Facebook might be positioning itself to build new features around voice navigation or voice-activated search into the social network, thanks to the hiring of Google product designer Mike LeBeau. While at Google and Google X, LeBeau worked as a Staff Software Engineer and Product Designer. Read More
Article courtesy of TechCrunch
Learning the fundamentals of programming is easy. But becoming an expert? That’s damn hard. There are a million and one languages, each with their own nuances, strengths, and weaknesses. Worse yet, the programming hype train is always chugging away; just when you think you’ve mastered the world’s greatest language, everyone will be talking up some new language or framework or database and your boss’ boss will be asking why you’re not using that, instead.
AirPair connects you with expert programmers, on-demand.
We first wrote about AirPair back in March of last year. Back then, it was just a one-man shop with an interesting idea. It seemed like something that should work, but it was a bit too early to tell. They’d done just seven on-demand calls, and had but a handful of experts to call in. Their service was, at its core, a Google Docs form.
11 months later, the idea seems to be working out. The one-man team has grown to five, and that handful of experts has grown into the thousands. They’ve ditched the Google Doc form, building up a proper site and service around the idea. Companies like Intel are turning to them to figure how which frameworks to adopt internally. While they kept their actual numbers under wraps, the company tells me that they reached “ramen profitable” levels shortly after launch, and have been growing their revenue 40% month-over-month ever since.
So how does it work?
If you’re familiar with Google Helpouts, the idea here is quite similar — just far more focused on a specific topic (and, to be fair to them, AirPair launched months before we broke the news of Helpouts’ existence).
From there, you tell AirPair how much you’re willing to pay per hour, with each tier opening up access to a wider pool of experts. $60 an hour, for example, gets you access to around 15% of the site’s experts — the folks who can answer most basic coding questions. $90 an hour opens it up to people who’ve been coding for a few years, and can tell help you start to crack the tougher issues. It goes all the way up to $300 an hour, at which point you’re talking to people who more or less live in code; the people who (literally) wrote the book on this stuff. (Each engineer on the service picks their own rate, with AirPair gauging customer success/satisfaction to ensure that everyone finds themselves in the right group.)
A few variables can send the price up or down, though. By default, sessions are private — but if you’re willing to let them record the session and share it publicly, they’ll drop the price a bit. Need the engineer on the other end to sign an NDA before your company will let you talk to them? They’ll organize all of that, but it brings the price up.
(Interestingly, that aforementioned session-sharing is part of how the company targets new customers. If you’ve allowed them to share the session, they’ll upload it to YouTube and tag it based on the topic matter. If people turn to Google with an issue and their video pops up, it serves as an ad for the next time that person finds themselves stumped.)
Once the pricing is set, AirPair takes over. Engineers don’t bid against each other for sessions, nor do companies pick engineers themselves — instead, AirPair picks the engineer they think is right for the gig, based on availability, track record, pricing, and expertise. “We’re kind of like Uber, in that sense.” AirPair co-founder Jonathon Kresner says. “You don’t think of who’s picking you up, you just trust Uber’s drivers are a certain level of quality. With AirPair, you trust our matching.”
But what about head-hunting? You have to imagine that if you’re offering up a direct connection to “experts” in a field that’s currently experience something of a talent drought, those people will be gettin’ job offers thrown in their face left and right. And if they get hired away from the service, that’s one less expert they have to call on.
“We’re not scared about it. The people who are on our system could work wherever they want anyway.” says Kresner. “But it definitely has happened. We have a policy where after you’ve worked with an expert for over 10 hours, you can pay a finder’s fee to engage them outside of AirPair.”
You can find more details on AirPair right over here.
Article courtesy of TechCrunch
Launching at Disrupt SF, Koality is a development tool that fills an important gap for engineering teams. It’s a seamless server-side application that sits between your startup’s repository and your engineers. Instead of submitting code to your repository, you push changes to Koality. The application will then run test suites before submitting to the repository, effectively ending broken builds and countless wasted hours.
“We all worked in software companies, and the most important pain point was broken builds,” co-founder and CEO Jonathan Chu told me in a phone interview before Disrupt. “It happens all the time and it was the most painful thing in our work. If you were working on the same code, you had no choice but to stop working until it was fixed” he continued.
Even though Koality is a very specific tool, it could greatly improve the overall productivity of a startup in two ways. There will never be a broken build again, and testing suites are much faster when you use Koality.
Here’s how it works: Every time a commit fails a test, a notification will be sent to the engineer telling him that something is wrong with his or her code. This way, the engineer has the opportunity to fix the bug before it gets into the repository.
Moreover, you don’t need to run painfully long tests on your computer anymore. You can push your code and shut down your computer. Koality parallelizes the tests as well, greatly improving performances. “When it runs your tests, it spins out replicas of your environment,” Chu said. Asana is a great example of a company that uses Koality already.
“Asana parallelizes its environment 30 times, making it 30 times faster,” Chu said. “Asana had a similar system internally, so it was really excited that somebody else was doing pre-push test suites and that it was even better,” he continued.
While Chu suspects that Facebook and Google have a very sophisticated testing process and internal environment, many growing companies don’t have the right tool and don’t have the resources to build it internally. That’s where Koality is useful. So far, most of the teams already using Koality have more than 25 engineers. Dropbox is one of them.
Koality supports Git and Mercurial, and runs on Unix-like systems. “Your code doesn’t have to leave your firewall,” Chu said. If you prefer, you can run it on Amazon Web Services. After the setup process, engineers can use your version control client the same way you would.
The team of five started a year ago and has received $1.65 million in funding so far from FF Angel, Webb Investment Network, Uj Ventures, Index Ventures and others. The two founders used to work at Palantir where broken builds happened every day. The company is still figuring out how much the product will cost, but you can expect a per-seat license with a free tier.
Judges: Mike Abbott (Kleiner Perkins, Caufield & Byers), Ali Partovi (Angel investor), Jess Lee (Polyvore), Gentry Underwood (Mailbox)
Q: Are you giving this tool to companies or individuals?
A: Our focus is on growing startups. Most of the teams that use Koality have more than 15 people.
Q: Market size and business model. How do you envision pricing?
A: On average it’s about $30 per month per seat. But it’s going to be cheaper for little teams and more expensive for bigger companies. Testing suites is just the first step, the low-hanging fruit. We can do bug tracking or other tools.
Q: How long it takes to set up?
A: It depends on the company. It’s simple. It should be a couple of hours, it can take a day.
Article courtesy of TechCrunch
Facebook Strategic Preferred Marketing Developer Nanigans recently announced a round of new hires. The company has been busy recently, scooping up Antonio Garcia-Martinez from the Facebook Exchange team and expanding rapidly.
Here’s a full list of Nanigans’ recent hires:
Companies who want their new hires included in the post must contact us directly at justin.lafferty (at) insidenetwork.com. Must be a Facebook PMD or Facebook Strategic PMD to be included.
Article courtesy of Inside Facebook
Facebook has added 17 new job listings on its careers page including a new FBX partner manager position based out of Menlo Park. This person would be working closely with PMDs as Facebook looks to strengthen the program.
Article courtesy of Inside Facebook
Facebook this week added a job listing for a Software Engineer, Computer Vision to join a team working on the social network’s “next generation products.”
Computer vision is a field that involves electronically processing and understanding images. It can be applied to a range of industries and tasks, but most obviously for Facebook, it could help the company organize the massive amount of photos and videos users share by recognizing what is within those images. If Facebook could better understand the contents of a photo or video, that could improve News Feed relevancy algorithms, help users search and find media on the platform, and open up new possibilities for Sponsored Stories or ways to monetize Instagram.
Read the full story
Editor’s note: Taylor Buley is a senior developer at Conde Nast’s PARADE. He’s a former staff writer at Forbes and graduated from University of Pennsylvania and Stanford. Follow him on Twitter @taylorbuley.
On Thursday Lars Rasmussen, Google Maps co-inventor turned Facebook Graph Search guru, took to Reddit for an “ask me anything” open thread. The Australian native avoided questions about the competitive landscape for Graph Search but spilled a near complete history of its development inside Facebook.
The Facebook engineer had a good time doing it, too, judging by the 18 smiley faces he riddled throughout.
Graph Search is Facebook’s foray into the search market. Instead of matching pages to search terms like “San Francisco + sushi restaurant,” Graph Search instead takes natural-language sentences like “my friends who like sushi” and finds results expressed through your social network. Facebook is betting that by using personalized data, they can provide more relevant search results than can mechanisms such as Yelp reviews or Google Page Rank.
Rasmussen writes that he was interviewed by Facebook in late 2010, around the same time Google announced the shutdown of Google Wave, a product launched by Lars and brother Jens. But it wasn’t until a half-year later that he was pulled onto the Graph Search project.
“Zuck asked me to work on search in the late spring of 2011,” he writes, recounting the first of three walks with Mark Zuckerberg. The Facebook founder “had a very strong vision for what he wanted and how compelling a structured search product over the content people have shared on Facebook could be.”
In another answer regarding the timing of releases, he explained how his team “showed the original prototype of what we much later named Graph Search in the early summer of 2011.” This prototype only took a few weeks to build, he said, but the project did source code from “previous prototypes of structured search products that were not based on natural language.”
Thus we know Facebook had played with the idea of a non-natural-language search product at least some point before the summer of 2011. This lends credence to rumors that circulated in 2010 of a search project built atop the freely indexable Open Graph tags standard it launched in summer of 2010.
What held up Graph Search development between the early prototypes and the January 2013 launch? Too many smart people at Facebook, perhaps. In a question regarding the “best and worst” of working at Facebook, Rasmussen discusses the pitfalls of having a company “chock full of passionate, brilliant, opinionated people.” The problem? “Sometimes it takes longer than I’d like to arrive at an answer.
“I think it is fair to say the project took longer to get to the beta stage than I predicted when we started,” the engineer candidly confessed. “Pretty much all projects I have ever worked on have had this property Time flies when you are behind schedule!”
But perhaps the delay was for the better. A vanilla search engine built atop Open Graph tags would have done little to innovate in the search space. Instead, in January Facebook rolled out a novel breed of search powered by natural-language queries and social data at a scale not available to, or indexable by, any competitor.
So what about Graph Search’s competitors? Members of the press have fingered Yelp and Google, among others, as possible competitors against Zuckerberg’s search vision. But when asked which companies Rasmussen and his team view as direct competitors, the engineer held back and merely proffered a smiley face.
Facebook Graph Search has yet to roll out to all users, and Rasmussen writes that part of the reason for the partial rollout so far was to allow live A/B testing on real users — a process that circumvents the possibility of endless internal discussions. “Without live usage we’d just be arguing all day,” he writes.
The company is apparently now discussing the future of Graph Search. According to Rasmussen, his third and latest walk with Zuckerberg came just last week and its purpose was to discuss the future of the search product.
Article courtesy of TechCrunch
Today’s news that members of Payvment’s team have been acquired by a yet undisclosed company and its customer base sold off to Ecwid left many wondering what is going on over at the company.
So far as the staff member situation is concerned, wonder no longer. Based on updates to their LinkedIn profiles, it appears that Payvment staffers – some of them at least – are headed to Intuit.
Here’s a quick rundown.
Those were the team member profiles I was able to find. I don’t know if that’s true of other staffers. Payvment CEO Jim Stoneham has yet to update his profile.
I have reached out to Intuit corporate communications for verification, but have yet to receive a response.
Based on this, it’s my belief that Payvment’s decision to shut its doors has less to do with f-commerce failure and more to do with a sizable offer that, as reported earlier, was “too good to pass up.”
I’m also waiting to hear from Ecwid CEO Jim O’Hara to gain his perspective on what these developments mean for Payvment’s customers and f-commerce in general.
Article courtesy of Social Commerce Today
For all of you developers out there, you know how difficult it is to manage all of the bugs that pop up in the code that you push on a daily basis. Sometimes, you just don’t know when things will go wrong in production, so you have to be nimble and at the ready to fix quickly. Managing that workflow can be as difficult as fixing the code itself.
Payment company Square has built an internal tool that it calls Squash to help route problematic code to the right person. The tool has now been open sourced and is available on GitHub. When a developer checks in their code on a project, and something goes wrong, the tool will reach them directly and alert them to go in and fix something. This cuts out a few steps that would slow down the process, such as forcing a project manager to figure out who submitted what code, and assigning the fix to them.
This is how Square describes just a part of the tool’s functionality:
Rather than emailing the entire company when there’s a bug, Squash only sends an email to the engineer at fault. When people receive an email from Squash, they pay attention to it, because it’s usually something they’re prepared to address. If the engineer sits on the email, eventually it escalates. You can configure how you’d like unaddressed bugs to escalate.
Additionally, Squash provides some visualizations that will help engineers see how many bugs have popped up and how to triangulate the root cause:
Check out the demo video below:
It’s always nice to see companies share tools that help their workflow. We’ve seen quite a bit of transparency when it comes to that from big names, such as Facebook, Twitter and Google in the past few years. Needless to say, Square’s engineers must handle a ridiculous amount of reported bugs, considering how many device types that their app is on and how many mobile operating systems they run on.
This is the second time that we’ve gotten to see an internal tool from Square, the first being that nifty app that keeps all of its employees connected.
[Photo credit: Flickr]
Article courtesy of TechCrunch