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Mobile Jazz Company Handbook [pdf] (mobilejazz.com)
112 points by znq 28 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 56 comments

Here's the direct link to the PDF for the HN crowd: https://mobilejazz.com/docs/company-handbook/mobile-jazz-com...

Alternative download (Google Drive) in case the server goes down: https://drive.google.com/file/d/16D90e7L7whbeRSCLxhZ_X3-K_3R...

EDIT: Added alternative download.

On your homepage, right under the title, you claim to be "The #1 Boutique App & Web Development Company". What do you mean by this? Is this an award that some other organization granted you, is it just marketing fluff, or is it something in between? What sort of metrics were used? Can you tell me who the #2 boutique app and web development company is? My first reaction on seeing that line was "oh, they're willing to say anything to make a sale, I can't believe anything here."

Good morning! Just marketing fluff. Boutique App & Web Development Company is just a term we made up, to reflect our focus of being small, tailored and of high quality.

Morning! I didn't mind the "Boutique App & Web Development" part (I've used almost this exact same line in the past, TBH), it was "#1" that set off alarm bells. It feels like you're claiming to be the best at something that is so multi-faceted and hard to pin down that nobody can say whether or not it's true. Any of your competitors could make the same claim -- therefore the thing that sets you apart is your willingness to make the claim, not that it applies to you. If I were you, I'd stay away from attaching absolute comparatives to mushy marketing terminology. It feels very snake-oily to me. On the other hand your contracting business seems to be a lot more successful than mine was, so maybe you'd be silly to behave the way I would.

Some minor thoughts on the PDF: The bottom of page 2 looks like it has a clickable button on it (I'm not sure if that was intentional). Of the four colored titles on page 3 the PRODUCTS one stands out as not-a-gradient, compared to the rest. The font that looks hand-drawn feels cheap and Comic-Sansy to me, I'd prefer actual hand-writing or a font that doesn't look like it should have natural variation. On page 19, the Harvest window has a shadow that the other example images on this page and the next don't have, which looks inconsistent.

In general I do like the document, these are just nit-picks I thought you might find useful.

Does planning your day in Asana work for all roles? Management tends to be very interrupt driven outside of meetings

> Plan your day in Asana, then post your status update in Slack

I'd say so. I think especially "management" (we're mostly a flat company, so management including founders is more of a counsel) are big proponents of using Asana.

Love to see examples. Am a big proponent of remote work and want to do it better

Good morning Paul! Maybe I didn't get your question, but could you elaborate of what you want examples? Happy to give them, just didn't understand what you want exactly.

Very good presentation, thank you, it looks like you are doing an amazing job on doing good both for the Team as well as the customers!

If only you would be looking for Audit/Security/Compliance, you would have my CV in a heartbeat!!

And that makes me wonder how do you manage GRC in the Team and the processes...

Hi, Mobile Jazz co-founder here. I take care of GRC myself, since I used to work as a consultant in an "earlier life" (OMG, what a difference!). Usually our needs in this area are quite modest so I can take care of everything personally, but if you'd like to send us your CV, we can always keep an eye on future demand :) Please feel free to check https://mobilejazz.com/jobs and use our API to submit an application

I love that you are using an API to receive applications for developers. So awesome!

Thanks, we've updated the link from https://mobilejazz.com/company-handbook. The convention on Hacker News is for submissions to be directly readable.

Great! Thank you. We've also fixed the landing page to make it a direct download.

I haven't read your PDF yet, but I did just read 37 Signals new book, have you read it, and do you agree with any of their sentiments on remote working and managing a good life/work balance.

In one of our comments in the other thread, you state that some colleagues will log in on the weekend to get work done, how do you manage colleagues working more than they should?

Hi there! We do a couple of things around here: first, we plan ahead of time for the workload of each team member, according to the amount of availability they have, they might want to work on a side project, practice sports (lots of us do kitesurf, skiing, swimming,...) or whatever. We do not require a specific amount of hours.

During the week we track time using Harvest (https://www.getharvest.com/) and the next week we review the planned time vs. actual time spent on each project (and overall) and adjust the planning as necessary. It's not 100% precise, but it works most of the time.

Besides the planning vs. reviewing part, we're very open and encourage discussion on the remote work and with flexible schedule topic. Some team members have a lot of experience and some are doing this for the first time, so sharing is important. Having a routine is an important element into a good work-life balance.


I suggest you don't write down in gray on white "by the way, we will also store your email". Put it somewhere either prominent or maybe outright have and opt in button for that? It's an industry wide practice, but that does not automatically make it ok.

Thanks. I'll get that sorted out.


I'm glad to hear your company is also incorporated in Estonia. How well has it been working for you?

It has been a great choice. I've incorporated companies in multiple countries before, and Estonia has been by far the best. Easy, unbureaucratic, extremely competent, they speak great English and are always very pro-active and helpful. We work with the guys from LeapIN and it has been a great and pleasant experience since day 0.

Plus... That GDPR thing across the pond.. we (on this side of the pond) don't appreciate this behaviour. Ask us politely to tick a (previously unchecked checkbox).

I started out thinking "whoah that should be a great company to work with/at" and then the marketing thingie happened...

Especially bad considering that the company is located in an EU member country. (Estonia)

All fixed. Thanks for the feedback guys. We're a tech company, not so much a marketing company, so we probably don't really know what we're doing here :-)

If you are a tech company you should know that require an email adress for a download link is a bad design. Because only marketing people do that... Please don't try to hide the fact that you DID want to harvest valuable email adress from HN. It's too late.

Please don't pile on. If someone makes a mistake, it's enough that they fix it.

As stated in a sibling, it was our genuine intention to send out updates for those who want to get it. I agree it wasn't implemented in the best way and I should have reviewed the landing page, but it certainly wasn't because of ulterior motive.

This is really well done! I appreciate both the design, and the amount of thought and effort that went into laying all of this out and then honing it into a cohesive, well-written deck. I've been thinking and reading a good deal about distributed companies recently, and it's nice to see a perspective as solid as this.

I'm also curious for your take on one question: you describe yourself as "a remote team working all over the world", and also say that to keep the team cohesive, you try to overlap with other members of the team four days a week, and use CET as your "standard" time zone. The globe diagram makes it seem like all of your team members are relatively close to that time zone.

How would you support team members living in locations that are farther away (e.g. the west coast of the US), given that overlapping with central Europe would require those employees to work either very early in the morning, or very late at night?

Thank you very much. We actually did spend more than 6 months (not full time of course) working on this and are very proud to release it this week.

Currently the team is spread over Brazil, South Africa, Thailand, Malaysia, Vietnam, Germany, Austria, Czech Republic, Spain, Australia, UK. That said, 1/3 of the team is in Barcelona (where we started the company), but not necessarily Spanish. That said though, while we're quite diverse and from many countries and cultures, most of us do live in Europe though and once the summer is back we'll migrate back there.

So in summer it's quite easy for us, as we as a team sit closely together. However many of our customers are from the US West Coast and then the other extreme is a client in Australia. Winter time is then more difficult as some people go back home to Latin America or over to Asia. But so far we've always managed and actually sometimes it helps to have someone being in a different time zone. Makes it easier to monitor servers around the clock.

We do however require that team members do have a certain overlap with CET. Just in December I was myself in Brazil, so I simply started working at 6am and stopped around 2pm to go kitesurfing. Maybe not something everyone wants to do, but since our company is mostly about lifestyle everyone in our team appreciates that freedom, but also understands the responsibility that comes with it.

Thanks for your reply!

From your experience so far, do you think that the overlap requirement is essential to successfully running a distributed company? Did you have it right from the start, or is this something that you discovered you needed as you went along?

Before reading the comments I gave you my spam email and unsubscribed right away. I won't even read that book anyway.

Still - it felt soooo 2000's. Give us your e-mail, so you'll get 32 instead of 31 shitty e-mails you don't read anyway. And without your email we won't do anything for you.

To be honest, there were no bad intentions behind it other then updating people with updates to the book as written there. But we do get your (and other people's) point and have fixed it to a direct download. Thanks :-)

Related discussion from yesterday: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=19198889

Hey znq, this is an awesome deck. In fact, I wrote up how you've used HN as a case study in using content to attract talent: https://mattharney.com/2019/02/22/talent-magnet-in-action/ reply

This is excellently done. I've worked with remote teams for over 10 years and this would have been a lovely thing to give to new team members.

Is the team is only EU men? https://mobilejazz.com/team

Currently the team is spread over Brazil, South Africa, Thailand, Malaysia, Vietnam, Germany, Austria, Czech Republic, Spain, Australia, UK. That said, 1/3 of the team is in Barcelona (where we started the company), but not necessarily Spanish.


Is anybody else surprised that a 20 person company has the resources and prioritization to create something like this?

If profit is not the priority, there's a lot of things a company can do. To be honest, from our own experience of scaling up the company, the years between 0-10 employees were the most difficult ones. Now, 7 years later running an established company with a great reputation and 20 excellent team members leaves a lot of room for experiments and doing things like this.

Cynically, it's a recruitment expense -- there's a pretty good probability of getting a good hire from posting this widely.

It's not, to my mind, an actual corporate handbook -- it's missing boring important things like "here's our password and security policy, please remember we have people's super-personal health data in our apps, so it's really important". I guess that's probably in the company Wiki or similar.

To be honest, we're currently not really thinking of growing the company much. But you're right.

However, this whole thing started out as a Onboarding Handbook for new team members. Then however we thought it's also a great book to share with the world. So we decided to remove certain items and have those in the internal wiki only.

What are you using for your internal wiki?

Google Sites. Not specific reason, other that we use Google Suite already for most things and everyone has already a Google Suite account.

I own a small dev shop and I thought this was a great idea for recruiting. No need for cynicism.

This is a great tool, inspired I'm sure by the transparency of others like 37signals. It is not a "company handbook", it's:

1) A recruitment tool

2) Marketing

Definitely 37signals inspired us in many of the things we do. I'd say half of our team have read their books and regularly read their blog!

Recruitment and marketing are definitely a good side effect, but as @znq mentioned earlier, we built the guide in the first place for onboarding our own team members, then we thought sharing it publicly would benefit the community.

Great material! I should have said it's not JUST a handbook.

I'm not, no.

Me neither.

The experiments section looks interesting, can you give more details about them?

Absolutely! Basically everyone can propose new ideas to the team. If multiple people are interested and we see a benefit for the company (e.g. learning a new technology) we will run it.

These experiments range from little internal dev tools, to scripted spreadsheets, to open source libraries to even hardware projects. Sometimes an experiment is also just trying out a new way of running the company. For example MJ Talks and MJ University were initially experiments. Or our trip to Thailand in 2014 was an experiment. Now we do 5-6 company trips per year (workations, skiing, hiking, kitesurfing). Our bonus/profit-share program was an experiment that we started 11 months ago.

Also some of those experiments turn into products. At least we try. Some are successful and spawn their own company from it, e.g. Bugfender. Most experiments however failed to gain traction as a product. Maybe not because the idea/product itself was bad, but because we're a tech company and suck at sales and marketing.

it would be nice to have a job description or some details on your website about the open positions ... I mean how you expect candidates to know what they're applying to?

We did in the past. You might still find some entries on our blog. However, currently we're not hiring for specific positions as our goal is not growth in quantity or higher revenue. We're only hiring if we came across individuals that we think are a very good fit for our company culture and have the right mindset and attitude. That's why it is an "open application".

Thanks for sharing. Very helpful.

HN moderators: I noticed this just made it to the front page and then got removed. This is really disappointing. Is there any explanation why? This was a genuine effort of sharing something useful with the HN crowd.

If I had to hazard a guess, I'd say the fact that it's a landing page with very little information and a newsletter sign up form has caused some people to flag it. I doubt it's a moderator action.

I'm assuming that it's because there's no way to obtain the PDF without entering your email. The author included a link, but I bet that's not enough.

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