Meet Our Engineers: Brian Zeligson


How did you get started in software engineering and why?

I didn't finish high school, but when I was 17, I enrolled in a vocational program which led me to a tech support role at JPMorgan Chase. Around 21, I moved from New York to Boston to study music at Berklee. I had basically left the tech world behind when a friend of mine emailed me and asked me if I was interested in joining their SAAS startup. I took a chance on it and it totally redefined my idea of what a job could be. It became obvious to me that there was a huge opportunity in software for anyone with access to Google and a strong drive, both of which I had, so I aggressively started building out a portfolio and kept at it. Eventually I started putting myself out there as an engineer and after a few years I landed my first engineering job. Things took off from there.

What was your path to Localytics?

Prior to Localytics, I built out the engineering team at Streetwise Media, the company behind I had been there as the first engineering hire at 10 people and grew with them 'til almost 40 when the company sold to American City Business Journals. Around that time I started to really crave something super technical, something that I felt was far above my current skillset. I came across Localytics in the monthly hiring post on Hacker News, reached out, and the rest is history.

What's a fun fact about yourself?

I competed in the 2009 Massachusetts Golden Gloves. I've boxed on and off for 14 years now and it's a compass for me in and out of the ring.

What are you working on at Localytics right now?

I'm working on a closed loop remarketing solution which helps engage an app's user base by specifying a subset of users and then targeting them for marketing elsewhere. Simply put, if a Localytics customer wants to show an ad that says "buy one, get one half off on sneakers," they can go into Localytics and say "show me everyone that bought a pair of sneakers in the last 6 months, and I want you to show them this ad on Facebook."

What's neat about what we're working on right now is that after sending that ad, a few days later, you can log into Localytics and find out all the people that came back through this ad, and the number of users who bought a pair of sneakers. This is really powerful because it lets you keep your current user base as well as winning back some of the users that started to slip away.

What’s exciting about this job?

I have a really strong sense of how much value my work actually brings to the table. Everything is really transparent and the impact my work has to the company is exciting. Things are moving fast enough that you get immediate feedback as to how successful your feature was and how much revenue it generated, or even how much faster your coworkers can go by using the software you've built.

For example, Stager was one of the first things I released at Localytics almost a year and a half ago and is now a staple in our deploy pipeline, used by half of engineering every day. These kind of results make me feel good about what I have done and get me hungrier for more; the feeling of success is really addictive.

What is your biggest accomplishment?

My biggest accomplishment is my team. Although I can’t take full responsibility for it, I am proud of the quality of people we have on my team. They’re all talented and good people, who are enthusiastic about their job.

Why do you take pride in working here?

I’m here working next to MIT and Stanford grads, prospective Facebook and Google hires. Being completely self-taught and having risen to the level where I get to hang with people as smart as the folks we have at Localytics is a huge milestone in my life.

What tools do you use everyday in your job?

JIRA, Scala, Ruby, Javascript, and Github would be the primary tools I use. Then there’s Vim for my IDE, Chrome (I usually have about 200 tabs open), the keg, and Knob Creek Bourbon whiskey.

How do you spend time outside work? Any hobbies?

I have been boxing lately. I started going to the gym and started to prepare to get back in the ring. Other than that, I like getting drinks with my coworkers.

Wanna work with people like Brian? We're hiring.