TokBox – Being an Engineer on the Product Team

tl;dr I’m happy to be a full stack web developer at TokBox. I talk about what we do and some projects I’ve worked on. I enjoy being on the product team and dealing with the challenges that product teams face, balancing the future and the present.

What is a TokBox?

Time has flown by since last summer! I started working at TokBox over a year ago. It’s the premier  WebRTC platform company. We make it easy for developers to integrate video into their sites and apps (if you’re trying to build something like Skype, or Google Hangouts, with as few as 2 but as many as hundreds of people. Thousands coming soon!). Our customers range from side projects to massive companies across industries (in education – Duolingo, Chegg, Minerva; in finance and professional services – The Royal Bank of Scotland, Esurance; in entertainment – Fox Sports, Major League Baseball; and hardware and software companies like Double Robotics and Mozilla).

Who is a TokBox-er?

My coworkers are smart and experienced. They’ve worked for the innovative and the stodgy, from the tiny to the giant, including Mozilla, Google, Cisco, Twilio, Facebook, Telefonica, Adobe,  MobiTV, Scribd, Logitech, BlueJeans, Vodafone and more. Because of their experiences, I’m the real winner – TokBox is better, and I get to learn from all of them!

The culture is a good fit for me – yoga every Tuesday, occasional tea with the support engineers on the building deck, delicious catered lunch, weekly 1-on-1s with my boss. People try to have some fun, and have a sense of humor. I am thankful to be working here!

What, exactly, do yah do here?

What unifies my work is helping solve the problem of our users, who are mostly developers. The product team focuses a lot on trying to improve developer experience. I want them to have an easier time understanding what problems we can solve for them, and I want to solve their problems by using the OpenTok platform and our tools.  To accomplish this, I do full stack web development. I use technology and tools I knew before (good old fashioned vanilla JavaScript, React, Node, jQuery, HTML, CSS, Jade, Stylus, Git/GitHub) while adding new ones to my arsenal (DocPad, Jenkins, reviewing pull requests with ReviewNinja, experimenting with Docker, consuming Elasticsearch via Kibana and more).

I get to work closely with our awesome designers and PMs. I build web pages for new products and make improvements to the website and docs. I reduced the download time of our homepage by 40% by optimizing our assets and working with our DevOps team to tweak our CDN configurations.

We spend a lot of time improving our developer resources, and I get to play a big role here. We’re making our docs more usable for our developers by doing things like rearranging what resources live where, changing the information hierarchy of the site, redoing our homepage, creating an easier to use “Hello, world!”, and more. I lead some session on user research to help gather user feedback, which I used to identify issues and make recommendations on solving them – changes ongoing 🙂

I also work on special projects, e.g. building features on the React app where users manage their account, and help support growth initiatives for the product and marketing teams.

Product Is Where It’s At

Its great being on the product team. I like understanding and influencing what problem we’re trying to solve, what we’re building to solve it, and who we’re building it for as much as how we’re building it. On the product team, I get to learn about how to make a roadmap, prioritize features, develop and tweak process, see how teams work together across the organization, how designers think, how to gather feedback from user, how to incorporate feedback into the product and the product roadmap, how to strategize in relation to competitors, and how tradeoffs are evaluated and decisions are made. I’m very passionate about product and can see myself becoming a product manager.

I’m wearing a ton of hats and it’s a good fit for me! I look forward to writing more about it soon.

We’re hiring for all sorts of positions! Check our openings out here 🙂

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