Martech Interview with the Co-Founder and Chief Technology Officer, Yottaa – Bob Buffone

Bob Buffone from Yottaa talks about the massive digital shift in the marketing industry & how martech is leading all the sectors of the market.


“It takes a lot of work to get your business up and running, and having a great culture makes everything easier and more enjoyable for you as a company”

1. Tell us about your role in Yottaa?
I am the co-founder and Chief Technology Officer of YOTTAA. A major part of my role is focusing on the architecture of our systems and helping identify things that could be better or defining the architecture for new things we want to do. Another is development — I think for me to be a CTO, I still need to work on development. Finally, I play a role in helping to sell the product as an executive sponsor for deals, talking with other technical executives within customer accounts.

2. Can you tell us about your journey into this market?
Before YOTTAA, my co-founder and I worked at a company called Nexaweb, where we were building large-scale regenerate applications. There was a patchy javascript framework with 700 javascript files in it, and we figured out how to make that fast, performant, and usable by end-users, which was very challenging. We built best practices around how to optimize web applications, spoke at a lot of conferences, and realized during that time that the applications people were using to make websites faster, like CDNs, weren’t enough to speed up newer web applications. With YOTTAA, we tried to build a sufficient set of technology that online brands could use to fully optimize their website. Part of our goal was to ensure there were no code changes involved and for websites using our technology to be indistinguishably better than the original website. If anyone went to a website using our technology, they would notice that it was better, but they wouldn’t notice that it was different from the original. I think we have achieved both of those goals.

3. How do you think technology is upgrading the marketing Sector?

As consumers become more comfortable shopping online, digital marketing and subsequent technologies have taken off, such as personalization, user-generated content, and SEO marketing.

These marketing technologies create an engaging experience for online shoppers, but often to the detriment of site speed and performance. As a result, site performance optimization technologies have become critical to digital marketing to support the latest trends in 3rd party marketing technologies. Working with a digital optimization solution vendor, like YOTTAA, enables digital marketers to balance new technologies with speed and performance, which is especially important during times with increased online traffic. By optimizing an eCommerce site for performance, digital marketers ensure customers have an exceptional online experience while increasing engagement and conversions. In addition, better site performance enables marketers to gain a higher ROI on their marketing spend and better results from their marketing campaigns since most marketing campaigns push end users to a web-based landing page. If that page is slow to load the end user will just bounce.

4. Can you explain how your platform accelerates the performance of eCommerce companies?
Our Acceleration Platform is a comprehensive solution that enables online brands to analyze, optimize, and control the performance of their complex eCommerce sites. Delivered through reverse proxy, YOTTAA’s Acceleration Platform takes control over how and when all browser elements are loaded to improve site performance and create consistent shopper experiences. The platform also includes comprehensive analytics and dashboards, and a wide range of innovative solutions to enhance site security, deliver content, optimally manage site traffic, and more. For customers that do not want the reverse proxy option, we also offer a solution, RAPID CTRL, that can be easily injected through a line of javascript.

5. How has your context intelligence architecture helped eCommerce firms?
As the heart of YOTTAA’s optimization capabilities, Context Intelligence is a rules engine and machine-learning platform that automates optimization and drives the actions of our acceleration solutions. Context
Intelligence is implemented through a cloud-based service that collects information about the context of site visitors and automatically tunes optimization rules in real-time to maximize the user experience. After detecting and reacting to device type, screen size, browser information, and browser size, Context Intelligence knows when to stream HTML responses to the user device rather than waiting to render the entire HTML file, and transfer CSS data to the user as quickly as possible to speed the “painting” of the page, and eliminating Javascript that can delay page rendering. As a result, Context Intelligence powers Application Sequencing and ensures in real-time when and how all site elements are going to be delivered for the best user experience.

6. How has partnering with PixelMEDIA to accelerate Salesforce Commerce Cloud retail sites benefitted Yottaa as a brand?
Salesforce Commerce Cloud retail sites benefit significantly from Yottaa’s technology. Salesforce’s internal code is slow, but the company has taken steps to improve its code, for example, through its SFRA update. Working with PixelMEDIA can help retailers enhance site performance internally by making improvements within Salesforce’s platform. However, to truly speed up a retailer’s site, they need to optimize external elements of the site beyond Salesforce’s platform, such as 3rd party technologies, which is where Yottaa can help. Yottaa enables retailers to control, secure, and optimize all browser elements to provide a better shopper experience. Partnering with PixelMedia has helped us connect with brands that need our technology the most, and together we make retailers’ eCommerce sites as fast and engaging as possible.

7. What advice would you like to give to the technology Start Ups?
First and foremost, the customer always comes first. You have to work with your customers and put their needs first in order for you to grow your business. I think that is something that we have strived to do the entire time here at Yotttaa. Second, never underestimate how much work it is going to take to do marketing and sales, particularly for enterprise software startups. It is a little different, obviously, in the consumer space, but never underestimate how long it is going to take to get marketing and sales right and how much effort that is for your overall organization, especially in the enterprise space. Third, build a great culture within your organization.

It takes a lot of work to get your business up and running, and having a great culture makes everything easier and more enjoyable for you as a company.

8. How do you prepare for a Technology-Centric world?
COVID-19 has effectively reinforced what was already occurring — a massive shift to digital across multiple industries. For example, many retailers simply won’t reopen some of their stores once stay-at-home orders are lifted and instead will focus on their eCommerce sites. Brands need to prepare themselves for this new technology-centric world by taking an omnichannel approach, connecting their physical presence with their digital initiatives. A crucial part of this strategy involves optimizing your eCommerce site to support a rich, engaging experience that matches or surpasses that which shoppers are accustomed to experiencing in-store. Additionally, prioritizing digital initiatives provides retailers with greater flexibility, as evidenced by the coronavirus pandemic. Investing in optimization technologies allows them to stay ahead of the competition and implement the latest technologies without slowing down or hindering site performance.

9. What are the major developments you are planning, in recent time?
Our core is performance, so we are always looking at doing things in that area to help customers continue speeding up their websites. Innovations and visualizations on performance help us and help the customers identify and resolve those issues much more quickly. Many of our customers aren’t very technical, so we want to provide information in a way that doesn’t require expert knowledge. We want at least to help them understand the impact of the 3rd parties and changes that have happened on their website, so they know which direction their website’s performance is going. Outside of performance, our major developments are in the security space, specifically on the client-side related to magecart and data protection. For our eCommerce customers, security is becoming a bigger problem, and we’ve found that our technology can help solve a lot of the issues they’re experiencing. Beyond security and performance, we are going above and beyond to help our customers with their websites, such as helping them take on new projects with progressive web applications and single sign-on applications.

10. Can you tell us about your team and how it supports you?
We have a great team at Yottaa, and the organization itself is set-up so that we all work together and help one another. One of our company mottos or philosophies is “one team,” and that is something that we have cultivated from the very beginning of Yottaa. We want to have a positive atmosphere where people can try new things and fail, and we can support them. The organization only succeeds if all of the people in the organization succeed. As the company’s founder, I am here to support every employee and help them grow in their roles. My goal is to make sure that everyone is able to flourish in their jobs, and that even as we build up, everyone contributes to the company’s success.

11. Which is the Movie that inspires you the most?
There is a quote from this more tech-ish movie called Gattaca, which is a great movie — it has Ethan Hawke, Uma Thurman, and Jude Law in it. It’s about these two brothers, one whose genes were designed to be superior and perfect, and one who is what they call a “god child,” which means born through normal conception. During the movie, the “god child,” Ethan Hawke, ends up being able to accomplish much more than his other brother ever suspected him of being able to accomplish. One of the major turning points in the movie is when they have a swimming competition, and the “superior” brother is supposed to beat Ethan Hawke, but he doesn’t. The “superior” brother asks the “god child” how he was able to win, and he says: “I never saved anything for the swim back.” When I think about startups, I always think about that quote. What does it take to be successful? Well, that’s it. You have to do everything you can to make your startup successful — don’t worry about anything else. You may not make it, but if you don’t give it your all, you definitely won’t.

12. Can you give us a glance of the applications you use on your phone?
I am an anti-app guy. The only apps I use on my phone are Slack, Spotify, and a baking app, and then I have things to do with banking and some airline apps. Those are the only things I use, and of course, a security app. I don’t have games; I don’t have social media — I don’t need people stealing my information.

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Bob is CTO and Co-founder of Yottaa, architecting a solution to make the web faster. At an early age, he learned to "keep it simple, stupid," and how good debugging skills will get you farther, faster. Given a broken snowmobile by his uncle, Bob set out to get the machine running.
After countless hours rebuilding the engine and making on
numerous trips to the store for expensive parts, he discovered the problem: It was a hole in the gas tank that he could have fixed in less than an hour with a $2 tube of epoxy! This and similar experiences have guided Bob's career, driving him to build robust, high-performance engineering solutions.
Bob is a frequent speaker on the topic of website performance and security, most recently presenting at Content Delivery Summit, JavaOne, the Server-Side Symposium, EclipseCon, ApacheCon, AjaxWorld and the Ajax Experience.

Yottaa is the leading SaaS platform for accelerating eCommerce. Through its patented ContextIntelligence™ architecture, online businesses can accelerate, manage, and secure end user experiences on all devices in real-time with zero code change. Many Internet Retailer 500 companies have adopted Yottaa's platform to realize billions in
incremental revenue through dramatic improvements across key performance and business metrics.

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