Engineering Spotlight: Evergage
Evergage is a venture capital backed company based in Davis Square in Somerville. The company's real-time personalization platform allows digital marketing teams to engage with website visitors or app users in order to understand their audiences in a more personal manner.
We connected with Evergage’s co-founder and CTO, Greg Hinkle, about the inner-workings of the engineering team and some of the major projects they are working on. What you'll notice is a lot of initiatives focused on machine learning (ML) at scale and in real-time.
Don't miss the random fun facts... which is always my favorite part.
Also, Evergage is hiring! Check out their BIZZpage for the company’s openings.
Quick Hit Details
Year Founded: 2010
Number of employees: 75
Number of engineers: 25
Industry: Marketing Technology
Can you share the details on what Evergage does?
Evergage empowers B2B and B2C marketers to deliver 1:1 personalization based on deep behavioral analytics, customer data and machine learning – so every site visitor or app user gets an individualized, maximally relevant experience. Evergage’s powerful and flexible cloud-based platform delivers real-time personalization to more than 2 billion web visitors and application users, improving revenue growth, demand generation and customer success for leading organizations across industries, including Academy Sports+Outdoors, Endurance International Group, Intuit, Publishers Clearing House, Rue La La and Zumiez.
Can you share a little bit more about what the term real-time personalization means for our audience?
Real-time personalization is the process by which the Evergage platform detects a user landing on a given web page and before that page is shown to the person, determine how to modify that page’s structure, content or look-and-feel to be maximally relevant based on an instant assessment of their identity and interests – and then deliver that one-to-one experience in less than 25 milliseconds! Other solutions simply cannot support this speed of calculation, accurate determination of relevance and delivery from a technical perspective.
What are some of the different technologies that the engineering team gets to work with and at what scale?
Our backend technology stack is made up primarily of Java, non-relational databases, search technologies and a lot of open source frameworks and libraries. Combined, these technologies form not only an efficient, but also extensible and scalable cloud architecture, which enables us to deliver our award-winning personalization services to users on different devices all over the world. Our front end technology stack is AngularJS at the core; all things considered, it has a relatively lean list of dependencies including, but not limited to, UI-Bootstrap, Kendo-UI, highcharts and many utilities and filters. There aren’t any “black boxes” when it comes to the configuration of a client's integration. As such, our UI has a large number of main routes and associated screens to support this. Our current architecture scales easily, which allows us to focus on new product features.
What are some of the interesting projects that the engineering team is tackling?
The theme of the year for our team is to continue applying machine learning (ML) at scale and in real-time. Think product recommendations, but taken to a whole new level. We’re able to handle data from very large websites and return meaningful personalizations with < 25ms of server-side response time. And importantly, we’re applying it in ways that have never been done before. Our ability to blend multiple ML models in a single real-time query is pretty cool.
The Evergage Visual Editor is a fully featured website editor that can be installed as a Chrome extension. By running as a chrome extension, the editor enables the end user to make changes directly to their real-world website as it’s rendered in the browser. These changes can be in the form of swapped-out or inserted content and images to fully customized HTML/CSS/JS – the sky is really the limit. They can later save those changes as a campaign and deliver it to a deep, highly targeted audience. Recently, responsive design and grid layouts have introduced an interesting challenge when it comes to providing our clients with a way to not only make visual changes to their site, but also preview those changes at different viewports and on different devices. Through the use of a specialized API we’re able to provide not only a resizable viewport but device emulation as well, all of which are built into our Visual Editor and work just like Chrome developer tools.
Can you describe the type of background or experience that you generally look for when hiring for the engineering team?
Lifelong learning is the first thing we look for in candidates. People that are always looking to learn new things, have their own side projects or taught themselves a new language, just for fun. We face a broad set of challenges and so we have people that are experts in data storage, machine learning, search, locking and threading, usability and web technologies, networking, security, etc. Also, we have a no-assholes rule. :)
What can someone expect during the interview process?
After an initial phone call, we use a take-home technical exercise as a way to get a high-level perspective of technical expertise. We also use the test solutions as a subject of discussion during the in-person interview to help us get to know how a candidate thinks. Getting most answers correct is important, of course, but we also want to understand a candidate's thought process and have them defend their reasoning. We want to ensure that the candidate has a good feel for what the role will entail and what being successful at Evergage means.
How would you best describe the culture and working environment for the engineering team at Evergage?
We foster a shared learning environment with a focus on teaching, training, and spreading knowledge among engineers. And everyone on the team has something to offer. It’s collaborative, fun and challenging. We work hard, and we play hard. (And by play we mean play Rock Band!)
That said, with enterprise software driving business-critical outcomes for clients around the globe, we take development and operations very seriously. For example, we have Hue lights hooked up to our production monitoring system, so if the lights turn red, we are instantly alerted that our infrastructure may be experiencing an event impacting performance.
Does your company do anything interesting to break up the day?
Right before our daily Scrum, we all do push-ups, calf raises, sit-ups, or some other light physical activity together. And then right after Scrum, we all go out to lunch in smaller groups to various Davis Square eateries.
What does your team do for fun outside of work? Are they involved in any local tech organizations?
Bowling at Flatbread is definitely a team favorite. It’s right around the corner and who doesn’t love a little competition on the lanes? We also have a Softball team that plays in the Spring/Summer and hold monthly company events including climbing at Brooklyn Boulders, tasting at Aeronaut Brewery, trivia nights, board game nights, Red Sox games and the Annual Evergage Talent Show & Karaoke Jam. We’ve also participated in and sponsored a few TUGG events like TUGG for the Holidays and the Somerville Tech Pub Crawl.
Are there any other random fun facts that you’d like to share?
We have a former US Olympic Development Luge Team member, a former rock and roll cover band lead singer, a former lead guitarist for two NYC based bands, and a Drum n' Bass DJ. Let’s just say we have considered starting an EverBand.
Rapid Fire Q&A?
What’s on tap? Currently, Stone IPA and Two Roads No Limits Hefeweizen.
Star Wars or Star Trek? Star Wars...
iPhone or Android? Android
Coffee - hot or iced? Iced
Favorite employee perk? Winesday (wine and cheese...and beer, at 5 p.m. every Wednesday)
What TV show describes the engineering team’s culture? Bob's Burgers
What music is playing in your office? Whatever is in your headphones, or after hours on the speakers. Often some drum'n'bass (by our very own DJ/Director of Engineering)
View from your office:
Cleanest desk / Messiest desk
"A documentary film researcher turned coder, I assist our clients in building campaigns that help them achieve their personalization goals. I love when we wow our clients with creative solutions to problems they thought were impossible to solve or would take them months to implement."
Christina Wiech, Senior Personalization Developer
"I came to Evergage in the earlier days of the company's history as a Customer Success Associate. Fast forward 3 years later, I’ve had the opportunity to work my way up from a CSA to a Solutions Engineer to a Software Engineer. Early on, it was easy for me to see the potential of the product we have. We are constantly working together to improve the performance of our infrastructure and ease of use with our UI. I’m always excited to see the positive reaction from our users, it makes me feel like we’re really building something great."
Eric Williams, Software Engineer
"Evergage has the best people: not just smart and talented, but also extremely approachable, caring, open-minded, and customer-focused. Evergage values people above all else, as it should be."
Matt Mooney, Software Engineer
"I absolutely love working on the Evergage engineering team. Everyone working on the platform genuinely cares about creating a great experience for our customers, and it's put into practice by considering user experience at the beginning of product development all the way through to post-launch tweaks. The team is also extremely knowledgeable and readily shares information and learns from one another. It's a great working environment and we are always working on a cutting edge project or a new way to do something."
Amie Levasseur, UX Director