Case Study

Chief Technology Officer

Massively Scalable, Real-Time Q&A

As the Chief Technology Officer and board member for the leading real-time Q&A technology with over 60 million unique users per month, we transformed the organization, creating a culture where employees could thrive. In addition to revamping tech operations by introducing a continuous flow development/deployment process (CICD), we also led the implementation and rollout of the largest and most significant growth strategies undertaken in the startup’s 4-year history — including a white-labeled service (e.g. to power initiatives like New York City’s 311), an overhaul of the company’s cost structure (real-time crowdsourcing of answers), the international product launch (UK) and exploration of using the service to bring information to developing countries (Haiti, India, China).

During our time with ChaCha, the organization answered over 1 Billion questions. A significant part of the role was evaluating the data — including data structure, architecture, processing, analytics, security, governance and integration. We were one of the first Hadoop implementations in the Midwest and quickly became one of the largest with billions of records. We leveraged our data in near real-time – when a question was asked, we would evaluate previously answered questions to quickly (<200ms) determine what the user was asking and what the best answer was.

In addition to our ability to evaluate billions of records in near real-time, we implemented data warehouse and BI reporting augmented with Hadoop to quickly mine billions of records for insights to improve our answer quality, answer business performance questions and to package certain demographics for ad buyers (e.g. which users are interested in beauty products? Which users have an affinity for pets? Which users have interest in sports?).

From an operations perspective, our approach doubled the team’s output while achieving a 12x improvement in product quality (measured by uptime and performance). From a data strategy perspective, we were able to use Big Data to answer all of our business and technology questions — from demographics for ad buyers to answer quality to business & financial performance. In addition to the great work in growing ChaCha, we are proud of the environment that we created using our unique leadership approach: “You have created the best team, attitudes, and culture since our inception.” (Quote from the CEO)


  • Strategy & Planning
  • C-Level Advisory
  • Execution Leadership
  • Product Strategy
  • Technology Strategy