Tom Goff is the Vice President of Engineering at Homesnap. Tom’s been with Homesnap since 2012.
Tell us about your career. How did you find your way to Homesnap?
I was working from home and I was looking around — I knew I wanted to get out and didn’t want to just be a hermit, at home the whole time. All the jobs I was finding were government contractors, and I didn’t want that — that’s the one thing I didn’t want to do. So I searched for startups in DC and some list came up with “Sawbuck” (Homesnap’s original name) on the list of startups. I had heard of them before when they had come out with this video product, basically doing automatic videos for every listing automatically. So, I emailed them.
And here you are! So how did you join Homesnap? What was your job when you first joined?
This was after Homesnap had gone to SXSW for the first time and they had gotten the original round of funding from Revolution Ventures, but the idea was that they wanted to bring on a bunch more MLS markets. So I was brought on as a data architect with the hopes for more — that was March 2012. They wanted to take a rider on me, so I was a contractor until July. But to start I was mostly a SQL and C# developer.
You still do a lot of stuff around here — can you tell us about all the hats you wear?
The main one now is an architect, which includes helping to figure out how to build the things we want and how they fit with our architecture. That includes helping our developers do their job and keep the ball moving of the various projects.
What’s your favorite part of your job?
Getting to work with a bunch of smart people, especially Guy (Wolcott, Homesnap co-founder), and getting to solve big architectural-scale issues. And getting to have a variety of projects to work on. It’s not like we build one widget — we build 100 different widgets for agents and consumers to use.
What’s been your proudest moment at Homesnap?
There’s been a lot of big projects. The caching layer was a good one where we basically swapped out the entire underbelly of our system so we could add a Redis layer in between. That was a pretty big undertaking that I mostly did myself — Guy set up the original Redis server but as far as all the coding, that was mostly me. We ended up deploying it and nobody really noticed that anything had changed, but it was laying the groundwork so we could do more complex things at scale.
If you could switch your job with anyone else at Homesnap, who would it be and why?
I was thinking more travel, so maybe Nikki (Gustafson, Homesnap Director of Engagement). I have kids, so I can’t do that as much. Travel is always kind of fun — when Homesnap was smaller, like when we went to SXSW that next year in 2013, everybody went. And when we’d have trade shows, everybody would go. That’s certainly a part that’s changed recently, since we have people who focus on that now.
Do you have a motto or a personal mantra that you follow?
Probably “get sh*t done.” I can certainly get mentally blocked on making decisions or how things should go, and that’s certainly a point where Guy or Lou (Mintzer, Homesnap Chief Product Officer) will say, “Let’s just do this.” I’m trying to do that more and more.
How long have you been in technology?
Since before college — I was the IT guy at a water monitoring lab in Manassas, VA. That would have been when I was 19 or 20, so about 24 years? But I was coding before that — I wrote software when I was 13 or 14 for my dad. He did signal intelligence and wanted an application that would do some routine conversions and calculations. He gave me a book of conversions/calculations, and I wrote a Windows program where you could type in something and it would convert it to something else. He ended up getting the company to pay me for it.
What’s the most important technological innovation you’ve seen in your lifetime?
Certainly the smartphone, that’s kind of an obvious one. But I would say cloud services, so having servers in the cloud versus having to manage physical hardware.
If you could meet anyone in the world, dead or alive, who would it be?
I’m thinking Jimmy Buffet, back when he was younger. Or when he was just starting off. Not that I’m a huge parrot head, but that whole scene is fun and exciting. Being able to jump on a sea plane and bounce around islands.
Is there something you’ve always wanted to try but haven’t yet?
Skydiving or ice-climbing. Some of those more adventurous things I haven’t gotten around to doing. It may void my life insurance.
What’s your favorite snack in the Homesnap pantry?
The Gardettos. A lot of carbs in there, but they’re good.