Three big events have set the course of our company, SurveyMonkey, and with it, our long strange trip in Engineering. The first event occurred in 1999 when our founder, Ryan Finley finished the 1.0 version of SurveyMonkey. 7 years before Fred Wilson and Jarid Lukin popularized the term “freemium”, SurveyMonkey was born and became one of the “freemiums” best case studies. Ryan and his employees doggedly pursued our customers with a simple model: build features that customers want, tweak, brush and polish until it’s easy to use, and then rinse and repeat.
10 years later in 2009, as we became the clear leader of online surveys, the second big event occurred when Ryan moved on to our board and brought new executive management, ushering in a new era for the company as a reignited startup, led by Dave Goldberg. Since 2009, we’ve moved from our Portland, OR roots to the heart of the Silicon Valley and brought in an experienced management team including Selina Tobaccowala, our fearless CTO and president, who founded Evite from her Stanford dorm. The duo rebuilt our young nascent engineering team and gave us clear marching orders to build a modern technology stack in a flexible, scalable way.
From the two original engineers in Portland, we have grown to over 150 people dedicated to building out great features and converting SurveyMonkey from a tool into a platform. Moving from .Net to a Python, micro-service architecture was not an easy task, but one with many tales of successes and failures to be shared.. History can make odd bedfellows and we are likely the largest Python shop in the world to use MS SQLServer although we’ve spiced our stack up with Cassandra and MySQL. We have tons of data, or what the kids these days call big data, and we’ve released a really great benchmarking product. We have some interesting theories on where we want to take NLP. But like every other high tech company, we’re constantly moving and growing, reacting to our customers needs, facing new technical challenges, and building some pretty cool stuff. We have a lot to talk about.
We’re committed to being good net citizens. Our goal for the blog is to describe how we solved some of our thornier issues and hopefully give back some so others can avoid some of the pitfalls or problems we’ve encountered. I’m proud to be a part of the SurveyMonkey Engineering team, and we are excited to have virtual conversation with the rest of our community. We can be opinionated at times, but we also are eager to listen and learn.
That leads me to the third big event that happened earlier this year when Dave Goldberg, our CEO passed away tragically and unexpectedly. He was a fantastic leader and those who knew him were lucky to have had time with him. You can read more here about some of the lessons I learned from him.His legacy remains and it’s in our corporate culture. You can still hear him in the meetings we have, the decisions we make, the drive to be successful, and the way we work together to build a better product. He’s carried on in the new people who we have hired and he continues to make an impact on our team, our customers, our partners, and our community. This blog will be another example; we can’t fill his shoes but we’ll try. #MakeDaveProud
VP of Engineering