WHAT THEY DO: CB Insights uses machine learning to collect, analyze and present massive amounts of market data to help corporations see industry trends and capitalize on change.
WHERE THEY DO IT: New York City
FOOD FOR THOUGHT: CB Insights offers its employees a yearly education stipend and a daily Seamless lunch stipend.
TECH UNICORNS: CB Insights looks for technologists who can adapt quickly to new tasks, handle a diverse array of requests and approach challenges with an open mind.
Connie Liu, Senior Software Engineer
Liu works on a product-focused engineering team, where she focuses on front-end tasks and helps plan the product roadmap and the technical effort to complete it.
BEYOND WORK: She is a competitive ballroom dancer in International Latin.
Tell me about your background. What attracted you to CB Insights?
I enjoyed computer science courses in high school and college, but it wasn’t until graduate school that I knew I wanted to make a career out of it. Through making websites, setting up databases and creating applications, I saw firsthand how technology helps solve problems and makes mundane tasks easier. At CB Insights, I saw an opportunity to work on a huge data set with a small team, where my work would have an impact.
What is your team doing to innovate in the market intelligence industry? How do you stay ahead of the curve?
We are incorporating data sets that are traditionally cumbersome to process or use but provide great insight into predicting what might be the next trend or hot topic. We recently added patent data, which is not easily gathered or understood for an organization. But when used in conjunction with investment or acquisition data, patents provide a look at what companies are developing and an idea of their directions and interests.
We also added earnings transcripts, which are messy and unstructured data records. However, they provide invaluable information concerning what top company executives are discussing. With these additions, we provide clients with data they did not know could be available to them and save hours of manual work.
We provide clients with data they did not know could be available to them and save hours of manual work.”
How does your team manage the copious amounts of data CB Insights collects?
We often deal with large data sets but our biggest challenge is making it useful. We have the opportunity to work with data that is not traditionally used, like patents data or earnings transcripts, and pulling out key data points and metrics that save our clients time.
It can be a challenge discovering trends or finding out what makes a data set useful. And once we do find the salient pieces of information, we need to make sure we don’t create information silos but a more cohesive and well-rounded picture.
If you look at what this team has achieved so far, what makes you most proud?
I am proud to have owned the front-end implementation and helped launch a major CB Insights platform feature, the Feed, which is now the homepage clients land on when they log in. I attribute the success to working with a great team, all of whom are willing to help one another solve problems and hash out all the little details to make for an amazing user experience.
Zach Hanmer, Senior DevOps Engineer
Hanmer’s team ensures the tech works smoothly at CB Insights, from the production and development environment in the cloud to the company’s audiovisual setup. His team’s mission is to solve problems and make an engineer’s job easier.
BEYOND WORK: He enjoys rock climbing indoors and outdoors.
If you look at your to-do list, what’s the one thing you can say you love to do?
I love that the DevOps team at CB Insights doesn't have a to-do list. We're always working to implement new ways to make our infrastructure leaner, to make the engineer's life easier and to make things faster. One day I could be programming, the next day I could be spinning up a new Elasticsearch cluster. Every day is another exciting problem to solve.
What is the next big step for the team, for the company, and for dealing with projects or the main mission?
The DevOps team is planning to automate nearly everything we do, from resource provisioning and server scaling to dynamic security rules. We're also working to expand our infrastructure globally to provide customers with a great experience no matter where they are and improve our already amazing reliability.
What’s your tech stack? Why did you choose it?
We're managing the majority of our cloud infrastructure with HashiCorp's Nomad, and our containers with HashiCorp's Nomad and Consul software. We're using a self-managed Elasticsearch cluster for log management, which helps us quickly track down any issue or bottleneck before it becomes serious. We recently adopted Envoy proxy developed by Lyft for service discovery and service-to-service communication.
We've also developed a number of small, custom Python or Go programs to dynamically manage a lot of our infrastructure, allowing us to focus on improving performance and shortening development time. When choosing a technology, the ability to go from prototype to production and long-term maintainability are key.
If you look at what this team has achieved so far, what makes you the proudest?
I'm proud of the disaster recovery and high availability processes the DevOps team have put in place in our production environment. Recently, the DevOps team was asked by a new hire how often we have production incidents. We didn't know how to answer that question since they're so infrequent. We couldn't remember the last time one had occurred.
If a candidate can take a program they’ve never seen before and make it work without getting flustered, then we want them on our team.”
What do you look for in an ideal candidate?
DevOps is a team of tech unicorns. An ideal candidate would be someone who can calmly find a solution to any problem thrown at them. Many of the problems we've encountered on this team don't show up on Google, so it takes creative problem solving to make things work. If they can take a program they’ve never seen before and make it work without getting flustered, then we want them on our team.
Julien Capron, Lead Software Engineer
Capron works closely with the product owner and manager on products like the market map maker and top search, which assists clients in navigating and visualizing market data.
BEYOND WORK: Capron is a huge WWE wrestling fan.
Tell us about your background. What attracted you to CB Insights?
My roommate worked at CB Insights as a software engineer in 2012. He would tell me stories about the company and I was often jealous of what he did. I applied in 2013, but I was too junior and told to keep in touch. Two years later, I applied again. I went through the interview process and now, here I am.
What does your team do? What problems are you solving?
My team recently worked on the Market Map Maker and Top Search tools. CB Insights is known for designing market maps, a way to visually sort different companies by category within the same market. The Market Map Maker is a tool that lets our users design their own maps using companies on CB Insights.
Top Search is the main way for users to find data based on a company or keywords. You can search for “machine learning” and you will find different posts that CB Insights wrote about machine learning, a list of companies and investors that are active in the industry, a list of patents and the news trends alongside the top articles. We’ve also added the earnings transcripts from the calls that public companies make every quarter.
It’s not uncommon to be asked to do something that we don’t know how to do...I would rather have someone who tries and fails than someone who won't even try.”
What do you look for in an ideal candidate?
At CB Insights, it’s not uncommon to be asked to do something that we don’t know how to do. It’s our job to make it work. In those cases, I would rather have someone who tries and fails than someone who won’t even try. Effort really counts in this field.