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10 Questions - Q&A with Dan Pritzl

An exclusive interview with Verosint’s Lead Platform Engineer, Dan Pritzl.
Written by
Verosint Team
Published on
December 18, 2023

Tell us a little about your background and its relevance to your work here at Verosint.

I’ve been working professionally in systems, infrastructure, and operations for the better part of two decades in a variety of roles ranging from technical support at a major domain name registrar to automating cloud infrastructure management for Big Data platforms. Along the way, I was fortunate enough to have some excellent teammates and mentors that were enthusiastic champions of the whole DevOps philosophy as it was just starting to take shape.

From that experience, I’ve obtained a wide, adaptable skillset that operates effectively in myriad technical environments. Tech, though, is arguably the smaller part of what makes a tech organization effective. Culture and collaboration tend to be more important than any runtime or flavor-of-the-month methodology, and when I reflect on my own career history, the effective teams were the ones with members who cared about and took an active interest in uplifting each other, even when saddled with “old and busted” tools, systems, and programming languages.

My career thus far has allowed me to develop and test a variety of approaches for wrangling the technical and cultural needs of engineering teams. Verosint is, by a wide margin, the most overwhelming success I’ve seen with implementing these practices and can’t wait to see what else this team can achieve together.

What kind of experience and approach do you bring to the team?

I grew up as the son of a career auto mechanic who started working on cars at an early age. After high school but prior to my tech career finding its feet, I served in the US Air Force as an aircraft maintainer wrenching on F-16s, so understanding, troubleshooting, and fixing problems in complex systems has been a primary theme as far back as I can remember. Working with tech, whether fixing Grandma’s laptop or sorting out an intermittent error on an ingress controller, isn’t much different from troubleshooting an issue on a car or jet - it’s just a smaller, faster series of complex interconnected components and you use different tools.

My tech career got started on the support call center floor at Go Daddy right around the time they became famous (infamous?) for their first Super Bowl ad. That job, though short-lived, taught me the fundamentals of how the internet generally works. Infrastructure and systems management became a prime focus as I was finishing my undergraduate degree. I worked in a variety of roles from managing hardware in flight simulation systems to application support on a high-volume affiliate sales platform. It was during this time that I was exposed to the concept of DevOps, which eventually evolved into accepting a series of Site Reliability roles, operating at a variety of scales, throughput, and team composition.

Approach-wise, I’m a big champion of simple DevOps ideas:

  • No silos/walls between teams. We are all stakeholders of our application and platform and share responsibility for it.
  • Zero-tolerance for blame or finger-pointing. If something breaks, fingers point at the  system or process that failed, never at the individual who pushed the button.
  • Things break…and that’s ok. If nothing is breaking every now and then, we’re likely not doing anything interesting. If things are breaking often, it’s a strong signal that our system or process is flawed and needs to be adjusted.
  • Fix root causes, not symptoms.
  • Machines make fewer procedural mistakes than humans. Automate as much as is practical.

Beyond that, I’m a big fan of the Tao of HashiCorp.

  • Simple, composable, and modular software
  • Change through codification and automation
  • Immutable systems and infrastructure
  • Pragmatic decision making

Why did you decide to join Verosint?

Solid equity offer 😀

Really, though, it’s a combination of three big boxes on my “I want to be here” checklist.

  • Purposeful, confident, and humble leadership. Steve and Batch knew what they wanted to build but had the self-awareness and humility to recognize what they didn’t know, say as much out loud, and then listen to the people who do.
  • Verosint’s service is a “net good” for the greater internet-connected world. I’m a bit of an idealist so this is important. Many of my previous tech jobs’ purpose was to facilitate advertising revenue in some form or another, and regardless of understanding the practical reality of the practice, I never really felt great about contributing to it. Verosint’s platform has been purposefully built to provide a deep analytical service without invading privacy or harvesting massive amounts of personal data to resell. Not terribly long ago, doing passive (from the end-user perspective), server-side-only analytics like this was considered a pipe dream, yet here we are. TL;DR - I feel good about what Verosint’s product does and what Verosint stands for as an organization.
  • The team offered me “the dream”: pure greenfield. Verosint presented a unique opportunity to build out my vision of a cloud computing environment from the ground up. Before this, I always inherited someone else’s design/implementation and had to invest months or years into cleaning up the tech debt that came with it. Here, I was handed a pure greenfield opportunity. When I joined the team, the API backend was running on a pair of physical servers in Batch’s basement and the intent was to “somehow, run this on AWS.” They gave me a bunch of budget and said “do your thing, Dan.” So we did.

How do you approach building and leveraging relationships when collaborating with your team and customers?

I like humility, transparency, and empathy as the three primary components that shape any relationship regardless of what stage it’s in. Nothing cripples a project or team faster than competing egos, hoarding tribal knowledge, covering up mistakes, or apathetic attitudes.

Keeping our ego in check allows us to receive critical feedback and act on it constructively…or at least have a positive conversation about it with the critic. It prevents the build-up of team drama that eventually turns into a general toxicity which, in the best case, reduces team productivity or, in the worst case, results in a complete failure of the project.

Transparency is a huge priority for me in all aspects of my life, but I find it critical with engineering teams in two key areas - communicating product requirements and owning mistakes. It’s almost cliché about product requirements, but the recent explosion of generative AI has passively demonstrated that humans kind of suck at communicating what they want. Being decisive and clear about what a product needs to do will almost always produce a better result than being vague or withholding details.

As far as owning mistakes goes, I mentioned earlier that we don’t blame individuals, but it’s important to identify mistakes when they happen so we can prevent them in the future. The only way that can happen is if each of us is open about what we screwed up and when with the rest of the team. Again, if you’re not making mistakes or failing a bit, you’re not learning or doing anything interesting/innovative. I find this to also be true when dealing with customers - being up-front about what our system can and, more importantly, cannot do builds trust and often provides valuable feedback about where we can improve. Running an accurate status page that tracks and communicates service-related issues in real or near-real time demonstrates that the organization has recovery processes in place to deal with (inevitable) failures, which also builds confidence in our platform.

Any project involving more than one human requires understanding someone else’s perspective. When dealing with fraud, that’s doubly important since we need to understand, to varying degrees, the perspective of the fraudster and the defrauded party, which makes empathy, by definition, a major driving force behind our product. As engineers, we accept a basic premise that any problem has many possible solutions. The number of problems scales exponentially with system complexity and each of us views the problem from a unique perspective. Precious few problems are solved in a vacuum, so the most effective and efficient solutions often depend on one team member seeing something another does not, and vice versa. It’s not always clear cut to communicate these things (as I stated earlier, humans are challenged when it comes to communicating) so we each need to invest effort in understanding the other’s perspective.

What is your superpower that will help you succeed at helping our team put an end to account fraud?

A nearly obsessive need to solve problems, especially if they’re not anywhere close to my realm of expertise. I’m kind of like a puppy with a frisbee when there’s a compelling issue to troubleshoot.

What’s your favorite feature of the Verosint platform?

I spend most of my day in a terminal, so I’ll go with our command line tool. I love that we have an open source component of the product, even if it’s not super flashy. I like simple tools that let me do lots of things in parallel and the CLI tool covers both of those attributes.

What makes Verosint’s engineering team different/better/unique from other teams you’ve worked with in the past?

Everyone likes working with each other. I know that sounds trite, but given how critical the human element is to an engineering team, I find it to be a game-changer. We’re a small team, but also are a juggernaut of senior talent…which usually comes with some very big egos colliding, but this is the most chill, respectful, collaborative, and cross-disciplinary team I’ve ever worked with. Most young platforms undergo significant shifts in product direction in their early stages, and Verosint is no different in that regard, however, this team managed to make some of the more significant shifts I’ve seen over the years, multiple times in the first 18 or so months of its existence, and each iteration was a high-quality implementation of the product vision at that time. The fact that we could pivot with such speed and quality is a testament to the notion that the right team with the right tools and processes can do damn near anything.

Have you ever been the victim of fraud?

Not in the current, digital context that Verosint is focusing on, but yes. However, in my early twenties, I lost a motorcycle and a significant amount of money to fraud, which was substantial for me at the time, to a 21-year-old active duty E-4.

Share about your family or hobbies.

I’m really into photography with a significant focus on astrophotography. It’s a highly technical hobby which benefits greatly from my professional skillset. Processing astro imaging data also introduced me to surface levels of machine learning technologies like tensorflow, which can be used to perform incredibly detailed workflows like removing all the stars from an image but leaving the primary subject looking mostly untouched.

Where do you live, and what’s your favorite part about your area?

I’ve lived in the greater Denver area for almost 20 years and love the diversity of things to do and experience. It has all the amenities of a city with the peace and quiet of the mountains only a few minutes away. The city is still riding a massive wave of growth which brings in a continuous stream of people and businesses from all over the country. It really is a fantastic example of the proverbial melting pot.

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Verosint Team

Verosint, a leading provider of account fraud detection and prevention, helps digital businesses answer the question of “who’s there?” using signal-based identity assurance. By combining verified open source intelligence, identity graphing techniques and risk signal orchestration, Verosint stops account fraud before it starts. With real-time account fraud detection and proactive, persistent fraud discovery, online businesses can deliver trusted convenience to customers, minimize risk and reduce fraud management costs. To learn more, visit