Madeline, 7 going on 22, surprised me last week. She asked me what Andy and I do for Wayfair. I was taken aback at first, but I thought about it for a minute, and considered an analogy I could use that she would follow.
Enter Taylor Swift
Even two weeks ago, you could not have convinced me that the term "Taylor Swift" would ever appear on this site. Yet here we are.
Madeline has a Chromebook for school (soon to be an iPad), so I know she is quite familiar with how to search for things. I asked her if she remembered how to search for images of Taylor Swift. She said, "Sure, you go to Google, type in her name, switch to images, and hit Enter."
I explained to her that there are people at Google who work on the computers (I quickly self-corrected "servers") that make sure her search returns the right results, and that they do so as quickly as possible. I said that the searches had to return quickly not only to keep her happy, but also because there are so many other people running searches at the same time.
She understood this completely.
I told her that, at Wayfair, we have the same challenge. "Imagine someone searching for a piece of furniture—"
She immediately interrupted me, asking, "Like a brown couch?"
Yes, like a brown couch. Imagine someone searching for a brown couch at Wayfair. Our job is to make sure they only see brown couches, and that they show up on screen as quickly as possible.
She said: "That makes sense." I was pretty proud of myself, and tweeted as much.
Now, there's a lot more to our jobs than that, of course. But most of the infrastructure and scalability work we do is ultimately to make it easy for people to buy exactly what they want, when they want it. Which is a pretty decent reflection of a girl searching for images of a legend.