Meet the MURALista: Jacob Schatz, Director of Platform at MURAL
February 15, 2021
Jacob Schatz has played piano since he was 8 years old. In fact, he did his degree in piano performance. But when he moved to Israel for his wife to pursue her medical degree, he started to teach himself programming — and he enjoyed it. It allowed him to be creative in the same way music did, but it also involved problem solving, something he quickly learned he had a passion for. When his wife finished her degree and they moved back to the United States, Jacob found a job as a developer. It turned out that demand for his new skills was much higher than for a pianist.
His career took him to Verizon in 2006, where he built their billing system, and then to the world of client work, where he worked for various companies as a consultant creating kiosks and algorithms for consumers to use in grocery stores, airports, and beauty counters. In 2015 he started at GitLab, where he worked on developer tools — and where he first used MURAL. When he started looking for his next career move, MURAL seemed like a natural place for Jacob to explore.
Why he joined MURAL
Having built visual design tools himself, Jacob was excited about getting more meta and examining how people work together. “The prospect of changing how people collaborate, take notes, and organize their thoughts was something that deeply interested me,” Jacob says. He loved the interactive nature of MURAL and that it represents a shift in how people think.
“MURAL isn’t just a CRUD (create, read, update, delete) app, it's got a completely different MO and goes against the grain — that’s what I like.”
💡 Jacob Schatz, Director of Platform | MURAL
In addition to being drawn to what MURAL is doing, Jacob liked that we had already figured out our product-market fit. “Everyone already likes MURAL — I didn't have to figure out what people like, instead, I could focus on making MURAL something that people love.”
Finally, it was the stage of the engineering organization that sealed the deal for Jacob. Scaling engineering teams is something he’s very familiar with: At GitLab, he joined the team when it was 27 employees and left when it was over 700. For Jacob, MURAL was an opportunity to bring his knowledge of scaling into a company that’s reaching an inflection point in its growth.
Platform: A way to do more with MURAL
Jacob is now our Director of Platform, which means his mission is to make MURAL available to other developers to extend upon it. As a tool used by teams across organizations, industry verticals, and time zones, customizing MURAL is a huge key to our long term success. “Creating the internal and external systems that will empower developers to turn MURAL into their dream tool and seamlessly integrate it into their workflows is what will set us apart,” he says.
So he’s building teams that will work on the developer experience, API, extensibility, and design systems to deliver on that promise. It’s a highly collaborative, cross-functional group of engineers who work across the stack and the organization to deliver the best developer experience and integrations to serve our customers’ needs.
Why platform matters: Potential for MURAL—and our customers
Platform isn’t just an opportunity for MURAL to better serve our customers. Internally, it will help with developer efficiency as we scale our engineering organization. “MURAL’s platform will allow engineers to build better tools, developers to write code faster, and empower the entire engineering organization to scale more effectively,” Jacob explains.
“When it comes to our customers, although we want them to use MURAL for our intended use cases, the truth is, they can do so much more with it with the help of our platform,” he says. By making MURAL more useful for different use cases, it becomes a central place for customers to do all of their work. For example, if a developer can set their continuous integration status into the mural that’s being used to run a meeting and take actions on it directly from within the mural, information would be more centralized and the team more efficient. No more hopping back and forth to make updates to code and then updating your team somewhere else.
“I always think of Iron Man [the movie] where he has the screen that controls everything — when he moves something on the screen, it does something in real life. That’s what MURAL has the potential to be with our platform.”
The challenges ahead—and why he’s excited
What Jacob finds most interesting is that he and his team are changing how development happens at MURAL — for internal and external teams. As they develop our platform, they’re working in parallel: developing the existing systems further while they build an entirely new system for our platform.
The primary challenge for Jacob and his team will be fine tuning — and focusing obsessively on — the developer experience. “We want developers (ours and external ones) to want to build on top of MURAL,” he explains. “If our developer experience is better than others, we can actually win more customers.” They’ll also work with customers who are begging MURAL for integrations to build and launch new features, and empower developers everywhere to make MURAL their own.
Within that challenge lies the fun part of Jacob’s job: using MURAL’s own developer experience himself. “I’m looking forward to building tools for developers and using them myself — that’s just a very compelling environment to work in,” he says.
Want to be a part of MURAL's quest to help others harness the power of imagination? Check out our openings here.
About the author
About the authors
Head of People, Culture & Places
Head of People, Culture & Places @ MURAL | Empowerer of Teams | Facilitator of aha! Moments | Global Explorer | Mom