Andrew Lisy – Director of Product, Marketplace

Andrew Lisy – Director of Product, Marketplace

ANDREW LISY

Director of Product – Marketplace Team
Chicago, IL
Joined: 2014

From bond trading on Wall Street to e-commerce in Chicago, Andrew has taken his high-stakes modeling experience to the more local-focused (and probably slightly less stressful) environment of Groupon.

Tell us about what you do! What do you love about it?

I lead our marketplace teams, which comprise everything related to supply and pricing. In the supply world, we split it into two groups — Supply Intelligence (SI) and Scalable Supply (SS). The SI role is really fun because it’s heavily driven by machine learning models and decision science. I used to be a Wall Street bond trader, so a lot of the mechanics that go into determining the best merchants to bring onto Groupon’s platform are very, very similar to the models I used to use to pick the best stocks and bonds to trade as a trader. On the scalable supply side, I get very involved in partnerships with a variety of companies that do really cool stuff in the local space. We work with these companies to list their inventory on our platform. Finally, pricing is really fun for a lot of reasons — there’s the fun/academic/nerdy/trader/financial side of building out elasticity models, the immediate gratification of seeing our work appear on the front page of the site, and the thrill of working with an amazing engineering and data science team.

What do your parents think you do?

Me texting my mom: “What do you think I do for work”

Mom: “Big data? Head of all data? Analyzes data? Did you get a sitter for Friday?”

So what’s unique about being a Product Manager at Groupon?

More than anywhere else I’ve worked, being a PM at Groupon means ownership. PMs really own their areas and are ultimately responsible for the success or failure of their product(s). It’s an incredible feeling — every day, I come in and influence a big part of a major e-commerce site with tens of millions of users.

And how does your work impact Groupon’s mission of building the daily habit in local commerce?

Incredibly tightly! In order to create a daily habit, we have to have amazing supply and incredible prices. The work I do every day ensures that the merchants we’re bringing onto Groupon are the best ones to engage and delight our customers when they pull the app out of their pocket. If I do my job well, Groupon becomes an indispensable place to check every day to find great merchants around your area.

In order to create a daily habit, we have to have amazing supply and incredible prices. The work I do every day ensures that the merchants we’re bringing onto Groupon are the best ones to engage and delight our customers when they pull the app out of their pocket.

What’s your favorite Groupon memory?

When we launched card linked offers (CLO), we got a group of product managers in Chicago to go bar hopping to 3 or 4 bars that were in CLO. It was grueling work, and we were all in pretty rough shape after several hours of exhaustive product testing (and testing. and more testing). We try to do this sort of thing every time we launch something new. It’s a really fun way to “eat our own dogfood” and have a great time with co-workers.

Where were you before joining Groupon?

I was a trader — I traded convertible bonds at Merrill Lynch, options at a hedge fund, and then worked in strategy at a high-frequency trading firm. I loved the excitement of the markets, but something really clicked when I started building my own trading platforms for me and my trading group to use. One day, I work up and realized that building the platforms was what really thrilled me, and the trading part was just incidental. At that moment, I decided that I wanted to move to Product.

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What was your first role here and how did you get to where you are today?

I started as a Senior Product Manager on a product called Quantum Lead (QL). QL was (and is) a very data intensive program and tightly connected with our sales org, so I spent a lot of time with our data science teams and sales teams. After working on that for a while, another fairly quantitative role opened up leading our pricing team, and my experience was a good fit to take that on as well. We’re always looking to give people new challenges and opportunities, and it was a really fun space to dive into.

Where can we find you outside of work?

I like making stuff, toys, and eating. Cooking satisfies all three of these interests, so I’m really into making delicious food. I’ve also been getting into woodworking lately because it’s fun to come home from a long day of making code and jump into making physical stuff out of wood. I like making cutting boards because they’re fairly complicated to make but also can come out looking really nice. Finally, I like photography, so I document both of these hobbies on some small personal blogs I keep around.

And lastly, Vim or Emacs?

nano (/nerdcred). I used to be a pretty heavy emacs user but basically lost all of that muscle memory.

Groupon World Headquarters

Data Driven Chicago, Full Video Recap

Data Driven Chicago, Full Video Recap

ENGINEERING & MACHINE LEARNING

Data Driven Chicago has its second data industry event with Echo Global Logistics, Reverb, Sprout Social and Trunk Club

7 November 2017

Complete recording of Data Driven Chicago, November 2, 2017

Recorded at Groupon HQ in Chicago

If you missed it, two of Groupon’s own were joined by folks from Echo Global Logistics, Reverb, Sprout Social and Trunk Club to talk about the current challenges and innovations in the data-driven product  and machine-learning space. This event featured presentations by:

  • Ilhan Kolko (Echo)
  • Andrew Lisy and Laura Hamilton (Groupon)
  • Tyler Hanson (Reverb)
  • Mary Feigenbutz and Greg Reda (Sprout Social)
  • Laurie Skelly and Elizabeth Cleveland (Trunk Club)
  • Moderated by Alli Diedrick (Built In Chicago)

Groupon’s project managers are ‘the air traffic controllers of the engineering department’

Groupon’s project managers are ‘the air traffic controllers of the engineering department’

PROJECT MANAGEMENT & ENGINEERING

Groupon’s project managers are ‘the air traffic controllers of the engineering department’

30 October 2017

The Groupon Project Management Team in Chicago

Photograph by Chris Murphy

It was 4 a.m. when confirmation finally came in from the engineers: Groupon had successfully completed the online integration of LivingSocial, which the company acquired in 2016.

Groupon’s project management team had been toiling for months, working with engineers and key stakeholders on this large-scale project. With about 50 other staffers from different departments, they waited and watched into the wee hours, some via conference, until the “cutover” was finally confirmed. This means that users could now access the integrated content — and two weeks ahead of schedule.

That’s when an engineer came in with a bottle of Cristal and a “cutover” cannoli cake.

“Besides my wedding cake, that was the best cake I’ve ever had,” said Karen Hyatt, technical project manager. “There was something about being bleary-eyed at 4 a.m., eating cutover cake with the team you worked so hard with over six months that was really just special.”

Read the complete article at Built In Chicago.

Senior Getaways Product Lead in Seattle

Senior Getaways Product Lead in Seattle

Groupon Getaways is the travel arm of our business, connecting consumers with hotels, BnB’s, and resorts across the globe. Today, Noah Spitzer-Williams chats about how much impact Engineers have on the business and also sheds light on the quirkier side of Groupon.

So what do you do? 

I lead the Consumer Experiences team for Getaways, Groupon’s travel business. We sell almost $1B worth of hotel and tour package deals a year. My team obsesses about building great experiences for travelers in a dozen countries across both our web and mobile platforms. We’re “full stack” in that we build everything from the user interfaces to the backend services.

My favorite thing about product management at Groupon is how much exposure we get to all elements of the business. In a typical week we’ll work with folks in engineering, design, business development, marketing, customer support, and analytics. We have impact on everything from the “why and what” to the “how and when.”

What did you do before Groupon? 

Immediately before Groupon, I ran an action sports video editing startup. We weren’t financially successful but the experience was phenomenal. I learned how much hustle it takes to make it on your own. The Cinderella stories of successful founders you read in the news are not flukes. I also learned that I love building products much more than dealing with finances and legal documents.

What was it that made you want to join Groupon? 

Long story short, I had already done both the big company and the startup. I wanted something in between that had the resources of a big company but the entrepreneurial attitude of a startup. I also wanted to work in travel. Getaways was the perfect fit. It was a small team, but they were hungry and had big ambitions. Groupon itself was only 4 years old yet it was making billions all over the world. In effect, Getaways was a startup within a startup.

What’s unique about the work Groupon Engineers do?

There aren’t many companies that provide engineers with as much opportunity for impact as Groupon. Engineers here work side-by-side with product managers, designers, and folks from the business. Our teams are extremely lean and we help our engineers hit the ground running. For example, we have a friendly competition to see how fast new engineers can deploy code to actual customers. The current record is around 48 hours, held by a college hire.

Given Groupon’s relatively young age, we don’t have archaic legacy codebases lying around. This allows us to work with the latest and greatest technologies such as Node, Elasticsearch, and Swift. Don’t get me wrong, there’s plenty of duct tape around when you move this fast, but we work hard to not let it slow us down.

Twice a year the company hosts a week-long hackathon called GEEKon. GEEKon gives our teams the chance to innovate bottoms-up and unleash their creativity and passion for collaboration on new and useful solutions for the company. This year my team shipped Getaways Explorer, a Chrome plugin that displays a beautiful travel deal every time you open a new tab. It was an awesome experience to be part of a multidisciplinary team that went from idea to shipped product so quickly.

How is your role/team different now than it was 3 years ago? 

The biggest difference is the product and engineering teams have grown from a dozen to about 50 employees. The scope and scale of our impact is much bigger. It’s great in that it gives you a better means of competing in the market, but it also brings higher expectations and some growing pains.

We also have a much clearer vision for where we want to take Groupon and Getaways. We want Groupon to be a daily habit for everyone, whether you’re looking for great deals to buy, eat, or experience something. Getaways will simply help you to do this outside your hometown.

How does Groupon’s culture resonate with you? 

Groupon is a quirky place and we all enjoy a good laugh. Whether it’s growing mustaches for Movember or sending mildly inappropriate GIFs in our vacation mails, we don’t take ourselves too seriously. We make sure to hire people who will embrace our culture and help us evolve it.

On the tech side, my favorite cultural aspect is how teams work with each other. For example, if you’re dependent on a team that doesn’t have the bandwidth to build what you need, they’ll often invite your team to write the code yourself and they’ll review the work. That’s rare in companies our size and it allows us to (mostly) avoid dependency hell.

Anything else you want to add?  

Last year Groupon sent me to my 31st country on my 31st birthday. A group of us went to Chennai, India to work with some of our partners out there. It was an incredible experience and as a proud carnivore, I came home with a new appreciation for vegetarian cuisine.

Thanks for reading the People Blog—a blog about people at Groupon. If you’re a fan of the movie “Inception” and want to work for a startup within a startup, check out our current Getaways Tech openings: Senior Product Manager – Consumer Experience, Senior Software Engineer – Front End, Software Development Engineer – Back End.

Tackling Travel in Seattle

Tackling Travel in Seattle

Name: Santosh Ameti
Location: Seattle
Title: Senior Software Development Manager
Start Date: June 2015

What brought you to Groupon from Amazon and Microsoft?

In a short span of 7 years, Groupon has pioneered a new industry and remained the dominant leader in the space. The potential the company has and the growth it has exhibited thus far is exemplary. Local is very critical and important for any neighborhood and in the era of internet taking over physical stores, Groupon is doing a wonderful job  helping local merchants improve their visibility and increase foot traffic. This has created a new way of efficiently spending marketing dollars for any small business shop and in turn having a direct positive impact on their business.

Groupon is a great marketing engine to get foot falls into any local store with minimal cost. The potential the company has is tremendous; what we have done so far is really a drop in the bucket in this space and there is still a ton to achieve. All of these challenges at such a massive scale are very exciting.

What do you work on and what does your team do? 

I manage the Inventory Platform for Getaways. My team focuses on creating a generic platform that can scale across geographies and meet the growing demands of Groupon Getaways. We have various types of travel offerings from diversified sources across the globe; these are consumed by various systems to present to our consumers. It’s a great deal of detail one needs to incorporate to make the same solution work across different countries with minimal or no modifications. We focus on building the next generation platform that enables us to provide our customers with a wide variety of travel deals and bundle it with our amazing local deals.

Can you describe the culture here? 

There are two things to call out: one is the people and the other is the environment. It’s a vibrant workplace filled with enthusiastic people. Groupon has an amazingly fast-paced environment and yet still provides a great work life balance. The environment encourages us to innovate and keep ourselves up to date with the latest and greatest in the technology world. People here are smart, enthusiastic, and collaborate with each other instead of competing; they are approachable and always available to extend their helping hand.

What’s unique about working on Getaways? 

One unique thing about travel is it’s global yet still local to the region. We are placed in a strategic way to extend the local relationships we have with travel and offer a complete solution to our customers. Getaways started about 3 years ago when we realized that our customers were interested in travel deals. Within a short span it became a key growing business and remains a key focus for the company. We are working on extending the solutions we built for the US to global countries and improve the selection for our customers.

What’s challenging about working with travel and what’s exciting about it? 

I believe there are several challenges in the travel space to tackle and we have a chance to create a great solution for our customers. Today you have to visit multiple websites to plan travel, read reviews, reserve activities…it’s a time consuming activity. With our great partnerships we have the potential to be the one-stop place for all travel needs.

Anything else? 

Outside work I like to travel and try different cuisines (I’m vegetarian!) 🙂

I write poems whenever I’m in the mood and have self-published a kindle book. I like playing games indoor and outdoor and am an ardent follower of Cricket.

Thanks for reading the People Blog—a blog about people at Groupon. Interested in working with Santosh on Getaways challenges? He’s actively looking for an Engineer and Engineering Manager, both Backend for Getaways.