The Nuts and Bolts with Ryan Gee

Ryan Gee, Team Lead, Site Lifecycle

What keeps you at Squarespace and what keeps you excited?

I really do believe in making web presences more accessible to people without a technical background in a non-cookie-cutter way. I like making and using tools users can grow into as they gain expertise. Also, I’ve built my career here, and each year I get to wear a slightly different hat with a vastly different skillset. I buy a lot of books for work and for myself because I keep finding new things I have to learn and apply. The breadth of what I’ve worked on at Squarespace keeps me fresh. I’m super excited to discover what I don’t know about building something of the scale to which we’ve grown.

What are you working on right now?

One of the big projects my team is working on is a highly resilient and sophisticated billing system to replace our existing system. One of the biggest goals is reporting accuracy, but we’re also determined to alleviate the pain of programming complex subscription flows and reasoning about the many states they can exhibit over years.

How did you get into engineering?

By a number of extremely fortunate events, actually. My cousin bought me a PC when I was 8 and told me I was responsible for learning how to use it. My middle school best friend’s dad taught me HTML and CSS a few years later. That same year I got a scholarship to go to a camp for 3D modeling and art, but finished the course early and they let me switch to C++. Eventually I realized I had amassed a small toolbelt and, for a time, made it my goal to get into game development, so I went to school for CS!

What's the thing you like the most about what you do?

I love working with people from so many different professional (and personal) backgrounds. The folks I work with bring so many perspectives to our discussions, and being able to have them in the room from the early stages of building a feature or a product is unique, exciting, and humbling.

Favorite part of Squarespace’s stack?

Definitely my team’s. ;) I kid, I kid. Actually, I’m constantly in awe of our Core Services team’s work on our microservice infrastructure and tooling. They’ve got a ridiculous amount of talent and their tools make it very easy to follow distributed systems best practices and allow thorough testing. Also, they’re great at coaching.

How have you seen Squarespace change direction since you’ve been here?

In the beta phases of the current product iteration, we’d change the core of the templating and page management experience every week, until it was right. It made sense, though. We were searching for the right architecture. Once we found something we were more comfortable with, we spent a lot of time focusing on how to refine and scale it.

How do you measure success?

I’m a huge fan of launching something without any issues, bugs, or missed edge cases, but that’s never possible! I try to focus on the success of the team’s process as well as the output. Working on unruly projects time and time again can be draining. I’d say the quality I focus on the most is correctness and predictability. I think a truly successful project or system launch isn’t when it goes perfectly, but when you can quickly respond to what does go wrong.

You’re famous for your gif choices. Do you have a favorite?

This is the hardest question of this interview … so I’m gonna let recency bias take over and suggest this:

I use it surprisingly often and you find something new every time in it.

What’s something you like to do at Squarespace that isn’t part of your job?

I take breaks by playing Super Smash Brothers: Melee. We’ve got a pretty dedicated group here and we’ve been playing together for years. We even go to local tournaments on occasion!

What’s your favorite karaoke song?

Hands down, “What’s Up” by 4 Non Blondes

Do you have any role models?

If you ask anyone in my family, they’ll tell you I look up to my cousin Shannon. She’s extremely successful and always goes out of her way to teach others what it takes.

Do you have any fun stories/memories about your time at Squarespace?

A long time ago we organized a company skiing trip. I’d never gone before (but I grew up skateboarding) and learned with my coworkers! We were so bad, but it was really memorable. I snowboard multiple times a year now.

How has your job changed at Squarespace?

On a practical level, I started out as a primarily front-end engineer when I joined. However, I eventually became responsible for full-stack features and now I’d consider myself 60/40 in the other direction! I’m a team lead now as well, and making sure my team is successful and fulfilling their career goals is exciting, scary, and kind of surreal.

What’s your superpower?

I can fall asleep anywhere, under any conditions.

Favorite Squarespace color: white, black, or gray?


Favorite hack week project (doesn’t have to be your own)?

I’ve unfortunately been out of the office for the past few hack weeks, so mine is a throwback. Squarespace Logo actually began as a hack week project, and I had never seen anything like it before. I’m still impressed at how quickly it was built, and I got to integrate it into the product after it was completed! We also had a ton of fun spamming HipChat with logos.

Current jam?

Nuits Sonores” by Floating Points

What are your non-tech passions?

I love cooking and eating good food. I have more cookware than anything. (I just moved, so I know this is true).

Are there aliens?

I’m in the middle of the Remembrance of Earth’s Past trilogy, so I’ll get back to you on that.

If you could erase one technology stereotype from existence what would it be?

That you have to be, look, or act a certain way to do this job. I want there to be no “stereotypical programmer.”

What do you want to be known for?

Helping others succeed, based on what success means to them. Barring that, I’ll take being that guy who always has an extra stick of gum.

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