Building bridges to Silicon Valley: BlaBlaCar data team at the Strata+Hadoop conferences

Belonging to the Blablacar Tech family offers some incredible privileges. We get to host meetups, participate in intense coding parties AND travel around the world.

As part of our internal “Culture trips” program, my team -the Data team- had the chance to travel across the Atlantic Ocean to attend the Strata+Hadoop world conference in San Jose, California at the end of March 2016.

During one amazing week, we had the opportunity to talk data with the most active and influential people in the tech community, be inspired by how things are done in Silicon Valley and of course discover the beauty of California.

Connecting with tech companies in the Valley

As everyone knows, all tech things come from San Francisco or Silicon Valley.

That’s why, when you work for a tech company with such high ambitions as Blablacar, you tend to absorb good practices, ideas and emerging technologies coming from the Valley.

Our first objective for this trip was to connect with the tech guys working in various data departments to exchange how our teams work, discuss the benefits of each organization and, because at some point it does matter, who has the most amount of data. Then, as soon as we got the keys of our big (we were in America - everything is big there!) car, we went to visit several cool companies and people:

  • Martin, a data analyst at Airbnb. He explained how he and his team work whilst enjoying a delicious breakfast every day. Breakfast is open for all employees and their relatives
A view from the incredible Airbnb headquarter's lobby
A view from the incredible headquarters of Airbnb lobby
  • Soucindar, data scientist at Twitch, the video game streaming platform. They showed us around their cool offices.
  • William, product manager at Google. He introduced us to the Data Cloud Platform and all its components.
  • Guillaume, architect / developer / data engineer / data analyst and another member of our strong French network in San Francisco. He hosted us at Textme’s office and explained how he created a stable data platform whilst enjoying the amazing view from the office.
Nice view of San Francisco from Textme's office
Nice view of San Francisco from Textme's office

Talking data at the Strata conference

The main reason of our trip was to spend two days attending the Strata + Hadoop World conference. For the 10th anniversary of Hadoop, 200 sessions and keynotes were scheduled, gathering around 3000 attendees including data rock stars like Jay Kreps (creator of Apache Kafka), Holden Karau (famous contributor of Apache Spark) and Doug Cutting & Mike Cafarella, the 2 fathers of hadoop and of course … us!

Have you ever heard of Blablacar, US?
Have you ever heard of Blablacar, US?

Hot topics were streaming processing, self-service analytics, columnar database on Hadoop and security.

California dreamin’

During our free time, we made sure we enjoyed the city of San Francisco and its landscapes:

  • the Golden Gate bridge
  • The Transamerica Tower (and its incredible pyramid shape architecture)
A pyramid from the ground
A pyramid from the ground
  • The famous San Francisco cable cars (we actually used Lyft instead, but it was still worth a picture!)
The origins of ride sharing
The origins of ride sharing
  • The exotic Pier 39 and its sea lions

We also took a tour along the Pacific Coast Highway Road in the data bus and experienced the California dream from Santa Clara to Big Sur and through Carmel.

Coming back more energized than ever

This once in a lifetime experience had a big impact on all of us. It made us realize that our team at BlaBlaCar is precious and we’ve already put in place some good practices that were born in Silicon Valley. Since coming back to the office, we’ve started to convert all our energy and great ideas into achievable goals and projects. We want to take BlaBlaCar to the next level. Stay tuned!

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