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Wade Chambers, Vice President of Engineering

July 22, 2013

Introducing Wade Chambers, Vice President of Engineering at TellApart

I’m a great believer in luck, and I find the harder I work the more I have of it.

Thomas Jefferson

feel lucky.

I’ve been lucky to have gone through three IPOs and a major acquisition. I’ve been lucky to have worked with some of Silicon Valley’s elite and to have helped build technologies that hundreds of millions of people have used (and hopefully enjoyed). I’ve been lucky to hire, mentor, and coach some of the best minds in the valley and watch them grow into amazing Venture Capitalists, CEOs, Directors and Vice Presidents of Product Management, Marketing, and Engineering. I have been lucky to be a part of teams that have accomplished absolutely amazing things against strong odds. I am thankful to have been a part of all of those things and more. But today I feel lucky and humbled by the opportunity in front of me.

I am extremely excited to join TellApart as the Vice President of Engineering and look forward to playing a part in the next wave of scale for the company. TellApart is a company that is already killing it, committed to doing it the right way, and at the center of what is technically hard but relevant. As an executive and technologist, it doesn’t get much better.

It shouldn’t be surprising that TellApart is doing so well. TellApart’s business model is completely aligned with their — correction, our — customers (and our customer’s customer). We only make money if our customers make money using our products. To do so, TellApart has built a team of ‘A’ players who are making the cloud, Big Data, and machine learning all work together in a highly-scalable, extremely high performance platform that is capable of both understanding the sophisticated merchandising models of the world’s best brands and the wants/needs of a motivated buyer.

What did come as a surprise to me is TellApart’s strong commitment to do the things necessary to be successful in a scalable and repeatable way (including growing the next generation of leaders and entrepreneurs in the Valley). This forward thinking personally excites me as I would like to see the next generation of leaders make new mistakes, not repeat old ones. Over the last 20+ years I have built models, patterns, anti-patterns, and best practices and then (thankfully) reduced the number of “must haves” down to the few (80/20 rule) that generate the greatest impact.

Of those, here are a couple that I feel are connected but often overlooked:

  • Impact over Completion.You have to ship to win. As a result, getting good at closing down a project is a necessary and valuable skill. The problem occurs when shipping takes precedence over creating the desired impact with your customer base. Impact is measured externally by your customer and involves them realizing if what you shipped them actually met with what they wanted and/or needed. Completion, on the other hand, is measured internally by the team and is accomplished when the project’s ship criteria is simply met. Getting the team to own desired impact is much harder and requires different skills inside of the team but produces far superior results. The team must interact with the customer(s) to test assumptions, theories, approaches, and pivot until they reach the desired impact. In my experience, teams that continuously focus on making the desired impact a part of their completion criteria grow faster and have much longer relationships with their customers than those who only focus on shipping what they think they want.
  • Measurement over Opinion. I have often heard that a person’s opinion is only as good as their level of expertise on a subject matter. It resonates with me. But it also means that I can’t weigh every opinion in the same way, as they are highly variable and largely formulated from prior experience. Unless prior experience perfectly maps to the problem under consideration, it is most likely flawed in some way. Measurement helps expose the noise and focus on signal. I am highly suspicious of opinions (especially my own), and I look for ways to measure facts and leverage them instead. It may take several paired measurements to get to the needed facts, but at least then you have something from which you can create a shared baseline. Good facts generally make for better decisions … egos and emotions seem to dissolve in the face of the right facts. Please don’t get me wrong, I personally love opinions–and I have plenty of emotions too … I just value facts more. A lot more.

If these principles are already at work in your environment, you’re doing significantly better than most companies in the Valley. If not … we are hiring. Want to be lucky too?

wade@tellapart.com