The rise and rise of the so called gig-economy is in no small part down to platforms like Airtasker.\nThe company has emerged as the leading platform for individuals to access tasks \u2013 from assembling IKEA furniture to apartment cleaning to lawnmowing \u2013 worth a total of $11.5 million a month.\nAs of this month, the platform has 1.7 million registered users (growing at a rate of 20,000 a month), a number likely to increase rapidly as the company expands to overseas markets. Since it was founded in Sydney in 2012, the business has transformed from one with 10 per cent unprompted brand awareness to a household name.\nIn October the company announced it had raised $33 million in a funding round to grow its business in the UK.\nIt is a company in \u2018hypergrowth\u2019. Its priority for the last year has been to scale the company\u2019s platform, people and process to support its expansion. Leading that charge is chief technology officer Paul Keen.\nKeen arrived at Airtasker at the beginning of 2016, from retailer Dick Smith, where he was CIO.\nTasked with building a scalable and solid infrastructure that could handle the massive spikes in traffic the website would be experiencing, Keen first took Airtasker to the cloud.\nHis team migrated the platform from running on just four managed servers (\u201cless powerful than your MacBook Pro,\u201d Keen says), to an elastic cloud solution that allows the company to deal with huge traffic spikes resulting from TV content integration (like during its award-winning adsaired during the AFL grand final half-time break last year).\n\u201cIntegral to the migration, we implemented a strong DevOps capability with immutable infrastructure that allows automated scripts to rebuild our environment from one-click,\u201d says Keen. \u201cDeployments can be made by anyone in the engineering team simply by typing in Slackbot commands.\u201d\nThe massive migration work complete, focus moved to ensuring every Airtasker user\u2019s experience is slick and secure, no matter how high membership numbers get.\nInnovating for growth\nA recent development is Carl \u2013 named after Carl Linnaeus, the Swedish, 18th Century botanist known as the \u2018Father of Taxonomy\u2019 \u2013 a machine learning tool that detects different tasks, groups them and creates category names.\n\u201cAirtasker has never categorised its tasks, not wanting to limit what users can do on the platform,\u201d explains Keen. \u201cTasks could be traditional jobs like cleaning and gardening, but unexpected trends appear, such as hiring someone to queue for the latest iPhone. By letting the marketplace naturally decide, we can immediately leverage these opportunities.\u201d\nTo train the model, Keen\u2019s team manually classified 200,000 tasks then further enhanced the model to have 92 per cent confidence level on categorising tier one tasks (for example \u2018cleaning\u2019) and 83 per cent confidence categorising tier two tasks (for example \u2018end of lease cleaning for renters\u2019).\n\u201cUsing this data, we can now ensure each task on the platform, remarket based on activity and help provide guidance to users to better describe and price tasks. This ensures both parties are happy with the outcome,\u201d Keen adds.\nAnother fix for Airtasker\u2019s massive growth has been Airgun, which pushes new task post notifications to other services.\n\u201cAs a two-sided marketplace the activity on the Airtasker platform is exponential to user traffic. A single task posted on average would receive three bids and eight comments, as well as hundreds of notifications letting Airtasker users wanting to perform a task know about the tasks,\u201d Keen says.\nIn 2016, notifications to users \u2013 sent via email or push notifications \u2013 rocketed from 10 per second to 300 per second, totalling 150 million notifications a month.\n\u201cTo deal with these asynchronous loads, we built a service called Airgun,\u201d Keen says.\nAirgun is an event-based service that moves data downstream to third party applications in an \u201ceventual consistency\u201d manner.\n\u201cWhen a new task is posted on the platform, a number of services would like to be aware of the content. We first push the event to a message queue that triggers a Lambda serverless function.\nThe Lambda service understands what downstream services need to be aware of the service \u2013 for example Elasticsearch or Salesforce \u2013 and sends the data to the appropriate message queue. Finally, another Lambda serverless function is triggered performing the integration at the throttling limit for that service,\u201d Keen explains.\n\u201cAirgun uses the AWS technology Kinesis and Lambda to have highly redundant, highly fault tolerant systems that provide virtually limitless scalability at a very low cost. As part of giving back to the community, Airgun is open sourced for others to use.\u201d\nMentor, not dictator\nKeen considers his role being \u201cto mentor the team, not dictate\u201d.\nFeature teams \u2013 which are focused around a particular customer group \u2013 are given autonomy and are self-organising, which gives members their own motivation.\n\u201cOur team is intrinsically motivated in their roles as they get to choose what they work on,\u201d Keen adds.\nAs Airtasker grew from 30 to 65 employees, the company moved to a Spotify feature-team model to \u201ckeep the nimble start-up roots of building, testing and iterating quickly, allowing our team to take ownership of their ideas\u201d.\nThe result is a diverse team, with a number of nationalities represented. Keen is now the \u201ctoken Australian\u201d, he says.\n\u201cAs our marketplace is diverse, we also recruit with diversity in mind with engineers coming from South America, Philippines, Canada, France, as well as the token Australian.\u201d\nTeam members can also take ownership of their own development.\n\u201cWe ensure day-to-day learning is gained through challenging code reviews and sharing articles and concepts on Slack. Every fortnight, we have a Tech Council providing a forum for engineers to share new concepts that can be adopted across the business. Each engineer has a formal learning path with budgets assigned to ensure they meet with their learning goals,\u201d Keen says.\nThere are the \u201dstandard\u201d ping pong table, Friday drinks and card games, Keen says, but again, teams can choose their own extra-curricular activities, given budgets \u201cto do things out of the ordinary from cooking classes to axe throwing\u201d.\n\u201cAt Airtasker we focus on three main areas: culture \u2013 to like and be inspired by the people you work with; to work on things you think will make a difference; and growth in terms of your day-to-day on the job learnings and formal growth,\u201d Keen says. \u201cOur belief is that without focusing on all three pillars simultaneously, our team won\u2019t be fulfilled in their role.\u201d\nAs their work over the last year shows, Keen\u2019s team is driven, fulfilled and up to the task.