Giant Robots Smashing Into Other Giant Robots

About the show

A podcast about the design, development, and business of great software. Each week thoughtbot's Chad Pytel is joined by the people who build and nurture the products we love.


  • Poster Image

    497: Axiom with Seif Lotfy

    October 19th, 2023  |  Season 11  |  39 mins 13 secs

    Victoria is joined by guest co-host Joe Ferris, CTO at thoughtbot, and Seif Lotfy, the CTO and Co-Founder of Axiom. Seif discusses the journey, challenges, and strategies behind his data analytics and observability platform.

    Seif, who has a background in robotics and was a 2008 Sony AIBO robotic soccer world champion, shares that Axiom pivoted from being a Datadog competitor to focusing on logs and event data. The company even built its own logs database to provide a cost-effective solution for large-scale analytics. Seif is driven by his passion for his team and the invaluable feedback from the community, emphasizing that sales validate the effectiveness of a product. The conversation also delves into Axiom's shift in focus towards developers to address their need for better and more affordable observability tools.

    On the business front, Seif reveals the company's challenges in scaling across multiple domains without compromising its core offerings. He discusses the importance of internal values like moving with urgency and high velocity to guide the company's future. Furthermore, he touches on the challenges and strategies of open-sourcing projects and advises avoiding platforms like Reddit and Hacker News to maintain focus.

  • Poster Image

    496: SmartCert with Lonni Kieffer

    October 12th, 2023  |  Season 11  |  43 mins 4 secs

    Hosts Will Larry and Victoria Guido talk with Lonni Kieffer, Co-Founder and Chief Customer Officer at SmartCert. SmartCert's mission is to digitize and streamline the certificate transfer process in supply chains, mainly focusing on the aerospace industry. Lonni shares insights into the challenges of managing change within traditional industries, the importance of building a solid foundation of leadership and core values, and SmartCert's strategies for customer success and self-service.

    Lonni also shares the history of the company's growth and its focus on vendor accountability and internal processes to increase supply chain efficiency. SmartCert's platform offers features like document verification and digital signatures to facilitate accessible communication among teams. She discusses the role of their partner company, TechFabric, in building their MVP and how they've grown their internal team. She also highlights 2024 as a pivotal year for SmartCert, aiming for a global impact within the next five years.

    Regarding advice for aspiring entrepreneurs, Lonni emphasizes the importance of grit, flexibility, and a strong belief in one's mission. She also talks about the value of relationships in business growth and the critical role of sleep for effective functioning and decision-making.

  • Poster Image

    495: Free Code Camp with Quincy Larson

    October 5th, 2023  |  Season 11  |  56 mins 49 secs

    Quincy Larson is the founder of, which helps people learn to code for free by creating thousands of videos, articles, and interactive coding lessons–all freely available to the public. Quincy shares his journey from transitioning from teaching into software development, how freeCodeCamp was born out of his desire to make educational systems more efficient through coding, and discusses the early challenges of bootstrapping the platform, and how it has now grown into a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization.

    Quincy and hosts Victoria and Will, discuss the platform's technical architecture, especially their global server distribution and decision to rely on volunteer-led translation efforts rather than machines to ensure both the quality and human touch of their educational content. He also talks about the state of free and low-cost degree programs, the student loan crisis, and the ongoing debate between traditional computer science degrees and coding bootcamps.

  • Poster Image

    494: with Peter Voss

    September 28th, 2023  |  Season 11  |  33 mins 54 secs

    Peter Voss is the CEO and Chief Scientist of, a groundbreaking alternative to conventional chatbots and generative models like ChatGPT. Aigo's chatbot is powered by Artificial General Intelligence (AGI), enabling it to think, learn, and reason much like a human being. It boasts short-term and long-term memory, setting it apart in terms of personalized service and context-awareness.

    Along with host Chad Pytel, Peter talks about how most chatbots and AI systems today are basic. They can answer questions but can't understand or remember the context. is different because it's built to think and learn more like humans. It can adapt and get better the more you use it. He also highlights the challenges faces in securing venture capital, given that its innovative approach doesn't align with current investment models heavily focused on generative or deep learning AI. Peter and Chad agree that while generative AI serves certain functions well, the quest for a system that can think, learn, and reason like a human demands a fundamentally different approach.

  • Poster Image

    493: Mobile Development at thoughtbot with Stephen Hanson

    September 21st, 2023  |  Season 11  |  34 mins 30 secs

    Co-host Will Larry interviews Stephen Hanson, the Director of Mobile Development at thoughtbot. The two explore the complexities of mobile app development, focusing on the advantages and disadvantages of React Native and Flutter.

    Stephen, who initially started as a full-stack web developer specializing in Enterprise Java, discusses React Native's cost-effectiveness and the convenience of having a unified codebase for iOS and Android platforms. However, he notes that Flutter might be a more suitable choice for high-performance needs. Both hosts emphasize the nuances of the mobile ecosystem, covering topics like in-app purchases, push notifications, and the strict guidelines set by app stores like Apple's. They agree that a comprehensive understanding of these aspects is crucial for an entire development team, including designers and project managers.

    Additionally, Stephen shares that the driving force behind his career is the opportunity to create apps that enhance people's lives. Stephen wraps up the discussion by detailing thoughtbot's goals of improving mobile development practices within the company and the broader developer community.

  • Poster Image

    492: and Varo Bank with Rishi Malik

    September 14th, 2023  |  Season 11  |  40 mins 17 secs

    Victoria and Will interview Rishi Malik, the Founder of and VP of Engineering at Varo Bank. They talk about Rishi's recent adventure at DEF CON, the renowned annual security conference that he's attended for six years, and describes how it has transformed from a mere learning experience into a thrilling competition for him and his team. The conference = their playground for tackling an array of security challenges and brain-teasing puzzles, with a primary focus on cloud security competitions.

    The trio cover the significance of community in such events and how problem-solving through interaction adds value. Rishi shares his background, tracing his path from firmware development through various tech companies to his current roles in security and engineering management.

    The vital topic of security in the fintech and banking sector highlights the initial concerns people had when online banking emerged. Rishi navigates through the technical intricacies of security measures, liability protection, and the regulatory framework that safeguards online banking for consumers. He also highlights the evolving landscape, where technological advancements and convenience have bolstered consumer confidence in online banking.

    Rishi shares his unique approach to leadership and decision-making, and pearls of wisdom for budding engineers starting their careers. His advice revolves around nurturing curiosity and relentlessly seeking to understand the "why" behind systems and processes.

  • Poster Image

    491: with Amy Spurling

    September 7th, 2023  |  Season 11  |  42 mins 46 secs

    Amy Spurling is the Founder and CEO of Compt, helping companies build and scale flexible perks, stipends that delight teams. She explains how Compt's approach to benefits aligns with an employee's life stages, and shares insights from data that revealed the vast diversity of vendors utilized by employees.

    Amy talks about fundraising for Compt, highlighting the gender investment gap and the difficulties faced by female founders. She also shares her personal experiences as a lesbian founder and emphasizes the importance of a diverse workforce. She outlines Compt's mission to provide equitable compensation and foster a broader perspective within companies, the economic miss of not investing in female-founded companies, and the complexities of transitioning into different roles within a startup.

  • Poster Image

    490: Datadog with Sean O'Connor

    August 31st, 2023  |  Season 11  |  45 mins 55 secs

    Sean O'Connor is the Director of Engineering at Datadog. Datadog is the essential monitoring and security platform for cloud applications.

    Sean discusses his transition from an individual contributor to management and shares why he chose Datadog, emphasizing the appeal of high-scale problems and the real business nature of the company. They delve into the importance of performance management and observability and cover the cultural and technical challenges Sean faces in managing a diverse, geographically spread team, and discuss the transition at Datadog from a decentralized model to more centralized platforms, the corresponding changes in both technical strategies and people management, and what excites him about Datadog's future, including the integration of security offerings into developers' daily experiences, and the evolution of Kubernetes and internal build and release tooling.

  • Poster Image

    489: CTO Lunches with Kendall Miller

    August 24th, 2023  |  Season 11  |  38 mins 17 secs

    Kendall Miller is the Co-Founder and COO of CTO Lunches, a network of engineering leaders to get trusted advice and connections.

    From technical insights to business considerations and community engagement, the conversation provides a comprehensive look at Kubernetes and talks about CTO Lunches, a community for CTOs and senior engineering leaders, and a focus on building connections within the tech industry.

  • Poster Image

    488: Women Who Code with Alaina Percival

    August 17th, 2023  |  Season 11  |  38 mins 40 secs

    Alaina Percival is the Co-Founder and CEO of Women Who Code, with a mission to empower diverse women to excel in technology careers.

    This discussion offers a detailed look into the women in tech movement, the importance of community, and the drive to create a more equitable industry. It serves as a reflection on both the strides made in fostering diversity and the work still needed to create a truly inclusive technology field.

  • Poster Image

    487: OtisHealth with Marc Mar-Yohana

    August 10th, 2023  |  Season 11  |  36 mins 25 secs

    Marc Mar-Yohana is the CEO and Founder of OtisHealth, a personal health application and platform for patient-caregiver engagement, population health, and clinical research.

    Marc has dedicated his life to developing better tools for families and caregivers to manage their loved one's health. He aimed to create a unified system where all health data could be gathered, enabling caregivers, patients, and medical providers to see the whole picture. OtisHealth allows patients to integrate data from different sources, including wearable devices, and capture information outside clinical settings.

  • Poster Image

    486: Blox with Simon Ritchie

    August 3rd, 2023  |  Season 11  |  46 mins

    Simon Ritchie, the founder and CEO of Blox, discusses his background and journey leading up to starting the company. He began his career in finance but discovered his passion for technology and finance systems. He worked at Anaplan, a successful finance planning and analysis software company, but saw the limitations of rigid systems when COVID-19 hit. He realized there was a need for a more flexible and accessible financial modeling and planning tool, especially for small businesses and charities.

    Blox aims to fill this gap by providing a powerful yet easy-to-use modeling, calculation, and planning engine that sits between spreadsheets and complex enterprise software. The company is about a year old, has raised venture funding, and launched a free tier of its product. They prioritize building a compelling product, iterating quickly, and engaging with users to understand their needs.

  • Poster Image

    485: Pointz with Maggie Bachenberg and Trisha Ballakur

    July 27th, 2023  |  Season 11  |  38 mins 12 secs

    Maggie Bachenberg, CEO, and Trisha Ballakur, CTO, are the co-founders of Pointz, a mobile mapping app that helps navigate bike and scooter riders through safe routes in cities.

    Victoria talks to Maggie and Trisha about their cycling backgrounds, how they met and became co-founders, and what they feel is the differentiator for their app versus what was/is already on the market for biking-related apps.

  • Poster Image

    484: Ruby On Rails: The Podcast with Brittany Martin

    July 20th, 2023  |  Season 11  |  50 mins 30 secs

    Brittany Martin is an Engineering Manager at Shogun, where she manages a team of Ruby and React engineers and is the Co-host of The Ruby on Rails Podcast.

    Victoria and Will talk to Brittany about the multitude of stuff she's interested in, including Roller Derby, and gives the story of how she found herself co-hosting the show. She says knowing what your brand is and what listeners should expect from listening to you is super important, and she gives her opinion on what it means to be in the Ruby on Rails Community.

  • Poster Image

    483: with Charity Majors

    July 13th, 2023  |  Season 11  |  40 mins 46 secs

    Charity Majors is Co-Founder and CTO of Honeycomb, which provides full-stack observability that enables engineers to deeply understand and debug production software together.

    Victoria talks to Charity about observability, her technical background and decision to start, thoughts about the whole ops SRE profession, and things that surprised her along her journey of building a company around observability as a concept.

  • Poster Image

    482: Evil Martians with Irina Nazarova

    July 6th, 2023  |  Season 11  |  33 mins 46 secs

    Irina Nazarova is CEO of Evil Martians, a product development consultancy that works with startups and established businesses while creating open-source products and services.

    Victoria talks to Irina about getting a sense of what people are interested in learning about or what kind of problems they have, how consulting and product development complement each other, and of course, the question on everyone's minds: Is Evil Martians really evil? đŸ˜ˆ