Our talented team at Capsule8 is full of cloud experts but there is one standout who gets a little closer to the cloud than the rest of us…literally. Meet Capsule8 Principal Software Engineer and Skydiving Extraordinaire Matt Messier!
Matt has been a part of Capsule8 for four years, almost since the beginning of it all. He was working at BAE (originally SilverSky before it was acquired) with Capsule8 co-founders John and Brandon, who left to start Capsule8.
“Four years ago I barely even knew what a container was, and I hadn’t really spent much time with Linux in a few years since my time at McAfee, but after spending some time with Brandon and John when they came up to Boston one day, what they were doing sounded both interesting and challenging, so we set it up for me to come down to New York to interview with and meet the rest of the team. Capsule8 is the fourth company I’ve worked at with John, but that didn’t guarantee me a position; I still had to win over the rest of the team that didn’t know me at all. I guess that went alright, yeah?”
Matt has known both Brandon and John for many years, noting it’s probably close to 20 years since Brandon and he first met at DEFCON, and it’s getting close to 30 years since John and he first crossed paths in the early to mid-90s. He has also worked with other members of the Capsule8 team who were also at BAE, including Research Engineer Hrushikesh Ravindra Kalburgi and SVP of People, King Krompicha.
He has experience at a number of organizations of various sizes but has always stayed true to his engineering passion, noting that his role here is not much different than the past few places.
“I’ve worked at big places (Lotus/IBM, McAfee) and I’ve worked at small places. Capsule8 has definitely felt like a startup, and it has been exciting to watch the company grow and become a real company. I don’t know at what point we fully shed the ‘startup’ classification, but it feels like we’re getting there. In the beginning, like any startup, everybody wore many hats, but that’s becoming less and less true. I’m an engineer with zero interest in management, so I’ve pretty much reached the pinnacle of that career path. I didn’t start out here or anywhere else as or expecting to be a team lead, but that seems to be the way these things end up going. I’m happy to take ownership and help mentor and guide the rest of the team as best as I can.”
Guiding a team can always be a challenge, but for many folks, going remote in 2020 created a new set of challenges…but not for Matt.
“When the pandemic began, everybody switched to working remotely, which was a change for most everyone. But for me, I’ve always worked remotely while at Capsule8, and I’ve worked remotely for much of the past 20+ years since 1998. So things didn’t really change at all for me. Much of the time most collaboration happens on Slack, but occasionally there’s a Zoom meeting if it’s a big enough topic that involves enough people. The research team has daily Zoom meetings that I’ll sometimes join, but I’m not technically part of the research team; mostly I’m a team of one working on the perf sensor and so I tend to fly solo. We are looking to grow my team, though, so I’m expecting more Zoom meetings in my future.”
Folks on his teams are used to waking up to activity from Matt, because while it’s claimed the most successful people start their days at 4 am, Matt starts even earlier than that!
“I start my days early, usually sometime around 3am or so when it’s still quite dark. I’ve always been a remote employee, I live out in rural Orange, MA, and I don’t drink at all, so I tend to maintain a pretty consistent, low stress, natural circadian schedule. Since I start early, I finish the day early, so while there’s some overlap with the rest of the engineering team, I usually wake up to a whole bunch of activity from them, and they wake up to a whole bunch of activity from me. I try to plan each day with a list of what I want to accomplish, but in true startup fashion, things rarely go according to plan! Even so, the early mornings are nice, because they give me several hours of interrupt-free working time. It’s a mix, though. Some days are quiet and easy to get into flow and get a ton of work done. Others are constant interruptions with meetings, support issues, and helping other team members with something.”
One of the key projects Matt and his team work on, and frankly one of the coolest at Capsule8, is the perf sensor.
“It is the core data provider for Capsule8’s sensor, interfacing directly with the Linux kernel to obtain ‘telemetry’ from the kernel for analysis. The Linux kernel is a moving target, so the perf sensor is constantly evolving to adapt. There are various aspects of the perf sensor that could be broken down into bite-sized pieces, I suppose, but we try to keep some of the cooler magic on the D/L.”
And in his spare time? Well, he jumps out of planes.
“I like to jump out of airplanes. Mostly, though, I spend a lot of time flying in wind tunnels. You know, like those Maja Kuczynska videos you’ve seen on Facebook, only I do it very badly by comparison. It’s somewhat related, in that it’s the same set of skills needed to freefall with style, and skydiving is how I got into it, but it’s really its own thing. I did my first tandem almost 12 years ago now, and I’ve got a little more than 500 jumps, which sounds like a lot, but it’s really not. I made close to 200 jumps in my first year as a licensed skydiver in 2014, and it took me five years to make the other 300. Sadly, I haven’t flown or jumped since the start of the pandemic, but I’m hopeful that I’ll be able to do both again soon.”
And when he’s not soaring through the clouds, or helping to protect them, Matt spends time with his rescue pup.
“I adopted an older rescue dog last June and she’s mostly a lazy cuddler when she’s not too busy licking your face, so mostly we’ve just been hanging out together watching way too much TV or reading. I also do the NY Times crossword puzzle every day.”