Working Geek: With $10M in new cash, LiveStories CTO Eric Dillon is ready to take the civic data startup to the next level

Eric Dillon is LiveStories’ technology chief. (LiveStories Photo)

As Chief Technology Officer of LiveStories, Eric Dillon has spent that last two years deeply immersed in code so that government agencies don’t have to be.

LiveStories is a platform that helps public organizations manage and visualize their data ” in one place, on one platform, with no coding required,” according to CEO Adnan Mahmud.

“I have been very hands on with the code and have put my touches throughout the stack here: DevOps, data ingestion, UI, backend, you name it,” said Dillon. “I won’t feel shy about diving into somebody else’s code either. Currently though, my focus is on the next phase of growth for LiveStories.”

Eric Dillon.

Earlier this month, LiveStories closed a $10 million investment round, led by Ignition Partners.

“The team is growing,” Dillon said. “The product will expand. The stakes are higher. So, my role is transitioning to more of a strategic role and less of a hands-on developer. These transitions as a startup matures are extremely rewarding to me.”

Dillon grew up in France and moved to Seattle right out of college, taking a job offer at Boeing. From there, he worked for a series of startups and telecom companies before landing at LiveStories.

We caught up with Dillon for this Working Geek, a regular GeekWire feature. Continue reading for his answers to our questionnaire.

Current Location: “Downtown Seattle”

Computer types: “MacBook Pro”

Mobile devices: “iPhone 6s”

Favorite apps, cloud services, and software tools: “iPhone’s weather app (every morning), Google Calendar and Google Maps and reluctantly Slack (which I hate, but can’t seem to get away from).”

Describe your workspace. Why does it work for you? “We’ve outgrown our current office space, so my current workspace is tight. My ideal workspace, though, is open, surrounded by my co-workers and has a nice open view of the water. To me ‘open view’ leads to ‘open mind.'”

Dillon’s workspace at LiveStories.

Your best advice for managing everyday work and life? “I don’t have one. I’m not necessarily good at it, but I keep trying. I set boundaries. I block time on my calendar for my life. For example, at lunch time my calendar reads: “Get healthy Eric!”. This is the time I block to go to the gym. It is non-negotiable. Every day.”

Your preferred social network? How do you use it for business/work? “Not really big on social networks. Of course, I check LinkedIn for recruiting and to stay in touch with the industry.”

Current number of unanswered emails in your inbox? “41. It is the end of the day, I haven’t caught up with what happened while I was in meetings today. After I do, it should go back down to about 20. These are the ones I won’t care about unless I get reminded to bump up their priorities.”

Number of appointments/meetings on your calendar this week? “29. A lot more than usual because of all the interview coffee meetings and phone screenings dedicated to hiring as we start this next phase of high growth.”

How do you run meetings? “I like to start on time and end on time. I may not be the best at sending an official agenda a few days in advance, but I do make sure my meetings are focused. Clear goals, tangible outcomes.”

Everyday work uniform? “Well I’ve been influenced quite a bit by the Pacific Northwest fashion trends, so on a hot day, flip-flops, shorts and t-shirt. Yet, I did grow up in France so I pay attention to what I wear and what people around me wear. I don’t need an official function to dress up.”

How do you make time for family? “No matter what, I make breakfast every morning for my wife and two kids and get that going and eaten before I head out. I don’t compromise on kid’s activities: they come first, even if I end up driving around town a lot. I also have this rule of trying to not open my laptop on Saturdays as much as possible. Then of course, we tend to take off, go somewhere far away a couple of times a year.”

Best stress reliever? How do you unplug? “My stress reliever is kickboxing — a good balance between an intense workout and an adrenaline rush. And to unplug dinner and good wine with friends somewhere off the grid like the San Juan Islands.”

What are you listening to? “House music, Electro, a nice beat that will clear my mind and get me in the zone.”

Daily reads? Favorite sites and newsletters? “Quartz daily updates to start the day. Hackernews, dev blogs for various tech companies.”

Book on your nightstand (or e-reader)? “By the time I get to bed these days, my eyes close right away.”

Night owl or early riser? What are your sleep patterns? (Very) early riser. My sleeping patterns are consistent: little sleep. My best ideas come before 9 a.m. The more time I can get before 9 a.m. in the morning the more productive I am.”

Where do you get your best ideas? “In the shower for sure.”

Whose work style would you want to learn more about or emulate? “There are probably a few names I can think of, but none that would really stand out in my mind. I would want to learn about being more efficient, more objective and inspiring.”