A technical perspective from All Hands

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Earlier this month, our global IX team descended upon the city we call home – Toronto – for our annual employee conference. We enjoyed two days of inspiring on-stage content, gave back to the community by building kits for local charities in partnership with Kits for a Cause and attended a number of team bonding events, including a company-wide holiday gala.

Having been with the company for only a few months, I had heard great things leading up to the annual tradition of All Hands and was thrilled to finally experience it firsthand. I was fascinated by how technically-focused the presentations were and what pride the company placed in being an engineering-led organisation.

The Start of it All

Before the day even began, we started with an awesome breakfast. Eggs, bacon, sausage, pastries…yum. The doors to the main conference room opened at 9am and walking in, it felt like I was walking into the Apple WWDC – large screens, a massive stage, massive lighting, full AV team… I was impressed. I’ve been with companies that do All Hands, but not at this scale. The napkins even had our logo on them!

Beyond the beautiful production that was pulled together by our marketing team, the content presentations were what really topped my All Hands experience. I had the opportunity to witness colleagues that I work with on a daily basis present their ideas and projects in front of the entire company. I also met an array of people from different offices and cultures. Whether it was discussing what it means to be a global company or how adjustments must be made to address cultural differences between all of our offices, it became as clear as ever that the threadline that connects us all is the belief in our product and our people.

Our Core Values, Codified

As an employee and Engineering Manager, I really appreciated the content focused on the company’s core values and how our values are incorporated into daily decision making, product development and culture. This theme took center stage during Andrew Casale’s keynote and set the tone for all content that followed.

Our core values were incorporated into many aspects of All Hands. Caring, prioritising diversity and working with intention were just a few observed throughout the two-day event. We care about the products we produce, and how we go about producing them. We value each others’ contributions and opinions, and we’re intentional in the way we work with both our partners and peers.

Image of Andrew Casale on Stage
Andrew Casale, President & CEO shares his CEO keynote on 2018 achievements, values and 2019 bets.

A look into the lifecycle of a bid “in a blink of an eye”

Another topic that really stood out for me as an engineer was learning about the lifecycle of a bid, a session presented by Engineering Leads Jack Gaino and Jasmeet Sawhney. The entire auction takes less than 200ms. As the human eye takes 300-400 milliseconds to blink, this process, literally occurs “in a blink of an eye”. There are 12 steps in this process for each bid which include profile retrieval, geo-locating the right ad server cluster, filtering for approved creatives, presenting the creative to the user and sending data metrics.

Let me put some of this magnitude into perspective: there are approximately 106 million requests per server, and we have just over 5,000 ad servers around the world, bare-metal mind you, not on the cloud. Picking a date randomly, there were just north of 586 billion requests the day this presentation was given. Having this on our own bare-metal means we control every aspect of optimisations and scale to ensure the fastest transaction possible.

Jack Gaino and Jasmeet Sawhney present the “Lifecycle of a Bid,” diving into all that happens in the auction.

Fireside Chat with Alexis Ohanian, Co-Founder of Reddit and Internet Entrepreneur

One of my favorite moments from the week was when Alexis Ohanian, Co-Founder of Reddit, sat down with our SVP of Engineering, Mayuran Yogarajah, to discuss company culture, growth and Alexis’ journey through two major phases of Reddit. Call me a fanboy, but when Alexis came out on stage, my inner Redditor that uses the platform to get the latest information around cryptocurrency, keto-diet inspiration and so many other topics, couldn’t help but listen in awe.

Similar to Index Exchange’s rapid change, Alexis talked about startup life, company culture and how to embrace change in a rapidly growing company. “Every time a company doubles, the culture and values are going to change, and you have to accommodate for that,” Alexis shared in his fireside chat. “If you get the company values right from the start, it’ll be one of the most useful assets for decision making, recruiting and building a team.”

Image of IX ALL HANDS stage
Alexis Ohanian and Mayuran Yogarajah, Senior Vice President, Engineering discussed the importance of solidifying company values, growing culture and scaling that culture during growth periods.

Overall, All Hands was a great experience for me. I learned a lot about how teams operate across different offices, and got to hear directly from different IX’ers I’m used to only seeing on Slack or conference calls. I’d be remiss not to mention Matt Lewis, one of our IX’ers from the Toronto office, who gave us a delightful singing performance that left everyone standing in celebration, and I’m sure a few teary eyes? Definitely a moment not to be forgotten!

I look forward to the learnings and experience from the next global Index Exchange All Hands.

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