KEYNOTE: Fast -- Building a Ship While it Sails (During a Pandemic)


Cem Yildirim
Fast, VP & Head of Engineering

Cem Yildirim is the vice president and head of engineering at Fast, where he oversees the development of products, including Fast Checkout, and Fast’s growing engineering organization. Prior to Fast, Cem was a senior engineering manager at Uber, where he led 12 teams to build a new commerce platform for Uber, increasing the go-to-market speed for Rideshare, Eats, Freight, Jump and external partner businesses. Cem previously worked on Apple’s identity and access management products, including Apple AppleID, Apple Two-Factor Auth and integrations into Apple Pay. He holds a Master's degree from MIT in Engineering and Management. 


How do you launch a product with a bare-bones team working remotely in the middle of a pandemic?

In June 2020, I was tasked with taking an idea to launch in just eight weeks with nine engineers. I’d never met this team, and wouldn’t for almost two years: the pandemic had just locked everyone down.

But the investments had been made, and a date was set. I had to create a long-term vision with moments to spare and weeks to deliver.

There’s a saying: Take the leap, and build your wings on the way down. So that’s what we did.

But before you wonder how many 24-hour days the engineers put in? Not many. How frantically decisions were made? Not at all. How did the time crunch inform our tech stack? (Hint: we love Python, but Go was faster). And how does one cobble this all together, anyway?

The key to building and launching a product against outlandish technical constraints isn’t by grinding a small team into dust by making them row the boat until they can’t move. It’s by building that boat smartly, beginning with the end in mind, so you can build as you row with thoughtfully selected parts that move and scale with you from the get go.

The audience will learn:

How to replicate - or modify for themselves - my unique approach to tripling our remote team around the world in just two months

How to structure their organization for optimum collaboration, management, and conflict resolution during incredibly tight release schedules

Create 24/7 workflows without working your teams 24/7

How to choose the right tech stack for the project to get a massive project to market in a competitive timeline – without churning engineers or running into multiple dead-ends and refactors due to hasty decisions.