I’m Seth Sakamoto and I’m VP Engineering at Envoy. I was previously VP Engineering at TuneIn. I’ve been in the industry over 25 years with highlights including Hipmunk, Intuit, and the Department of Defense. Been in management about 17 years (holy crap!). In parallel universes I’d be a teacher, structural engineer, psychologist, sociologist, therapist, general contractor, life coach, or full time programmer/never-went-into-management because each of those represent aspects I love most about my job.
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June 19, 2020
5:00 PM (GMT)
VP of Engineering
Jan 2019 - current
Investor, Advisor, & Mentor
Jan 2017 - current
Plato (www.platohq.com) is a network of experienced leaders, assembled to help people find their perfect mentors and the wisdom & help they need. I'm a longtime mentor, investor, and advisor.
o Mentor leaders in many companies across the world as part of the service, and serve as an advisor to the CEO and leadership team on company, product, and engineering strategy & tactics. Recruit, provide product feedback, speak at events, and advise on internal operations, execution, and personnel.
Jan 2017 - Jan 2019
Series B B2B/B2C startup focused on technology for physical offices. The flagship visitor registration product is seen in lobbies across the world. Brought in to grow the engineering team and culture. I also ran Product and HR temporarily and brought in a recruiting team.
o Grew engineering from 18 to 52, distributed globally.
o Rebuilt the mobile team, strengthened data team, and formed a production engineering team.
o Kept regrettable attrition to 8% and increased diversity of the team from 5 to 15%.
o Built a collaborative, learning, get-things-done, accountable culture via clear job expectations, hiring practice improvements, engineering principles, stronger tech leads, leadership coaching, KPIs/OKRs, and time investments in pairing, hacking, and spiking.
o Improved milestone hit rate from n/a (no milestones) to 80%+.
o Upgraded the product development process, put strong people into positions of leadership, shelved low value tech projects in favor of higher value ones, and implemented visible accountability.
o Moved from monolith to microservices, and from Heroku to AWS, Lambda, Docker, and ECS.
o Improved focus on flagship product while investing in new ones, culminating in the incubation and launch of 2 products over 12 months.
o As our flagship product is in the security space, achieved compliance with security and privacy standards (SOC2, GDPR) and established programs to improve our security and system availability (99.9%+).
Jan 2016 - Jan 2017
Growth stage consumer startup focused on audio streaming. Served over 70MM monthly active customers across mobile, web, and consumer electronics devices like the Amazon Echo. I was brought in to transform the engineering team into a world class one.
o Established a technology direction that scaled and attracted talent. Evolved monolith and built microservices in Golang, went live with a new web stack built using React.js & Node.js, and improved infrastructure with AWS, AWS serverless (Lambdas), Docker, Kubernetes, & Chef.
o Transformed quality efforts from reactive to proactive. Set metrics and objectives, implemented 100% code reviews, established unit testing and brought code coverage up from zero to 30-40%, automated functional UI tests, invested time in bug bashing, and added logging, dashboards, & alerts to detect 3rd party anomalies. Brought open bug count down by 30% and bad bugs down to zero.
o Grew the team by 155% from 45 to 70 motivated engineers and managers:
• Strengthened hiring bar and processes -> 28 hires w/ greater avg experience
• Implemented job bands and a performance management process leading to promotions, unregrettable losses, and a 48% improvement in “I have a clear understanding of my growth and promotion path at TuneIn.”
• Put strongest people in positions of impact through org changes & formed new teams (Streaming, DevOps) critical to TuneIn’s success
• Migrated to best-in-class internal tools (Github, CI/CD using Teamcity, and Jira)
• Established principles, metrics, tech strategies, and cultural investments leading to stronger sense of purpose and identity.
Jan 2013 - Jan 2016
Series C funded consumer startup acquired by Concur in Oct 2016. Focus was on improving how people plan travel. We made it dead simple, intuitive, and fun! I led engineering and operations and even customer service.
o Delivered software on par velocity-, quality-, and complexity-wise with competitors that were significantly larger. Achieved 70% code coverage and enabled engineers to safely canary-style deploy as often as 20x/day. Established processes that taught best practices and amplified, not ate into, productivity.
o Built operational capabilities from the ground up to world class. Formed devops team. Went from 96% systems uptime to 99.9% availability of systems and all key features. Established failover, monitoring and alerting at the business metric level, and eliminated pager fatigue.
o Tackled gnarly software problems. High-volume search, data pipelines, NLP, relevance, performance, high scale, leading-edge UIs across web, mobile web, iOS, and Android. Adopted current technologies (React.js, Swift, Docker, other open source) as well as built our own when relevant.
o Incubated and launched a brand new product - Hello Hipmunk, an AI-powered chatbot.
o Grew engineering by 370% from 12 to 44 engineers, data scientists, and managers. Built an industry-recognized team with great execution and a strong culture.
Director of Engineering
Jan 2012 - Jan 2013
SMB-focused marketing software company. Grew and led a San Francisco engineering center.
o Built a startup culture, led move into a new office space, expanded San Francisco location to 20 in 10 months.
o Led a team of 30 engineers and managers covering social media marketing apps and services (San Francisco), public API platform and developer experience (Waltham, MA), mobile apps (San Francisco, Waltham, US home offices)
o Drove operational and cultural changes around continuous integration/continuous delivery, release engineering, distributed architecture & teams.
o Evolved hiring practices & processes and led key architect and management hires across company.
o Drove culture change in engineering. Upgraded code standards, devops behaviors, cultural norms, quality practices, engineering performance management, hiring, and office space.
Jan 2010 - Jan 2012
B2B-focused ecommerce software company, providing white label platform for enterprises (internal use, loyalty programs). Hired to build out a relevance engine and became leader of the platform organization.
o Grew from 28 -> 60 managers, engineers, and QA engineers.
o Drove personalization, semantics, search, data feeds, payment and billing solutions, authentication, identity management, workflow, messaging/event systems, configuration management, configuration UI, and site infrastructure for a Java (J2EE), SOA-based SaaS platform.
o Implemented processes and tools to enable growth and scale, including agile/scrum, performance/scalability/project health dashboards, resource allocation decision tools, performance management.
o Changed org to focus on lowering MTTR and improving system performance and availability.
o Led expansion into India including formation of 1st offshore engineering team.
o Drove and contributed to M&A, including due diligence and integration of 2 acquisitions.
o Drove increased performance of organization measured by project output, quality, talent improvement, and SLAs.
o Dove deep where appropriate … improved release quality, software architecture, code componentization, test environment stability, and performance and availability.