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Senior Software Engineer

Hi, everyone! Wynn here again. Welcome back to another Xbox Insider Team interview. Today’s chat is with Chad—the very first of our incredible Xbox Insider engineers. How’s it going, Chad?

Doing pretty well, Wynn.

Glad to hear it! Well, let’s jump right in.

Tell the community a little bit about how you joined the Xbox Insider team.

Yeah, so, I joined the team ten years ago. Probably like a month or two after everything initially launched.

Oh, wow. So, you’re pretty OG on the team?

I’m the longest-serving engineer, and I think only Leland has me beat on overall tenure for the team.

That’s really impressive man. You must’ve seen a lot in your time here.

Haha. It’s been a journey. I’ve seen the program evolve from a little applet, where we just had a few visible rings, to where it is now, with a fully blown hub app and multiple different types of flighting. It’s been really rewarding to be part of that transformation.

Let’s talk more about that transformation. How have you seen things change over the years?

In the beginning, the program was a kind of scratch group of different people all trying to just get things working and stood up. We had the flight dashboard setup, but we realized really quickly that we needed an actual app for people to access. So, we worked to build that out. Then when Todd took over, he was really focused on the outward expansion of the program. Game flights, app flights, better infrastructure for all that, Todd pushed a bunch of those initiatives forward. Now, with Brad’s leadership we’ve been working on a lot of the crystallization of process and harmonization aspects.

I love hearing about this kind of history. I didn’t think about it initially, but I guess you’ve worked under everyone who has led the program.

Yup! I’ve seen every manager, every leader, every re-org, etc. that’s happened throughout the years.

Well—since you’ve been here for so long—what’s your favorite moment from your work or like something you’ve worked on that you’re the most proud of?

Hmm. That’s a great question. I think I have two different answers. To answer the “what I’ve worked on part”, it’s really the feedback system as a whole. There’s probably not a single thing in that codebase I haven’t touched over the years, and I’ve been building that from the ground up all the way to now.

But the favorite moment portion is definitely something that’s not related to the work I do at all. Before the lockdowns started, we had these holiday parties every year. Just a small thing with the flight team, a white elephant type deal. The cast may have changed somewhat, but there was also a static core throughout the years. So, there’s this series of cherished memories that I have with all of my teammates from each of those parties that I hold dear.

I’m torn between being mind blown about the feedback reveal and being moved by the holiday party anecdote. I wonder if there’s any way we could start that back up.

It would be cool to see them come back in some form.

Well, we’ve seen what you’ve worked on in the past. Do you have any updates about what you’re currently working on that you can share with the Xbox Insider community?

Lemme think if there’s anything I can talk about publicly. The nature of engineering work isn’t always the most flashy or interesting to everyone, but we are doing a lot of upcoming modernization work on the backend for all things XIP.

Okay. I can get behind that. Sprucing up the infrastructure?

Yeah, exactly. Tech progresses pretty quickly, so you always want to make sure you’re doing things as efficiently as possible. With some of these changes, it’ll end up freeing up our engineering team to work on more “fun” projects later in the year.

That sounds awesome! Looking forward to seeing how that turns out.

Okay, let’s move on to the more rapid-fire style questions. What’s your favorite video game or one that’s impacted your life the most?

This is slightly tangential from the question, but as far as a game that impacted my life, the first thing that comes to mind is a teacher I had in high school. I grew up in a more rural area where we didn’t have many AP classes at the time. I had a particularly cool computer science teacher who saw potential in myself and a handful of other students. He hand-crafted multiple years’ worth of computer-related courses specifically for us. He showed us everything: computer history, visual logic and visual basic, some computer animation and modeling. A lot of the classes were designed around us creating little apps and games. That memory: those games I built with that teacher and my classmates, are what I remember the most.

That might be the best answer that isn’t quite an answer to this question I’ve gotten yet. I’m incredibly glad you shared that. I think a lot of people had that one teacher in high school that really connected with them in a meaningful way.

Definitely. I don’t think I’d be where I am today without those experiences in those formative years.

Agreed. Let’s try a little lighter fare. Favorite album?

Renaissance by Beyoncé has been a go-to for a while now. I’m a bit of a house-head and I’ve always loved the Queen Bee, so that album has really been firing on all cylinders for me.

I know purely from my wife’s excitement that the next album in that trilogy is dropping soon.

Yeah, it comes out at the end of the month, but it’s actually a country album instead of a more dance/electronic one. [Note: This interview was conducted prior to the album’s release.]

Haha. It seems I’m far out of the loop when it comes to Beyoncé. I’m like, “The same person who did Single Ladies is doing house and country?”

The Queen Bee has range.

Truly. Let’s move onto the screen. Any favorite shows or movies you like to rewatch?

Avatar: The Last Airbender I can literally watch any time, start to finish. For movies, I’m a Miyazaki guy, and Spirited Away is my favorite.

Oh, you and Austin should do a simultaneous rewatch of ATLA. You can start a podcast!

That’s not a bad idea. Lemme write that down.

I’ll be the first subscriber.

Okay, do you have any hobbies outside of the realm of entertainment media?

I love travelling with my partner and my friends. I’ve actually been to Antarctica before. But traveling is too cliché, right?

Let me just check my notes here. Nope. We don’t have a single other person who says they’ve been to Antarctica.

Haha. I guess it was one of those once-in-a-lifetime things even though I do hope I get to go back someday.

I wish we had a little more time to dive into that because I’m so curious about what that was like. Anything else besides being an actual literal globetrotter?

I’ve gone to Burning Man for the past nine years and I spend a decent amount of time working on projects for that.

The environmental dichotomy of Antarctica and Burning Man being your answers is truly perfect.

Thank you.

Well, any last thoughts for our Xbox Insiders before we wrap?

I just want to say thank you to everyone who has ever submitted feedback through the program. Whether it was system related, a game flight, or just a one-off, we really do look at all of that and it’s extremely important for what we do as a team. We really can’t thank everyone enough.

I can cheers to that! Chad, thank you so much for stopping back to chat with everyone.

The pleasure’s mine, Wynn!

Xbox Insiders, be sure to be on the lookout for more content all throughout February including more interviews from the team, a trip down memory lane, and so much more. All of our 10th Anniversary content can be found on our Hub Page.

Until next time! Wy\nn/