Thinking Critically with Critical Mention’s VP of Engineering

By June 30, 2018 July 25th, 2019 Interviews

As VP of Engineering at Critical Mention, Matt leads a team of front end, content and systems developers that are constantly seeking ways to increase the speed and reliability of Critical Mention’s platform.

Matt began his career at Critical Mention in 2006 as a Software Developer before becoming Content Engine Team Lead in 2014. He played a crucial role in the platform’s transition to Amazon Web Services in early 2017. Matt holds a BS in Computer Science from Marist College where he graduated magna cum laude.

Today, we’re getting his perspective on media monitoring, the intricacies of Critical Mention’s platform and the industry’s future.

Q: What’s your day-to-day working as Critical Mention’s VP of Engineering?

Matt: The brainpower and energy needs to flow through the engineering department to produce software. If you want to write a piece of software there are 1,000 correct answers, so I keep everyone on the same page and keep the process moving. As soon as I come into work everyday I solve problems, clear up any confusion and contribute to the team’s output. We’re all trying to solve complicated problems, so my job is to help  everyone push their projects forward.

Q: What sparked your interest in engineering?

Matt: The first code I ever wrote was LOGO on an Apple IIe when I was 12 years old in elementary school. LOGO is a programming language where there’s a triangle on the screen and you can use code to command it to move. At that moment, I basically had a heart attack in ecstasy. Then in high school I took any programming classes they had available and then majored in computer programming in college. After I graduated I took a job at Critical Mention and have been here ever since.

Q: In your opinion, what’s the importance of media monitoring for PR professionals? 

Matt: I think the most valuable component of CM is in crisis response because you probably have a pretty good idea of what’s being said about you when you’re creating the conversation, but it’s harder to find out quickly when things go wrong. Our platform’s speed and reliability gives you the defense you need against bad PR.

Q: You’ve been with CM for the past 12 years and have seen Critical Mention’s platform from nearly the ground up. How do you think the platform has evolved since you’ve started?

Matt: Since I’ve been here the main platform has been hosted in five different data centers. We started out with a small shared space, moved to a larger self-hosted data center and are now taking advantage of Amazon Cloud. Amazon was a big change and gave us the power and flexibility that we didn’t have when we were managing our own gear. Throughout my 12 years we’ve been through two major rearchitectures, each bringing extra speed and reliability to the platform.

Q: What’s the technology behind the platform that you find the most interesting?

Matt: I think the most interesting technology about our platform is the capture network. Our capture network is spread across a good portion of the globe. We’re capturing a lot of signals that can’t be captured without having a data center physically there. We’re basically capturing local news that’s not available outside of the local area. You can’t just rebuild that with AWS. You need to physically go to these places to create a presence.  We currently have 171 points of presence.

Q: Where do you see media monitoring going in the next few years?

Matt: I think that things are going to move toward more intelligent monitoring where instead of customers telling us what keywords they’re interested in, we’ll be telling customers about media that they should be interested in that they didn’t know about.

Matt Maul

As VP, Engineering at Critical Mention, Matt leads a team of front end, content, and systems developers that’s constantly seeking ways to increase the speed and reliability of Critical Mention’s platform. Matt began his career at Critical Mention in 2006 as a Software Developer before becoming Content Engine Team Lead in 2014. He played a crucial role in the platform’s transition to Amazon Web Services in early 2017. Matt holds a BS in Computer Science from Marist College where he graduated magna cum laude.

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