Android Engineering Manager
Palo Alto, CA
After 7 years at eBay, Eric met with the Android team at Groupon and took the plunge. His first few months here were like standing in front of a proverbial fire hose, but redesigning our mobile app alongside intellectually curious developers proved to be a rewarding experience.
What’s your favorite Groupon memory?
My favorite Groupon memory was launching Mobile 2016, a big ground-up redesign of the UI in the app. It was a huge accomplishment for the team, with tons of people involved in making it happen.
So tell us about your job! What do you do every day and what do you love about it?
I’m an engineering manager and my team is responsible for building great features for users. I work a lot with product managers to understand feature requirements, as well as back-end teams outside mobile in order to manage the dependencies. I love getting to influence the mobile app in such a big way and helping my team to meet their career goals!
What’s unique about Groupon’s Engineering culture?
On Android, we have a great team culture that’s built around being intellectually curious about technical topics, even those that aren’t directly related to the work we do at Groupon. We also have a great culture of giving back to the community and peers, through open source, presentations, or talks at conferences.
What’s your favorite language?
How does your work connect to Groupon’s mission of building the daily habit in local commerce?
Since I’m involved in mobile, my work directly connects to Groupon’s mission. Our users are always on the go, and being able to pull out their phone for a quick minute during a break makes it easy for users to make Groupon a daily habit.
What were you up to before joining Groupon?
Before Groupon, I was at eBay for 7 years (Front-end QA > Third Party Developer Technical Support > QA Automation > Windows Phone development) and was actively looking for a new place to work. eBay was a great company and I enjoyed working there, but at the time I was working on the Windows Phone, which was a dying platform. On top of that, the mobile team was in Portland and I was the only developer in California. I liked Portland, but not enough to move there. As a result, I felt pretty isolated from the rest of the team. I started reaching out to recruiters on LinkedIn to look for a new job, preferably working on Android. I was very excited to start! I had wanted to work on Android for a long time, and I was impressed by the impressive credentials (speakers, book authors, etc. ) of the Android team at Groupon.
So what was your first impression of Groupon as a workplace?
I had a great first impression. I remember being greeted and mentored by some really friendly people on the Android team who helped me get ramped up really quickly. I like to say that joining Groupon was like a fire hose of information, in a good way. After 7 years at a company, you start to think things can be only one way. I learned instead that things could actually be really different, and I learned a ton, especially in my first 6 months.
Tell us about the most challenging thing you’ve worked on here.
Mobile 2016 was the most challenging project I’ve worked on at Groupon. The challenge wasn’t actually so technical, but more of a project management challenge. By then, I’d transitioned to a manager from a developer, so it was one of my first big projects as a manager. What made it so difficult was that M16 wasn’t just one feature, it was a collection of features that all had to be delivered at the same time in order to provide a cohesive experience for the user. I remember staying up late and putting in some extra time on the weekend to try and make sure all the features could merge, dealing with some pretty nasty merge conflicts along the way.
There were a lot of difficulties coordinating with back-end teams as well. One of the most important features in M16 was what we called the ‘nav card,’ a card that shows up at the top of the deal feed that shows some key categories that Groupon supports. We worked a lot with back-end on that card, but in some cases, it didn’t show up at all. The navigation flow in M16 was fundamentally broken when this ‘nav card’ wasn’t present, so we had to help back-end debug in order to figure out how to solve the problem. We eventually came up with a workaround that involved the client manually adding the nav card, when the back-end didn’t return it.
Where can we find you outside of work?
I do programming outside of work, usually related to game development. Adjacent, I also love playing a lot of games and you can frequently find me playing on different platforms (PC, PS4, mobile).
And tell us something that might surprise us about you!
I’ve been programming since I was in middle school (OK, that’s probably not really surprising if you know me). Another slightly surprising thing might be that I love musicals! I’ve seen a ton: Hamilton, Lion King, Book of Mormon, Avenue Q, Pirates of Penzance, Legally Blonde, Grease, Reefer Madness, Wicked, etc… I’m always excited when new shows come to the Orpheum!
Tabs or spaces?
Vim or emacs?
Vim; it’s what I started with in college and I have no idea how to use emacs. I’d rather use a good, modern IDE though.
What’s your favorite part of your team’s Software Development process?
We really believe in good code quality and take pride in craftsmanship. It isn’t good enough to just get the feature done, it needs to be done in a way that makes us proud as engineers.
What’s your favorite local business?