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Here’s Gilt CIO Steve Jacobs pouring a glass of wine to celebrate the merger of Gilt’s Web Design team with the greater #gilttech family. The party was our last big bash before our entire team moved from the fifth floor down to the fourth. Cheese, crackers and other goodies tied us over till dinnertime:

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Bringing Design under the tech umbrella enables us to move even faster and more cohesively as we continue innovating to create exceptional customer experiences. Gilt Senior Interactive Designer Christopher Barr, VP Product Management & UX Dominique Essig and Head of User Experience Dominique Essig and Design Stephen Spyropoulos raise a toast to even closer collaboration going forward:

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Gilt VP Product Management and User Experience Dominique Essig is one of the featured speakers at tomorrow’s Brand Innovators Fashion Week: a summit for brand marketers and managers, media directors and others in the digital marketing world. Dom will be a panelist at “Technology Rocks the Runway,” a panel on how fashion and beauty brands are using cutting-edge technologies to engage with consumers. Go here to register!

The Gilt team is excited to host the next Dublin Scala Users Group event at our awesome new office in Dublin 4! Here’s what is on the menu:

Happy Performance Testing—DSLing Your System with Gatling: In this talk, Citi Lead Mobile Architect Aman Kohli and Citi Software Engineer Kevin Yu Wei Xia will present their experiences using Gatling, a load-testing framework written in Scala. The power of Gatling is the DSL it provides to allow writing meaningful and expressive tests. Aman and Kevin will provide an overview of the framework, a description of their development environment and goals, and present their test results.

CAVE: An Overview:  Gilt Senior Software Engineer Val Dumitrescu will provide an overview of CAVE: Gilt’s open-source, managed service for monitoring infrastructure, platform, and application metrics that provide visibility into your system’s performance and operational levels. CAVE is built with Scala, Play and Akka.

The meetup takes place on September 23 at 7 PM; go here to RSVP.

The Gilt tech team takes seriously our collective mission to build and maintain a work culture based on autonomy, trust and empowerment (and fun). We’re always interested in learning about how other companies approach the same goal, so we’re excited to see that the literature on building a progressive work culture seems to be growing. To that end, this week some of us are heading to powerHouse Arena, a popular bookstore located in Brooklyn’s DUMBO neighborhood, to attend a launch event for Profit & Purpose: How Social Innovation is Transforming Business for Good (Wiley).

Written by NYC-based author/lawyer/blogger/entrepreneur Kyle Westaway, Profit & Purpose examines efforts by 13 organizations and companies to “prov[e] that an organization can generate profit and purpose” via social innovation. It also identifies seven key principles for companies wishing to “profit with a purpose”—from “connecting with authenticity” to “designing with humility.”

Recently we chatted with Kyle to learn more about his message.

Gilt: What inspired you to write Profit & Purpose?
KW: The book is the culmination of a lot of years spent thinking about how profit and purpose work together. My journey began while I was a social entrepreneur myself. While spending a lot of time on the ground as part of a nonprofit focused on the sex trafficking industry, I learned that the commercial sex trade was a huge, complex issue. Our nonprofit spotted a smaller issue within the big issue—women would leave the trade, but drift back into it primarily because of their economic situation. That broke our hearts and got us thinking. My colleagues and I thought, “Why don’t we create a company that helps them move from the bars and brothels to something else?”

Gilt: Why a company and not a nonprofit?
KW: The women didn’t want or need charity. What they wanted—just like you and I want—was a chance to make an honest living and provide for their families. There is an amazing amount of dignity in that, not found in receiving a handout.

Gilt: You also run a law firm that counsels social enterprises.
KW: Yes, I’ve spent about the last five or six years focused exclusively on that, and have seen a lot of companies both small and big try to figure out how to do social enterprise. I also teach and try to identify case studies of social enterprise success. I’ve found that there’s not a ton of data. So I thought, ‘What if I go on my own exploratory journey to find companies that successfully blend profit and purpose?’ Curiosity and the desire to be a better teacher and counselor ultimately led me to write the book.

Gilt: How did you go about choosing subjects for the book?
KW: In terms of establishing criteria, I was pretty broad—so the book is tax status-agnostic, with seven for-profits and six nonprofits featured. I believe innovative models for social good can emerge from any legal structure. At the same time, I wanted to focus on entities that used the rigor of business to produce real impacts.

Gilt: What’s the common thread tying IBM, Nike, charity: water, and other companies featured in your book?
KW: It’s cohesive in that all of these companies have innovative business models that are creating tangible social and environmental impacts. I ruled out corporate social responsibility initiatives—people making a lot of money doing nice things, then giving a little to charities—as well as old-school traditional, inefficient charity. I focus on the sweet spot in the middle—a new emerging class of social entrepreneurs. I see a lot of my friends and clients thinking about things differently and wanted to highlight their work.

Gilt: Some of your case-study subjects are long-established multinational corporations. Can you talk about some of those?
KW: One of the stories that I tell in the book is about Coca-Cola—specifically about
Ekocycle, their partnership with Will.i.am of the Black Eyed Peas. It’s akin to a Product Red for the recycling cause. It’s got the dual goal of making recycling cool, and then encouraging consumers to be more thoughtful about the products they buy. It has been out for two years and is a tiny, tiny project considering the scale of Coca-Cola, but it continues to grow. We’ll see how big it becomes.

Gilt: Having spoken to representatives at Coke, Nike, and other legacy companies, do you think it’s easier to connect profits and purpose if you’re new?
KW: It’s both easier and harder for new companies to do this. Easier, in that a small group of people dedicated to an idea can affect bigger change more quickly in the organization. Harder, in the sense that you don’t have the stability of the huge corporate war chest to do whatever you want. Coke, IBM, and Nike can do an experiment the size of a whole start-up and it will have no impact on the company’s overall financial health. What’s most challenging to big companies is if they’re set in a clear, pure-profit maximization or shareholder mentality.

Gilt: Some of the principles you endorse in your book—authenticity, honesty—are very important to our team. How did you settle on the final list?
KW: As I was doing the research for the book, I realized how much the customer experience matters—and how a great experience is more and more expected. Wallet share can be earned through good pricing, convenience, and other things, but if you create that emotional connection—especially for premium goods—customers are really excited about staying loyal to a brand.

Gilt: Our CIO, Steve Jacobs, just gave a presentation on the importance of connecting emotionally with customers.
KW: Every touch that a customer has with the brand is an opportunity to build loyalty—or not. A lot of the companies I’ve talked to try to live by the Zappos mentality, that customer service is your best marketing.

Gilt: The term “customer experience” applies to a work relationship, in the sense that you need to give your employees a great experience or else they’ll move on. Values like honesty and authenticity are strong pillars for establishing a workplace with “purpose”—but how do you measure such values?
KW:
Some are more easily measured than others. I do think that figuring out how to measure what you value is an important goal—and there are ways. The last chapter of the book focuses on honest evaluation. If values really matter, they need to be measured. You need to quantify those values or else you’re not setting employees up for success. One example I cite is Method, who, every Monday morning, have a team shout-out highlighting someone who really lived up to the values during the previous week—and how. This kind of thing provides a very clear way for people to concretely understand what those values are.

Gilt: At Gilt, have a platform that enables employees to give each other shout-outs—and shopping credits—using a common dashboard. Some of the general things we reward are “caring too much,” “sharing the spotlight” and “using both sides of our brains.”
KW: I love that! That’s definitely creating an honest evaluation based on goals. And it incentivizes upholding the company values. One of the ways values become ingrained is to include a public recognition aspect of it — in your case, you’re lifting these values up and there’s a bit of public praise along with it.

Gilt: You present the notion of “profiting with purpose” as something companies will have to strive for in order to survive. Does this have to do with demographics—ie what millennials want?
KW: As millennials enter the workforce, there’s a stronger and clearer desire among them for both remuneration (financial rewards) but also a clear purpose. A high level of engagement will keep them at their seat and producing, and will also keep them from going to the competition. I do think the realization isn’t just to keep talent, but to engage them.

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Here’s Gilt Principal Software Engineer/Crafter O’Beers/Seasoned Instructor Gregor Heine leading one of his world-famous Scala trainings for our newer hires. (First Scala training in our schmancy new office!) Joining him as co-pilot for the first time is Gilt Senior Software Engineer Gary Coady, an expert in his own right. This class was Gilt-only, but we’re working on future installments for the public. Check back here for announcements!

Would you enjoy using the Internet more if it were slower? Of course not! But a slower Internet could become the reality for many of us, under rule changes proposed by the U.S. Federal Communications Commission.

The FCC’s proposed guidelines would effectively divide the Internet into a “fast lane” for companies that can afford to pay for better connectivity, and a “slow lane” for everyone else. “Net Neutrality”—the idea that Internet service providers (ISPs) should treat all users the same—be they small businesses run by a single founder, or global corporations with tens of thousands of employees—would be no more.

On Wednesday, September 10, 2014, Gilt will join other companies and citizens in asking U.S. lawmakers to defend Net Neutrality and protect the Internet—and we need YOU to join us! On Sept. 10, we’ll provide some tools to help you to contact the White House and the FCC to let them know that you support an equal, open Internet. Meantime, spread your support via social media, using the hashtag #NetNeutrality.

Why Gilt Cares About Net Neutrality

Gilt has been able to grow from a five-person team into a company with more than 1000 employees working in cities around the world—from New York to Dublin to Tokyo to Louisville, Kentucky. We owe much of our success to an open, equal Internet. If we’d been restricted to a “slow lane” when we started out in 2007, getting Gilt up and running would have been much more difficult—if not impossible. We want other entrepreneurs to have their fair shot at starting new companies that will create jobs, introduce new technologies and business models, and make the world a better—and more interesting—place.

Why September 10 Is an Important Date

A groundswell of support on September 10 will suggest to our lawmakers that they should treat Net Neutrality an election issue. The FCC’s public comment period on Net Neutrality ends on September 15. According to NBC News, so far the FCC has received more than 1.1 million comments on this issue—99 percent in favor of preserving Net Neutrality. “300,000 comments were original compositions,” NBC says—a ratio far higher than what most issues generate.

Keep the Internet Equal

Imagine a world where tech start-ups, fashion designers, crafters, and other small businesses never launch—all because they can’t pay the fees necessary to drive in “the Internet fast lane.” The prospects of this happening should worry anyone who believes in innovation, creativity and the American dream.

Millions of Americans—including President Barack Obama, CEOs, nonprofits, religious groups, even celebrities—oppose a two-lane Internet. They’ve expressed their support of Net Neutrality in public statements, comments to the FCC and Congress, and past awareness campaigns. But the fight isn’t over: We need the FCC to establish a strong, clear rule that protects Net Neutrality once and for all, so this issue doesn’t come up again.

Please join us on September 10 in telling our lawmakers to protect the Internet!

imageThe Atlassian Summit is probably the top conference worldwide for project managers, program managers and anyone else who spends a lot of time thinking about agile development—and Gilt will be there! Gilt Senior Director, Program Management Office Heather Fleming and Director of Program Management Justin Riservato will share their talk “Beyond the Crystal Ball—The Agile PMO" on the second day of the conference, which takes place September 9-11 in San Jose, CA. Heather and Justin take the stage at 11:15 AM PST in Room 2.

But that’s not all: Gilt Lead Software Engineer Yoni Goldberg will give his super-popular talk on “Scaling Microservices at Gilt" (seriously—he’s delivered it in at least four U.S. states this year!) on Thursday, Sept. 11 at 11:10 AM PST in Room 7.

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The Gilt tech team abstained from spaghetti and chocolate ice cream to join forces against the outdated fashion rule about not wearing white after Labor Day. Nobody accepted this author’s offer to dress as Princess Leia or the Abominable Snowman, but Senior Software Engineer Michael Chimirev pretty much won the day with his ensemble:

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This week the Gilt team in Dublin, Ireland moved to a new space in Dublin 4. Everyone’s settling in nicely, and we’ve already had a party to celebrate the move!

"As you come through our front door, you are greeted with a large meetup/hangout space and a well-equipped open plan kitchen, perfect for getting everyone together,” says Senior Program Manager Deirdre O’Brien of the new space. “The general office area has a few large open spaces with beanbags and hot desks for teams to regroup.” Here are Principal Software Engineer Gregor Heine and Senior Systems Engineer Anders Holm demonstrating how to “work-lax” in the space:

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We’ve separated team areas with glass partitions with integrated “whiteboards” while still retaining much of the vibe that defines #gilttech’s open, communal office culture:

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The new office includes four spacious meeting rooms named by Software Engineer/Email team Michal Kowaliszyn: Phoenix, Herbert, Fitzwilliam and Merrion:

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We’ve kept the “whiskey shelf” and “green” beer fridge. Big thanks to Gilt Ireland COO Fidelma Healy and IT Services Manager Glenn Conlon for managing the move and creating a fabulous space for Dublin Tech!

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On Friday, Gilt hosted a free day of instruction in Go—the latest NYC installment of our free tech course series. Leading the class was BoardRounds Co-Founder/CTO Aditya Mukerjee, who covered Go basics and highlighted the language’s advantages. Here’s Aditya in action:

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Friday’s class had great turnout from our own team—here are Scott Thompson and Will Chiong from #gilttech personalization, and Paolo Lim from the Gilt City team:

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There are four #gilttech engineers in this photo—can you spot them?

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Front-row focus:

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After the class, attendee Tim Heaney (who traveled all the way from Maryland to join us!) wrote his own recap of his experience at Gilt:

Thanks to everyone who applied and attended! And big thanks to Aditya for spending the day teaching!