Patrick McDavid

I'm a technology leader in Colorado speaking about serverless computing, team building, devops, and leadership development.

Software, from the heart of Colorado

14 September 2019

Keith Reid-Cleveland with BuiltInColorado featured BombBomb and its engineering staff in a piece about our work environment, values and goals. Below is Keith’s full interview with me about the team at BombBomb and what we look for in our people, and how we’ve beaten the odds as a bootstrapped SaaS in Colorado Springs. Enjoy!

Describe your role and responsibilities at BombBomb. How does your role contribute to the larger company goals?

My main charges are to help define the 3-5 year vision of our company’s technology from technical, competitive and market perspectives. To that end I’m also responsible for maintaining and growing an engineering organization able to meet and exceed the company’s goals. Finally, our team is responsible for the reliable and swift delivery of these products to our customers. The technology has to sing if sales, marketing and customer success are going to be able to accomplish their missions.

Patrick McDavid, CTO, BombBomb

What are your goals for your team? What are your goals for the company?

One thing I never anticipated was how much opportunity there is to help others succeed so much in their work. ‘Ikigai’ is a Japanese word that refers to the confluence of four things: what you love, what you’re good at, what the world needs, and what you can be paid for. I’ve now watched several people refine their careers into where all four of these needs are being met. My goal for my teams is to have their members clearly understand how to achieve this state for themselves. My goals for BombBomb are to see it help a million people build stronger relationships in their businesses and thereby greater success for themselves with our technology. Further, it’s important to me that BombBomb continues to thrive in Colorado Springs as a excelsior example of a local software company that focuses on its people and the larger local community in a great way.

What about your company or your work inspires you?

BombBomb is fortunate in that our platform is very conducive to generating exciting feedback from our customers! It’s a couple clicks for them to share success stories with us about how their livelihoods are positively impacted by what we do. At least every week we hear about how customers achieve outcomes they didn’t think they could by just putting themselves out there and taking the small risk of being themselves in a way that they hadn’t before.

Describe your ideal candidate. What characteristics or skills do they possess?

Ideal candidates for BombBomb are demonstrably self-reliant and driven. They exhibit a body of work that’s inspired obviously demonstrates that this person thoroughly enjoys what they’ve created. Further we’re very interested in the people along the way: teachers, peers, students. Who have you learned from and who have you taught?

“It was always one of my dreams to build a thriving software company, and it’s better than I could have anticipated in ways I never imagined.”

You’ve been with BombBomb for close to 9 years and climbed the ranks from a senior software architect to VP of Technology to CTO. What has it been like to grow alongside the company over time?

My work here has transformed completely. The first few years at BombBomb, I was sometimes the only engineer and as such was the archetypal day and night coder. But as we saw more and more success, I started to spend more time on hiring and team building. Around 2015, I was finding myself really stressed out between trying to keep building software, and making sure my team was thriving. I had to come to terms with the fact that I needed to choose. Building software of consequence takes an immense investment of time and concentration, and likewise, having a team of dozens of people, and a portfolio of dozens of software services and products, is not something that you can phone in. I had to consciously think about how I found satisfaction in my work: the success cycle in writing software can be measured in minutes or hours; whereas deploying teams upon strategic goals, and growing people into the careers they aspire to can take quarters or years. So the challenges are larger, more numerous, and far more human.

As CTO, what vision do you have for the engineering team going forward? There’s already a lot of growth expected, but what will happen once the team is staffed? What do you imagine the engineering team’s focus will be going forward?

We’re making a big shift to managing towards outcomes per product team. Only in the last few years has BombBomb really had a number of distinct software groups, and how they’re led is evolving rapidly. Our technology and philosophy are very broadly applicable, but we’ve only really dominated a handful of vertical markets thus far. So our teams’ expertise in our customers’ problem domains will continue to deepen and our offerings will continue to improve in subtle ways.

One of BombBomb’s main goals is to rehumanize communication. For those unfamiliar with the phrase, what does this mean to you? How is BombBomb accomplishing this?

Almost all interpersonal professional business is text-based outside of real-time video conversations and phone calls. BombBomb’s found this particular moment in people’s professional relationships where reaching out with a smile, some energy and some empathy can really fast-track the development of trust between two people! BombBomb believes we’re at a trying time for human relationships today, where there are both so many people around us, and so much communication that it’s rare that people can break through that density and noise to establish the beginnings of real human relationships. Our tools and philosophy help people be their authentic selves with other people and implore them to pay that same respect to those they would call upon. For more depth on BombBomb’s philosophy, you should check out our book we published this year, Rehumanize Your Business: How Personal Videos Accelerate Sales and Improve Customer Experience

When you sit down at the end of the day to review what all you’ve gotten done, what makes you the most proud to be a part of BombBomb? What impact do you see the company having in the industry?

I’m very proud of having been a part of creating a thriving software company in the heart of Colorado Springs! BombBomb employs so many wonderful people and in turn helps their families and the local economy prosper in the modern economy. We’ve had exceptional success hiring early-career software engineers and technologists and helping them grow to reach goals for themselves. I never really anticipated that aspect of it, but now I can point to many people who feel like they’ve arrived at what their lives were pointing towards here at BombBomb. It was always one of my dreams to build a thriving software company, and it’s better than I could have anticipated in ways I never imagined.

How would you describe your management and leadership style?

I’m very quick to trust people, and in turn I ask folks to take on responsibility very early in their work. That can be very daunting at first, but I try to stay alongside folks with honest feedback and encouragement all the time. When people are struggling, or don’t know that they are, I’m right there to help them diagnose and come up with some alternative strategies. A cornerstone of my approach with folks is to make sure both they and I understand their goals both personal and professional and then to craft their work around facilitating those things for themselves such that they get to enjoy successes in three major circles during their time creating software at BombBomb: bi-weekly as their sprints deliver value, quarter-over-quarter as their professional goals are achieved and reset, and then continuously in their personal lives as their work is committed to helping them find success there as well!

What is one non-work activity or hobby that you’re into? What did you gain or enjoy about this activity or hobby?

Lately I’ve been running Dungeons and Dragons games with a great circle of friends and my small kids. I really enjoy the playfulness and how it forces people to drop their personal facades and experiment with occupying fantastic characters often very different from themselves.

“I’m very proud of having been a part of creating a thriving software company in the heart of Colorado Springs!”