Whether they were hosting a dinner party or sending a wedding gift, the etiquette columnist Emily Post often advised her audience to add “a personal touch.” Emily Post authored most of her famous columns at the turn of the last century, so it might surprise her that the people most in need of her advice today aren’t society hostesses and housewives, but rather modern consumer savvy businesses. Personalization is no longer just an aspirational goal for modern marketers. With each passing day, customized experiences are becoming more common-place, whether they’re in our streaming queues and search results or on the…


Data transfer is a fundamental concept to Simon. At the core of our system, we load data from core customer systems and then ultimately transfer data out to marketing, sales, and support channels. Jason gave a talk yesterday at an AWS meetup in Santa Monica and provided a mile-high view of the topic.

So much of the big data ecosystem assumes that your data is just “there”. In reality, your data is both coming from somewhere and then ending up somewhere else.

ETL problems are pervasive and many people are tackling them without even knowing that they’re tackling them. If…


Marketers increasingly rely on data to guide critical decisions at every level. Testing messaging, evaluating ad spend, identifying the highest-intent moments in customer lifecycle, and everything in between ultimately depend on your ability to synthesize, reason about, and act upon various forms of data. But what are those forms, and how do they affect marketers’ jobs? Here’s what you need to know. . .

The forms of data available today are more varied than ever: big data, small data, database data, analytics data, spreadsheets — you get the idea. …


You’ve found product market fit. Customers love your product. New customers are signing up and trying it out. Existing customers are ramping up usage. Everything should be going great, except it isn’t.

Things are breaking, and your technology challenges feel akin to mid-air refueling.

The scale at which you built your MVP can’t handle the scale you’re supporting today, much less the scale you’ll need to support in the upcoming months. Request latency is increasing, Nagios alerts are going off all the time — including in the middle of the night. …


Choosing the right tech for your startup is entirely dependent on the state of your product. As we’ve recently passed an inflection point at Simon, we’ve reflected back on the technological decisions we made to get here, and the overarching principles we used to make them.

As far as product development goes in startup land, there are two states of the world: pre product market fit and post product market fit.

If you’re in the world of pre product market fit, the only thing you should care about is finding product market fit.

From a technology point of view, choosing…


Feature bloat is a real problem for all startups big and small. Staying focused requires the discipline to know when to say “no” even when feature creep feels absolutely necessary. That being said, there are circumstances when it is OK to diverge from your roadmap, and here’s how we think about it.

Focus is key for all startups. The success of our product comes down to a fulfillment of our core value proposition. At Simon, our guiding light for what to build (and what not to build) comes from our roadmap. …


At Simon we use Jenkins as our universal hammer. Its versatility is unparalleled, and we’ve gotten more mileage out of it than we ever imagined. Here’s how we use it and what makes it great.

You probably use a continuous integration application. Chances are you’re using Jenkins. We used it at Etsy, previous startups, and even saw it at Apple.

At Simon, we use Jenkins for continuous integration, but we also use it for much more than that. …


At Simon, transparency is a foundational value. As I articulated in my post on our remote culture, we believe that sharing more knowledge with all team members — like our burn, our revenues, our growth plans, and the rationale behind choices small and large — strengthens the organization.

We extend that commitment to transparency to the recruitment process as well — if you didn’t know, we’re hiring — and we’ve spent some time outlining below how we think about bringing on a new team member. …


Selecting users into A/B buckets is the core construct of any web-based experimentation platform. Yet building and designing an A/B selection algorithm is surprisingly difficult, and the process of bucketing users is far more complex than just flipping a coin or spinning a roulette wheel.

Ensuring a persistent experience across multiple devices and various user states is hard. Depending on your requirements, what may start out as a simple selection algorithm can quickly devolve into a complex multi-key user identity system with real-time operational requirements.

In this post, we’ll dive into the various selection schemes that we’ve used here at…


Engineering at Simon is a distributed operation. While remote teams come with many benefits, effective communication is critical, and we’re constantly evaluating and re-evaluating the ways in which we talk with one other.

Simon’s product and engineering team isn’t huge, yet we’re distributed across four states, two countries, and three time zones. We’re constantly evolving and trying to improve the way we communicate within these divides, and here’s where we’re at today.

Communication Goals

Before jumping into specific tools that we use, let’s dive into our communication goals, and then bridge into forms of communication and associated channels.

Transparency across the business

Pretty much anything going…

Dr. Jason Davis

Co-founder @ Simon Data, Entrepreneur, Data Geek

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