CTO Colin Bodell’s first of many visits to Groupon Bangalore Dev Centre

CTO Colin Bodell’s first of many visits to Groupon Bangalore Dev Centre

CTO Colin Bodell’s first of many visits to Bangalore Dev Centre
ENGINEERING
CTO Colin Bodell’s first visit to Groupon Bangalore Dev Centre

Colin Bodell’s first of many visits to Groupon’s Bangalore Dev centre instilled great confidence in the talented engineers working far across the globe toward Groupon’s long- and short-term strategies. On the first day of his visit, he addressed all of the engineering teams present in Bangalore: Platform and Data, Goods, Marketing, Customer Support Engineering, and Data Science. As part of his presentation, he introduced himself, his vision, strategy, and philosophy.

The key takeaways were:

  • People and relationships: his investment in people and building relationships in order to build a great team
  • Execution through ownership: his belief in getting cutting-edge execution done through ownership
  • Diversity: why and how he has been a leading proponent of diversity through forums such as Grace Hopper
  • Engineering links back to Groupon’s strategy: seeing how Bangalore engineers’ daily work can tie back to Groupon’s multi-year strategy
  • Communication as a key to success: he talked about his communication tenets

Over the next few days, he spent time diving deep into the major programs run out of Bangalore and meeting one on one with engineers. He listened intently and asked questions to the engineering teams and individuals in order to understand their achievements, aspirations, motivations, and explain his strategy in return. Engineers were super motivated by Colin’s energy and by having the accessibility to an SVP-level leader for the first time in Groupon Bangalore. 

It was not all work though. He also attended a potluck along with the engineering teams, met with all the diversity engineers of WiTB, and offered to extend any sponsorship/support to the group. On the last evening, we had a chance to see more of his fun side during an evening poolside dinner where he shared anecdotes from his past experiences, his journey, etc.

Lekshmy P R – Software Development Engineer in Bangalore

Lekshmy P R – Software Development Engineer in Bangalore

LEKSHMY P R 

Software Development Engineer – Push Marketing Engineering
Bangalore, India
Joined: 2013

An exciting innovator on the Push Marketing team, Lekshmy makes sure that Groupon’s communications are impactful and drive people to the website.

What’s your favorite Groupon memory?

The 2017 Grace Hopper Conference in Austin, Texas. It was my first time travelling internationally. It was amazing to meet all the wonderful women working in Groupon Engineering from around the world. It was a very well-organised event by Groupon. A gang of 60 women from our offices across the globe came together with the goal of hiring and branding. We were one of the Gold sponsors, with a grand stall next to LinkedIn and Microsoft. We had 8 iPads where the students could check themselves in and attend their interviews.

Can you talk more about your experience at Grace Hopper and what you learned as an engineer?

I attended multiple sessions by leaders from other companies like Google, Amazon, etc. The person who inspired me the most was Anna Patterson who won the Women of Vision Award. She was a mother of three but still led the Artificial Intelligence team at Google. Her journey was something I could really relate to. Her speech had a really big impact on me as an Engineer because I always thought that married life could challenge my career as an engineer. But after meeting all those successful women who have great careers along with wonderful families, I was so moved and inspired. My perception totally changed.

Each time I heard those amazing women speak, all I could think about was when I would be able to present a session at Grace Hopper. My career goal is to have a journey that’s significant and inspirational enough to encourage women to stay with Engineering and not shy away from a career in Tech.

 

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

I joined Groupon as a fresher. Since then, Groupon has moulded the engineer inside me to think outside the box, learn, experiment, attempt, fail, and succeed. My first role was really challenging and exciting. As I had prior experience with RoR in college, I was paired up with my mentor to design, develop, and roll out a content management system that could run the customer support page FAQ and the first level of the questionnaire.

This was my first experience in designing a service with such a scale. Perhaps the first time I dealt with the real-life problems of scaling, caching memory leaks, etc. As I was a fresher just out of college, my designs were reviewed and revisited multiple times. I had to redesign and redo my coding multiple times. After six months of design, implementation, and testing effort, we were able to successfully launch the service to production. Though it missed the initial deadline of five months, I was on cloud nine. Those six months were a great learning experience to learn more about the systems, frameworks, and real-life challenges at Groupon. I’m really thankful to my mentor for trusting such a big assignment to me as a fresher.

Tell us about your job! What do you do exactly? What do you love about it?

I work as a developer for Push Marketing team in Engineering. We handle sending emails, push notifications and SMS. I love the way Groupon challenges its engineers with new and innovative problems. I deal with one of the most important services in the Groupon Push flow. My service takes care of sending emails, push notifications, and SMS to customers. We deal with multiple services to pick the relevant deals and the best offers available for a customer.  

The service is developed Play Framework using Java. It handles a scale of 8KTPS. We send almost 300mm emails and 100mm push notifications every day. We use rabbitmq for the asynchronous queuing of messages before they are processed for sending.

Where can we find you outside of work?

I love swimming, dancing, singing, driving. If not any of these, I will just go shopping.   🙂

What’s the biggest challenge you’ve worked on?

Of these 4.5 years at Groupon, there were many exciting and challenging tasks I got to work on. The most challenging one being establishing the performance of a legacy system that handles a scale of 8KTPS. Debugging, analyzing, configuring the infrastructure, load testing, and slowly improving the performance without affecting production were all challenging tasks.

Join us in Bangalore!

What was your first impression of Groupon?

All I knew was that Groupon sold restaurant and spa deals.

What do your parents think you do?

They think I am like those geeks who spend 90% of their time on laptops, like they normally see in movies.

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

My team and I ensure that the right deals reach the user every day without them having to search through millions of deals.

Tell us something that might surprise us about you.

I acted in two episodes of a TV serial. As I pursued dancing and singing from a young age, I was a regular performer for various events at school and club programmes. One day when I was around 10, one of my neighbours who was directing a dance-based TV series gave me an opportunity to perform in two episodes.

Have you won any awards during your time here? Green Award, team award, etc.?

I have won four quarterly awards, Question of the Month AwardGEEKon Local Award, and the most important Employee of the Year Award.

What’s unique about Groupon’s Engineering culture?

Groupon invests a lot on an employee’s personal development, be it the mentorship program, personal growth programs, training sessions, or workshops. We have many committees where we can have discussions about tech. Sometimes people just ping on HipChat to get together for a table topic discussion.

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

We have a very direct impact on the business’s bottom line.  The emails and push notifications we send drive business to the website. The variations in the open/click rates of our emails with each feature are exciting as they signify the impact on revenue.

We see that you are a member of Women@Groupon.  What do you like about being in this ERG?

Women@Groupon Bangalore is a very positive forum that has widespread activities like mentorship programs and training for women. The togetherness among the women in coordinating various activities brings a liveliness to the office.

What’s been surprising about working here?

Be it a fresher or a senior, Groupon has challenges and opportunities for anyone who would like to try out new things in their career.

Vim or emacs?

VIM. More user-friendly commands than shortcuts I feel.

Name your favorite programming language.

Ruby

Tabs or spaces?

Tabs

Tulshekar Gangireddy – Senior Engineering Manager in Bangalore

Tulshekar Gangireddy – Senior Engineering Manager in Bangalore

TULSHEKAR GANGIREDDY
Senior Engineering Manager
Bangalore, India
Joined: 2016
Former numismatic enthusiast-turned-engineer, Tulsi, talks about the supportive culture of our Bangalore office and why his team’s work is crucial to Groupon’s success as a business.
What were you doing before joining Groupon?

I had been working in the industry for the last 18 years for companies like Akamai, Yahoo, Juniper, and Apigee. I mostly worked on building and managing products and teams. I have managed an India startup office, but after a while, I decided that that wasn’t enough. So, I started looking for a company that had the kind of culture I enjoy, like one that provides freedom of thought, recognizes the ability of people, cares about employees and constantly strives to make the environment better.

Tell us about your job! What do you do exactly? What do you love about it?

My team owns Delivery Services for Groupon which is a group of services that delivers all kinds of communication like emails, push notifications, and SMS for customers and merchants alike. Our services are one of the most critical services for Groupon. I love the responsibility of owning these services (road mapping, enhancements, design, development, deployment, and support) because our impact is easily seen in how Groupon delivers on promises. Our services are integral to the entire company. What keeps us going is knowing how much Groupon depends on us.

Where can we find you outside of work? 

I used to be a numismatic (coin collector) but gave up the hobby as I got busy with work for the last several years. As a side project, I love helping people learn the data world like NoSQL, big data, and analytics.

What was your first impression of Groupon?

Groupon is a company of cool and tech-savvy people.

What do your parents think you do?

For the last 20 years, they have been seeing me with computers, yet they have no idea what it means. The interpretation is that I live with the computers because we work on them all through the day and most of the night. In fact, some of my family members and close friends call computers and work my first wife.

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

My team is responsible for all communication to clients and merchants. Groupon’s entire business is dependent on communication. No communications mean no business.

What’s unique about Groupon’s Engineering culture?

I coined a term called Engineer Centric Culture for Groupon engineering. Everyone is an engineer at heart and everyone is technically sound so that the there is tremendous respect and importance for the engineer’s ability. The management team is good technically and the engineers of the company have a good connection with them. This gives engineers great freedom and openness to express their thoughts and ideas easily. Being in the industry for the last 20 years, I feel this is very important for engineers to feel comfortable in an organisation.

What’s been surprising about working here?

Every aspect is given equal importance at Groupon. Work, fun, entertainment, everything. Several activities here at Groupon help form a better connection among employees. Potlucks, sports tournaments, quarterly day outing, short weekly syncs called Hello Bangalore, just to name a few.

What’s your favorite part about your team’s software development process?

We follow the Agile philosophy in our development. We do have some simple customizations to work through because of the flexibility that is needed.  The important part is that we don’t compromise on quality or delivery of the software that we build or develop.

Have you made any contributions to the tech community? 

I have presented a couple of papers and do technical training on NoSQL systems and Cassandra. I have some of my presentations published on YouTube.

Tell us something that might surprise us about you.

I am fond of singing and love old Hindi songs. I’m also a big fan of legendary Kishore Kumar.

Vim or emacs? why?

Vim ..Core Unix folks. Old school, maybe.

Name your favorite programming language.

Java

Tabs or spaces?

Tabs

Sudipta Chatterjee – Software Engineer in Bangalore

Sudipta Chatterjee – Software Engineer in Bangalore

SUDIPTA CHATTERJEE

Software Engineer
Bangalore
Joined: 2013

We lost count of how many roles Sudipta’s had during her time at Groupon, but it’s quite a few. She gives us the rundown on what her Engineering journey has looked like since joining Groupon as a recent college grad.

Tell us about your job! What do you do exactly? What do you love about it?

I am a Software Engineer and I work on the backend team to provide incentives for our end users. The best part of my job is that any new initiative around granting discounts is directly reflected in conversions. Better promotions mean happier customers, which results in a larger purchase, eventually resulting in higher company profits. So there is always a sense of satisfaction to be able to contribute directly towards my company goals.

I love the fact that we own the service from Bangalore and are responsible for everything associated with it. There is not only high visibility but also recognition for all our efforts. Other than office work, I love the fact that we also work on a lot of fun activities such as festivals, birthday cake cuttings, company-wide outings, and intra-company sports competition, personal development courses, and volunteering opportunities.

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

I was recruited during my final year of post-graduation and was hired for the Goods team. We worked on a logistics service, built on Python-based Django framework and used Postgres backend. It was responsible for vendor payments, once the product was actually shipped to the end user. After 11 months, I was a part of the Goods sub-teams written in Ruby and Angular JS resp., using MySQL backend. While one of the services was responsible for storing and validating vendor contact details along with deal information, the other service provided a platform for the vendors to put their deal information on the portal which would allow the Groupon buyers and vendors to eventually sign the contract.

Eight months later, I started working on a few platform services around APAC initiatives. The following year, I worked with the Global Marketing team for about three months. I then headed towards a new venture, this time on the front-end technology with Conversions Engineering, whose services were built in NodeJs, using Mustache for HTML templates, and beautified with CSS. I was primarily involved with enabling users to log in and sign up when either on Groupon or when integrated via social communities such as Facebook and Google.

After being part of this i-tier framework-based front-end project for around 10 months, in January 2017, I moved back to platform services and became a member of the Push Engineering Team. In the past almost five years, I have seen a standardisation from raising pull requests over emails, logging tickets in Pivotal tracker, maintaining a code repository on Github, filing tickets in Jira, using test rails for QA steps, and introducing a review process for new services.

What’s unique about Groupon’s Engineering culture?

There are various forums that practice technical discussions, workshops, and hands-on sessions. Engineers working on different teams reach out to each other when they’re stuck on any design problem. As my manager said once, individual contributors here get the opportunity to work in every role. Like in the temporary absence of a Product team, Engineers can become a Product Manager and work closely with the business team in getting the right expectations.

Engineers here strive to keep the coding standards high and follow best practises framed in various guidelines. We have strict review processes for new services, which require a document explaining the challenges the service will solve; the logical and physical design; upstream and downstream dependencies; availability constraints (Tiers); what data flows in and out of the service; and the deployment process.

Every quarter, there are processes carried out to ensure every microservice is confined to its expected SLA and is stress tested to assure it’s capable of serving 2-3x more traffic during holidays. We also have global hackathons arranged each year. There is a creative energy all over, where colleagues come up with many impressive ideas, and some even implement them within the designated time span. While all these might look like very usual stories, I would like to share one unique experience from such events. It was the year 2015, where the winning project contestants from Chennai actually got the opportunity to present their team idea in Seattle in front of the CEO. It was a highly motivating experience!

What’s your favorite view from the office?

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

Although I have moved across many teams in the last almost five years, the journey has been continually challenging and I have learnt a lot from it. Out of the many challenges, I would like to talk about one particular instance. It was the time when my journey switched gears from back-end to front-end service when I responsible for providing login/signup sessions to all customers. Switching from Java to NodeJs (Javascript), HTML and CSS was definitely challenging. Playing around with CSS, which provides visual and aural layout was the most challenging part. It was then that my respect for the UX developers grew by leaps and bounds!

So, a few years back, when I was still deciding if I should accept the challenge of working in front-end technology after having worked only in the back-end, my director explained to me that it is always good to take one step further towards being a full-stack developer. Today, when I look back, I realise it was definitely good advice and it makes me feel happy to have accepted the challenge!  🙂

What’s been surprising about working here?

Groupon expands via acquisition of companies, which in turn brings new tech stacks. While there are companies that force their acquired companies to rebuild after an acquisition closes, Groupon does not. What it leaves behind is a challenge to build an ecosystem around these services so that they operate smoothly with each other. Groupon’s North American platform was originally a single, monolithic Ruby-on-Rails application, known as the Primary Web App or PWA. The other platform i.e Berlin/CityDeal is a collection of Java applications that mainly use Spring. These platforms are evolving towards a consistent, global platform termed ‘One Platform’. The global platform is a service-oriented architecture (SOA). The effort of bringing all these services based out of different technologies onto a single platform has been enormous.

What’s your favorite Groupon memory?

One of my favourite memories with Groupon dates back to March of 2013. At that time, I was studying in Pune and hadn’t started working here yet. Groupon had organised a get together for fresh hires in the city of Nawabs, Hyderabad. I still remember how the conference room was filled with curious minds who were preparing to get started on their career journeys and how eager the senior directors and HR were to welcome their young employees aboard. Not only did Groupon fly us down and back and provided a comfortable stay, but the entire event gave us the feeling about how much this organisation cares about its employees!

Tabs of spaces?

Tabs

Vim or emacs?

Vim, simply for the ease it provides to carry out basic required operations.

What’s your favorite programming language?

Java and Python.

What keeps you busy outside of work?

I love spending time with family and friends. When I’m not at home, you will find me checking out new food joints. When I’m at home you may find me singing, dancing or hopping around, and interacting with my Java finches. I just love talking to them! By now, I have gathered a few words to which they even respond.   😉

I get deep satisfaction if I am able to extend my support to anyone in distress. I like watching late-night movies on weekends and feel extremely proud when I still hit the gym on time the next morning. I love dogs of all species, but stray dogs amaze me the most. I can spend hours adoring them.

What do your parents think you do?

Well, my Mom was convinced that we provide the best deals ever – not for the love of anything but onions! So onion prices in India once jumped about 90 percent last year to $0.86 a kilogram up from about $0.46 a kilogram. Groupon India had launched an “onion deal” in September that became so popular that it actually crashed the site! Nearly 3000kgs of onions were sold in 44 minutes, 30 minutes of which the site was down due to the highest traffic ever!

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Khushbu Agrawal – Data Warehouse Engineer in Bangalore

Khushbu Agrawal – Data Warehouse Engineer in Bangalore

KHUSHBU AGRAWAL

Data Warehouse Engineer
Bangalore, India
Joined: 2017

So tell us about what it’s like being a Data Warehouse Engineer at Groupon.

I create something meaningful for everybody. Yes, there is a lot of data generated everywhere. As a Data Warehouse Engineer, I convert data into meaningful information which is critical for the business to make more informed decisions in order to grow the company.

What does a typical day look like for you?

My day basically in office starts up with the standup call, which gives the team a good head start. I then work on a couple of user requests along with small breaks in between. Yes, I don’t forget enjoying time with my colleagues in the chaos of work, too. At the end of the day, it gives me a sense of accomplishment with work, fun, and food

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

GDPR compliance is keeping everyone on their toes. Lots of old technology is going off and users sensitive information is to be kept hidden. I am working on this piece of work which is quite challenging.

What do your parents think you do?

Who knows, ha! They think I do stuff on a laptop.

What has been surprising about Groupon so far?

Groupon has every type of engineer. Any technology, you name it, Groupon has a skilled resource for it. Great learning with a great future is guaranteed here.

What’s your favorite programming language?

I love coding in Unix.

What’s unique about Groupon’s Engineering culture?

It’s open and full of unique, talented people.

What’s your favorite conference room?

What’s your favorite Groupon memory?

Participating in GEEKon, our global internal hackathon. I had just joined Groupon two months prior and I was so thrilled to see people excited and geared up for the event. Each team came up with unique ideas, and I too took part in it. It was fun working with and learning from other teams. My team worked on creating a multi-dimensional analysis (OLAP) on Hadoop using open source Apache Kylin. This provided us low latency and higher performance even in the TB of data. I was the Architect and designer of this project. This project gave us good learning and exposure!

What are your hobbies outside of work?

Traveling, hanging around with friends, and last but not least, online shopping. 🙂

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Aditya Athalye – Software Development Engineer in Bangalore

Aditya Athalye – Software Development Engineer in Bangalore

ADITYA ATHALYE

Software Development Engineer III
Bangalore, India
Joined: 2017

When he’s not writing code that incentivizes consumers to use Groupon, you might find Aditya singing ghazal or performing recitals for his team in Bangalore. 🎤🎶

What’s your favorite Groupon memory?

My favourite Groupon memory amongst many is the first potluck I attended in Bangalore. It was a wonderful day of celebration where everyone brought home cooked food and since we have people coming from various parts of India, we got a taste of the many diverse cuisines across the country. The potluck celebration was made even more special for me as I got an opportunity to perform a tabla recital which was appreciated by one and all.

What was your first role at Groupon and what are you up to today?

I joined the Global Subscriptions Team—part of Push Marketing Engineering—for a month or so before moving to the Incentive Service Engineering Team. Today, my day-to-day activity involves understanding feature requests, converting them into a workable design, writing code for it, doing code reviews and document reviews within the team, and debugging production issues reported by the business. I love the variety of interesting requirements we get and since incentive service is part of the the purchase funnel, it is incredibly critical to the business. I am also fortunate to be working with a very passionate team of engineers and I learn a lot from each one of them.

What’s the biggest challenge you’ve worked on so far?

My biggest challenge so far was working on a feature that would allow selective overriding of discount stacking for deals on ILS. More than the technical aspect of the problem, it was the coordination with many stakeholders and getting the relevant information from them, especially since teams were distributed in a way that made it very interesting.

Tabs or spaces?

Tabs converted to 4 spaces 🙂

Vim or emacs? Why?

I have worked with Vim more than Emacs so I am a little biased towards it.

Show us your favorite view from the office:

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

The Incentive Service Engineering team deals with promotional pricing which works to entice users to register on the Groupon platform and make purchases. We try to ensure that this process is as seamless to the user as possible and in conjunction with other marketing services, ensure that Groupon as a brand reaches out to the millions of users and makes them consider Groupon as the preferred choice for local commerce. We are also trying to come up with innovative features aimed at providing lucrative options to end users, such as free shipping discounts, single flat price, discount stacking on sale deals, and bucks-based discounts.

What do your parents think you do?

This quote is in Marathi, “पैसे देतात पण अगदी पिळून घेतात,” which literally means that software companies today pay people well, but squeeze the life out of them.   🙂

What’s unique about Groupon’s Engineering culture?

I find that promotes healthy competition and provides opportunities to grow.

Where were you before joining Groupon?

I worked in enterprise software domain for the most part of my career prior to Groupon. Enterprise had a different set of challenges whereas internet companies have totally different ones to contend with. I knew about Groupon since I bought my first tablet from Groupon in 2013. I just happened to stumble upon the Groupon job opening on LinkedIn and applied.

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

Apart from the methodical process we follow for every feature we build, I enjoy the energy and passion of everyone in the team when we run into production issues and each one compliments the other in a successful resolution of the issue.

What are your favorite languages?

Java and Python for programming. Sanskrit for others.

Tell us something about you that might surprise us!

I love singing (Hindustani classical, ghazals) 🙂

Groupon sponsors NASSCOM Product Conclave Conference

Groupon sponsors NASSCOM Product Conclave Conference

Groupon sponsors & sends keynote speaker to Nasscom Product Conclave in Bangalore

Groupon participated for the first time in the NASSCOM Product Conclave as Platinum Sponsors and we also sent our own keynote speaker—Senior Director of Engineering Phani Kumar Bhogaraju—to present on the topic “The Five Imperatives to Scale up Products.” The conference itself had over 2,000 participants, which provided a lot of great networking opportunities with national and international attendees.

Raghavendran – Engineer in Bangalore

Raghavendran – Engineer in Bangalore

RAGHAVENDRAN VC

Engineer
Bangalore, India
Joined: 2016

Raghavendran describes the excitement of working at a global tech company focused on empowering local businesses.

What’s your favorite Groupon memory?

Groupon Engineering challenges are some of the most fascinating challenges I’ve experienced in my life. I will always remember September 9, 2016: the day when Groupon’s EMEA software stack migrated from our Swiss data centre to the Dublin data centre. It was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to have been involved in such a huge data centre migration. I remember that night when the office was filled with employees buzzing with energy, everyone fully focused on achieving that engineering feat.

What inspires you?

The day-to-day challenges, talking about scaling, and millisecond responses drive me to perform at my best. The magnitude of the engineering services we own always remind me that I am working at the tip of an iceberg and there is so much more to learn and experience. Also, the talks I have with my director, Phani Kumar, inspire me to excel beyond borders.

Your role exists at other companies…so why Groupon? What’s unique about it?

The opportunities to work across tech stacks combined with the fast-paced environment and inclination towards performance and scalable systems: only Groupon can provide such challenges. Groupon provides such unique technical challenges and it’s up to you to mold everything to help your career grow.

What was your first impression of Groupon?

That it was a startup at a global scale!

How does the work you do impact Groupon’s mission of becoming the daily habit in local commerce?

My team owns the connection between customer and local businesses: the actual voucher that a customer buys and redeems at a merchant! So we truly connect both worlds and try our best to make this connection look effortless, simple, and elegant.

What’s your biggest accomplishment so far while working at Groupon?

Getting Groupon onto the Unity platform was a major organisation goal in early 2017. Functionally, things looked simple but later we started facing significant performance issues with countless engineering challenges in terms of scalability and performance. After a major overhaul in architecture and design of the existing systems backed up with countless sleepless nights, I helped Deckard roll out in EMEA. This was a major achievement in my career at Groupon.

What do your parents think about your job at Groupon?

They say: “stop typing and go to sleep.”

If you could do anything else for a day, what would it be and why?

I would love to meet our merchants and listen to them talk about the impact of Groupon on their business. It would be great to talk to them and understand the issues in reality.

Tell us something about you that would surprise us.

I would love to play soccer as much as I code.

Groupon World Headquarters