October 5, 2015

Engineering Spotlight: Salsify

Engineering Spotlight is our newest series which offers our readers a closer look at some of the best engineering teams in and around Boston. 

Today, we're featuring Salsify! Salsify is a product content management and syndication platform. They power the seamless exchange of product content that powers today's commerce experience. Brand manufacturers, distributors, and retailers partner with Salsify to exchange the high-quality content that drives online results. 

What's your engineering team's background?

Our small but growing team hails from a variety of backgrounds and we all have one thing in common - we share a passion for understanding and solving our users’ problems by writing great software.

Most of us found our way to Salsify after stints at other Boston based tech companies but we all wanted to have the opportunity to build a company and product from the ground up. Our goal is to build a global network through which product information flows between companies instantly, seamlessly, and without hassle.

We love contributing to open source projects, sharing expertise with the community via our engineering blog and challenging each other to keep learning new things - whether that’s building out a significant Rails plugin to address eager loading or the most profitable railroad network at the next board game night.


Highlight a couple of people specifically. 


Joel Turkel, Salsify engineering, engineering spotlight

Joel Turkel | Chief Architect 

About Joel: Joel is an applied math and computer science grad from Brown. He got his start with Oracle working on their Business Intelligence platform before moving to the East Coast where he worked for Endeca and architected their ETL tools until Oracle re-hired him via Endeca’s successful acquisition in 2011. At Salsify, Joel is known to wax fondly about the concurrency challenges of supporting our diverse customers when he isn’t celebrating or agonizing over the current performance of his beloved Philadelphia Eagles and wishing he could bring himself to be a Patriots fan.

Biggest Accomplishment at Salsify: Being a founding engineer and building a great product and team 

Fun Fact: When Joel was in elementary school he used to enjoy putting on a suit and reading the newspaper. Ironically, one of the things he loves most about working in tech is he rarely needs to get dressed up.


Randy Burkes, Salsify engineering, engineering spotlight

Randy Burkes | Software Engineer Team Lead
About Randy: Randy is a Software Engineer and Team Lead who found his way to Salsify after spending three years at Endeca (Oracle/ATG post acquisition). Prior to moving to Boston, Randy was an Alaskan gold miner. Well, he was a process engineer for a gold mine in Alaska, but that’s how we like to think of him. His love of technology, specifically mobile devices, motivated him to leave the last frontier and pursue a career in software development. Randy now focuses on developing core pieces of our backend architecture, and ensuring our office beer supply never dries up.

Biggest Accomplishment at Salsify: Winning the inaugural Salsify Hackathon

Fun Fact: Randy was a sponsored skateboarder through many of his teen years


Keith Williams, Salsify engineering, engineering spotlight

Keith Williams | Software Engineer

About Keith: Keith graduated from Carnegie Mellon in 2014, where he studied electrical and computer engineering. Keith studied electrical engineering but became interested in pursuing a career in software engineering after completing internships at Hubspot and Dot & Bo. Keith chose to begin his career at Salsify because he saw potential role models in the people he met during his interview. Keith has come a long way from the first programming he did on a calculator in high school. He now focuses on front-end development and is an expert javascript developer.

Biggest Accomplishment at Salsify: Mentoring a summer intern and watching her grow as a young engineer

Fun Fact: When Keith isn’t building software he enjoys building furniture


What is your tech stack?

Salsify is a pretty “normal” modern SaaS application, with an API powered by Ruby/Rails and backed by Postgres (our primary data store) and ElasticSearch (for search, navigation and eventing). We’ve built a number of different ruby and javascript applications on top of the platform. The javascript application our customers use every day is in the middle of a migration from our own MVC framework built on Backbone to Ember.



What are some of the cool / interesting problems that you're solving?

One of the things we love about the stage we’re at right now is that we’re identifying new problems to solve almost every day. Here are a few examples of things we’ve been working on recently:

  1. Architecting our software to scale to hundreds of millions of products and thousands of customers
  2. Distilling complex operations like forks, pull requests and 3-way merges down to their essence to make them usable by e-commerce sales and marketing teams
  3. Applying machine learning to our data to ensure every additional customer makes it easier for the next one to transform their product information to the standards of hundreds of different retailers
  4. Building ergonomic, scalable APIs for integrating with a variety of external services
  5. Making sure we have enterprise-grade administration and security capabilities
  6. Building a great user experience to guide users through complex activities like mapping and transforming Salsify product data so it can be delivered to a variety of retailers


What is the culture of the engineering team?

We love solving problems together. Collaboration and openness form the foundation of how we approach nearly every aspect of our day. On any given day, you’ll find people heads down and focused while another team huddles around a desk or whiteboard to discuss and socialize a new approach to building our next great feature. We have embraced git pull-requests both for communication and to help us improve our coding skills. We have regular tech talks, encourage teams to find opportunities to open source code they’ve written, and regularly share relevant technical content on our engineering blog.

Outside of work, we have a wide variety of interests including tabletop and video gaming, music, art, and sports. We host regular board game nights where we hang out, and game, often with engineers from other software companies. It’s not unusual for people to rally a group for golf, get together to play music, or go rock climbing after hours. We have beer on tap and like to bring in torus-shaped foods (only bagels and donuts so far but the sky’s the limit) to entice other areas of the company to come and visit our area.

Salsify Engineering

Salsify Engineering Team



What positions are you looking to hire?                                                         

At Salsify we value your strengths. We love collaborative, innovative, goal-oriented, improvement-minded technologists from any background. If you love working at a fast-paced startup and building modern web applications and APIs, check out our front-end and back-end engineering roles. You can also meet us in person at our upcoming Open House Party or at the October Lesbians Who Tech Happy Hour hosted by Salsify