CTO Insights Part Two – Chris McCreadie

In this latest edition of CTO Insights, we interview Chris McCreadie. He has worked as a senior software developer and CTO at a number of companies over the years, and finds himself leading the technical side of eCommerce revolutionaries, Shoprocket.
They’ve been featured in Wired, TechCrunch, and Forbes, with their tool that provides instant subscription-free eCommerce functionality for websites.
So, we asked Chris about his role and responsibilities, hopes and dreams, fears and challenges…

Cheers for speaking to us, Chris. First off, what’s the idea behind Shoprocket and what sets you apart?

When the other founders and I were creating the technology behind Shoprocket, we believed that eCommerce did not have to be as complicated as the options available made it seem. We proved it does not have to be difficult through our one line code of installation.
What distinguishes us from all the other options out there is that we, the founders, have been working on the technology for a long time to ensure it was simple, fast, and easy for our customers to use. Our architecture is really impressive – we can easily scale to support hundreds of thousands of customers and do so with minimal impact on our cloud infrastructure.
We’ve built ourselves an amazing team that continues to develop and strengthen at every stage and milestone we’ve reached. The team we have is more than capable to take on what the future has in store for us.

What do you see as the main challenges of your role there?

Firstly, it’s quite a challenging to manage a globally distributed workforce. However, our developers collaborated from all over the world in order to build our technology. I think we’ve proven that good code is not bound by geographic location.
Deploying updates multiple times a day to thousands of clients’ sites while ensuring that it does not break our user’s website is obviously crucial. We also need to ensure that we are seamless across every type of platform, such as android, chrome, safari, iOS, etc. A normal SaaS product is akin to fixing an airplane whilst in flight. With Shoprocket, it’s like trying fix a fleet of airplanes whilst in flight by jumping from one plane to the next.
For two years I wrote write code solely myself. It’s been a challenge to be more hands off and let my developers take the reins. My developers are more than capable and are fantastic at what they too, so it hasn’t been a challenge as much as an adjustment.

You must have experienced some significant achievements, too?

We’ve had some really great accomplishments over the past twelve months since we went live – over 100 million requests and 20,000 orders have been processed in that time. Since Alpha launch, we’ve had 100% uptime (our services have never been down). I’m also proud of our PayPal integration, which took well over a year to achieve. I think it is one of the most elegant Paypal integrations in existence.

Superb achievements, congratulations! So what keeps you guys going on a day-to-day basis? What do you see as consistently rewarding?

It’s incredible to watch my development team improve every day. In essence they’re able to function without me, which indicates that they’re learning and coming to understand fully what they need to know. I come from a contractor background, and it was always my goal to get myself sacked as quickly as possible as I was a very expensive entry on the balance sheet. When the team develops an idea that is better than mine or improve my code I cannot help but smile.

And in five years time, where do you see the company?

It’s one of 2 outcomes:
1) Total failure, as we no longer exist as a company. Since most new companies fail and I am a huge proponent of game theory, the chances of success over failure is very slim (around 20%). We work every day to avoid this, but you have to be aware of the realities of business.
2) We evolve into a dominant player in eCommerce space. If Shoprocket were to ever become a verb, that’s the ultimate confirmation that we’ve made it big. “Let’s Shoprocket it” is a phrase I would love to hear developers and agencies commonly use.

Two extremes there! How do you see technology impacting your chances of success or failure then?

Stewart Brand said, “Once a new technology rolls over you, if you’re not part of the steamroller, you’re part of the road.” I think this sums up how tech impacts business pretty accurately.
Technology changes everything, over and over again. There is constant success, then defeat. There is always another up and coming technology that will replace the current technology. It’s the reason why Microsoft was able to defeat IBM. But then came Google, which defeated Microsoft.
There may always be another competitor around the corner ready to overtake your current tech, but what’s cool about Shoprocket is that our technology is so flexibly designed, we can keep up with what the demand is. There’s always something waiting to replace you. However, we’ve already done the hard part in creating our technology. Now, all we have to do is continue moving forward and improving with Shoprocket’s awesome team. It’ll be quite the challenge for Shoprocket to be steamrolled.
Chris McCreadie is the Chief Technology Officer of Shoprocket. He’s held senior technology roles for several years with various startups and enterprise level companies. Prior to Shoprocket, Chris created and sold two companies. His previous experiences has been an asset to Shoprocket’s development.