Meet Groupon Engineering: Tim Macdonald

at October 23rd, 2014

Tim Macdonald

LR: How long have you been at Groupon? TM: Just over a year; I started part-time work in September 2013, and then switched to full-time last January.

LR: What are some of the challenges and problems you get to solve in your work as a software engineer at Groupon? TM: I’ve been on several teams, but so far have spent most of my time doing some interesting work with analyzing past deals we’ve run and using that data to predict how new deals would do in the market. It’s of course both challenging and exciting to be working on a suite of new products, and more specifically there were some good problems related to parsing deals—that is, figuring out what exactly they’re selling and how that stacks up to other ones. From a more technical standpoint, I’ve learned a new language that I really love (Clojure), massively improved my skills with another (Javascript), and generally be more involved with full-stack development.

LR: What do you enjoy most about working at Groupon? TM: Lots of great things about working at Groupon but I think the best part is the people I get to work with. It amazes me that the same group of people making great technical decisions and giving great product pushback can always make me laugh or be up for a beer!

LR: You recently took first place at the 2014 U.S. Scottish Fiddle Championship! How did you get into fiddle playing? TM: I’ve been playing the (classical) violin since I was four—I went to see the Tegucigalpa Philharmonic and was entranced. When I was twelve, I was at a Scottish festival, saw the fiddle competition, and thought, “That’s awesome! Wait a second…I play the violin…I could totally learn how to play like that.” So I took private lessons for a year and a half and started going to a summer fiddle camp, and now here I am! For this contest, I was specifically trying to make a point about historically informed performance. All of my pieces were written before 1793, and I was playing on period instruments. The baroque violin is very different from the modern one.

Tim’s first-place finish qualifies him to compete in the 2015 Glenfiddich Fiddle Championship in Scotland next October when he’ll go up against other maestros from around the world.

Tune in to Tim’s winning performance below, check out this article featuring the fiddle aficionado himself and leave any and all accolades in the comments.

Meet Groupon Engineering Operations: Erica Geil

at October 22nd, 2014

Erica Geil has been at Groupon for over four years. “The thing I love most about my job is what I learn from the people I work with at Groupon. Everyone has different experiences, different interests and that keeps me engaged with the initiatives I oversee. I never have the same day twice,” Erica said. As Sr. Director, Global Engineering Operations, Erica’s role gives input to the project management team responsible for driving global, cross-functional initiatives. She also oversees ETHOS, Groupon’s team focused on engineering training and culture, and she gives guidance to Salesforce engineering and product development – these groups provide critical data to many Groupon tools and systems.

Groupon will be 6 years old in November and Erica has seen the company grow exponentially in her time. Groupon started as a daily deals business and is evolving to a Pull model where users can check Groupon first to discover an inventory of services, goods and travel deals. Watch below to learn more about how Erica’s work in Engineering Operations is part of that growth.

Sharing is Caring: Open Source at Groupon

at October 7th, 2014

Groupon is fueled by open source software. We run on software built in the open, supported by the community, and shared to move technology forward. While we give back when we can to the projects we use and share new creations, the true value resides in the people that make it happen, and that’s why we are pleased to announce Groupon’s new OSS home. It pulls information from Github, Open Source Report Card, Stack Overflow , and Lanyrd, with plans to add more information in the future. The purpose is to highlight the people that are actively contributing within Groupon Engineering and celebrate the things they do. This page is the result of Groupon Engineering’s most recent GEEKon, our bi-annual internal hackathon that gives our devs a chance to innovate bottoms up. We feel that it is important to share this information not only to show the world that we care about open source software, but to encourage more participation and find other amazing people who want to work with us.

Of course, this wouldn’t be in good taste unless we open sourced the code that generates this page. You can find it on Github.

We are excited to continue work on this project and even more excited to see additional contributions from folks outside of Groupon! We hope that it can help highlight the people in every company that make open source software what it is and find more meaningful connections between other like-minded people in their communities.

To get a complete picture of what we have already released you can visit the Groupon Github page. Be sure to keep an eye out for new releases and updates to our projects. And if you like the work that we have done and would like to work with us, check out our Groupon tech jobs.

Meet Groupon Engineering: Candice Savino

at October 7th, 2014


LR: How long have you been at Groupon? CS: I’ve been at Groupon for almost 3 years! I started the day after we IPO’d.

LR: What do you do at Groupon? CS: Currently I’m a Sr. Engineering Manager, but I started here as a Software Engineer.

LR: What are some of the challenges you get to solve in your work? CS: Building platforms that allow Groupon to give customers the best experience possible has been challenging but rewarding work. My team built the platform that powers the Holiday shop, Valentine’s day shop and countless other themes in 33 countries. The challenge behind this was to build a tool flexible and useful to the business without needing constant deployment cycles from engineering teams. This platform gave the control and flexibility to the business while keeping the engineers out of monotonous work.

LR: What do you like most about working at Groupon? CS: The best thing about Groupon is getting the opportunity to rebuild the tech platform at the ground level. Groupon is the fastest growing company ever and keeping up with the load from a technical perspective is a challenge. Being at Groupon gives you the opportunity to be part of rebuilding a company which you don’t get to do everywhere. My team is one of the best teams I’ve worked with in my career. Getting to work with each of these talented engineers is always the best part of my day!

Meet Groupon Engineering: Trina Gizel

at October 7th, 2014

Trina Gizel recently joined Groupon as Global Director of Information Technology. Among other responsibilities, Trina is the driver for the backend productivity systems for all employees at Groupon around the world. As the fastest growing company in history, Groupon has a complex IT landscape that Trina is optimizing. Click below to learn more about her work and how it fits within Groupon’s context of innovation:

Meet Groupon Engineering: Macey Briggs

at October 6th, 2014

“I like working on things that are highly visible to our customers,” said Macey Briggs, who drives project management at Groupon. In this role she works on cross functional projects that touch more than five development teams across the company. Macey has been at Groupon for three years and currently leads teams in Chicago and Europe. She is in the middle of one of our biggest projects to date – work on our international web frontend across 25 countries in Europe. “Any customer in Europe is being touched by the current project I’m working on and rolling out right now,” said Macey. When done, the web will match the web frontend we have in the US today and will be in line with our global technology.

Meet Groupon Engineering: Ali Vanderveld

at October 6th, 2014

Ali Vanderveld is a Data Scientist at Groupon. Prior to Groupon, she was at the University of Chicago where she was a research fellow. Ali holds a PhD in Physics from Cornell. Read below to find out more about her work.

Ali Vanderveld

LR: How long have you been at Groupon? AV: A little over one year.

LR: What interests you most about data science as a field? AV: I was attracted to data science because of the fast pace, the broad variety of problems to tackle, and the opportunity to create significant, tangible change.

LR: What are some of the challenges and problems you’re working to solve as a Data Scientist at Groupon? AV: The Chicago Data Science team works mostly on the Local and Sales side of the business. We work on answering Local-related business questions and on developing tools to optimize our sales force. For example, we forecast demand using a combination of sales velocity and search query data, and we determine user travel patterns using historical orders.

LR: Tell us a bit about your work as an astrophysicist and how that has parlayed into your work at Groupon? AV: I spent several years in academic research, studying theoretical cosmology. In particular, I studied gravitational lensing and worked on ESA’s Euclid mission, for which I developed numerical simulations and worked with Hubble Space Telescope legacy data. This is work that requires a lot of programming and statistics, and I now use those same tools to study e-commerce.

LR: What do you enjoy most about working at Groupon? AV: The people and the atmosphere are great. My team is filled with smart people from a wide variety of backgrounds, and we’re given ample opportunities both to be creative and for professional development.

LR: What do you like to do outside of work? AV: Work life balance is incredibly important to me, and as such I always have a few hobbies. I play the cello and I’m currently working on my first solo aerial silks act. I also volunteer at the Adler Planetarium.

Meet Groupon Engineering: Ushashi Chakraborty

at October 6th, 2014

Ushashi joined Groupon just under a year ago as a software development engineer in Test on the Internal Tools team. Ushashi works on backend tools and the testing of Groupon products. She collaborates extensively with the data mining team, writing tests to ensure that the predictive and recommendational algorithms are working correctly by having a test automation framework in place. According to Ushashi, “Groupon as a company is young and vibrant, and there is so much to do.”

Meet Groupon Engineering: Ushashi Chakraborty from Groupon Engineering on Vimeo.

Meet Groupon Engineering: Swati Raju

at October 1st, 2014

Swati Raju was the first female engineer to join Groupon. She is an engineering manager on the mobile team, focusing on the development of new products with a mobile use case in mind. She is also working on the migration of our current mobile website to the I-Tier platform.

Find out more about her work on mobile here: