Behind the Scenes with Jeffrey Rosenberg, Director, Software Development (Data and Analytics)

The Behind the Scenes series is a collection of posts and videos designed to give you a peek at the inner workings of the Hulu tech team and introduce you to the Hulugans who build the systems that bring TV to the internet.

Name: Jeffrey Rosenberg

Title: Director, Software Development (Data and Analytics)

Joined Hulu: June 2014

College / University: Brown University, Biology B.S., Minor: Music

Tell us about your journey. How did you end up at Hulu?

I got my start in software development and data engineering when I moved to San Francisco to work at a biotech company. At the time, I was also doing a lot of music — freelancing as a software developer while being on the road touring with bands to pursue music. (I did drums, guitar and keyboard and occasional backing vocals).

After 5 years in the Bay, I moved to LA, met my wife and we built our family plan together. Although music will always be part of my life, I decided to shift my professional focus to different roles in software development, working alongside big media brands — Warner Bros, Sony Playstation, DirecTV, MGO (Dreamworks) and Fox.

I’m someone who gravitates towards solving challenging problems in whatever way I can to do some good in people’s lives. I recognized how entertainment and video gave people happiness, and this gave me motivation to pursue this field.

While I was at Sony Playstation, I had a colleague who went on to become Hulu’s former CTO. Our experience together shipping massive-scale products (PS4) was one of the reasons why I later got a phone call to join as a Technical Program Manager on his team at Hulu. I was excited to bring what I had learned to help the company improve.

I started at Hulu as one of the first managers on the TPM team, and spent much of my first year scaling the team to ship large-scale product offerings such as Hulu’s No Commercials plan. After a few months into my role, I realized that there was a demand for data and helped grow the data TPM teams at our Seattle and Santa Monica offices. Our team grew and expanded with the mission of keeping pace with Hulu’s accelerating demand for data and analytical tools.

Today, I lead our Data Engineering and Data Science teams.

What do you do at Hulu?

I am the key enabler for my team for being great at data. I listen to the needs of the business and our viewers and guide my team to address them — all in the name of “Being Great at Data”.

In what ways has Hulu challenged you and enabled you to grow?

I came to Hulu at a time when the company was looking to scale and reboot its product roadmap to extend the reach of its already-large content offering. Ironically enough, during my initial interview, I was asked what “wish-list” feature I would most want to add to Hulu’s product. My answer was: Hulu without commercials. Later on, this would be the project that I would lead.

I worked directly with our CEO at the time to get this project shipped. It ended up going well and it was through this experience that I got to know most of the business and tech. I also learned early on how difficult it was to ship a complex product like this, which involved getting our content deals approved. This experience also allowed us to prove out a cross-team planning and development process, which would become the template later down the line to build our live TV service that launched in May 2017.

Toward the end of 2016, with the Data TPM team on strong footing, I was asked to assume responsibility for data overall and make improvements to quality, efficient delivery, self-service interfaces and more. I have learned extensively in this role and our teams have made a big difference in accelerating our foundational data capabilities and throughput. Our work is nowhere near done though, and we are now fortunate to have Jaya, our new Chief Data Officer, join to help lead us into the future.

Share three tips for someone looking to land a job like yours.

  1. It’s good to know who you are. If I can wrap my head around how to solve a problem and have a plan around it, then it’s a good sign that I can confidently represent how I or my teams are approaching it. Knowing and being able to readily access your problem solving approach, but also being aware of what you don’t know in different contexts will take you far.
  2. Be strong minded but adaptable, and cognizant that your perspective is only one way of seeing. This is important especially so you can manage the rapid pace of change. Being able to do this and stay consistent will be helpful. When challenges arise, you can always fall back on the things you know, and ask your team for insights from their points of view..
  3. Be curious and dig deeper. If you don’t have a curiosity for the business problems that you are solving, or interest in understanding the core function of the team and what value they can provide and can’t articulate that, then it will be a challenge in your role.

What do you love most about Hulu’s tech culture?

There is no “BS” opportunity here. This is different from working at a standard media company or even a tech company. You obviously shouldn’t work on the wrong things, but if there is a good idea that you have to solve a problem, there’s absolutely nothing stopping you from doing it here and also being recognized for that if you do well. I think that’s a great thing and the fact that tech is not allergic to change allows us to continuously have a conversation on improving.

At Hulu, we are always talking about how can we get better and what are the things not working that we can put in for the next cycle. This is the core of being agile and making iterative improvements. How do we inspect and adapt?

What’s your favorite TV show? What are you currently streaming on Hulu?

I’m very stuck on The Handmaid’s Tale. But after watching, I need some sort of palate cleanser like Rick and Morty.

Tell us about your Hulu wall photo.

I wanted to do something music-related. You’ll see I am posing as the mythical fifth member of The Beatles — this alludes to my love of The Beatles and love of music, which is a big part of who I am.

If you’re interested in working with people like Jeff and powering play at Hulu, see our current job openings here.