LAURA HAMILTON

Preferred pronouns: She/Her
Group Product Manager
Chicago, IL
Joined: 2014

Laura and Groupon seem to be a perfect match. She brought 10+ years of strong product management experience to Groupon. In turn, Groupon provided an opportunity to get scrappy, make an impact, and walk by a cat spaceship every day. (What else do you really need?)

What was your first role here? How did you get to where you are now?

I started off as product manager for the checkout page, and I gradually took on more responsibility. I took on Consumer Web in Q1 2016, LivingSocial in Q4 2016, and International in Q1 2017. Today, I head up product for Consumer Web, International, and LivingSocial.

Where were you before joining Groupon? How did you get here?

I have worked in product management for 10+ years, at a wide range of company sizes from founder to seed-stage startup to hypergrowth phase to a public company. I started my product management career at Enova 10+ years ago, where I led the product team focused on new initiatives. We launched several new businesses and product lines during my tenure, including the installment product in the US and the Pounds to Pocket brand in the UK. After Enova, I worked at a couple of early-stage tech startups. Then I joined Groupon in 2014 — Groupon still has the scrappiness, innovation, and bias for action typical of startups, while also having massive global scale.

How does your work connect to Groupon’s mission of being the daily habit in local commerce?

I always try to tie my product strategy and roadmap to Groupon’s mission of being the daily habit in local commerce. Whether it’s adding more structured data to the cards on the browse feed, making our pricing clearer and more transparent, launching new products such as Groupon+ and BeautyNow, it’s all in support of our mission to connect customers with local businesses.

What’s the most challenging thing you’ve worked on here?

In 2016, when I took over consumer web product, our mobile website was very outdated and lacked many key features that the mobile app had. Over the course of 2016, I led a major effort to redesign the mobile website, and we overhauled almost every page in the site. It was a big undertaking that involved a dozen different teams, but after several months and a few dozen A/B tests, we had a much more organized and modern website.

Take us back to 2014. What was your first impression of Groupon?

I think I was going to the Geekfest meetup for the first time, and the instructions said to look for the “cat spaceship.” I was very confused about what a cat spaceship was, and why it would be in an office. I was somewhat nervous that I would miss this landmark; however, upon seeing the cat spaceship, I realized that my fears were unfounded.

What’s something that has surprised you while working at Groupon?

Groupon’s Optimize team, which owns the experimentation framework and methodology, has a novel (patent-pending) process for the analysis of A/B experiments. It uses a technique called group sequential analysis, which originated with heart valve studies in the 1970s. It’s essentially a statistically rigorous way to “peek” at experiment data while limiting false positives. It has allowed us to experiment much faster, which in turn has led to faster improvements in the customer experience.

So what’s unique about Groupon’s Product culture?

Groupon is unique in that Product Managers can take on a ton of responsibility—whole product lines, or product suites—while still operating at massive, global scale. At startups, you can have broad responsibility but not at scale; at most publicly traded companies, you can have global scale but you only own a small piece. At Groupon, product managers can have broad responsibility as well as massive impact at scale.

“Groupon is unique in that Product Managers can take on a ton of responsibility — whole product lines, or product suites — while still operating at massive, global scale.”

What’s your favorite part about your team’s Software Development process?

Software development at Groupon is very solution-oriented. If there’s a bug or production issue, the discussion is immediately around how to solve the issue and how to prevent it in the future. We don’t have unproductive fingerpointing conversations. When there is a production outage, the discussion is around “how do we improve tools and processes to prevent this from happening in the future,” rather than “so and so made a mistake.”

What’s your favorite Groupon memory?

After six months of work across dozens of engineering teams, we successfully migrated the LivingSocial website and mobile apps to the Groupon tech stack and celebrated with a cutover cake and champagne at 3 am.

Name your favorite programming language.

I think it depends on the problem domain, but in general, I am partial to python. The syntax is natural. I don’t need to define variable types or worry about semicolons. Also, python has a very thorough set of supporting libraries, including a lot of machine learning and analytics related libraries.

Tabs or spaces?

Spaces

Vim or emacs?

Vim

What do your parents think you do?

I asked my parents what they thought I did, and their answers were actually pretty close. Both my parents have PhDs in economics. My mother said, “I think you handle the website. I would love to know.” My father said, “Management/analysis.”

What keeps you busy outside of work?

I love checking out new local restaurants and fitness studios. I live right by Restaurant Row, and there are so many fantastic local businesses in my area. There are new ones popping up all the time — it’s hard for me to keep track!

Speaking of local restaurants, what’s your favorite local business?

It’s so hard to pick just one. I love Big & Little’s; their gourmet fast food is so delicious.

Tell us something that might surprise us about you.

I have done two startups – neither of them successful.