Year in Review, 2016

Changes, Changes, Changes

On a personal front, 2016 has been a year of great highs and lows.

I left JUST EAT in March, and started working at Yubl where I had the pleasure of working with an amazing group of people and had lots of fun building things with AWS Lambda and Node.js. We took an ailing architecture that was hard to work with and difficult to release (and required downtime to release to production) and transformed it completely in the space of a few months.

The number of production releases went up by more than ten-fold, features were sometimes completed and released into production in a matter of hours. The product was starting to do well and featured by the App Store several times and ranked as high as 4th in the social category.

  

Then everything came to a crushing and disappointing end as funding issues and the reality of a startup reared its ugly head.

What followed was several weeks of job hunting, during which I learnt a lot:

  • London has a vibrant tech scene and there are lots of interesting companies doing amazing things
  • most companies are still weary of the new serverless paradigm, many are “interested” but few are taking the plunge
  • DevOps is super hyped up (and in my opinion, completely misunderstood by most)
  • many companies are buying tickets to the Containerization Train, even though the cheaper, faster and more reliable Serverless Express is right next to it
  • the money available in the contract market is ridiculous
  • there’s a wave of relatively new consultancy firms (EqualExperts, Contino, 101Ways, etc.) that are following the footsteps of ThoughtWorks and doing good things in the Enterprise Consultancy space

After much soul searching, I decided to follow my heart and go back to the games industry. As of tomorrow, I’ll be starting at Space Ape Games studio in Holborn and working with a Scala-based stack.

 

Learning and Sharing

I spoke at 19 conferences and user groups, delivering talks on a diverse range of topics : F#, Serverless, Neo4j, Elm and APL. I have learnt a lot along the way, and visited Dubai and Sydney for the first time and they were both memorable experiences.

I prepared and delivered some new talks this year:

 

I took part in and completed all 25 Advent of Code challenges in F#.

 

Top Posts

 

See you in 2017

That’s it folks, happy new year! Wish you all a very productive 2017 

Yubl – a sad end to a wonderful journey

By now many of you would have heard about the demise of Yubl – the startup where I have been working the last 7 months – in the same week Karhoo also announced its closure.

 

It took all of us by surprise, and happened at a time when we have made real strides in the (r)evolution of our backend architecture. AWS was really impressed with what we were doing with Amazon Lambda and in the midst of conducting a case study on our work, unfortunately that’ll no longer see the light of day.

Our engagement numbers were much better than other similar social networks at the same age, and the VCs loved our numbers, we just didn’t have enough of it to prove our long-term trajectory. Every VC we spoke to wanted to see 12 months worth of data before they are willing to get involved, and in the end we simply run out of time to raise the necessary funding and our major shareholder Peter Simon put us into administration.

 

Looking back, there were lessons to be learnt from this unfortunate event:

  • perhaps we should have involved VCs at an earlier stage
  • perhaps we should have seen the danger signs when we were so reliant on one investor
  • perhaps Peter Simon wasn’t the right investor for us given our business is so different from retail and real estate
  • perhaps having so much investment up front meant we missed the bootstrap mentality and spent lavishly on tools and niceties that we didn’t need

Sadly, those who have turned the company around in the last 10 months – our current CEO Gareth Evans and CTO Brett Johansen – weren’t involved in the preceding 18 months when much of the damage had already been done. Under the previous regime millions of investment had been wasted on expensive contractors and 3rd party vendors with no product to show for it.

 

Despite the unhappy end, it has been an exciting 7 months for me personally, and I’m really proud of the work my team accomplished in such a short time. We have learnt many valuable lessons and gained a deep understanding of the benefits and challenges of the new Function-as-a-Service (FAAS) paradigm. I guess one silver lining is that I now have plenty of time to blog and share those experiences with you over the coming weeks as I look for my next move.

Throughout these difficult last few days, our CEO Gareth Evans continued to fight for that glimmer of hope to keep the company going, and for the right of employees to be paid the wages they’re owed (despite losing out the millions he has invested into the company himself).

My biggest regret is that the wonderful server team we assembled has been disbanded. Everyone knows how difficult it is to form an effective team, you need the right chemistry amongst the team members and we had that in abundance.

 

In typical Yubl fashion, I’ll end with a cat picture for all Yublers reading this.

bye-bye-cat

I’m on Functional Geekery!

Hello! Just a quick word to say that I spoke to Steven Proctor for an episode of his excellent Functional Geekery podcast where we talked about a host of topics including F#, Erlang and Orleans.

You can listen or download the episode here.

 

 

Upcoming user group talks in UK

Just a quick note to say that I’ll be doing a couple of F# talks at user groups around the UK, so if you happen to be in the area at the time do come by and say hello.

 

Feb 3rd, 6:30pm, London BCS (near the Strand)

7 ineffective coding habits many F# programmers don’t have

Feb 11th, 6.30pm, F#unctional Londoners (at SkillsMatter)

Taming cloud complexity with F# DSLs

Feb 24th, 6:00pm, F# |> Bristol (at the JUST EAT office)

Taming cloud complexity with F# DSLs

March 21st, 6:45pm, F# |> Cambridge (at the Maypole pub)

Taming cloud complexity with F# DSLs

 

Hope to see you at one of these meetups, ciao for now 

Year in Review, 2015

As 2016 dawns upon us, here’s a quick look  back at what I got up to in 2015.

 

It’s been a big year on a personal front – after an amazing journey with Gamesys, I started working at JUST EAT at the start of November. In the meantime, I also made a memorable trip to Tokyo, where I had wanted to visit for a long time

 

Continuous Learning and Sharing

I spoke at a lot of conferences this year, and learnt an awful lot along the way.

YearReview_01

I prepared and delivered a couple of new talks:

 

I took part in and completed all 25 Advent of Code challenges in F#.

day25_complete

I started a series of posts converting Crista Lopes’ “Exercises in Programming Style” to F#.

exercises-prog-styles-cover

I did a series on L-Systems in Elm.

fractal_plant.gif

I had lots of fun learning APL.

I started work on MBrace.AWS, and am getting close to a workable demo.

 

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See you in 2016

That’s it folks, happy new year, and wish you all a very productive 2016 ahead!