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Meet the Trulian: Oleg Salnik

A Series to Connect You to the Trulians Behind the Magic

Today’s “Meet the Trulian” features Trulia’s Director of Consumer Analytics, Oleg Salnik. Oleg has been at Trulia for two-and-a-half years, and leads the team responsible for analytics, testing, and research for Trulia’s web and app products. Read on to learn more about Oleg.

What’s your role at Trulia?
One of my favorite things about Trulia is that we are a data meritocracy, meaning that regardless of our individual roles, we see data as the leveling factor to all decision making. So, whether we’re changing button colors or recommendation algorithms, my role as the director of consumer analytics is to lead a team of quants and analysts to make sure that these changes continue to improve the experience of Trulia’s users.

What inspired you to get into your role?
I’ve been analyzing, tinkering, and building things my whole life, from tree houses as a kid, to race cars today. I’ve learned to appreciate the need to accurately measure, calculate, and predict every component of a project, which coincides well with the needs of consumer-facing companies who can’t interview all of their customers, but need to know how to better serve them. Life-long lesson: measure twice, cut once.

What was your dream job growing up and why?
I wanted to be an astronaut (or cosmonaut I guess) for the obvious reasons. I wanted to be one so bad that I even convinced myself, and subsequently my preschool teachers, that my father was an astronaut and was leaving to space (true story). This dream transcended into a life-long fascination for math, science and experimentation, and bundled with some luck, set a strong foundation for my current role at Trulia.

If you could have drinks with one tech luminary – dead or alive – whom would it be and why? And, what would your first question be?
I’d love to shoot the s%*# with Elon [Musk]. The gear-head in me, and my prior astronaut aspirations, are the obvious motivators, but generally it’s because he’s bringing the future to the present. I’d ask him how he feels about teleportation. Specifically, I’d be curious to know if teleportation is on his priority list to making human space exploration more efficient/feasible over huge distances.

What’s the one gadget or personal tech item you cannot live without and why?
I feel really strange without my mechanical watch. I’m typically rushing from one thing to another at work and it really keeps me on pace. Did I say I like measuring stuff?

What was the last movie you saw or book you read and what – if anything – would you change about the ending?
Armageddon is the best movie of all time — nothing else matters.

What’s your proudest accomplishment and why?
In high school I inadvertently started a business out of my parents’ garage by manufacturing car parts and performing nitrous installations on other people’s cars. I was in to drag racing back then and was working a lot on my own car, occasionally making parts and posting them to online forums (which were fairly new at the time). Some of these parts turned out to be in high demand and I ended up getting so many orders that I had to figure out how to scale the “manufacturing” and buy components wholesale, which had a learning curve of its own. The whole experience taught me so much about business, metrics, and the importance of passion in your work. I still operate a portion of the business today (just out of my house, not my parents!), and I love it.

If you could have one superpower what would it be and why?
Invincibility, but not the kind where you never age. That way, I can be the resident test pilot for the SpaceX ship and/or wrestle with Grizzly bears (?).

If you could time travel, would you go into the future or past and why?
Future, no doubt. I think it’s a matter of feeding my own imagination. I have a perception of the past, but I know nothing about the future — and that to me is exciting.