Introducing The Brown Couch Sessions – Exploring #LifeAtAppNexus

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With over 1,000 employees in 23 offices around the world, AppNexus has seen tremendous growth over the last year. So, what’s it like to work at one of the fastest growing technology companies? The Brown Couch Series aims to give you a behind the scenes look at different roles and personalities that are part of AppNexus.

Introducing Stephanie, a Data Scientist.

Prior to coming to AppNexus, Stephanie knew it was time for a change. Having already proved herself in the downtown canyons of Manhattan’s financial district, she knew she wanted to move fully into the technology sector. She also wanted to further her passion for learning and discover a new industry. We caught up with Stephanie recently on the “famous brown couch” where our CEO Brian O’Kelley first dreamed up AppNexus. And we talked with her about her experiences working at AppNexus… everything from global data analysis to having after work steak dinners.

AppNexus: What were you doing before AppNexus? And what made you want to work here?

Stephanie: I was working in the financial industry as a business analyst on the technology side, but I really wanted to shift my focus over to tech entirely. And when a friend told me about AppNexus and gave me a quick overview of ad tech, I was impressed. I had no idea that there are auctions that go off every time I load a webpage. It got me interested right away because I knew I wanted to work at a job where I could learn a lot really quickly and have a real impact right from the start.

AppNexus: What was your position when you started here?

Stephanie: When I first came aboard, I joined the Optimization team, which was building automated bidding strategies for our clients. I started out doing everything from data analysis, programming, analyzing our client performance, and troubleshooting our system. It was the original version of our current AppNexus Programmable Bidder.

AppNexus: Is it similar to what you’re doing today?

Stephanie: It’s similar in some ways… but it’s grown in scale enormously. I think the biggest change that I experienced was seeing AppNexus go from fast-moving start-up to a more mature company. Our team has worked to analyze problems across the whole ecosystem since day one. Before, we were trying to build as quickly as possible, but once the company matured, the data science team was able to leverage even more data and use the newest technologies. It’s exciting because it allows us to try new mathematical and computational techniques that we couldn’t do before. The data we have access to today really can make a data scientist drool.

AppNexus: What’s the most unique project you’ve worked on since joining AppNexus?

Stephanie: I think the project I’m involved in right now is one of the biggest projects I’ve been on. It’s for video optimization. In some ways, it’s pretty similar to display optimization, but it’s still a different ecosystem. It’s exciting to me because I’ve never worked on video before. I think it’s a really new space and not many people totally understand how it works. It’s amazing to put my ideas out there, test them with data, and collaborate with engineering to build it.

AppNexus: What would you say is the most interesting thing you’ve learned at AppNexus?

Stephanie: I’d say one of the most interesting things I’ve learned is how a startup grows into a global company. I started at AppNexus when it was probably around 170 people. And now we’re over 1,000 people. Witnessing our rate of growth has been really interesting.

AppNexus:  What do you value in the people you work with?

Stephanie: The people I value working with are people who are ready to understand new ideas and different points of view. I also value keeping our teams small and tight-knit. And obviously I think having a really good collaborative atmosphere within my own team and between other teams is really key. It’s always cool to see so many people from so many different backgrounds collaborate to make good things happen.

AppNexus: Are there activities outside of work where you bond with your team members?

Stephanie: Um… well, yeah. Last night my team all went out for steaks. Three ax-handle steaks for seven people. I think I’m still sweating! Wait, does this have to go into the blog?

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