Software Development Engineer, iOS Consumer App
Eric is probably the only iOS Engineer at Groupon who was previously a high school principal -and- is currently a teacher of Ancient Near Eastern History. When did he decide to make the jump from education to engineering? That fateful day the iPhone hit the markets.
What are your favorite Groupon memories?
Too many! Geekons (Groupon’s annual internal hackathon); finding out the Groupon app made the top-20 list; sailing excursion in the San Francisco Bay.
What was your first role here?
iOS developer. I was impressed with iPhone hardware and software pretty much as soon as it hit the market. “That’s a device I want to code apps on!” I said. So I did.
What do you love about what you do?
I help code the iOS Consumer app. I love everything about it: I love that millions of users use it daily. I love the great team of brilliant programmers, QA-ers, PM-ers, et al. whom I work with. I love the free candy and cereal (a little too much) when I’m in the office.
You have an interesting career journey! Tell us about what you did before Groupon.
I took a job teaching at Kushner Yeshiva High School (yes, THOSE Kushners), and after three years, I got a Masters and decided, “hmm software management + teaching = principal.” So I did that for 5 years in Toronto and New York. But I didn’t love it. There were so much politics and so little education! I ended up taking a teaching position again in a high school in Atlanta and did that for a few years. Around that time, the iPhone and iOS hit; so cool and so fun to develop for. So I dusted off my coding skills, started developing iOS apps, took a work-from-home programming gig with the Nerdery in Minneapolis, then CNN in Atlanta, and finally Groupon (yay!). I still teach one class in AP Computer Science (Java), and I teach adults, mostly Ancient Near Eastern History and Literature, which is what my Masters is in.
You also worked at a startup in Israel…what was that like?
I joined an Israeli company, called Fundtech, as a C++ programmer in 1993. It was a tiny office with about 6 people or so in a building in Tel Aviv overlooking the Mediterranean. It was a wire transfer system running on Windows NT. The software went live in 1994, and it’s still used in hundreds of banks worldwide. If you wire money from one bank to another in the US, there’s a good chance you’re using that software. I spent 7+ years with the company and in the end, I was the Manager of Software Development of the Funds Transfer Systems, FEDplu$ (US) and PAYplu$ international). It was fun, but I love teaching, so I wanted to give that a try.
What was your first impression of Groupon as a workplace?
Friendly, open, and collaborative. Cutting edge!
What’s your favorite part of your team’s software development process?
I love the way we collaborate, starting with the kickoff, the review of the requirements, documenting the internal specifications, discussions with the designers, code reviews. It’s all great.
What’s your favorite local business?
Where can we find you outside of work?
Bicycle, bicycle, bicycle, sail…and bicycle. And spending lots of time with my family (bicycling and sailing)!
What’s been the most challenging thing you’ve worked on here?
What do your parents think you do?
They think I’m a doctor. Shhhhh.
What’s your favorite programming language?
I like ’em all–each language for its proper place. The more languages, the better.
How does your work connect to Groupon’s mission of building the daily habit in local commerce?
I help code the main consumer experience, trying to make the experience a bit more attractive, a bit more responsive, and a bit more intuitive to use.
Tabs or spaces?
Vim or emacs? Why?
Cuneiform on baked clay. It’s somewhat more modern than those two.