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Engineering Spotlight - DraftKings

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DraftKings is a digital sports entertainment and gaming company created to fuel the competitive spirits of sports fans with products that range across daily fantasy, regulated gaming, and digital media. 

We connected with Jeff Singer, Senior Software Engineering Manager, of DraftKings team to get an inside look at the company's technology, various projects, the team's culture, and more. 

Interested in joining DraftKings engineering team? Take a look at all of the company’s openings on the list to the right!


Quick Hit Details

  • Year Founded: 2012    ​​
  • Number of employees: 2,300+
  • Number of engineers: 200+
  • Industry: Sports Technology

Can you share a summary on what Draftkings does?

Jeff Singer DraftKings
Jeff Singer, Senior Software Engineering Manager

DraftKings (DKNG) is a digital sports entertainment and gaming company. At DraftKings, we believe life is more exciting with skin in the game. For that reason, we are committed to responsibly creating the world’s favorite games and betting experiences. Our two main products are DraftKings’ Sportsbook and Daily Fantasy Sports. Currently our mobile Sportsbook product is available in New Jersey, West Virginia, Indiana, Pennsylvania, New Hampshire, Iowa, and Colorado with more to come, pursuant to state regulations. Headquartered in Boston, MA, with offices around the globe, DraftKings will continue to define what it means to be a technology company in sports entertainment. 

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

DraftKings uses a plethora of technologies and has over 150 microservices on the backend, most of which are written in C#. We also leverage other technologies on the backend including; MySQL, DynamoDB, Postgres, Elasticsearch and S3 systems. DraftKings’ Engineering teams heavily rely on Typescript, Javascript, React on the web, and Xamarin, Java, Kotlin, Swift and Objective C as well for our Native Apps.

One of the most unique scale challenges we face at DraftKings is the unpredictability of our load. When highly drafted players score many points (think Tom Brady throwing a touchdown pass to Rob Gronkowski), most of our users all open their phones to check their lineup all at one time. This can lead to traffic being 10x higher one minute as compared to the previous minute. 

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

Football season is, in many ways, the equivalent of Black Friday for DraftKings, which means that by September, we try to have all of our new features live for fans to engage with. With the 2020 season right around the corner, there’s a number of new and exciting projects underway in the Engineering world right now.

DraftKings recently completed a business combination agreement with Diamond Eagle Acquisition Corp., a publicly traded special purpose acquisition company, and SBTech, an international turnkey provider of cutting-edge sports betting and gaming technologies. As we transition SBTech (the backend provider) in-house, there is a ton of interesting work underway as we find the best ways to integrate systems between the two companies.

In addition, as noted earlier, we have over 150 microservices, mostly in C#, and we’re in the final stages of an engineering-wide effort to move from .NET Framework .NET Core.

Does your engineering team have a chance to work on projects outside of their day-to-day responsibilities?  For example - skunk work projects, open source projects?

DraftKings hosts internal hackathons a few times a year, which allows for the whole engineering team to get their creative juices flowing while experimenting and working on various projects. Several of these projects have turned into real products and features for the company. My favorite example of this is the Leagues feature we have in our Daily Fantasy app, an idea that originally resulted from one of our previous hackathons. With fantasy sports being inherently social activities, Leagues have been particularly impactful as they allow friends to customize and play in private contests across any sport with exclusive leaderboards. 

Currently, the main way DraftKings gives back to the open source community is by improving and updating the open source software that is used.

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

One of my favorite parts about working at DraftKings is the immediate trust that is instilled among teammates as a significant level of responsibility is given to new engineers right off the bat. Individual teams ultimately own relatively large swaths of functionality end to end, and as a new team member it’s possible to make an impact fairly quickly.

Since engineering at DraftKings tends to be highly collaborative, one of my favorite design decisions we made when moving to our new office was giving every desk built-in storage that doubles as seating for quick discussions and collaboration. When you’re in the office, you’ll notice this is frequently utilized with groups huddling up together to share ideas. 

What can a potential employee expect during the interview process?

Before coming onsite (or doing a half day virtual interview), engineering candidates typically go through an online coding exercise on HackerRank, and then later spend an hour with an engineer remotely solving a coding problem. From there, successful candidates will be invited to spend a few hours on a range of problems depending on the role, such as Object Oriented Design or System Design, and talking through previous experience among potential colleagues. 

We are careful to recruit and hire for the types of skills that are required at DraftKings to be successful in any role. These skills are not just specific to technologies, but general problem solving skills, effective communication, and working well in a team. For on-site interviews, we finish up with a tour of our 105,000 sq ft office.

While candidates don’t necessarily need to know much about sports to be successful as a DraftKings Engineer, it certainly is an added bonus to better understand our products during the interview process and once you join the team.

Are you involved in any local tech organizations or Meetups?

DraftKings is always looking for ways to engage with local communities to join or host meetups in collaboration with. DraftKings is a sponsor for She Geeks Out, a great local tech organization, and hosts some of the group’s events in our office. The café in our Back Bay office, which has been designed to mimic a football field, is a great location for these types of events. 


Rapid Fire Q&A

What’s on tap?

At the office, we have an extensive beer fridge which is fully stocked with local beers to discover. My favorite has been anything brought in by Treehouse.

Star Wars or Star Trek? Star Wars. The primary on-call rotation at DraftKings is actually named after Yoda.

iPhone or Android?

I’m an Android person. 

Coffee - hot or iced?

I’ve actually never had a cup of coffee.

Favorite employee perk?

I’m a big fan of being able to go to the DraftKings Suite in Gillette Stadium.

What TV show describes the engineering team’s culture?

The Magic School Bus. We’re ready to learn, but it always turns out to be a bit of an adventure.

What music is playing in your office?

Whenever our Sportsbook launches in a new state, we’ll play music related to that state. For Pennsylvania, the Rocky theme song played on repeat.

View from your office 

I live (and now work, I guess) in Somerville, so this is my View:


Want to learn more about DraftKings? Check out their BIZZPage

About the
Company

It’s simple, at DraftKings, we believe life’s more alive with skin in the game.

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