Kevin Goldsmith

Kevin Goldsmith

Chief Technology Officer, DistroKid

Seattle, Washington, United States

Kevin Goldsmith serves as the Chief Technology Officer for DistroKid, the world's largest digital music distributor. Previously, he was the CTO of Anaconda, Inc., the world's most popular data science platform with over 25 million users.

Before joining Anaconda, he served as CTO of AI-powered identity management company Onfido. Other roles have included CTO at Avvo, vice president of engineering, consumer at Spotify, and nine years at Adobe Systems as a director of engineering. He has also held software engineering roles at Microsoft and IBM.

Goldsmith is also the founder and principal at Nimble Autonomy, LLC., where he consults with growing startups working to scale their technology and teams deliberately and thoughtfully and with established companies working to be more innovative and agile in their product development practices.

Area of Expertise

  • Business & Management
  • Information & Communications Technology


  • Software Development
  • Software Engineering
  • Open Source Software
  • Software Architecture
  • Agile software development
  • Software Design
  • Modern Software Development
  • Lean Software Development
  • Distributed Software Systems
  • Software Practices
  • agile
  • Agile Leadership
  • Agile Methodologies
  • Agile Lean
  • Agile Architecture
  • Agile Mindset
  • DevOps Agile Methodology & Culture
  • Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence
  • Machine Learning & AI
  • AI & Machine Learning
  • Machine Learning and AI
  • Machine Learning
  • Big Data Machine Learning AI and Analytics
  • Applied Machine Learning
  • Lean Startup
  • Lean / Agile Leadership

Don't Quit Your Day Job

Join us for an enlightening presentation that will demonstrate how software developers and emerging technologies have a rich history of collaboration, even when it initially appeared that new advancements might threaten the profession. We will journey through the past, illustrating how developers have confronted these fears and ultimately emerged stronger and more versatile.

We will discuss the evolution of software development, highlighting instances when groundbreaking technologies initially sparked apprehension, only to create new and exciting opportunities for developers. We will explore how contemporary innovations can be harnessed to enhance and elevate your work.

Prepare for real-life examples and thought-provoking discussions that will invigorate your enthusiasm for the future of software development. By the end of the presentation, you will have gained fresh insights on how to grow and adapt as a developer, embracing the latest advancements to propel your career forward.

Using Agile Techniques to Build a More Inclusive Team

Building psychological safety in your teams is critical if you want them to perform at their best. The challenge is how to develop and encourage trust and collaboration and to make sure that all voices are heard. The agile community has developed facilitation exercises and tools that make conversations more democratic and inclusive. I have used some of these techniques with my teams for years and have found them incredibly valuable. I will teach you some of the agile methods that I use for large and small team meetings, brainstorms, and one-on-ones that encourage all team members to participate. These tools also help make sure that all voices are respected and valued.

Organization, Architecture, Autonomy and Accountability

Many consider agile a process to implement within an existing organization. A set of rules to follow that will produce some useful outcomes. This approach can provide improvements in many different structures of organizations. As agile maturity improves, however, the benefits can become limited by the structure and culture of the organization itself.

Agile is more than a framework for organizing tasks for a team. Agile is a culture, a mindset, and a structure for improving the velocity of innovation and providing real business value to customers. To gain the most benefit from Agile it must be considered as part of a more extensive system that incorporates organizational structure, software architecture, and company culture.

This talk considers the interactions between how the work, the software, and the people are organized in high performing agile organizations. Using my own experiences at companies large and small, I will share what I have learned and some best practices I use. These lessons will help you as you improve and scale your Agile teams.

I will discuss:
* How to structure your organization to remove the bottlenecks in coordination and decision-making that can slow velocity to a crawl
* How to take advantage of modern systems architectures to allow teams to move faster
* Using data to provide accountability for autonomous teams without creating more process
* By the end, you will have concrete examples and ideas that you can bring back to your team to help you improve and scale agile within your organization.

Fail Fast, Fail Smart... Succeed!

Software development has been evolving. When I started in the industry, working at companies like Microsoft, we would bet many person-years of development and many millions of dollars into the development of products that would sometimes be hits and sometimes be total duds. We were building blind. This blindness was partly due to our waterfall processes, but also to how software distribution and marketing worked then. A flop for a smaller company could mean the end of the line. The cost of failure was incredibly high. Over the years, we learned how to take some of that risk out by switching to agile software development and now Lean. Working this way we can learn quicker, and take smaller risks. However, there are other things we can do in how we architect our software or roll it out that can also reduce the technical and product risk and help us fail smarter and learn faster. In this keynote, I speak about my experiences building waterfall products at Microsoft, building agile and lean at Onfido, Adobe, Spotify, and Avvo; and I give real architectural, cultural, and organizational tools you can use to make your projects and company more failure safe.

Architecture and Organization

Drawing on real-life examples from Avvo, Spotify, Adobe and Microsoft, Kevin Goldsmith explores why you should consider changing your organization to improve your architecture and discusses the successes and failures he’s seen around the interplay of organizational models and software architectures. Kevin often visits companies, where he hears about how they struggle to break up monolithic applications or move to a continuous deployment pipeline. Oftentimes, the organizational structure is clearly making their problems harder but is seen as something that can’t be changed. Kevin relates his own journey to a more experimental organizational style. As a developer at Microsoft, Kevin worked in a rigid hierarchy organized around functional areas. The communication flows within the organization dictated the way it structured its libraries and dependencies. This is the essence of Conway’s law. In this case, the company hierarchy and the architecture it produced was often suboptimal for the problem Kevin and his team were solving, but it was the architectural path of least resistance. When Kevin moved to Adobe and became a senior manager, he started to build his organization in the traditional way. Adobe wanted to create a more fluid and agile architecture for its products, but the company struggled to realize these goals because it was too hard to work across teams and reporting lines. The company finally started to make some progress as the organization became more fluid and loosely coupled. Kevin then went to Spotify, which had realized this problem early on and restructured its organization in a way that supported the architectural model that it wanted to build. As a vice president of engineering, Kevin was able to see firsthand how the organizational model simplified the architectural challenges that other companies struggled with while also introducing difficulties that other companies were easily able to overcome. When Kevin joined Avvo as its CTO, the company had the same organization and architectural challenges as many other startups, but rather than attack them only from an architectural angle, Avvo experimented with architecture and organization together to improve its legacy systems and help build new ones faster and with higher quality.

Kevin Goldsmith

Chief Technology Officer, DistroKid

Seattle, Washington, United States