Minnie Lai – Software Development Engineer, Groupon API

Minnie Lai – Software Development Engineer, Groupon API

MINNIE LAI

Software Development Engineer, Groupon API
Seattle, WA
Joined: 2015

Curiosity is Minnie’s best friend at Groupon: when she sees an opportunity to try new things and meet new people, she takes it. The result? Joining a new Engineering team and forming a Culture Club at our Seattle office aimed at bringing teammates together.

What’s your favorite Groupon memory?

When the entire Getaways Engineering team went curling at the Granite Curling Club of Seattle for a team event. It was my first time curling and everyone signed a foam hat in the shape of a curling stone.

What was your first role here? 

I joined Groupon as a Software Engineer for the Getaways Inventory team. I was surprised at how supportive everyone (on Getaways and GAPI) was when I proposed to transfer to the GAPI team. I wanted to transfer to GAPI team because I wanted to learn more about how our backend services work together to serve consumer requests. I also wanted to try something new and meet more people at the company. The process was simple for me: I found out that the GAPI team was hiring in Seattle and approached my then director and manager of the Getaways team. I told them that I was interested in pursuing this opportunity and they supported my decision and worked with the GAPI manager on my transfer. After wrapping up my project on Getaways, I started with the new team several weeks later!

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

A bit of everything! That’s what I love about it. There’s never a dull moment. I’m either troubleshooting/working with another engineer across the world or across the aisle, developing awesome customer-facing features, or scaling up our platform. Also, when I’m not developing software, I’m leading our Employee Volunteers initiative in Seattle.

You obviously have a life outside of work..what are your hobbies?

I’m either quilting or hanging out in nature.

What was your first impression of Groupon?

Cats! Lots of green cats around the office.

What do your parents think you do?

“Stuff with computers”

What’s something you think candidates would be surprised to learn about Groupon Engineering?

Grouponers are forgiving and supportive. I was the hardest on myself when I made a mistake. While the stakeholders definitely acknowledged the miss, we also didn’t dwell on it or point fingers and instead focused on getting the issue fixed ASAP.

What’s your favorite programming language?

Python

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

Our beautiful mobile and web platform talks to GAPI’s services to ensure customers are delighted each day.

What’s your favorite local business?

There are tons, but I enjoy visiting Ballard Market which is my local grocery store.

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

We are a split team (half of us in Seattle and half in PA) so a majority of our communication is done via instant message. We take extra care to make sure everyone knows what’s going on with our systems and our work.

What’s your favorite view from the Seattle office?

Tell us something about you that might surprise us.

My partner and I summited Mount St. Helens this past summer.

Tabs or spaces?

Spaces

You’re a member of Groupon Volunteers; what do you enjoy about participating?

I joined because I love volunteering! In fact, if you have a great volunteering idea for the Seattle team, please get in touch! Several of us from different ERGs and Groupon Volunteers have formed an informal Seattle Culture Club and work every month to plan events and volunteer opportunities for the office. It’s been so rewarding and I’ve met so many other Grouponers in completely unexpected capacities.

Photos courtesy of Stacey Lo

Groupon CTO & CEO Visit Seattle Office

Groupon CTO & CEO Visit Seattle Office

ENGINEERING

December 2017

CEO Rich Williams & new CTO Colin Bodell visit Groupon Seattle

Groupon recently added a new leader to our C-suite: Colin Bodell, Chief Technology Officer. As part of a North American tour to our Engineering and Product hubs, Colin and CEO Rich Williams made their final stop at our Seattle office, where Colin will reside. Grouponers in Seattle had the chance to mingle with the two leaders during an informal meet and greet. Conversations ranged from business questions to fun things to do in Seattle (using Groupons, of course).

Colin joins Groupon from American Eagle Outfitters, where he was CTO. Additionally—something Groupon is incredibly excited about—he serves as a trustee and board chair of AnitaB.org (formerly the Anita Borg Institute of Technology) as well as board chair of the National Center for Women and Information Technology. Together, with our Chief Product Officer, Jay Sullivan, the two will lead the technology strategy and implementation of the tools which serve Groupon’s 49 million customers worldwide.

Putting diversity hiring into action in Seattle

Putting diversity hiring into action in Seattle

What’s one impactful way to connect diverse talent with tech companies? Put them in a room together and have deliberate conversations about diversity hiring.

The Tech Jobs Tour, formerly TechUP, is an organization that—in conjunction with like-minded organizations such as Lesbians Who Tech—focuses on promoting and supporting diverse and non-traditional engineers in order to diversify the tech scene. The tour recently had a stop in Seattle and Groupon was a sponsor of the event, which had over 500 guests in attendance. Throughout the evening at Impact Hub Seattle, engineers connected with companies who are prioritizing diversity hiring, such as Groupon. The schedule consisted of speed mentoring sessions, demos, a career fair, and a keynote address by the 3rd CTO of the United States of America, Megan Smith. In conjunction with sponsoring the event, Groupon had roughly 20 employees attend, volunteer, or mentor during the course of the evening.

 

Krassimir, Software Development Engineer

Krassimir, Software Development Engineer

What’s it like to work as an Engineer at Groupon in Seattle? Krassimir Dimov, a Software Development Engineer, gives us the scoop. (And some nice new office pics!)

What brought you to Groupon from your previous company? 

I moved to Groupon from Amazon Web Services. It was a magnificently executed recruiting effort that started with a cold call. I had several meetings with the team leadership; we talked about vision, execution plan, team needs, and my fit. I was looking for leadership that inspires, impacts, and provides ample learning opportunities. These are the two questions I always ask when approached with new opportunities:

  • What about my background stood out to you?
  • What will I learn in the next year?

What do you do here?

I am a Software Engineer on the Relevance team. As I like to describe it, we are the team that chooses the deals you see and the order in which you see them. This includes the content of web, mobile, touch, email, and notifications. The work is very interesting; it involves data mining, machine learning, real-time streaming and analysis, and a massive number of requests. We have teams of specialists in different areas: Applied Research, Data Science, and Infrastructure. We all work very closely together.

I am lucky to be in a position to contribute to our service at an architectural level while still spending a good part of my time deep in code. Some of my projects in the past year include traffic shaping on the load balancer, profiling and performance optimization of several systems, a new plugin for our indexing system, traffic analysis, design and implementation of a new request fallback system, and redesign and rewrite of a release and continuous integration.

I maintain close working relationship with other Groupon teams; most are either our internal clients or vendors of our data. We work on requirements, designs, implementations, general ideas, and keeping up to date with technology.

What sort of impact do your teams have on the business? 

One great thing about my team’s work is that our impact is measurable. We are constantly running experiments and quantifying their impact on business. We have dashboards with trends, debriefs on the progress of every experiment, and the ability to promptly fine tune them. So, speaking fiscally, we can express the impact of each experiment with the precise lift or drop of Groupon revenue.

There is also the engineering impact. We own one of the busiest services in Groupon: virtually all real-time customer traffic results in calls to Relevance, plus email and mobile notifications. We have engineers experienced in designing, developing, and delivering highly available, scalable, and reliable services using the newest frameworks, libraries, and tools.

Just to give you an idea of the level of talent I get to work with every day, two members of the Relevance team’s papers were accepted as full-length papers at IEEE Big Data 2015 (plus oneposter), and we had a presentation at Elastic{ON} 2015 with a deep dive into the custom scripting we do in Elasticsearch scoring and ranking.

What’s important for an engineering candidate to know about Tech at Groupon?

We are still a young and fast-paced company. Engineers here have a keen sense of ownership; even at junior levels we expect of them to own a task, carry it to completion, and maintain it. Out of all the companies on my resume, Groupon has the fastest time to market.

We have well-established and solid engineering practices. We can teach you how to develop a well performing, scalable, production-ready software and how to test, release, and monitor it.

At Groupon you will be exposed to a wide variety of open-source software. An important part of fast delivery is knowing what’s available, evaluating and choosing the best tool for the job, and recognizing what we can contribute back to the open source community.

Groupon is a company where distributed development works. My team sits in Palo Alto, Seattle, Chicago, Santiago, Berlin, and Austin. We work on the same code base, do code reviews across offices, and regularly jump into a video conference for a quick “in-person” meeting.

Anything else you want to add?

We recently moved into our brand new Seattle office, which is in the second tallest building in Seattle with amazing 360° views. Last week I had a video interview with a candidate and at the end I hauled my laptop to the window to give them a glimpse of the scenery. I’m not the only one impressed…after the move everyone brought friends and families and there were a ton of people staring out the windows or taking pictures. Because we anticipate growing the office here, we have many open seats for future Groupon employees. And as an added bonus, our gaming rooms are sound proof, allowing you to play without disturbing anyone’s work.

Thanks for reading the People Blog—a blog about people at Groupon. We’re looking to add tech talent to our Engineering teams in Seattle; check out our current openings!

Michael Janusa, Software Engineer

Michael Janusa, Software Engineer

What’s it like to be an Engineer at Groupon in Seattle? Michael Janusa, a current Software Development Engineer, talks about impact of work as well as learning from teammates. Plus, a brand new office with a stunning view doesn’t hurt.

Title: Software Development Engineer – Goods
Start date: February 2015

What brought you to Groupon? Before joining Groupon, I was working at a much larger technology company in the Seattle area where I was a bit frustrated with the slow-moving nature and low impact of the work. I started looking for opportunities in the area with smaller engineering teams where I would be able to have a larger impact and discovered the opportunity at Groupon. During my onsite interview with my team, I became very excited about joining Groupon after hearing about the various interesting, high-impact projects they were working on.

You work on the Goods team; how is the work you do impacting the Goods business? I work on the Groupon Goods logistics team, which handles the fulfillment of all of our customers’ Goods orders. We are able to have a huge impact on both the company’s performance and the overall customer experience. As a still relatively young business, there are still countless opportunities in our logistics operations to increase efficiency that leads to both cutting costs and faster delivery of orders. It is incredible how large of a financial impact a small change in our process can have due to the scale of the Goods business.

How have you grown professionally since starting at Groupon? My team at Groupon consists of some of the most talented engineers I have encountered in my career. As one of the more junior engineers on our team, I have been able to expand my engineering skills very quickly as I learn from my teammates. Groupon is also a bit unique in that engineers are tasked with a much larger project management role than is often expected of engineers so I have been able dive much deeper into the business aspects of the job and grow skills that branch outside of engineering.

How’s the new Seattle office? The new office is absolutely amazing. The building we are in is one of the tallest buildings in Seattle and a bit of an icon in the Seattle skyline. The office itself has beautiful views of Puget Sound and the Space Needle from basically every corner of the office. It’s great being able to come to such a beautiful office every day.

What’s the culture in Seattle like? We have a really tight-knit team; everyone on the team is always very open to jumping in and helping out if you’re in need or just sitting down to bounce ideas off of one another. We regularly go out to lunch together and have team events off site about once per quarter.  Our engineering culture is very fast paced and we often have multiple projects going at one time. Since our projects often have high impact on the company, there is frequently a lot of pressure to get our projects done on time, but our team manages to stay fairly relaxed in what can be a high-pressure environment.

What’s your favorite Groupon memory so far? I’ve made a lot of great memories at Groupon through various team events and engineering challenges so it is quite difficult to pick one as a favorite. I think one of the most interesting things I have done since joining Groupon was traveling to Kentucky to see our Goods Fulfillment Center. It was really exciting to see how the code we write in Seattle directly effects the operations of the warehouse as well as the people that work there.

Thanks for reading the People Blog—a blog about people at Groupon. We’re looking to add tech talent to our Engineering teams in Seattle; check out our current openings!