Professional update time…
So as most of you know, I’m currently consulting with Yahoo! (Overture Services), helping them build a Web Services platform (API) named “AWS” (Advertiser Web Services) or “DTC-XML” (DTC, Direct Traffic Center, is the name of the GUI their advertisers use to manage their accounts, listings and bids). I’ve been there a little over 8.5 months now, and in that time, I’ve driven ~ a 5x increase in usage and a 3x decrease in costs, co-sold major licensees, managed integrations, defined a product strategy and roadmap, etc. I’ve had a blast. And, I’ve learned a ton about the online marketing/ad space, which while already enormous, is only going to grow more profoundly for several years to come.
And yet, while I’m thrilled with what I’ve been able to accomplish as a consultant, I haven’t found the work fully rewarding. I believe much of that has to do with the rather caustic culture that is Overture. It also has to do with my realization that matrixed software development in decision and risk averse companies is just PAINFUL (especially for us product management/marketing types).
I’ve recently been interviewing with a number of companies (for a wide variety of positions), including Amazon, eBay, Experian (Consumer Direct division) and Commision Junction (ValueClick, as of Friday evening). All of them represent outstanding opportunities, and I’m excited about where they may lead.
My point however…
Of all these companies, only Amazon is currently exploring a small, empowered, cross-functional (but not matrix managed) teams. (In this case, the team breadth is limited to s/w eng, web dev, and product/program/project mgmt.) This is hardly surprising, and is in fact completely aligned with Jeff Bezos’ ongoing comments around innovation, experimentation and speed.
The downside, of course, is that it takes a very different manager to lead such a team. In fact, the vast majority of people (and managers) in the org are CS undergrads (or grads). This is a little unfortunate, as they value their own skill sets (math, dev, algo) with less appreciation for the “business” side of software product dev. And yet, they are largely very successful.
For me, this simply reaffirms my desire to pursue a MS Computer Science after I finish my MBA… though I suspect it’ll make the latter look like a cakewalk, given my starting point. Live and learn!