✨Team highlight: Ed Robinson!

A few words with CommerceBear’s newly minted CTO.

Will Staunton
June 25, 2020

Ed has been a friendly face around the Bear offices — and, more recently, on the Bear video calls — since the beginning of 2020, and he’s been instrumental not only in leading the development team to build better, faster, more operational software, but also providing the worst possible Bear puns at any given opportunity. He’s been Head of Architecture at Hubba and a Principal engineer at Bunz, and as of this week, he’s taking on the new role of Chief Technology Officer right here at CommerceBear. Let’s get to know him!

What are you most excited about as part of the Bear leadership?
If I can only pick one thing, it would be the opportunity. Once I understood how hard it was to get a piece of furniture listed across all the different marketplaces, I knew this was an exciting problem to be a part of solving. Furniture is not like any other ecommerce products I’ve worked with — each marketplace wants to know a lot about your product, and they all ask it in completely different ways. For example, they want to know if your desk has drawers, and if so how many drawers, and what’s the volume inside of them. Other marketplaces may have separate templates for desks with or without drawers. Finding a solution that asks a single question and can put the answer into a huge variety of formats is a fun technical challenge and a great opportunity for us to make a difference.

What’s your philosophy for leading a development team?
How do you answer this and not sound pretentious? I try to understand what motivates people. Daniel Pink talks about AMP (Autonomy, Mastery, and Purpose) in Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us. That has always stuck with me. Pink defines these concepts better, but in short:

  1. Autonomy — is the desire to be self-directed.
  2. Mastery — is the desire to be great at your craft.
  3. Purpose — is the desire to do something valuable.

When a person has all three of these desires fulfilled they are set up for success. My goal is to help everyone get there.

How do you approach writing code?
I like to build the smallest thing I can then test it. I do this on repeat until whatever I am working on is done.

What’s the one piece of advice you would give to new software developers?
Pick a project, any project, and build it. Ideally, the project is something you need, but it should be something you want to build and use. Also, understand how you learn. I learn by doing.

“Autonomy, Mastery, and Purpose… my goal is to help everyone get there.”

What’s your favourite ecommerce marketplace?
AliExpress and Amazon. With AliExpress you buy something, and when it arrives six months later it’s like a present to yourself because you have no idea what you ordered. With Amazon, I subscribe to all the necessities and they show up every month.

What’s your favorite article of furniture?
My couch. It is one of the reasons I joined Bear because it taught me a lesson about how important furniture data is. I bought it and was told it would fit in the elevator in my condo. It did not. Because I bought it in person, the credit card company told me to take it up with the store, if I had bought it online the credit card company would have given me a refund. Long story short, they had to disassemble the couch to get it into my condo and I am never moving again because I will never get it out in one piece.

What do you do in your down time?
I try to stay active. I love going up north to the cottage in both the winter and the summer. I bike a lot. I play chess but I am not very good. I build, fly, and crash drones. I’m a geek so I also code in my spare time — my latest project has been scraping my emails for all my bank statements so I can build an expense tracker. It turns out I spend a lot of money on drone parts.

Congratulations on the new position, Ed! (And thanks for holding off on the Bear puns.)

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