May 18th, 2022

Team Tapjoy Time With Nick Reffitt



Welcome to Team Tapjoy Time, where we take a moment to get to know the incredible members of our organization a little better. In this edition, we’re chatting with Nick Reffitt, VP of Data Science & Engineering.

How did you come to be part of Team Tapjoy?

Prior to joining Tapjoy, I was the co-founder and CTO of a company called Tapdaq, and Tapjoy acquired Tapdaq back in 2018. Tapdaq is a mediation platform that selects the ad network with the highest paying demand to serve ads.. Since Tapjoy is one of those ad networks, the acquisition made sense in terms of integration and strategy.

Since the acquisition, I’ve taken on a larger leading role within the core Tapjoy team, and  I’ve gradually moved towards the data science side of the business as a result. I first started off supporting the product managers in data science, and as time progressed, and as the reporting lines evolved, I ended up taking on the entire data science division. I still manage the Tapdaq employees, all of which are now very much part of Tapjoy company.

What’s a typical project like for you?

On the Offerwall side, we’re building machine learning algorithms that go about ranking the list of offers that the user sees. The idea of relevance is really important. The more relevant a particular offer is to that user, the more likely that user is to complete that offer. The more engaged they are with the Offerwall, the more likely they are to come back, the more value everybody gets out of it. The user gets more value, the publishers more revenue, and the advertisers can acquire users more efficiently.

How has the importance and/or application of data science changed in recent years?

We have to be able to learn new technologies and apply that knowledge fast in order to keep up with the pace of the industry. We expect our data scientists and data engineers to constantly keep their ear to the ground in terms of changing technologies, where the industry is going, and also the research that is coming out — the different algorithms that could be used, how they’re being applied, the different results that they’re seeing. It’s a fascinating area from a research perspective.

What would the average person be surprised to learn about data science?

We’ve gone from a platform that has been relying on statistical models for a very long period of time at Tapjoy, to embracing machine learning algorithms over the past couple of years.

Outside of formal training, schooling, or on-the-job experience, what kind of background or interests do you find most helpful in your day-to-day work?

I’m quite an avid functional fitness student. I spent quite a bit of time in the gym and I find that that is a nice way of breaking up my day-to-day. It allows me to zone in and think about other things that are happening at work, problems that we’re trying to solve that I’m stuck on. It’s a way of clearing my head.

Finish this sentence: On my most satisfying days at Tapjoy, I _____________.

Celebrate wins with my team on projects that they spent a lot of time working hard on. In data science, we run a lot of experiments, and experiments can fail for all sorts of reasons, so when we get it right, particularly when it adds incremental revenue, it’s a huge achievement, and certainly motivates us. 

We always try to emphasize these wins in all-hands meetings, town hall meetings, and our own data science bi-weeklies. It’s valuable because it’s a tough, highly-competitive industry. Anytime we can celebrate those wins, particularly in the data science space, it’s well worth pointing out. 

You are given the opportunity to be part of the first civilian colony to live on Mars! Your whole family can come with you. Do you say yes? Why or why not?

Yes, I bring my partner and my seven-month-old daughter, Eloise, as we do spend a lot of time together and really enjoy watching her grow up.

Anything else you want to share?

We’re hiring! We’re currently looking for data scientists, SDK engineers, or anyone who comes from a data science or engineering background who is interested in solving problems at a scale you would not typically see in the vast majority of industries. It is an interesting space and a hugely competitive market. Very high scale, with low latency requirements. We tend to find that we are working with some incredibly smart individuals within the company — my direct reports are much smarter than I am — and we continue to try to find more talent, getting great minds together to solve these problems. 

Thanks, Nick!

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