David Southwell Empowers Copyright Owners in the Digital Landscape at Pex

David Southwell Empowers Copyright Owners in the Digital Landscape at Pex

David Southwell, Senior Director of Engineering at Pex

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David Southwell
David Southwell
Senior Director of Engineering at Pex

David Southwell is a senior director of engineering at Pex, where he built and leads a global engineering team. He loves that no two days are the same and having opportunities to work on things that software engineering leaders may not typically.

He loves building things and for as long as he can remember, his favorite question was, “…but how does it work?” which continues to drive him today. He loves all mediums of building, so you might find him woodworking and building a new piece of furniture, taking apart a car (especially old air-cooled German cars), or hunched over a workbench wearing a pair of trusty OptiVISOR's soldering components to a PCB, or assembling a new custom mechanical watch.

A more recent medium that he’s been building in is advising. As with most good things, David stumbled into it but finds advising early-stage startups and executives to be some of the most gratifying and satisfying work I've ever done.

David is a family man. He’s a husband to wife Raina and father to 3 lovely humans who have taught him more in the last few years than anyone or anything before them. They inspire him and push him to experience things he’s never been able to without them.


Pex is a digital rights company that enables fair and transparent use of copyrighted works all across the internet. So we have industry-leading content identification technology that's leveraged by copyright owners to find and track their works in user-generated content, so UGC stuff you might find on YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and TikTok so that they can protect and monetize the content they own.

My main focus is how do I take the things that we want to develop and operate them at scale in a cost-effective way, we end up grabbing all the metadata about the content that we find on across all the different platforms that we crawl, and it's billions, trillions of lines of database records that we have collected over the last nine years. And the way that our system works for processing that data is tied to the message queuing system, which is what empowers it all.

Astra Streaming is not just particularly useful to our organization. It is essential. It is a foundational building block and a piece of our infrastructure. If our message queue is down, our system is not processing anything. There might be a couple of systems that can continue without it, but very few. So it is essential and it's uptime is essential to us. So we are very sensitive to picking a good solution in this place. One of the reasons Astro Streaming is great is the people who are working on it and their accessibility to not only me and my team, who were working on the infrastructure SRE side of things, but to software developers at the company as well. Because there are open source client libraries that we are developers implement with and occasionally we come across some bugs in those the team of DataStax will find those bugs, create bug fixes for it, and then push them upstream to leverage them as well.

Leveraging a streaming solution to help you take advantage of some unique opportunities when running in the cloud, like on spot hardware or ephemeral hardware, is fantastic. It's one of the best decisions we made for our company and our ability to operate at scale, and if you're not taking advantage of it, you're just wasting money.