January 30, 2019

Engineering Spotlight: Attivio

Attivio is a leading cognitive search and insight platform company. The company recently announced its plans to move their global headquarters from Newton to 100 Summer Street in downtown Boston.

We connected with Attivio’s Director of Software Development Rajiv Narula to see what it is like being part of the engineering team at the company. Narula also went into detail about what their tech stack is like and what kinds of projects they are working on.

Interested in working at Attivio? Click here to see all of the job openings at the company.

Quick Hit Details

  • Year Founded: 2007

  • Number of employees: 61

  • Number of engineers: 18

  • Industry: Software / Technology

Can you share a summary on what Attivio does?

Attivio is an intelligent answers and insights platform that brings Google-like search experiences to businesses. In doing so, we help mid-to-large sized companies solve their most complex search needs/projects, such as customer support, risk avoidance, and digital transformation. To do this, we leverage our own natural language processing and machine learning capabilities to provide a personalized and accurate search experience that delivers actionable answers to every question, instead of a simple list of links.

Rajiv Narula
Rajiv Narula, Director of Software Development at Attivio

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

We are a Java shop and use REACT to build our open-source Search UI Toolkit (SUIT).

Attivio’s specialty is in handling large amounts of unstructured data (like knowledgebase articles, emails, comments, chats, etc.) from which we extract insights and answers so that users can quickly find the information they need, even if they don’t know how to formalize the question. To do this, we rely on our natural language processing capabilities and leverage technologies like Hadoop, Spring, and REST.

We also offer clients a variety of deployment options, from on-premise to cloud and everything in between. For cloud, we use AWS and components like S3.

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

We get to work on the largest, most sophisticated, and bespoke search projects in the world. Rarely is one project exactly like another which keeps our work interesting. So we’re always tackling unique problems for clients, from complex content security requirements to mixed on-premise/cloud deployments to enabling search across multiple languages.

A big push for the team this year was launching a suite of apps, called Elevate. Elevate uses all of our advanced platform capabilities, like ML and NLP together, as well as a pre-configured search experience. It is available on the ServiceNow app store and delivered as an integrated experience the ServiceNow platform. It’s been a really fun project because we’re providing a rich search experience to ServiceNow users without them ever realizing Attivio is behind it.

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

One of our company values is Embrace Challenges with Confidence, and this particularly resonates in engineering. As a result, we always encourage experimentation and about twice a year we have a week-long Hackathon. The goal is to come together as a team and try to solve a large, sticky problem. While sometimes it doesn’t result in anything tangible, it is surprising how much of what we create during these exercises actually make it into future releases or new products.

We also want our developers to become experts of open-source technologies embedded in our platform, so we encourage the team to take part in local workshops and meetups.

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

The team is strong and we are really proud of the experience, backgrounds, and diversity: 30% women across the team, 12+ languages spoken, 8 countries represented and a multitude of educational institutions.

We are Agile, open-minded, competent, tight-knit with a desire to achieve the impossible. Our culture is one of self-starters and team players - relationships are the glue that holds everything together - so we thrive on collaboration and transparency. Our most important goal is to simplify the customer’s experience, so we are always on the lookout for opportunities to evolve our technology.

Attivio at the bar

What can a potential employee expect during the interview process?

Aside from learning whether a candidate possesses the technical chops for the role, we really try and understand if they are a cultural fit. We use our six principle values as a guidepost. So in an interview, we’re just as likely to ask you to whiteboard XYZ, as for how you’ve “simplified customer success” or been a part of “winning as a team.”

We also introduce candidates to the team early in the process. We manage to get a lot done with a relatively small group, so we want to make sure candidates have a sense of what different people do, and how their particular expertise can help.

Are you involved in any local tech organizations or Meetups?

We encourage everyone to get involved with the Boston tech scene. There’s so much to learn and awesome people to meet. Some of our favorites are Startup Weekend, SWE, MassTLC, Women Who Code, React meetups, and Girls Who Code.

Could you highlight some of your job openings?

The engineering team is growing fast. We currently have 5 open positions at all different levels, and we plan to do a lot more hiring in the R&D department this year. We’re also moving offices to Boston (100 Summer St) in the Spring. We’re looking forward to being closer to the city’s vibrant tech community. If you’re in the area and looking for something new this year, we’d love to hear from you!

Rapid Fire Q&A

What’s on tap?

It varies with every Thirsty Thursday: beer, wine, cocktails & mocktails.

Star Wars or Star Trek?

Star Wars

iPhone or Android?


Coffee - hot or iced?

Hot at the moment.

Favorite employee perk?

Free lunch Friday!

What is the engineering team’s favorite TV show?

Rick & Morty

What music is playing in your office?

Hard to say, we have a lot of people wearing headphones.

Team Profiles

Yong Kim

Yong Kim, Sr Cloud DevOps Engineer

Increasingly, our customers want to experience our solution in the cloud. It’s our responsibility in DevOps to ensure our high availability deployments into the cloud are as automated and frictionless as possible. Since joining, we’ve programmed AWS deployment through Terraform and are tackling technology upgrades such as moving to Java 11. R&D at Attivio empowers us to push technology forward and I look forward to what we’re going to build in the future.

Ben Vachon Attivio

Ben Vachon, Sr Software Engineer

More and more content resides on the web, and the complexity and variety of that content is always growing. I work on the part of our system that crawls and understands web content so that it can be incorporated into search results. Because of the nature of the content, I get to work on really tough challenges like navigating permissions and access, ensuring search results always reflect the actual state of the web and optimizing speed and reliability. And because of my focus, I have become the company-wide expert on the subject, enabling me to work with and help train my peers across departments.

Keith Cline is the Founder of VentureFizz.  Follow him on Twitter: @kcline6.

Images courtesy of Attivio