No slowing down: How this Opcity engineer's career has grown along with the company

Written by Michael Hines
Published on May. 30, 2019
No slowing down: How this Opcity engineer's career has grown along with the company
Brand Studio Logo
Opcity Austin tech jobs
PHOTO VIA OPCITY

The tech industry is a place where companies seemingly scale overnight. When it comes to Austin tech, perhaps no company is a better example of this than Opcity.

The real estate referral platform burst out of stealth in May of 2017 with a $27 million Series A and was acquired a little over a year later for $210 million by Realtor.com. Through that time, the company has grown its headcount and outgrown a handful of offices.

Software Engineer Samuel Lauffenburger joined Opcity in April of 2017 and has had a front-row seat on the company’s wild ride. We recently spoke with Sam to learn more about what it's been like to be a part of Opcity's growth and to find out more about how his career has grown as the company has scaled.

 

Sam Lauffenburger
Software Engineer

You joined Opcity shortly before it came out of stealth. What's it been like to be part of the company’s rapid growth, and what’s changed the most?

It was great to see what we built have an immediate and far-reaching impact. Since we were growing so fast, each project that we worked on was to meet an urgent business need, which always feels good as an engineer.

The biggest change is how we've built out our product organization. When I started, there were just three other engineers. We didn't have product managers or designers. Now we have a product organization with experts to tackle each step of the product development process. As we have grown, both the product and technical challenges have become more complex and require more focused effort.

 

We've also heard you've grown your career as well. What has that looked like?

When I started at Opcity, I didn't realize how much I had to learn. Some specific areas that I have grown in are data modeling, mitigating risk on large rollouts and more complex SQL queries. Shout out to the analytics team on that last one!

Our engineering department has grown quite a bit, and I was asked to be a technical lead for one of our teams. The team I lead works on our system for receiving and processing leads, the internal web apps that our reps use and deploying the machine learning models that match consumers to the best real estate agents.

 

As we have grown, both the product and technical challenges have become more complex and require more focused effort.

Opcity was acquired by Realtor.com back in the summer of 2018. What impact did this have on the company?

The great thing is that Realtor.com wanted us to continue doing the work we were already doing. The culture and day-to-day stayed the same. The biggest change was the need to grow even faster. On the engineering team, we needed to make sure that our infrastructure could handle the increase in activity. The acquisition also impacted hiring. I heard at the last company-wide meeting that we added about 160 people so far in 2019.

 

Did this acquisition open up any exciting new opportunities for you or your team?

Our team actually just wrapped up a project to give Realtor.com home shoppers cash back on qualifying home purchases. It was a fun project because it required changes throughout our product. I understood the impact of the project because my family chose our real estate agent when we purchased our first house based on a cash-back offer.

 

Opcity still isn’t done growing. The company is actually hiring across the board. When it comes to your team, what do you look for in candidates, and what’s most exciting or challenging about your work?

All engineers work full stack, so we look for those who have good product sense as well as technical skills. We like to see engineers who can take a problem, conceptualize the big picture and build a solid corresponding data model. Those with natural curiosity who spend time working on projects for fun will do well in our process. We don't necessarily look for engineers who can quickly solve tricky coding challenges.

 

Responses have been edited for length and clarity.

Hiring Now
Two Barrels LLC
eCommerce • Legal Tech • Professional Services • Software • Data Privacy