Here at Scala Days Lausanne we have spoken to Łukasz Kuczera, CEO & Founder of Scalac, the Gold sponsor at Scala Days, about the Scala community, the way Scalac has grown from being “the pirates” and the hackers to a Gold System integrator for Lightbend and things Łukasz and the team learned from growing the company in the past five years.
What is your most favorite moment or memory from previous Scala Days conferences?
When Jon Pretty dropped Martin Odersky’s computer during Scala Days Berlin. For those who were not there: On the 10-year anniversary of Scala, Jon brought on stage with him a computer which Martin Odersky supposedly used to write the original Scala code. Unfortunately, Jon was careless enough to drop it on stage in front of the entire Scala Days audience and the computer disassembled into pieces! Everyone started laughing uncontrollably! It was hilarious. I really thought it was “the original machine” that got ruined in front of our eyes but turns out it was a well-calculated move with a prop. 🙂
What did you enjoy most about the conference when you took part in it last year?
Those things actually never change. First of all, meeting all the people from the Scala community and talking with them about their stories and thoughts is something I always enjoy. Lectures about the bleeding edge of Scala and what you can or can’t do are also worth mentioning. I’m always amazed at what people achieve by either pushing a compiler to the wall or using some known bugs to implement features. That is the true “hacking” in my opinion. Trying to break things and see what will come out of it.
How has a life at Scalac changed in the past year? What have you been focusing on lately?
The past year has been very interesting for Scalac. The company has grown significantly but it has also matured in a very good way. When I started Scalac back in 2014, we were pirates, a bunch of nerds that wanted to hack Scala and that was it! In the market there where literally no experienced Scala engineers, at least not in Poland. There was a huge thirst for Scala projects and nobody cared about anything else: if I could use Scala to solve the problem, then I was up for it!
Now things have changed, and there is a proliferation of possibilities as Scala became so much more popular. At the same time, the need for expertise didn’t dissipate: it became even stronger. Over last year Scalac became very strong at applying a holistic approach to developing and maintaining complex distributed projects that oftentimes are already mature and are having a significant technical debt. We grew much stronger in the “soft” part of the project delivery and added Blockchain, Data Science and Data Engineering expertise to the mix. At the moment, we’re focusing on taking on very large complex problems, most often sitting with distributed teams, to help them deliver complete full-stack solutions.
What do you think is the biggest challenge that the Scala community is experiencing and how can it be addressed?
The Scala ecosystem has experienced explosive growth in the past five years and now the competition is catching up. We’re seeing technologies like Go Lang, Rust or Kotlin really denting the Scala community. Those are real threats. Engineers that are scared off by Scala’s complexity can be easily attracted to use Kotlin for their next project. I think the newcomers could be better-taken care of: there are lots of online resources available for everyone to learn Scala but there are no guidelines on how to move forward. We have a lot of libraries and tools that are doing exactly the same thing in a completely different manner: every project wants to attract developers to use their library and it’s hard to decide which one to choose. I could see a potential “stack” of tools developed to present great use cases but we need to ease on the competition inside the community itself.
How do you think we, as a community, can make it more welcoming for the new members?
I’d love to see someone taking on this mission to bring the new members on board. At Scalac, we’re launching an internship program to address this problem specifically. We’re starting small and locally but we want to try and do something for a broader audience later this year – stay tuned!
Congratulations on your 5th year anniversary of Scalac by the way! Can you tell us more about the key challenges and learnings from growing as a company and working with Lightbend?
Thank you, it was a really interesting ride on the Scala wave together with the whole Scala community. We made a lot of mistakes on the way but we’ve learned from them so we’re really keen on making a few more mistakes in order to learn even more.
One of the biggest challenges we see is how to find really good partners to work with. I have to admit that Lightbend was helping us a lot along that path. As you know, it is really hard to find talented people and even harder to keep them on board as the grass is always greener elsewhere.
Some of the key learnings are that you have to carefully listen to people and what they say, both on the client’s side and within the organisation. You can’t just sit there and wait: you have to act on every issue you hear, as well as notice and appreciate all the positive developments as well. You need to fix the problems and celebrate the successes that are so easy to overlook in this ever going race. In order to succeed, everyone has to work arm to arm and be willing to go beyond their own ego. I’d like to thank Lightbend for all the years that we’ve been on this ride and hope that we will continue working together to grow the Scala community further.
What are your big goals for the company going forward?
We are focusing on going beyond Scala and growing the classic Data Science skillset because this is what our customers need. We’re also still repaying some of the organisational debt of the “piracy times”, adding more and more automation and strengthening our processes. Going forward, we’re looking to welcome more newcomers to our community. I’d love to see better coordination of Scala outsourcing companies and maybe some consolidation on the market as well. There is plenty of work to be done in the IoT and the blockchain space. I look forward to seeing Scala as the main platform for those projects and Scalac as the leading supporter and partner for them.
Don’t miss Łukasz Kuczera and the Scalac team on the expo floor of Scala Days Lausanne.