Lab Notes

  • INTERNSHIP_Header_518X120

    Last week, we welcomed four interns to Westfield Labs as a part of our summer internship program. Each summer, we bring talent from several prestigious universities to join our team. This year is no exception. With so many exciting projects, Labs is thrilled to have such a talented team on board. Here’s a brief introduction of the newest intern crew!

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    Mattie Christofferson, Bespoke Intern
    School: University of California, Davis
    Major: Communications

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    Raised in sunny San Diego, Mattie loves to run outside “everyday along the beach or on a hike; no if’s, and’s, or but’s!” Such dedication will carry over to Mattie’s work on Westfield Lab’s latest project, Bespoke, our 35,000 sq. ft. coworking, demo, and event spaces at the Westfield San Francisco Centre. She is excited to explore the retail tech industry. Follow along with her on Twitter and Instagram as she manages social media for Bespoke.

    Preeti Talwai, Consumer-Facing Product Management Intern
    School: Yale University
    Area of Study: Master of Environmental Design

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    Armed with a B.A. in architecture from UC Berkeley and currently a Yale grad student, Preeti wants to explore how design interfaces with business and technology and how the challenges and opportunities within this relationship change the way consumers interact with the retail space. Preeti’s creativity stems from a background in creative writing. Recently, the UC Berkeley Library’s Rare Book Collection bought and archived a collection of short stories that she wrote in college.

    Courtney Taylor, Marketing & Communications Intern
    School: University of California, Berkeley
    Major: Media Studies

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    Courtney studied marketing in Florence, Italy this past spring, which was an enriching, cultural experience after growing up on a quiet northern California prune farm. Having interned in finance, government, and publishing, she is eager to explore tech marketing in the heart of Silicon Valley, where several projects await, including revamping Westfield Lab’s website and designing demo spaces to showcase Westfield Labs’ latest technological projects. Courtney will help with Labs’ social media strategy, including the Labs’ twitter account.

    Jeremy Packer, Business Development Intern
    School:University of California, Berkeley
    Major: Applied Math

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    Jeremy will be working with the Business Development team, specifically Tamara Samoylova, Senior Director of Business Development. He hopes to see the practical applications of the abstract mathematics and economics he has studied in school applied in the corporate world. Over the course of the summer, he will delve deeper into data analytics and business models. Fun fact: he has played guitar since he was twelve and is a member of the mariachi group at Berkeley Luz De Oro. He has been known to perform impromptu shows on the AC Transit Bus, so keep your eyes out!

    We look forward to having Mattie, Preeti, Courtney, and Jeremy join us this summer!

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    On May 28th, Bespoke, which we introduced back in October 2014, officially opened its doors to the public with a very exciting grand opening event! The evening celebrated the mission of Bespoke as an incubator for innovation and showcased the ecosystem’s unique role in supporting innovation across the retail and tech industries. Our esteemed brand partners helped us debut the space by unveiling their own unique and first-time offerings throughout the Coworking, Event and Tech Demo spaces, and offered just a taste of the experiences to come in the coming weeks and months. Check out a high-level overview of their activations throughout the evening below!

    Coworking Pop-Up Shops (conference rooms that convert from private work spaces to mall-facing pop-up shops):

    Bow & Drape: a fashion brand that allows women to customize quality clothing basics and accessories online, showcased their on-demand personalization experience.

    Shoes of Prey: a global, multi­-channel retail brand that enables shoppers to design their own shoes online as well as in-store at select Nordstrom department stores, showcased their shoe customization experience.

    Product Hunt: which surfaces the best new products every day, launched its first physical presence at Bespoke in partnership with Westfield Labs, showcasing the latest products and tech creations. 

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    Bows and drape

    Coworking Conference Rooms & Library:

    Indiegogo: the world’s largest crowdfunding platform, displayed trending products across their platform and will host a series of programs and events at Bespoke Coworking throughout 2015.

    Style Lend: a trusted community marketplace for women to list, discover, and rent unique fashion in their neighborhood, set-up a production suite/photo room in Bespoke Coworking with a professional fashion photographer to take photos for the purpose of professional portraits and photos.

    Hotel G: San Francisco’s newest hotel, this stylish lifestyle property located in the heart of Union Square outfit the sleep nooks in the Bespoke Coworking library.

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    White Box Space (rentable space under the Dome): 

    OM Signal: leader in biometric smartwear that enables people to tune into their inner selves, providing the insight and ability to become healthier, fitter and happier, launched their first pop-up store in the Bespoke White Box space.

    Fashion Incubator San Francisco (FiSF): a non-profit corporation whose mission is to accelerate emerging apparel and accessory design businesses while supporting fashion industry economic growth, is showcasing the collections of five San Francisco designers in the Bespoke White Box space through July.

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    Tech Demo Space:

    Britelite Immersive: a digital agency that uses emerging technology to craft multi-sensory experiences, is showcasing gestural fluid simulations in Bespoke Demo.

    Rovio Entertainment Ltd: the global entertainment media company with games at heart, and creator of the world-renowned Angry Birds brand, demonstrated its exclusive and limited time Angry Birds VR (virtual reality) experience at Bespoke Demo, presented by Samsung.

    Zeepro: an innovative start-up that makes 3D printing technology easy and accessible, showcased its newest printers in Bespoke Demo.

    ShopWithMe: a retail innovations company that blends e-commerce with physical retail, ShopWithMe announced a new smart store retail platform – including an entire suite of intelligent fixtures – with a virtual reality (VR) preview of its new “Store of the Future” coming to Bespoke and other Westfield locations in the fall of 2015.

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    The night also featured entertainment from artist Shantell Martin and violinist Gabi Holzwarth, in addition to an engaging presentation led by founder and publisher of VICE Motherboard, Tobey Campion who interviewed some of our partners, our Westfield Corporation Co-CEO Steven Lowy, and the CEO of our junior venture partner Forest City on a Beam! A special thanks to the great food and drinks from our Restaurant Collection Under the Dome.

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    As you can tell, the launch of Bespoke was nothing less than extraordinary and only a teaser of what’s to come. We’re thrilled to be leading the charge to inspire and support retail/tech innovation, and we hope that you’ll join us in our path towards the future.

    Stay tuned here, on the website and via Twitter for more updates and check out Bespoke for yourself at Westfield San Francisco Centre on Level 4! For more information or to inquire about space rentals within Bespoke, please visit BespokeSF.co.

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    We have big news to share. Westfield Labs has been selected by Fast Company as one of the 50 Most Innovative Companies for 2015 AND named one of the Top 10 Most Innovative Companies of 2015 in Retail! Fast Company’s annual ranking honors leading enterprises and rising newcomers that exemplify the best in business and innovation, and we’re humbled that Westfield Labs joins the likes of Warby Parker, Apple, Google, Netflix and Tesla among many others in this year’s list.

    We are so excited and grateful for this wonderful recognition.

    Congrats to the entire Westfield family!

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    As you may recall, when we launched Westfield Dine on Time this past May, we also announced that six local Tastemakers had the opportunity to create secret menu items with some of the world-class chefs at our Westfield eateries. To add an element of friendly competition, we also announced that the tastemaker with the most orders of their secret menu item would have a donation made in their name to the San Francisco and Marin Food Bank. Today, we are very excited to announce that the winner of the contest is Andi Fisher, blogger at Misadventures with Andi who created the Lamb Shui Mai dish a M.Y. China with Chef Tony Wu.

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    Congratulations, Andi, and thank you again to all the Tastemakers who participated! We are thrilled to make this donation to the San Francisco and Marin Food Bank on your behalf, especially right before the holiday season when the donation will be put to very good use helping to end hunger in San Francisco and Marin Counties. Please consider showing your support this holiday season as well by donating on their website or finding a collection barrel near you.

  • Screen Shot 2014-10-10 at 9.25.06 AM

    Westfield Corporation has always been at the forefront of rethinking the retail space – in fact, that’s how Westfield Labs was born! Since establishing Westfield Labs two years ago with the sole purpose of innovating the retail ecosystem, Westfield has continued to explore the convergence of physical and digital, especially as relates to building new fully immersive and highly interactive experiences in our centers. It’s from this foundation that Westfield Corp and Labs came up with BESPOKE at Westfield San Francisco Centre. BESPOKE is a place that provides coworking, event and technology demo spaces all under one roof (well, under one Dome actually) in the center of downtown where the quintessential tech marketplace of San Francisco brushes against the retail district.

    On the week of our 2nd anniversary, we’re excited to introduce BESPOKE!

    With an eye for retail, and a heart for tech, we wanted to create a place where fashion runway shows and hackathons could happen side by side. We designed a beautiful event space fully customizable to the huge range of events that are quintessentially San Francisco. To open doors for unexpected synergies and collaborations, experimentation and integration, we’ll have a completely fresh coworking space right across the hall. Keeping in mind the great inspiration our own Westfield Labs team has found working inside the mall with customers right outside our door, we knew that building a coworking space inside the iconic Westfield San Francisco Centre created a unique offering that does not yet exist. Not to mention that Westfield San Francisco Centre is home to more than 20 million annual visitors and a built-in network of more than 200 established retailers and restaurants. We also wanted to give our visitors a chance to get in on the fun, so we incorporated a tech demo space where you can see, feel, and experience first-hand the true tech culture of San Francisco. In this space, we envision showcasing and demonstrating some of the hottest new technologies before anyone else can get their hands on it.

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    State-of-the-art technology, carefully thought out design elements, and the excellence and class you’ve come to expect from Westfield will make BESPOKE a new and unique place, and we’re very excited to be introducing the plans! This new ecosystem, where the San Francisco community can work, create, refine, showcase, entertain, play and sell all under one roof – is set to open in Spring 2015 and we’ll be sure to share more details as the spaces come to fruition! In the meantime, check out bespoke.westfield.com, and stay tuned to twitter.com/bespoke_sf for more details and drop us a line if you’re interested in learning how you can get involved.

     

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    This post will try and outline our (Westfield Labs Engineering) general philosophy toward product development. The focus on Ownership and Quality is paramount – all other items flow from this. The following are merely guidelines and principles: you may feel the need to change or bend these rules, that’s fine, that’s part of ownership and responsibility.

     

    Ownership

    You will often hear people ask ‘who owns this?’. While to the outside world a team or department may own something, internally each component needs to have a single individual ultimately responsible for it. This doesn’t mean you have dictatorial control or don’t need to listen to others opinions but it means that person is ultimately responsible for the quality, maintainability and stability of a component.

    If you own a component it doesn’t mean you have to check every line of code that’s merged but you have to be satisfied that you trust the person merging code. If their work is not of a sufficient standard you are ultimately responsible for it.

    If you ‘own’ a component but feel you don’t have sufficient time and resources available to perform this task effectively, you must raise that issue – at Stand Up or at Retro or with your manager or Team Lead.
    Component owners should be known.

    If you have been given a problem to solve, follow it through. You own the problem, not just code. If you are blocked by someone else confirm with them explicitly that they now own the problem and let necessary stakeholders know.

     

    Delivery

    Nothing is considered ‘done’ until it is in production.

    Work in small increments delivered through to production.

    DO NOT BATCH. See above, if there is unreleased code in Master speak to the owner of that code, try and get that pushed through before you merge.

    Spike if uncertain.

    Work on one component at a time – only release code that has all dependencies already working in production.

    Upon release, monitor production logs to ensure Release was successful and no regressions occurred.

     

    Know the business

    Understand and question requirements. If something doesn’t seem right, query it. If you know a better way, suggest it.

    Remember you are focused on solving problems, not performing tasks.

    Know what value you are creating.

     

    Continuous Improvement

    Our philosophy is to continuously improve and refine our products but also the process: scoping, solving, delivering.

    Call a retro if you think we need one.

    All retro issues must have an action. If it can’t be solved within the team, then the action must be on the Scrum Master or Team Lead to raise the issue outside the team.

    Sometimes we have to accept there are constraints or obstacles that cannot be removed immediately. Plan to route around these obstacles in the short-term while working on removing them over the longer-term.

     

    Quality

    Everyone in the team is responsible for quality.

    Testing is used to add value, you can over-test just like you can under-test. It’s your judgment call.
    Engineers share responsibility for quality along with the rest of the team. Engineers are responsible for the functional testing of their own code.

    Ask for help if necessary but ultimately you, as an engineer, are responsible for the functional quality and stability of that code.

    Automated testing is still expensive – to write, to maintain and to run. Consider this when you write tests.
    Consider impact to business when writing tests – obviously we require a greater level of test automation for a Credit Card payment form than we do for a static brochure page.

    Let the tests guide your implementation. If you cannot test logic at the unit or service level you probably need to refactor.

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    Hello!  I’m Thiago Figueiró, VP of Engineering and Production Operations for Westfield Labs.  We’ve been working quietly in the back for a while now and I’ve decided it’s time we poke our head out.

    I have asked everyone in the Engineering team to start contributing to the Labs blog but I figured I should go first and, while at it, explain my ulterior motive for asking the team to take time from delivering and maintaining products in order to blog.

    Let me get started by sharing pictures of the beautiful cities where our Engineering teams are located: San Francisco and Sydney.

    Sunset over the San Francisco bay

    Sunset over the San Francisco bay (photo credit)

    Sunrise at The Rocks, Sydney

    Sunrise at The Rocks, Sydney (photo credit)

    Distributed teams

    As the team in San Francisco wraps-up the day, our people in Sydney begin theirs, allowing us to deliver morsels of business value almost on a 24×7 basis.

    Westfield Labs Hack Day 2014 team

    Labs teams from Sydney and San Francisco get together for a hack day

    Westfield Labs has a geographically distributed team and we have to put extra effort in communications to make-up for this fact. We take every opportunity we can to travel and spend time together. To complement that we have Beam devices in our offices, we hang-out all the time on hipchat and we have video conferencing capabilities in every meeting room.

    I expect the Labs blog to also take part in complementing our communication efforts. I want us to share lessons learned with our colleagues, remote and local, and showcase the work that we are proud to deliver.

    Open source community

    A lot of the products and services we build relies on open-source software and I want us to show gratitude by reciprocating.  Our engineers have been contributing to many different projects for a while and I believe it is time we invest in making some of our software and solutions available to the public.

    Open beats closed

    Open beats closed

    Open-source software produced by Westfield Labs is available on github and the blog will serve as a space where our team can talk about it, make it reach the right audience.

    Our team solves difficult problems on a global scale and I’d like us to share our experience with the community.  From something as specific as a bug work-around to high-level strategy, if we can share information that helps others I want us to do that.

    The world’s oldest start-up

    When people hear the name Westfield they don’t think of technology – they think of our shopping centres.  Over more than 50 years Westfield has had a culture of innovation and Westfield Labs is a recent reflection of that.

    In the words our our co-founder and chairman, Frank Lowy: “Evolution and change are the words for shopping centre success.”

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    Two engineers from Sydney use Beams to attend a sprint retro in San Francisco

     

    So as the Westfield Labs Engineering team takes part on the evolution of the retail ecosystem and every company becomes, to a degree, a technology company, the Engineering posts are our small contribution to show that we’re about much more than concrete and girders.  We’re part of Westfield Labs, the world’s oldest start-up.

    Serendipity

    As it happens, today is my birthday so I get to share my favourite beers from California and South Australia.  If I were still living in Sydney, I would celebrate by drinking a Coopers Pale Ale but since I’m in San Francisco I’ll be having a Lagunitas IPA.  Saúde!

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    Hopefully by now you’ve already found many reasons to try Dine on Time to order food from one of the excellent eateries at Westfield San Francisco Centre. But just in case you haven’t, we’re giving you one more amazing reason to give it a try (in addition to the convenience, speed and quality food already offered!) – a chance to win an exclusive lesson in Chinese cooking from celebrity chef Martin Yan followed by dinner for six at his restaurant M.Y. China prepared by Martin Yan himself! By simply ordering through Dine on Time using your iPhone, mobile web or the Dine on Time website, you will automatically be entered to win. As a bonus, if you order from M.Y. China using Westfield Dine on Time, you will receive two entries per order. Best of all, there are no limits on the number of orders you can submit, all of which qualify you for a chance to cook and dine with an international culinary icon.

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    The sweepstakes runs now through Monday, October 6, 2014, so order while you can! And don’t forget to check out Martin’s new show, Taste of Vietnam, set to debut on KQED later this fall.

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    SXSW 2015 may not be until March next year, but voting for SXSW panels just began yesterday! We’ve submitted a panel on how startups and big brands can not only happily co-exist, but must work together to create partnerships to drive the future of retail and ensure meaningful brand engagement. Titled Startups + Big Brands = Happily Ever After, our own Kevin McKenzie would be joined on a panel by our friends at Deliv, BrandGarage and General Growth Properties to discuss how they have developed these partnerships and their key learnings.

    Public voting begins now until Friday, September 5 and we need your support! To vote, begin by registering here. Then, vote for our panel by giving a thumbs up. After you vote, don’t forget to share! Each registered voter can vote once, so tell your friends to vote if you’d like to see this panel at next year’s SXSW.

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    Last week, our friends at Westfield SFC participated in the annual Eat Drink SF Food Festival in Fort Mason. Spanning three days from Friday, August 1st to Sunday, August 3rd, the Westfield booth featured chefs and menu items from the Restaurant Collection Under the Dome, including Cupola Pizzeria, La Boulange, Lark Creek Steak, Straits, the soon-to-be-opening Tap (415) and M.Y. China. Celebrity Chef Martin Yan of M.Y. China was also on hand Friday to sample his Westfield Dine on Time Secret Menu Item, Lamb Shumai. Visitors to the Westfield booth who showed they had downloaded the Westfield Dine on Time app or loaded the Dine on Time mobile website also received a Westfield tumbler!

    EAT DRINK SF