Crocodile in the Yangtze: Asia Premier Screening (& Contest)

seat-giveawayExciting news!  PayrollHero has arranged for the Asia Premier of the film “Crocodile in the Yangtze” to be showcased in the Philippines.  We have put together an exclusive event and we are flying in the director, Porter Erisman, to join us!

A big thanks to EO Philippines and Amazon AWS for sponsoring the event along with us to make it happen.  While the event is invite only, we are giving away 2 tickets – all you need to do is head over to the PayrollHero Facebook page and comment on why you should be chosen to attend.  We will pick two lucky people to join us.

About Crocodile in the Yangtze:

Crocodile in the Yangtze follows China’s first Internet entrepreneur and former English teacher, Jack Ma, as he battles US giant eBay on the way to building China’s first global Internet company, Alibaba Group. An independent memoir written, directed and produced by an American who worked in Ma’s company for eight years, Crocodile in the Yangtze captures the emotional ups and downs of life in a Chinese Internet startup at a time when the Internet brought China face-to-face with the West.

Crocodile in the Yangtze draws on 200 hours of archival footage filmed by over 35 sources between 1995 and 2009. The film presents a strikingly candid portrait of Ma and his company, told from the point of view of an American fly on a Chinese wall who witnessed the successes and the mistakes Alibaba encountered as it grew from a small apartment into a global company employing 16,000 staff.

Vancouver JS Meetup Recap

This is a post from PayrollHero Senior Engineer Suman Mukherjee who recently arrived in Whistler, Canada from the Manila, Philippines office.  #AdventureEngineer

On February 12th, the PayrollHero dev team in Whistler travelled down to Vancouver to attend the Vancouver JS meetup. We reached town a bit early, so we spent some time coworking from Launch Academy. Later in the evening, we went to SFU Harbour Center where the event was being held. Around 150 people attended the event. Two top notch speakers presented in the meetup. Robert W. Hurst of Chloi presented a talk on LucidJS and Perter McLachLan of Mobify presented a talk on Mobile performance.

Screen shot 2013-02-28 at 12.11.32 AMRobert’s talk on Lucid started with giving us some background of event driven programming, how events are emitted and handled and we can structure our javascript around that pattern. Then he introduced LucidJS, a library, that he has been working on. Lucid allows you to set custom event, chain your events and even pipe your events together. Lucid also successfully handles subevents. The event emitters in Lucid also provide meta information about the event bindings and triggering. The library lets you encapsulate any object (not restricted to DOM nodes) and turn it into an event emitter. Specifically when used with DOM elements it allows you to take full advantage of the meta events. Robert’s talk gave us some new insights into the world of event driven programming.

Peter was the second speaker. Peter’s talk was mainly focussed on performances of apps on the mobile browsers. He shared the concept of adaptive websites, one that is not only responsive, but adapts itself based on the device. He discussed several strategies to optimize client side performance like trying to minimize JS and maximize the use of CSS, conditionally loading assets and keeping the DOM tree light so that it is easy to parse, simple CSS selectors, watch out for libraries that generate lengthy CSS selectors etc. Peter shared a list of common JS functions which restructures the DOM and how that affects the performance on mobile devices. He also discussed some other low hanging fruits like gzipping resources and non blocking scripts in the beginning of the page. This can bring returns at the lowest cost. He also showed us how the optimization strategy of domain sharding has become an anti-pattern. He also discussed how in some cases prefetching resources based on a user’s common pattern of navigating a website can be very effective in delivering content faster. Peter’s slides are also available on speakerdeck.

Both the speakers were awesome. It was the first meetup I attended in Vancouver and totally loved it. Those who love JS and are live close to Vancouver can sign up for the VanJS meetup group here.

– Suman.

Couchbase Vancouver Dev Day

couchbase-logoLast Friday I travelled down to Vancouver for the Couchbase Vancouver Developer Day. Just having joined the PayrollHero dev team, I was keen to learn about the NoSQL style of database, and Couchbase in particular since we currently use it in PayrollHero.

The goal of the day was to introduce developers to Couchbase 2.0, give them a basic understanding of how to set it up and use it, and then tackle some tougher areas such as how to query the data using views. The seminar was run by 3 developers from Couchbase – Technical Evangelists Tugdual Grall & Jasdeep Jaitla, and .NET Developer Advocate John Zablocki.  It was interesting to see the mix of developers attending the seminar – most mainstream programming languages were represented including Java, .NET, Ruby, PHP, Python and even node.js and Go. Amazingly there was some form of SDK for each of these languages, whether official or community created, proving just how much open source community support Couchbase has.

#Couchbase Developer Day Vancouver lab

from John Zablocki’s Twitter:

The morning was spent going through the features found in Couchbase 2.0 with Tugdual. He ran us through the core principles of Couchbase Server – easy scalability, consistent high performance, no downtime and a flexible data model, before discussing the new architecture and features of Couchbase 2.0.

One of the features I found particularly impressive was how Couchbase handles server faults by replicating across nodes in a server cluster.  The Couchbase client library detects when requests to a server within your cluster are failing, automatically promotes replicas of the requested documents on the remaining servers in the cluster to be active documents, and then rebalances the documents across the remaining servers.  Added to this is the ease in which you can replicate your data across data centers using Cross Data Center Replication (XDCR), meaning if your data center on the west coast of the country goes down entirely, you can ramp up your clusters on the east coast of the country without losing any data whatsoever.  An extension of XDCR is the ability to set up an Elastic Search cluster for providing scalable, real-time searching of documents.  You can see that a lot of work has gone into making this as painless to set up as possible.

Installing Couchbase 2.0 was just as painless – well at least for us Ruby guys.  The PHP guys seemed to have a fair bit more trouble (the price paid for still using PHP!) and any guys running 32-bit Windows were pretty much out of luck.  WIth Rails, its as simple as downloading and running the server, installing the libcouchbase library, and installing the couchbase gem. Done.

After everyone had Couchbase 2.0 installed and set up for their various environments,  we started to run through some labs to teach us the basics of Couchbase – connecting to the database, setting and retrieving documents, using atomic counters and optimistic locking, and observing when data has been pushed to disk and replicated.

jasdeepJasdeep – definitely the most vocal and opinionated of the three – used some of this time to proclaim the virtues of a NoSQL solution vs a Relational Database solution.  A line that stuck in my head was “I don’t care about duplicate data – I have 10 times the performance!”.  And he is definitely right about that.  Couchbase, like other NoSQL databases, is blindingly fast compared to MySQL or MS SQL.  By caching as many documents as it can in memory, and only caching to disk those that are the least requested, it can maintain request throughput at amazing rates.  “No need to write migrations, I can change the schema at anytime through my models since there is no schema”, he proclaims, before following with, “And no more joins! I hate joins.”


from Tugdual Grall’s Twitter:

After lunch, John stepped up to take us through the most difficult area of the day – views.  By using Map-Reduce views, Couchbase can create indexes of documents for quick querying.  He used the ASP .NET MVC framework to take us a through a fairly standard scenario, explaining how to construct views on Couchbase server to pull back subsets of data based on ranges, groupings, counts and more.  This was definitely the most brain-intensive part of the seminar, and late in the day few people had made it through the labs unscathed.  For most people who are heavily experienced in relational databases, it does take a while to shift your mind into thinking the NoSQL way.

All up it was a very well run and interesting day.  I particularly enjoyed hearing how the NoSQL movement evolved and how passionate the Couchbase guys are about their product.  PayrollHero already has Couchbase implemented as part of our clocking capture process, and will be looking to use it in other places where we require fast performance due to heavy traffic.  I look forward to using Couchbase more and further learning what makes NoSQL such a popular movement.

AWS re:Invent

Drive from Whistler to Bellingham ~200km

Last week we went to AWS re:Invent Conference, we thought that once we get there the fun stuff will begin, but even the trip down there itself was an adventure.

We left Whistler early in the morning, to make it down to Bellingham for our 11am flight. Arrived at the airport at around 9am, stood in the line indefinitely until around 11am, we were told that the plane is late (duh), and that it will not be here for another 4h or so, great …

We packed our bags back into the cars and went to grab lunch and waste some time.

We were checking the airline website the whole time to see what the new estimated time was. Anyways, we did finally get to fly out, it was around 4pm by the time we left and around 7pm by the time we got to Vegas, we imagined our day a bit diffrently 😉

Anyways, that was Monday.

On Tuesday, I went to my Workshop session. It was a whole day security session, presented jointly by RightScale and Trend Micro. RightScale showcased their product to get everyone up to speed on how to use it and Trend Micro showcased two of their products, Deep Security and SecureCloud. Overall I didn’t get that much value from the first half, since Ubertor has been with RightScale for years and I’m pretty famillar with it. The second half was a bit more useful for me since I’ve never seen any of Trend’s products, altho I’m not sure if/when we’ll make use of them. Still it was good to understand options. A nice bonus from this session was that it came with a $200 AWS credit code, so it technically made the session cost only $300 not $500.

Wednesday was the first day of the conference. During the keynote AWS announced further reductions in S3 pricing and the introduction of their new RedShift product, which is a large scale data warehousing solution, seemingly backed by Postgesql technology. They also summarized that they have released ~100 new features last year, and they expect to double that in 2013.

(from the keynote #1 video on YouTube)

They mentioned a crazy statistic: AWS adds more servers DAILY, than Amazon owned entirely in 2003.

At the end of the day was the big re:Play party. AWS kept us well inebriated and fed throughout the event so kudos for that.

Sorry about the blurry pic 😉

Thursday was the second day of the conf. During the second keynote, the Data Pipeline service which allows easily grabbing data from a bunch of sources, churning it through a massive array of map reduce instances and dumping the result somewhere else. All this can be configured through a gui workflow builder and overall seems pretty neat. I’m not sure what we specifically can do with it, but I can definitely see applications for it if you do any log processing or whatnot daily.

Over the two days of the conf, I mostly went to security and architecture talks. My main takeaway was a bucket list of little security tweaks here and there that should make our system even more secure than it already is. As for the architecture talks; Netflix has a bit of an insane setup. They have 100’s of little applications, all managed by different teams, all at different uptime standards. Its pretty amazing what systems they put in place to basically allow any of these pieces to fail and their system to continue working.

Netflix setup looks something like this: (grabbed from their slideshare deck)

I’m looking forward to next years’s re:Invent. The cloud landscape keeps maturing every year, I remember just a few years ago the whole idea of “Cloud” didn’t even exist ….

Recap: 48Hrs In The Valley with the C100

PayrollHero was one of 23 companies invited to take part in the C100’s annual 48Hrs In The Valley conference. It was 2 days and it was jam packed.

On the opening night, the team at Mozilla hosted us at their offices for a cocktail party and networking session so that the companies, sponsors, mentors and C100 Charter members could meet each other informally as a warm up to the next 48 hours.  Gary Kovacs, CEO of Mozilla and a fellow Canadian spoke to the group about thinking big and how as Canadian’s we have a different outlook on the world than our American counter parts.

Nearing the end of the night, the C100 made the sponsors do a “reverse pitch” where they get up in front of the companies and pitch their company.  Some of the sponsors take it quite seriously including Brock Smith of Clark Wilson, who is the returning champ, I know this cause he mentioned it quite a few times. 🙂 Brock was up last and did a startup version of “The Hockey Song” and got the whole crowd involved.  He did a fantastic job and was awarded first place, again.

The next day started at Rocket Space where we had a few panels and talks in the morning, followed by mentor sessions where each company was partnered up with 2 Candians in the valley to have one on one sessions to talk about the companies, their direction, problems, challenges and goals.  It was a great way to get more outside feedback from people with huge experience in the tech industry.

Later in the afternoon of the first day, we moved over to Zendesk’s new office for a cocktail party, more networking and a talk from Zendesk COO Zack Urlocker who is also Canadian.  This was a much larger party than the first night as the C100 crew invited quite a few more Canadians.  There were Canadians from all of the major tech firms in San Francisco including Twitter and Facebook.

The next day we were off early in the morning on a bus to Silicon Valley for a few speakers at Nest GSV followed by lunch and then pitches at 8 different VC firms on Sand Hill Road. Each company was given 2 VC firms to pitch and get feedback from.

The afternoon ended at Rudy’s Patio in Silicon Valley where C100 co-founder Lars Leckie spoke while we had drinks and appetizers to close out the event.

All in all it was a fantastic event and worth it for all Canadian founders to apply.  It was well run, fantastic speakers and mentors and an overall awesome time.  Here are some pictures from the event thanks to Kris Krug, and you can see the rest here.


PayrollHero Selected To Attend “48Hrs in the Valley”

Twice a year the C100 invite “20 of Canada’s most promising startups to the Silicon Valley for two days of mentorship, workshops, investor meetings, strategic partner visits and networking.” This premier event is called “48 Hrs in the Valley

This year, C100 reports that they had the most applications yet and ended up choosing 23 companies to come down to San Francisco next month for 2 intense days of back to back events.   We were so pleased to hear that PayrollHero was chosen as one of the 23 companies!
See you next month?  Want to meet up, drop us a note as we will be in San Francisco from November 12th – 15th 2012.

Founders Dinner: Q4 Restaurant, Vancouver

The latest edition of the Founders Dinner was last night at the fabulous Q4 Restaurant on Broadway in Vancouver.  I have been putting together these dinners in Vancouver and Manila for the past little while and it is always a good time.  The idea is to get founders of tech companies together for a meal to chat about the startup world.  No speakers, no presentations, just networking with some of the cities tech founders.  Last night we had a great group that included;

Michael Stephenson – co-founder of and
Nick Molnar and Matt Friesen – co-founders of
James Mazur – founder of
Olivier Vincent – founder of Hipparcos Technologies
Andrea Shillington – founder of
Christian Cotichini – founder of
Jeff Booth – co-founder of
Jason Billingsley – co-founder of Elastic Path and
Barry Allen and Ryley Best – co-founders of
Harry Yeh – founder of Comet Computing
John Vogel – founder of
Brent Holliday – partner at
Bret Conkin – co-founder of
Craig Hunter – Vancouver Manager –
Devon Ash – founder of
Jon Cartright – co-founder of
Andrew Covato – Analytical Lead at
Meredith Powell – CMO of

Founders Drinks: MANILA

Last night was the first edition of Founders Drinks Manila.  I first started attending a “Founders Drinks” event in San Francisco when Jonathan Swanson of would host them in his swanky waterfront condo downtown San Francisco.  We borrowed the idea from his events and started running them in Vancouver and last night, we put together Founders Drinks Manila with the help of Jay from Proudcloud and Christian from Kickstart.

All in all it was an excellent event.  We put together a group of 50 people, the vast majority founders of Philippine startups as well as a couple from the media and our friends at Amazon AWS.  The event was invite only so that we could ensure only founders were in the room as a way to foster conversation about the startup community and network with others that are working to grow a business.

A big thank you to Amazon for picking up the food tab and to the Kickstart guys for the round of drinks!

We will do this event again… if you want to be on the list, be sure to reach out and introduce yourself.

Here are a couple pictures from the event… for more photos head on over to the PayrollHero Facebook page.

Erwin from Yahoo! Philippines and Franky from The Bobbery

John Arce from, Stephen Jagger and Marga Dumlao from PayrollHero

Erwin from Yahoo! Philippines



PayrollHero “Judges Choice” at Startup Riot in Seattle

PayrollHero was invited to pitch at the Startup Riot event in Seattle, WA last week.  Along with 29 other startup PayrollHero co-founder Stephen Jagger had 3 minutes on stage, with maximum 4 slides to pitch the judges on the merits of PayrollHero.

After all 30 startups pitched, the judges met to decide on the “Judges Choice” for the top 5 startups.  After a few minutes of deliberation, the judges announced that PayrollHero was their choice as one of the “Top 5” startups at Startup Riot 2012 Seattle.

If your interested in seeing the pitch, you can see the video below:

(You will notice I get a bit of a laugh at the start of the pitch.  I was lucky to be 26th up to pitch, so had a benefit of watching others and seeing how the judges reacted.  Most of the feedback was around the judges wanting to see more of the product.  The problem is, none of us could change our slides as they were submitted a week earlier.  So when I got on stage, I brought the PayrollHero TimeClock (iPad) with me and handed it to the judges.  One of the judges jokingly commented that it was cheating, where I responded saying I thought it was smart)

The Top 5 Startups included:

– – “Give Money To Research That You Care About” – “Multi-Page Proposals In Moments”
– – “Vending Machine Technology” – “On-Demand Android App Testing” – “Optimizing Work Productivity With Happiness”

And 2 of them have Canadian roots!


PayrollHero pitches at the ON3 Nationals – SMX Convention

Last July 12, 2012, the PayrollHero team participated and pitched at the ON3 Nationals, held at the SMX Convention. Among 12 competitors only 6 were selected as the finalists for    the Silicon Valley Immersion which will be finalized in Decemeber.

The PayrollHero team was represented by Client Succes Manager, Tin Sanchez, and  Senior Engineer, Nico Suria, both of whom delivered the elevator pitch in front of several judges. Among the judges were Ms Minette Navarete and Christian Bessler of, Mr Jay Fajardo of ProudCloud,  Mr Kenneth Palacios of Novare, and Mr Federico Gonzales of A.I.M.

The ON3 Judges

The dynamic duo wowed the audience with their smooth pitching and entertaining slides. For the question and answer portion, Business Development Country Manager for the Philippines, Mike Hwang joined the duo onstage and gave his input regarding the judges questions.

Tin Sanchez and Nico Suria of PayrollHero pitching

It was a triumphant day for the team as Plug and Play Co-Founder, Mr Jojo Flores announced the winners, Payrollhero being one of the top 6 companies eligible for the Silicon Valley Immersion.  Included in the top 6 are the following companies:




Speed Dial

The PayrollHero team with the finalists

Join the team as they continue on with their exhilarating journey toward success- next step, Silicon Valley!

Watch the PH team’s pitch here!