the Space Shuttle.  Now the camera is on the International Space Station, but back then it was on the Space Shuttle.  We were enabling kids in elementary schools around the world to take photographs of the Earth from space. It was awesome – I was there for several years and it was a huge character building experience for me and gave me a lot of exposure on how to get things done in a real team. It was very different from what I’m doing now, but many of the skills I learned are the same. Now is more of a career, NASA was more of a “holy crap – I get to work with NASA and Dr. Sally Ride putting things on a space shuttle – this is amazing.”

What were the biggest takeaways doing the NASA project? That was the first time that I was really on the hook for something. I ran the software team on that project and I got to fly out to Mission Control in Houston to be there during one of the shuttle launches. The takeaway from that was how to build teams and inspire them to do cool things instead of trying to do it all yourself, because no one person can do everything themselves.

Did you ever think about sneaking in and switching places with the camera and going into outer space yourself? I was never small enough to fit into anyone’s luggage.  There were so many rules and regulations – just the outline for what the mission was going to do was a 3-inch binder of paper printed front and back. It was completely planned out down to the minute – I wasn’t about to be the first stowaway to get caught.

Can you explain RoboGuice in layman’s terms? (pronounced robo-juiceBottom line: it’s an open-source dependency injection framework used by Microsoft, Starbucks, Nike, and others. Imagine that you’re building a building. In that building you have things like plumbing and electrical circuits. But what happens if you want to change all of your pipes from lead to plastic? That’s a really expensive and hard thing to do. Dependency injection lets you change the things that are embedded throughout your code, like the “pipes” and “electrical circuits” of a building, by injecting new versions without having to rewrite your whole app.

Continue on to part 2 of Mike’s interview or read more about Mike’s work on our Engineering Blog.

Thanks for reading the People Blog—a blog about people at Groupon. If you would like to help launch Groupon into space, or just work on our Mobile team for now, click here to view our open opportunities.


Employee Spotlight: Emily, the Music Education Major Turned Tech Specialist

By
at April 1st, 2015

In 2011, Emily’s Grandma encouraged her apply to a company called “Groupon”—in 2015, she’s embedded in the Tech organization and is a master user of the word “triage.”

Name: Emily

Title: Application Operations Support Specialist

Start date: January 31, 2011

Tell us about your Groupon journey: This was my first job after college. My grandma suggested I apply. I was having a hard time finding a job in my major, and reading the Chicago Tribune every day convinced her that Groupon was a fun place to work, and moving to Chicago could be a great new adventure. She was right! I applied and began my Groupon career in Customer Service as a regular ol’ CS rep.

After a few months, I asked my manager if I could shadow a developer because I wanted to understand why some customers had trouble receiving daily emails. She added to a special project in CS. The goal of this project was to make sure that CS was appropriately routing tickets to Engineering Support. Today, this team is called Application Operations Development. We slowly went from being a project to a team of our own, Application Operations Support. We still support the Customer Service department, but we’re now in Engineering supporting all other business teams that interact with the website as well.

I don’t have a technical background (I was a Music Education major), so it’s interesting to me that I ended up in the role I’m in, but it fits. I’ve been working with the site so much that it has become intuitive to me what works and what doesn’t. I’m also the project owner for Groupon Central, our internal communications tool. I work with people who are making process changes to make sure that the forms the developers create are efficient and instinctual for the user.

What are the biggest challenges you’ve encountered? There are so many people and there is so much to know. Something that really drives me is process improvement: I strive to get to a place where I can understand what everyone is doing so I can try to make things better. Growing globally has been a challenge, but these are all good challenges. They all push me to be better at my job.

What advice do you have for someone who is interested in joining Groupon? Keep an open mind. I got to where I am now because I care about helping people. I’m really passionate about helping local merchants and helping my coworkers around me. I want to help make Groupon an awesome place to work. If you can keep an open mind and find purpose in what you’re doing, and be genuine while doing so, then doors will open up for you.

Similar to the creation of the word “Groupon,” what two animals would you pick to create a new animal? E.g.: dirds? Well my favorite animals are whales; I’m very knowledgeable and passionate about them. I think I would combine a dog and a whale because I want a whale that can be on land and be a loyal friend.  So, I’m thinking a humpback whale mixed with a a lab…so it will be called a “Wab.”

Thanks for reading the People Blog—a blog about people at Groupon. If Emily’s Groupon story has inspired you to try something new, click here to view our open opportunities.