Meet Groupon’s Photo Studio!

By
at April 24th, 2015

In spring of 2014, Groupon officially opened its in-house studio with the mission of creating an arsenal of rich, realistic, and inviting stock photography that would not only make Groupon a visually-distinct brand, but would also enhance the customer experience on our site. To date, the 3-person studio has completed over 230 photo shoots, creating a total of over 3,700 images. Not bad for a 1-year-old.

The studio creates photography to be used across a wide variety of deal types. You can view some examples of the studio’s photographic masterpieces for deals on sushi, Indian food, manicures, and facials.

Groupon Photo Studio

Ella (Creative Producer) and Jeremy (Studio Photographer) on set for a photo booth deal

Julie – Art Director – Groupon employee since October of 2010

My role as the Art Director is split between the creative and the administrative. I ensure that everything is in place in order to make the studio efficient, legal, and purposeful. I maintain quarterly budgets, track spending, sign contracts with modeling agencies, create license agreements with our legal team, and determine which images are making the biggest stylistic impact on our site. On the creative side, I attend almost all of the shoots, select all of the images, and oversee post production before images are added to the library. I also manage our Creative Producer, Photographer, and train and provide feedback for any Image Designers that help with the studio.

My greatest accomplishment was making the studio a reality! I quickly saw how limiting stock imagery can be while I was an Image Manager in 2011. Not only does Groupon run categories that do not have subsequent stock imagery (BYOB painting, Hibachi grill, glow bowling, etc.), but most stock imagery displays one very specific demographic. My goal was to change this and make Groupon part of the push to make enticing imagery that emotionally connects with our customers.

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Click here to view how this shoot turned out! Note the ominous storm brewing in the background.

Ella – Creative Producer – Groupon employee since March of 2014

My role as the Creative Producer is comprised of booking models, freelance artists, locations  and merchants for our shoots which take place three days a week. I oversee the sets to make sure everything runs smoothly and I support our Art Director, Photographer, and the rest of the team to make sure our shoots are successful. My greatest accomplishment this year has been working with the team; we rely so much on each other and have grown so much together. We have a unique opportunity to produce gorgeous, fresh imagery that incorporates real people from different paths and lifestyles. So far, I think we’re doing a great job and I look forward to more “wins” in the sense of creating an edgy, gorgeous look for Groupon.

Something else I love is watching Jeremy, our Photographer, do anything to “get the shot” – whether that’s swinging from the edge of boats, sliding across ice skating rinks in knee pads, or standing on ledges. I also love when we have kids on set because they’re so uninhibited and say anything that’s on their mind. Our makeup artist once complimented a three-year-old boy in her chair, telling him he was very handsome. His reply was, “I’m also a model and I get paid for it.” Imagine that!

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Post production

Jeremy – Studio Photographer – Groupon employee since May of 2013

I am proud to be Groupon’s Studio Photographer. My job is oh-so-sweet because every day is different. One day it’s shooting glow-in-the-dark golf, then “bam!” the next shoot is a boat deal, then food, or the ever-coveted beauty deal. My role is a blast because I’m always learning, experimenting with new lighting, and keeping up with the most cutting edge technology as the images I shoot are so broad and boundless. I get to make an impact in stock photography that is not currently on the market. I’m most proud of an image I shot a few months back of two men salsa dancing…and, yes, “Gay Salsa” is apparently on fire. This image I shot showed up on several deals nationwide and I was beyond thrilled to see such a positively impactful and specified market being given the attention it deserves.

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Jeremy and Julie on a ballet shoot

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Jeremy capturing the moment

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“We take our jobs very seriously” – Jeremy


Women in Technology: A Self-Made Software Engineer Story Pt. I

By
at April 23rd, 2015

Today’s Women in Technology (WIT) blog entry is about Monica, a Theater Arts Communication Major who worked her way into Engineering. (No stage acting involved.)

Name: Monica Monica - Software Test Engineer

Title: Software Test Engineer

Start date: December 2010

What’s your Groupon story? I started at Groupon in 2010. My first roles were in our Editorial department, and I had the following titles at one point or another: Deal Creator, Quality Assurance Editor, and Site Editor. In Site Edit, I became more familiar with the site and how it functioned. I developed an interest in coding, and this is what prompted me to make the jump from Editorial to Engineering. In 2014, I became a Support Specialist for the Application Operations team, which was under the Engineering umbrella. As a Support Specialist, I did a lot of troubleshooting for internal tools, especially with the CS app. My team worked with the developers as the middle man to field requests that came in regarding the site.

And what do you do now? I’m a Software Test Engineer!

What does “test” entail, exactly? There are two types of testing: manual and automated. Right now, I’m doing more manual testing. I go through and manually test experiments, new features, and bug-fixes on the site by going through, clicking through, entering text into fields, etc.

How did you jump from Editorial to Engineering? In Site Edit, part of our job was to go through and see if we were getting bug reports and to understand why the site wasn’t behaving like it was supposed to. We also started adding in HTML code to make small changes on the site. I thought it was cool that you could go through and input code to change the look and feel of the site.

I had been in Site Edit for a year, and I started do coding lessons on weekends, at night, during my lunch break, etc. It was a lot of work…a lot of Googling, asking for help from friends in Engineering, etc. It took about a year of going through and learning different languages to be confident enough to know that Engineering was where I wanted to be. I didn’t know where in Engineering I wanted to end up, though…whether development, design, etc.

It just so happened that Site Edit worked closely with Application Operations Support on a variety of things. I spent some time shadowing this team and it seemed like a good way to get my feet wet in the Engineering world at Groupon. I ended up moving into App Ops to become an Application Operations Support Specialist, which took some of the troubleshooting skills I used in Site Edit and also allowed me to apply some of the technical knowledge I learned from my personal studies. I liked the idea of being in an environment where I could easily get information on how the site works because I’d be on the front lines.

And then how did you make the jump from App Ops to Test Engineering? While working in App Ops, I heard that the Consumer Test Engineering team was looking for another team member to join their ranks. App Ops Support worked closely with the CTE team and I knew, with all my legacy knowledge of the Groupon site and my growing technical skills, that I would be a great fit! After a brief training period, I was officially onboarded on to the CTE team in Test Engineering.

Stay tuned for part 2 of Monica’s story, which will go live next week!

Thanks for reading the People Blog—a blog about people at Groupon. Want to break things with Monica? Click here to view some of our available openings in Tech. 



Employee Spotlight: Lila Talks Groupon Design

By
at April 21st, 2015

Today we get to know Lila, a Junior Visual Designer in Chicago. Previously a Groupon intern, she brought her Design expertise back in a full-time role. She also loves gifs.

Name: Lila Lila - Groupon Designer

Title: Junior Visual Designer

Start Date: July 2014

School: Carnegie Mellon University

What do you do? I primarily work on merchant-facing material: branding for new merchant products, email communication, packaging, etc. I interface with a variety of teams across the business in order to create, execute, and deliver on inspiring, compelling design projects for the company.

Why did you choose Groupon for an internship and what made you want to become a Groupon employee? The campus recruiters were helpful in connecting me to Visual Designers at Groupon; I spoke to them on the phone. I got to ask them a lot of questions about the culture and how Design functions as a whole. It just seemed like the right fit for me with the playful, quirky brand and I thought it’d be a great summer experience.

(Obviously) my internship was great! I was able to work with so many different people on the Design team, and in turn was exposed to so many different parts of the company. Also, I was creating work that was actually shipping, not just working on internal projects or busy work that internships can often turn into. Most importantly, the people were so amazing to work with. I learned so much from both my teammates and manager, that it made the decision to want to come back full-time pretty easy.

What’s the best advice for the future Design employees of Groupon?

  1. Being able to present your work and being articulate with your ideas is very important. We’re constantly presenting to different teams and stakeholders, and you need to be able to speak to what you’re doing in a strategic way so you can get people on board.
  2. It’s good to have a strong point of view as a designer—letting yourself show through the work. I like work that is conceptually sound, but also feels original in its final outcome. That can be a trap a lot of young designers fall into—copying what else is out there because you know it works. Here, there are always so many new products that have a quick turnaround, so generating ideas quickly and executing is crucial.
  3. You thrive the most at Groupon when you like working with other people, because you are going to work with a lot of people. There’s a difference between being able to work with others and actually growing as a result of collaborating. At Groupon, everyone is elevating each other.

How have your design skills improved since your time as an intern? I’ve definitely honed my skills more quickly due to the fast-paced environment, which in turn has also improved my workflow. Also, when you see an opportunity to do a project or do something different, you can really jump on it. For example, there was a time when we were doing a lot of email banners. I had talked with my manager about making the banners into animated gifs. I thought that’d be something cool to incorporate into the merchant brand as a whole. I always had an interest in motion graphics and animation, and I’ve really been able to dive into that and almost start an initiative in that way.

Since working here, I’ve developed a deeper understanding of Groupon’s greater missions and values, especially related to merchant relationships. I truly believe in the value of helping local businesses grow, which enables me to design from an empathetic lens and connect more with my audience in any project.

Thanks for reading the People Blog—a blog about people at Groupon. You can read about Lila’s internship experience here. Want to see your design work directly impacting merchants and consumers alike? Click here to view our current openings.


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.

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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

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