It takes a lot of hard-working people to build a company as effective and game-changing as X-Mode. While we stay busy raising the standard for privacy and quality in location data, it’s also important to pause and celebrate all of our talented, delightful team members that make everything possible. With no further ado, please enjoy our monthly employee spotlight on our Principal Software Engineer, Daniel Robbins.
Joseph Green (Content Manager): To start, what is your title at X-Mode, and what do you do on a daily basis?
Daniel: I am the principal software engineer at X-Mode. On a daily basis I could be doing five different things. Mostly I write code and manage processes on a day to day basis. In more detail, I handle a lot of the automation and the orchestration, managing our API’s. I don’t write pipeline code, but other than that everything related to code falls under my umbrella.
J: What drew you to X-Mode originally?
D: At the time I started with the company, I wasn’t looking for a job. I was taking a break from work. This was actually right after Hurricane Irma, and when I first started talking to X-Mode I didn’t even have power in my house! So obviously I wasn’t exactly seeking out a new job, but the more I talked with X-Mode and found out what they were doing, the more interested I became.
What really drew me in was Josh’s (CEO Josh Anton) vision: a high quality product, and a focus on serving people, not just making a buck. When Josh outlined his philosophy to me — how location data can be used for all this good as long as the right company emerges as a kind of ethical vanguard at this moment — he basically talked me into working for X-Mode. He’s continued to lead with that vision. The launch of the Picket program, and all the work we have done on COVID response really proves that to me.
J: What would you say is some of the major differences between working for a larger company and working for a start-up like X-Mode?
D: Well, I’ve been working in software for a long time. Last month was my fifteen year work anniversary, actually. So I can speak from experience: in a large company there’s a lot of red tape. You don’t get to talk with the higher-ups very often, if at all.
Obviously in a smaller setting, like here at X-Mode, you have a lot more responsibility and your role is a lot broader. So in some ways, your job can be a lot harder. The decisions you’re making are a lot more critical. But then again, in a larger company, you might not be making any decisions. You’re just a cog in a machine. Everyone can decide for themselves, but I definitely prefer having a little more pressure because it means my contributions really matter.
Communication is also so different — and I think much better — at a smaller company . At large companies, you might be lucky to find out about a big, company-wide change the day before it is announced. But at X-mode, the whole company is really kept in the loop. Josh and Jamie (COO Jamie Thompson) do a great job of updating us on major decisions (like getting a new office space, or making a big pivot) and also in minor ones, like where to have the next company happy hour. It feels good to be informed and always know what’s going on.
J: What would you say are some of your proudest professional accomplishments since you started working here?
D: I think I am proudest not of a personal achievement, but of the company’s overall dedication to privacy. On the software side, we are constantly focused on keeping user data protected. We do a ton of work to make our SDK compatible with regulations like GDPR and CCPA. And it’s not always because we have to; maybe we would even save some time and money if we cared a little less. We do it because we are truly dedicated to compliance, because we know that we have to earn the public trust.
I myself am a very privacy-minded person, and it disheartens me to know that some companies in this space are less than honest. Not at X-Mode, though. No matter what I’m working on, I will stop what I’m doing if anything privacy related comes up. We’re all like that, and it makes me feel proud to work here.
J: What would you say are a couple of your favorite memories from your time here at X-Mode?
D: Honestly, probably the first time I met Josh and Jamie. They were pretty ecstatic to meet me, and I was pretty ecstatic to meet them, so it was a pretty warm welcome. They took me out to get some Korean barbecue, which is also a big plus of course.
J: Now for the really serious questions: what TV show are you binging right now?
D: Oh, man. Me and my wife have binged so much during the pandemic that I couldn’t even tell you. My wife is watching Comunity right now, which I’ve already seen, but I love it. So it’s been fun to participate in that rewatch with her.
J: What’s your favorite place that you’ve ever travelled to?
D: That’s an easy one, the name of the town is Otranto and it’s in Italy. A lot of foreigners (like myself!) don’t really know about it. It’s more of a local tourist spot. Most of the people there don’t even speak English, so if my wife hadn’t been with me I would have been in trouble. But let me tell you… for fifty bucks in a place like that, you can eat like a King. I’m talking three course meals that would set you back several hundred bucks in the states. We ate like that three times a day when we visited, just because we could. There’s also a really beautiful lagoon there — it’s a port town — and just so much history. In Italy, everything is like 2000 years old, and you can really feel all those centuries when you’re just walking around. They had this old church with a wall made out of skulls! I loved visiting Otranto. Favorite place I’ve ever traveled.
J: When would you say you’re at your happiest?
D: Definitely when I’m on vacation. I take vacation seriously. I stay off the grid and don’t let work or any of the stresses of life follow me. Because vacation is about enjoyment. It’s an escape, and it’s when I’m at my happiest.
J: What are some of your hobbies?
D: I like to play around with Nitro Race CArs. They have these little one and a half horse power engines, and let me tell you man, they get really fast. I’ve seen some of the bigger ones go fifty miles an hour. Unfortunately there’s not much of a racing scene where I live. But I still like to tinker with them
J: Now, finally, one last question, what is a motto or mantra that you live by?
D: I have two actually, one from my father and one from my grandfather.. My dad taught me, “without integrity your word means nothing.” He’s a pretty strong Christian, and taught me to live with honesty and integrity. My grandfather — a Marine — taught me, “respect is earned.” So, I try to apply both of those sentiments to my life.