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Engineering Spotlight - Privy

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Privy helps e-commerce businesses-- no matter how small-- get bigger and better through their marketing efforts, using our website conversion, email marketing, and text messaging tools.

We connected with members of Privy's engineering team, including Conor Harris, their new VP of Engineering, to get an inside look at the company's technology, various projects, the team's culture, and more. 


Quick Hit Details

  • Year Founded: 2011
  • Number of employees: 67
  • Number of engineers: 18
  • Industry: Ecommerce

Can you share a summary on what Privy does?

Audrey Lee: Privy empowers small and medium-sized e-commerce businesses both with the tools and knowledge to drive sales and grow their brand. 

What are some of the different technologies that the engineering team gets to work with and at what scale?

Peter Cai: Frameworks: Ruby on Rails, React + Redux. Databases: PostgreSQL, Redis, Mongo DB, InfluxDB

Some data from Black Friday 2020: 

  • Web API calls - 206,000/minute
  • Orders processed by merchants - 2,200/minute
  • Newsletter signups - 698/minute

What are some of the interesting projects that the engineering team is tackling?

Allina Dolor: I’m currently a member of the Billing team and we’ve begun work to introduce a trial plan that provides our Convert and Email product functionality (currently only available through a paid plan) to everyone so that they can give our tools a try before committing to a paid plan. 

Audrey Lee: One of the projects we are working on in the Messaging team is revamping our email design and creation flow. This is super exciting since we expect this to improve ease of use for our merchants and drive email activation so they can engage with more of their customers!

Conor Harris: The engineering team is building out support for the Wix marketplace, currently with over 600,000 storefronts and rapidly growing. This further solidifies Privy as the #1 tool for new brands. And as we expand it continues to bring new challenges on scale and investment decisions to the engineering team which are great problems to have.

Privy Engineering Culture

Does your engineering team have a chance to work on projects outside of their day-to-day responsibilities? 

Amanda Munoz: Friday afternoons are saved for investment time, which is a time for engineers to take a step away from the day-to-day work and work on something to grow ourselves. That might be an open source project, writing a conference talk, or reading a book in an area we’d like to learn more about.

What is the culture like at Privy for the engineering team? 

Amanda Munoz: We have an open, collaborative culture. 

Allina Dolor: We love to learn and take risks by exploring new tools and technologies -- our devs have the autonomy to own and solve problems creatively.

Audrey Lee: The engineering team is very collaborative and open to change. Not only is everyone dedicated to helping unblock each other when challenges arise, but our organization is also driven by a growth mindset to improve and adapt in areas where it is necessary. 

What can a potential employee expect during the interview process?

Amanda Munoz: Our interview process is designed to give applicants a sense of actual work that we have done in the past. We’re not testing esoteric, theoretical knowledge of algorithms drawn out on a whiteboard, but having more conversational, technical interviews based on problems we’ve had to solve in the past. 

Conor Harris: A potential employee should expect to feel a candidate-centric approach to the interview. The process should feel like it was thoughtfully designed, each interviewer knows the goal of the conversation and provides a comfortable, flexible approach to getting there. And each candidate should expect to be asked for feedback on how we can continually improve. We will strive to make the process as human and flexible as possible while making sure we’re matching the right candidate with the role. Expect to be asked for feedback and know that we will thoughtfully internalize it and always aim to be getting better.

Are you involved in any local tech organizations or Meetups?

Amanda Munoz: I’m involved with the Boston chapter of Women Who Code, where I’ve most recently given a talk on measuring success as a new engineering leader. 

Allina Dolor: I’m a member of Women Who Code and She+ Geeks Out in Boston. I’m always looking for virtual meetups and talks to attend!


Rapid Fire Q&A

What’s on tap?

Amanda Munoz: Since we’re fully remote now, coffee/tea/home brewed kombucha

Allina Dolor: Coffee and tea

Audrey Lee: Water and tea

Patrick McLaren: Tea, coffee, and water

Star Wars or Star Trek?

Amanda Munoz: Star Wars 

Allina Dolor: Star Wars

Patrick McLaren: Star Wars

iPhone or Android? 

Amanda Munoz: Android 

Audrey Lee: iPhone

Patrick McLaren: Android

Coffee - hot or iced?

Amanda Munoz: Hot

Favorite employee perk? 

Amanda Munoz: Generous vacation policy that we actually all use 

Audrey Lee: Back when we were still in the office, I really liked our weekly Team Lunch. It was a great way to spend time with other engineers as well as get to know people in other teams.

Patrick McLaren: Flexibility of schedules & vacation policy.

What music is playing in your office? 

Allina Dolor: In the office, we used to have a collaborative spotify playlist, Privy Jukebox, that everyone contributed to! And one of our fellow Engineers, Reef Loretto, makes music and is our DJ-in-residence. 

View from your office

Woo, construction! Although none of us have seen the office in a while, so who knows what it looks like now? Good news is, you can work from home. 

Cleanest desk / Messiest desk

Messiest: Peter Cai (his desk at the office is messier!)

Cleanest: Patrick McLaren

Greenest: Amanda Munoz (check out her side hustle, Arbor & Flora!)


Team Profiles

Conor Harris Privy

Conor Harris: Privy’s new VP of Engineering, Conor, is a leader with a passion for software and the people who build it. Conor is joining Privy from CloudHealth by VMware where he led teams through the transition from start-up mode to predictable, enterprise SaaS delivery. Before that, he had 6 years of start-up learnings at Clora and InsightSquared, built on a foundation of computer security research and high-performance computing earlier in his career. He lives in Newton with his young family and their two fluffy doodles.

Amanda Muñoz Privy

Amanda Munoz: Amanda joined Privy from Pivotal Labs, where she worked with large enterprises to ship software in record times. The daughter of small business owners from NYC, she's excited to help drive success for small ecommerce businesses (and she recently even launched her own!). Outside of building software, Amanda practices yoga, flexes her culinary skills, chats with her plants (she really loves her plants), and hangs out with her fur children.

Audrey Lee Privy

Audrey Lee: Audrey is a recent graduate of Williams College where she studied Computer Science and Political Science. Besides English, she is fluent in French, Mandarin Chinese and conversational in Spanish, so in addition to writing code, she acts as Privy's unofficial translator. Outside of work her biggest passions are travel and food (check out her blog), whether that is cooking, baking, or exploring new restaurants.

Allina Dolor Privy

Allina Dolor: Allina joined the Privy engineering team in her first job after studying computer science. But don't let that fool you, with experience working at Macy's and Target, she understands consumer retail first hand. She'll lean on that background, her extensive training in martial arts, and a passion for #girlswhocode to help us build innovative software products for ecommerce business around the world.

Patrick McLaren Privy

Patrick McLaren: Currently on loan from Australia, Patrick originally came to the US to study mathematics. He is a passionate startup enthusiast, first dabbling in a business of his own at the age of 16, and most recently Memoread, a smarter flashcard app. Patrick also takes graduate studies in International Relations at Harvard Extension.

Peter Cai Privy

Peter Cai: Privy’s original Engineer, Peter was our first VP of Engineering and is now our Chief Architect. Before Privy, Peter spent several years at Microsoft near the head-quarters of the defeated Seattle Seahawks. Peter also worked in several small startups including Localocracy (acquired by Huffington Post) and a local online music sharing platform. He’s a Boston native and Ruby on Rails guru.

About the
Company

The email marketing platform for Shopify & Wix stores that need the tools & coaching to grow from $0 to $1 million in sales. Used by 500,000+ small ecommerce brands around the world.

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