Live blog – Hackfort Panel

Hackfort roundtable notes

How many are using agile development methods? (Shorter release cycles, daily scrum)

What do you do to encourage innovation (through hours or funding?) ie: 3m offers percentage of time for hacking

“Welcome to the unicorn” – study of successful companies. Almost all of them were started with CFO.

Brian Tuttle MetaGeek.

White Cloud Analytics.


Paul Ballihoo

We don’t see a lot of companies started from a genius hacking on an idea.

-dysfunctional system when CEOs go and look for a developer to build their idea, instead of techies pushing their idea.

-mentors that encourage hacking. MetaGeek

-Ballihoo- we are a very risk- averse culture. It takes time -and balls. Only one guy raised his hand that had a plan to move ahead with his idea in the next two months. Why? Time, fear, not knowing next step.

-Kount- risk averse. I get to do so much more stuff, play music. I can have a high quality of life. It takes a lot.

White cloud- computer science you will never be out of a job. You can always get another job if it doesn’t work out.

White cloud Google glass – totally new platform.
Ballihoo- “you better have a good reason not to use it”
Kount- elastic search team. Combine kibana and log stash, can run very quickly. Changes way they thing about problems.
Metageek- trend to open-source platforms. Twitter and bootstrap. They moved 25% of websites to this new platform.

Are we now builders instead of artists?
MetaGeek- the real creativity is putting things together in an I intended way, or using a square peg into a round hole and using a large amount of time making it work.

White cloud- we didn’t want to innovate in platform, we wanted to focus on the benefit to our customers.

Ballihoo- the entire platform is getting to the point where we don’t have to administrate databases and load balances. Dev Ops has got to the point where it all makes sense.

Kount: can I envision giving this engineer a difficult problem? And trust they will evaluate all the options? Will they give me the info I need to go down that path? ..considerable investment ,, a year to base revenue on the solution? 15 years ago, frameworks were ghetto.
White Cloud- communication as, work within group, fit culture
Ballihoo – hire creatives and innovate and adapt to change

Mod: curious engineers; people who have to know

BALANCE- how do we deliver value, build something- how to balance with creative mindset?

Meta/ even at entry level employees must be thinking about roi and balance their time. Challenging as an engineer to give up problem solving and allow creative engineers to make those decisions.

White cloud- some features don’t make it into the product. Customers every time.

Kount – through the year there will be times to pitch ideas to consider something. Goal every week isn’t to ways try to innovate.

Ballihoo- best way to utilize engineering is to approach as problems – how do we keep the problems constrained? Keep employees aware of business context- here is our sales, here is where we are at


WHITE working with very smart people, talking about hard problems and creative solutions

Meta- solve problems in Boise and enjoy lifestyle

PROBLEMS- lack of engineers. Creates pressure. Do we staff for this? Is that a core competency? We can’t built things if we don’t have workers.

Hard when other companies steal employees

What stacks and languages do you use?
White cloud- lets not innovate in new technologies, Jsp, tomcat, MySQL. We are always looking around and we being in new technologies.

Kount- I feel like I have the same conversation with each team- do you do scrum, lean etc?

Meta – we are involved with the customer early in the process. The customer has used our competitors, they have their own ideas and have feedback. Then we define those minimally viable blocks that jim mentioned without having a product skeletal product people will say they will buy but never do. Or, building a product and solve the wrong problem.

Mod: having separate business and developing departments. We have a hard time knowing where we will be in 2 weeks. We’ve created this fake thing of a commercial release cycle. We don’t say why we are releasing until 2 weeks out- and by then, we have completed it and are testing it. At least when we release we do know.

Audience- what version control do you use?
Ballihoo – was subversion, but now using GitHub. We contribute to 10 open source projects.

Meta- I wish we had a peer review took that plugs in with our versioning.

Kount- we use a SVN repo. We have a new product where we have have private repo. For open source we contribute to database migration tools, parsers and core code.

White cloud- don’t build your own tools of someone else offers it. Use GitHub.