Episode 31 - Humio at M1 Finance with Steven Gall

July 8th, 2020

Steven Gall is VP of Engineering at M1 Finance, a Chicago area fintech startup that developed a next-generation, intelligent financial solution that lets users do exactly what they want with their personal finances. Steven leads the backend engineering at M1 Finance. He manages the services that handle M1 Finance trading, account signups, and the banking platform and brokers platform, and all the internal infrastructure and internal tooling that powers the platform.

John asks Steven about his background, and his early attraction to finance. Steven shares advice for those getting started in fintech:

“There's a lot you can do from the technology aspect. Go find an open-source library, go investigate it, become an expert. Go try to make a pull request. Go try to commit code for the greater good. As a technology leader, I value that when I look for potential hires, because I'm not hiring you for what you know now, I'm hiring for what you can evolve into.”

They discuss how Humio is used at M1 Finance to understand what customers are experiencing by tracking the state at many points along the way.

“We use Humio to look at specifically a customer's journey on our platform. They have a request history from our product APIs all the way down to our back-end services. We have a way to say definitively ‘your state was this’ at any given point in time — so we can time travel. We have an auditable view of what a customer's state looked like at any given point in time.”

With Humio, they can hand off that data to the developers to address any issue for a customer.

Humio provides additional context to the engineering and product teams to handle those edge cases, along with specific customer scenarios. They can hand that off to the engineering team and say, "Hey, look, here are all the requests that resulted in this customer having this less-than-ideal experience on our platform." And we go ahead and address those concerns.

Humio is used at M1 Finance across the business. They aggregate a lot of information across different organizations and different use cases, and then use the data to answer questions about the customer experience.

“Humio is used across our organization. It starts with engineering and product, and follows up with QA and our operations team — a holistic view. Our operations team can hand off customer scenarios and really investigate what has happened for a customer journey. The Product team can confirm that. Our engineering team can continue to maintain stability and make sure that there are not regressions within our codebase. And then there's also the fraud aspect, so QA and operations teams are using this as a tool to suss out nefarious actors.”

Humio helps M1 to identify the areas to pay attention to, and gives them a place to start. Steven describes an interview with Reed Hoffman from Masters of Scale, where he offers the advice to “let fires burn.”

“Every startup has their own fires, there are constantly things that are awry. Being able to quickly assess which fires you need to put out, which ones are significant in impact is important. It's helpful for taking a step back, and identify the frequency at which these are happening, and identify which fires put out. Humio allows us to visualize that, and make that decision quite quickly.”

Steven describes the transition to Humio from a popular open-source platform that was originally in place. The team used the 30-day trial, and found that they were able to get it up and running quickly, installed alongside the open-source system.

After using Humio, they’ve found that the performance just keeps increasing.

“We have about a 15.1x, compression rate. It's amazing that our compression rate has increased along with our ingestion rate. Last year, our compression rate was more or less right around 10x, which is still fantastic, but the fact that we've increased our ingestion and we're still seeing significant gains and compression rates, it's pretty astounding.”

Listen to the podcast to hear more about how M1 Finance uses Humio, and pick up tips on how it can transform your organization as well.