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Computer Science for Managers


David Lifson
VP Product, XO Group

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About This Class

Learn to speak knowledgeably about questions like "Why is my website slow?" by understanding how the web works. We'll walk through all the steps that happen from when you type a URL into a browser to when the page finishes loading. We will analyze the various problems that arise when a site goes from one user to thousands to millions and the common engineering techniques for solving them. We'll cover topics ranging from networking (DNS, IP Addresses, what do routers do, load balancing) to databases (how do they work, what is sharding, when do you need it) and everything between. As a manager, you need to understand tradeoffs and avoid surprises, so we'll talk about which bottlenecks occur at different points as your site grows in usage, and why hiring more engineers or more servers doesn't always help. No knowledge of programming is necessary.


  • Introduction 2:28
  • Volume & Latency 2:49
  • The Basics 7:33
  • TPS Report 8:42
  • Q: Why is presentation the slowest component? 4:11
  • Q: What is the maximum number of presentation servers? 2:14
  • Q: How does this process work for a startup retail site that isn't ready to buy web servers? 4:28
  • Q: What is a good example of typical data storage buiness logic? 4:40
  • Q: Are there any books you would recommend on this topic? 1:34


  • How the web works so you can understand the development process
  • Speak the language of the web: DNS, Ip Addresses, routers, load balancing, etc.

About the Instructor(s)


David Lifson
VP Product
XO Group

David Lifson is VP of Product at XO Group, in charge of The Knot’s wedding vendor marketplace. Formerly, he was VP of Product at Homepolish, Sr. Director of Product Management at Poppin, and GM of Digital Product and Engineering at General Assembly, responsible for all technology at GA, from e-commerce website to internal tools to online education delivery. Prior to joining General Assembly, he co-founded Postling, a social media management tool for small businesses that he sold to LocalVox Media in 2012. He has also been VP of Product at Etsy, Technical Product Manager for Amazon's Personalized Recommendations team, and started his career as a software engineer on Amazon's Community team. He also volunteered for 3 years as the official AngelList Scout in NYC, connecting over 450 investors to high-potential startups.

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