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Ask HN: Who's not sucky to work for?
471 points by edhowzerblack 30 days ago | hide | past | favorite | 426 comments
I've moved around quite a bit these past several years and I feel like every company has been the same. Management don't know what they want the product to be. Project managers don't know anything about technology. There's an offshore team in Traansylvania busy making it a legacy codebase. They don't want to give developers raises...

I see "Who's Hiring?" threads and "Who Wants To Be Hired?" threads. How about a "Who Doesn't Suck To Work For?" thread?

Not sure if this will take off or get deleted ...but if it does take off, it would be great if developers --not recruiters-- replied to this. Tell us why your company is a good place to work so we can apply there :-)




I loved every minute of my time working at Netflix. Great, talented coworkers who I could constantly learn from, management chain from bottom to top of former engineers, so they understood when you would say, "I worked on this for a week but have no results because it didn't work". Plenty of resources to do what you needed to do, and lots of autonomy to do what you thought was right. Very little process and upper management actively moved to eliminate what little process there was. Unlimited vacation time that was real -- management took long vacations to set an example and would actively encourage everyone to do the same. And of course a great paycheck which included 10%+ raises because they made sure that new people didn't make more than veterans.

I'll be the first to admit it's not for everyone. As they say, they are a sports team, not a family. Perform well and be rewarded handsomely, perform poorly and get cut with a big check. I personally thrived in that kind of environment, where you always have to keep proving your value. But not everyone wants to work that way.


I've had a pretty excellent time at Netflix myself.

The business model is refreshingly simple: people pay to watch shows they'll enjoy. As a result, our work is pretty aligned with our customers. No annoying ads, no selling data, no focusing on whales, no anti-consumer dark patterns (or at least not many).

And Reed is an excellent CEO, imo. He's tried his best to build a culture that treats everyone as human and intelligent - minimal red tape, lots of flexibility, wide transparency with data & strategy, very focused business, and he even encourages middle management to cut down on big meetings.

Lastly, it's nice to work at a place where you can count on everyone to be competent. It's expensive to pay well and not hire juniors, and it can also mean that 'senior' employees end up doing 'junior' work, but it also means that your colleagues are usually solid, which is nice.

Not to say everything is perfect, but overall I've been satisfied with Netflix. I still might leave for another company someday, but if I do, it will because that other company is also great, not because Netflix is sucky to work for.


> no anti-consumer dark patterns (or at least not many)

There's plenty of those. They removed the star ratings, they don't show IMDB or other external ratings, nonsensical categories, things that still autoplay even with all autoplay options off (e.g. when selecting an episode in a series).

They keep producing average to bad content and keep pushing it in front of you without any option to filter it out. And the things they produce that are worth watching are hidden in a stream of junk and cancelled after season 3, usually without a satisfying ending, because Netflix structures their contracts in such a way that they would have to pay a lot more after season 3.

And they keep removing non-netflix content. They said themselves, they want to become HBO before HBO can become them. Well, I don't want HBO. I want a Spotify for video content where I can watch everything in one place. Old netflix was just that. I refuse to pay for multiple streaming services at the same time. Yo-ho and raise the flag.


> And they keep removing non-netflix content. I was under the impression they don't have much choice and actually it's the copyright owners pulling their content to have it exclusively on their new shiny streaming service, or at the very least demanding exorbitant amounts from Netflix to allow them to keep certain things (e.g. Friends).


You are correct. It's strange to criticize Netflix for owners pulling their content.


They also intentionally don’t integrate with Apple TV - which is what I use to organise all my watchlist in one place. It’s anti-consumer.


,, The business model is refreshingly simple: people pay to watch shows they'll enjoy''

I believe that this is true, but I also have a feeling that the main goal for netflix is maximizing views, and not maximizing the experience per supscriber weighted by user spend.

In other words I would prefer less, but very well thought out and executed movies that focus on having a great story (like House of Cards until the main character was kicked out of the series). I would still pay the same amount of money for those few movies than a person who's binging on all new lower quality and lower budget series. I loved the movie Dune for example, where the story made sense, in opposed to Netflix's Brave new world, where even my girlfriend who read the book said that the movie doesn't make any sense, and it has nothing to do with the book itself, and totally ruined it, as the movie series had no story.

Can you tell me if Netflix focuses on total views for a movie, or rather tries to estimate the revenue by dividing user spend by the number of movies the user watched?


The auto play of movie trailers while browsing for titles irritates me to the core.

It's like I know I can't read the description longer than 3 seconds or else all these moving pictures that I don't want to see are going to start jumping at me.

I know it sounds like a 1st world problem but it made the Netflix experience unbearable for me.

I was ready to cancel my subscription.

Then I learned on this site while reading comments you can turn this off by logging in your account on the web.

These *&$ knew only geeks like me would be put off by auto-playng trailers. They knew only geeks like me would find the turn off setting. I hate Netflix, but I'm still paying. I hate myself.


> The auto play of movie trailers while browsing for titles irritates me to the core.

Nevermind trailers, what about when it just starts playing the film while you're reading the description and talking about it?

I agree it's infuriating. Always end up doing this ridiculous quick-jumping around back and forth dance, and often end up on mute too if we don't decide quickly.

> Then I learned on this site while reading comments you can turn this off by logging in your account on the web.

I have 'do not autoplay previews' on in my settings; don't see an option for 'do not autoplay features'.


>> ,, The business model is refreshingly simple: people pay to watch shows they'll enjoy''

> I believe that this is true, but I also have a feeling that the main goal for netflix is maximizing views, and not maximizing the experience per supscriber weighted by user spend.

Not GP, but I believe Netflix has patterns to keep the subscriber in the app for as long as possible, including browsing through the list, adding things to an endless list, moving through the list of content just to avoid the trailer that would autoplay (this was around for years until it brought an option to disable the autoplay)…in other words, Netflix has focused (intentionally or unintentionally) on reducing the amount of actual content streamed while making sure the person isn’t using another streaming service for longer.

> …in opposed to Netflix’s Brave new world…

There are many titles on Netflix that are marked as Netflix Originals that aren’t produced by Netflix or even show up on Netflix first. Brave New World was a Peacock (the streaming service from NBC) original that was canceled after the first season. It was sometime after this that Netflix bought it and stamped it as a Netflix Original. I have no idea why Netflix bought it or how it relates to the book though.


> making sure the person isn’t using another streaming service for longer.

Thanks, as I just pay for all available streaming services, I forgot that most people don't view them as orthogonal services...now the whole strategy makes so much more sense.

About the Netflix Original comment: it's again only about maximizing viewing time, but at least now I understand the reason. It means ,,not available on other streaming services, stay here''


Yeah, the strategy doesn't quite have the same oomph when you're already content having a few different streaming services subscribed at a time.

If I spend too long browsing Netflix without picking something, I switch apps and leave a mental check against leaving Netflix in the renew rotation, but only because I have a backup already on deck.


I’ll second this. Netflix was one of my favorite places to work as well for mostly the same reasons. Having said that I do hear they are getting bigger and things have changed somewhat recently. So YMMV.

Edit: it’s also nice to not have ethical concerns with your choice of employer.


> Edit: it’s also nice to not have ethical concerns with your choice of employer.

Did you not happen across the predatory soliciting of new content? In that by attending a Netflix "screening event" you give Netflix a right to use your film in perpetuity, royalty free?


I did not. Do you have a link?


https://www.netflix-growcreative.com/unesco/

9.2: ... By making available your Proposal via the Platform, if you are a Shortlisted Entrant you automatically grant Netflix and UNESCO a free license to use the Proposal and/or pitch (if you participate in the Final Round) in connection with marketing and promotional purposes, behind the scenes footage, and airing your final film on Netflix in relation to the Competition.

This suggests that the only thing Netflix has to do is put your film under the "competition entry" category of their app and they can broadcast it for free. Not if you "win" their competition and are paid, but if you are on the short list of consideration for being a finalist.

9.3 ... you accept that by entering into the Competition, if you are selected as a Shortlisted Entrant, but are not a selected as a Finalist, you are agreeing all rights to the content of your Proposal and pitch will be held in abeyance for one year ...

11.1. Entrant is bound by confidentiality with respect to this Competition and their participation. Entrant shall not disclose in any way the content of the Proposal, nor disclose the contents of any message or notification Entrant may receive from Netflix, UNESCO, or Dalberg in furtherance of this Competition. Entrant acknowledges and agrees that the aforementioned obligation of confidentiality includes but is not limited to interviews, the internet, print publications or any social networking sites or similar (e.g., Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram, Tik Tok etc.). Entrant’s obligations under this Section 11.1 shall end in accordance with the second sentence of Section 8.2.

So if your pitch is considered, Netflix has it locked up for a year without paying you anything. Furthermore, you can't market it to anyone else or even market it yourself due to the confidentiality clause.

These pitch scam events aren't new, here's another one following the "Netflix model" to lock up the rights to scripts without paying for them.

https://www.hollywoodreporter.com/movies/movie-news/why-are-...

> The prospect of giving up rights to a script for a year and a half — with no pay — horrified several entrants. But, says Green, “We’ve revised that. It was an admitted overlook on our end. We’ve emailed the finalists to say we’ll negotiate a new option agreement for the screenplays we want to move forward with.” Even so, contestants still have to sign the free option agreement and will have to take him at his word that it will change.

There was one this past year I saw posted on the company's Twitter account which suggested that all entries would grant Netflix rights to the content in perpetuity but it took quite a beating in terms of angry tweets in response, and I can't find it so I presume the company deleted the tweets about it.

There are also reports that Netflix "blacklists" films which they offered on, but the owner rejected their offer, in that they force people who license content to them not to buy content from people who have rejected Netflix. This is just a flat out rewrite of the Microsoft tactics from the 80s/90s to kill competition by telling Dell and Gateway to drop competing software.

https://www.businessinsider.com/netflix-blacklisted-do-not-r...

> But Atkinson came back down to earth when he learned after the festival that suddenly all the prospective buyers of the movie pulled out. He said he was told that Netflix blocks any service deals for movies on the streaming platform after they have turned down Netflix Original deals.

This whole post is basically an exercise in the most easily downvoted post you can make on this forum:

"There are no accidental mom and pop billionaires."

They're all guilty, it's just a matter of degree. How do you know they're guilty? They have the money, and you know their name. If they weren't guilty, someone else would have the money and you would know someone else's name instead.


Are you immensely pleased.


Just be prepared to apply and never hear back from them, even with twenty years of internet company and vfx experience. Absolutely nothing, not even a “no thanks,” for all the time wasted on their job site.


Applying through company websites is usually a black hole. For whatever team you’re applying for, try to find the team lead/manager/etc and hit them up on social media. Obviously be prepared to sell yourself but getting hold of a human usually fares much better than applying through whatever portal.


Unfortunately I've had the same experience as the OP with regards to Netflix. How effective do you actually find reaching out to random people related to job postings? In my experience for the companies I've worked at, even if I'm referring a close friend/former colleague the only difference (visible to me at least) is that it they get put in a similar queue.


I've found that referrals usually put people in position when someone will talk to them, unless they're very outlandish (eg. no experience at all).


Might've been useful five years ago when I was looking for work. Have a great job now working remotely for a responsive company, not eager for a daily commute.


That is a great endorsement, and what could be the shortest impressive résumé:

>I used to run reddit.com's servers, then I ran Site Reliability at Netflix.


why did you quit?


I started a startup a few days after I left. Also had a baby a few months before leaving and really liked the schedule flexibility when I was on paternity leave.


Can you speak about your experience building a startup with a newborn nearby?


Not the parent, but I have some experience here - my cofounder and I both had kids a month apart (four years ago). It switches you to playing the startup game in "hard mode", but it is doable with the right spouse(s).


YMMW, but FWIW. You no longer have the luxury of hours-long uninterrupted coding streaks, but it doesn't prevent you from thinking through things that need to be done (e.g. when you are walking outside with a stroller). The net effect of it is that when you do have a chance to sit down and code, you produce something that requires no rewriting or refactoring later on. If you then compare time it takes to get X done, the think-then-code comes on top of code-then-rewrite and by a large margin.

In a sense having a baby forces you to become a more thoughtful and effecient programmer :)


All FAANG/MANGA are two years stints. Its a common experience but of course many people stay longer and are comfortable with that traditional view of being married to a corporation.

A) Netflix is an ideal first company in the Silicon Valley circuit because their compensation package is a simple formula of <every other FAANG’s compensation package but in all cash>, which makes negotiating the next place much easier because you’re more liquid already and already know what the total compensation should be - or would balk at any other base salary because the cash portion is so much lower, forcing companies to entire you with more shares than they were prepared to. And B) because you simply made enough money to attempt something else in your life.


Why are they two year stints when usually you're getting RSUs as part of your package that often have a 4 year vest?


At the FAANG level, it's sometimes possible to have your offer include a buyout of unvested RSUs which you would lose by accepting the new offer.


People are either vesting 1/48th immediately every month, 3/48th every quarter, or are in the same circumstance a year after starting. The 4 year part is irrelevant for them as there is no actual waiting involved. They simple are able to negotiated being enticed by another company that will exceed how much cash they are already collecting. The company they work for gave them a signing bonus that required them to stay one year, the next company will too, as well as a higher base salary and higher dollar amount of shares that begin vesting quickly.


four year vest doesn't mean you get all the RSUs at the end of four years. or if it does, that's not how it actually works at google, facebook, microsoft, etc. typically you get an offer with a certain amount of RSUs, and then you get 25% of that each year. amazon is an exception; you get most of the RSUs in the third and fourth year. but you also get a large signing bonus paid over the first two years that mostly makes up for that.

tl;dr: your yearly TC doesn't change much at these companies unless you get an actual raise. I don't fully understand the reasoning behind the four year schedule, but AIUI, it does not strongly incentivize sticking around for the full four years unless you assume significant stock appreciation.


I know it doesn't mean you get all the RSUs at the 4 year mark but if you leave after 2 years, you only get 50% of your RSUs. Why leave potentially hundreds of thousands on the table to jump after two years? I've never heard of this two-year stinting.


You shouldn't view the RSUs as different from any other compensation package, even just an all-cash package.

If Google says they'll give you $200k per year in cash + $400k split over 4 years as RSUs, that's the same as just getting $300k per year in cash.

Why would you leave $300k per year in cash on the table? Because another company is offering you $350k per year (or more likely in the case of FAANG, another company is offering you the same $300k/yr but with significantly less stress).


Yeah I guess I'm just surprised that, once you're at the FAANG level, the packages are going to vary that much that one would jump every two years. Also, having just interviewed at the FAANG level, they are very weary about job hoppers to the point where if you haven't worked at a place for longer than 3+ years, they want a detailed explanation why.


> if you haven't worked at a place for longer than 3+ years, they want a detailed explanation why.

Interesting. At my FAANG (Amazon) we explicitly are told to not ask this. It would be kind of weird for us to ask that, really, considering the tenure of most people here is <2 years.


This has not been my experience at all. I've job hopped every 2 years to promote in transition and take on significantly more compensation. I'm about 18 months into my current role and I'm looking for the exit. Why? Because my future compensation at these companies is based on "impact" instead of what the market is willing to pay. So even if I have the highest levels of impact, I'm losing compensation staying at my current company.


Yeah I mean historically I've done the same. Most of my jobs have been at most 2 year stints. This is my first experience under this kind of scrutiny. It does make sense, since most of the people (at least on this team) are all 4+ years tenured but it was a surprise.


>If Google says they'll give you $200k per year in cash + $400k split over 4 years as RSUs, that's the same as just getting $300k per year in cash.

It’s not; the RSUs are priced at grant, not at vest.

Plus there’s annual top-up grants.


You’re not factoring in stock appreciation there. It’s somewhat common these days to see people sitting on huge unvested grants, so in your example, your yearly comp won’t be the $300k/y you had at year one. Then it’s pretty hard to get a match on your “inflated” TC anywhere else. You don’t get that in an all-cash package, even if you buy stock from the company with your cash comp


If you're granted an equal amount each year, then you'll get a similar amount in your first year at a competitor who also grants an equal amount each year.


Also - for talented engineers at companies I've worked with, we gave starting bonuses ~equal to the value of the unvested options as a recruiting tool.


Facebook does stock refreshers every year, so there is _some_ benefit on sticking around, as you’ll have more stock vesting every year (until the 4y cliff at least)


I'd like to work for Netflix. It's one of my favorite services, and after talking to a principal who was with them through the 2000's, the challenges they face are fascinating. I feel like I'd be doing a net positive for the world since so many people rely on it for peace of mind.


Cool! Is it still like that, even today? Netflix is possibly my "reach" job, based specifically on what I've read about the culture.

I'm about equally split talent wise between "mathy things" (signal processing) and lower level systems engineering. "video & image encoding" or "research scientist - algorithms engineering" look hot to me.


I know its a trope here, but why are there a lot of devs in Netflix. I'd think you'd need a few dozen people. Plus basically what has changed in 10 years?


I don't work there, but If you're being serious:

- maintaining the number of clients alone is a gargantuan task. Almost every TV manufacturer has a different OS, and many TV models have different OS, plus all of the different consoles, phones, etc - The pure engineering of pushing that many bytes around the world 24/7. - Then storing information about those users for advertisers. https://netflixtechblog.com/revisiting-1-million-writes-per-... - Security, because if they are found negligent (ie making it easy for people to make illegal copies), there goes their business. - Constant product tweaks on the above thousands of clients to make the UI experience consistent across clients. - Performance improvements to keep users engaged. - AI that surfaces what customers want. - Data storage to deal with all of the content they have. - Dynamic content serving based on where in the world you are. - etc.


Same here. Loved my years at Netflix. Great colleagues building robust systems and management is there to help. If I were to ever go back to big tech, this is where I would try first.


So why did you leave?


I've never worked for a big famous tech firm, but I will absolutely tell you how I've managed to avoid hating work for 30 years:

Find a relatively small firm, still owner-run and controlled. Avoid public firms. A corporation cannot show loyalty, but a HUMAN can. A manager has no real control -- their manager can reverse them. When you work for the owner, you can trust things a bit more IF you're working for a trustworthy person.

This means small. But it doesn't mean cheap. ;)

That said, I've probably left money on the table working this way, and I'll never get IPO stock or similar, but stability and ethical behavior in a workplace go a LONG way.


counter point: after working for small owner-run companies where the owner took everything personally, I will forever only work in big tech.

The owner ran the show and was emotional. Every time a competitor launched something new, they would change course and race to copy them. Ended up delivering nothing and eventually laid off after 1.5 years.

At a big company, everyone is spending someone else's money and the people at the top realize they can't (and shouldn't!) change course every 3 mo.


The hard part about choosing the small business route is you have to do a really good job (and somewhat get lucky) at screening the owner and company. I had only ever worked at mega corps my entire carrier until my latest job at a <100 employee founders run company. The company is post "come join our startup and try to make crazy money/change the world" but pre "as you can see on document 3 section 7 process 4 paragraph 2 item 2a sub iii it says we next need to get approval..." and has a solid income stream already while also focusing on sustainable growth rather than max growth. I knew one of the founders from back in the day and was able to meet with the other and some of the senior management and a few of the engineers multiple times before joining. I wouldn't have jumped at the time had I not had a similar level of confidence that I knew what the people and day-to-day were like.

Now I could have missed some red flags or just had bad luck and regretted it/had a bad experience but just passing a year in I'm happier than ever with work and really excited about the future for at least the next 2-3 years (after that will depend on what the company looks like at that point).

At the same time one could have missed red flags or just had bad luck with $MegaCorpN too. The company I left ended up outsourcing it's entire IT staff of thousands and rehiring a few core architects who now are all disappointed with the workload and most are looking elsewhere if they haven't already jumped ship. I've actaully worked toa get a few of those folks to come over to my current place.


This. I work for a narcissist piece of sh. Everyone is leaving because he's incompetent. I've been doing startups for most of the 20+ years of my career and I thought Marc Pincus was the worst I'd ever suffer through. This is worse. He smelled off (metaphorically) when I spoke with him but the goal made sense. He has f'ed it up completely by micro managing every aspect of the company, despite his lack of knowledge in almost all areas. Now I'm moving to part time for this place (for the sake of the eng team, I'm not doing a hard cut) and I'm consulting until I find an org that isn't run like a dumpster fire on meth.


Agreed. With small biz, it’s high reward / risk, because so much more depends on a small group of people

In large companies things get standardized, so there’s a more likely chance of an average experience.


>the owner took everything personally

I mean, it's important to pick the right owner. It's PARAMOUNT you be personally compatible.

I've been at the same place for 14+ years for a reason.


There's a middle-ground. Aim for 50-200, and private. Small enough to be treated like a person, big enough to have an HR department.


There's probably a lot to be said for that approach. Isn't there some known-number for "above this population, organizations suffer?"


> At a big company, everyone is spending someone else's money and the people at the top realize they can't (and shouldn't!) change course every 3 mo.

tell that to the google messaging teams :-D


Third point: I've worked with nice owner for about 3 years and last year he merged companies with someone who can barely write and berates his developers on zoom calls.


> Avoid public firms. A corporation cannot show loyalty, but a HUMAN can.

Counterpoint: I work in a FAANG and the first thing I noticed what that I was just a small piece in a big machine. Everyone is replaceable. People change teams all the time, some leave the company after 6 months, only to re-join 1 year later... But it's actually a good thing! I don't have the same amount of stress I had when working in a small company.


yeah, big companies have a very favorable what-happens-if-i-get-hit-by-a-bus score


This is good advice, with the caveat that the owner needs to not be a dick.

I've worked in environments like this both with amazing owners and with truly horrifying owners.


Yeah, watch out for small companies that are desperately trying to get big but have been small or oscillated between 10-40 people seemingly from the beginning of time.

There's a particular type of person who runs these businesses and that person is extremely common. They cannot delegate and micromanage everything so once they get beyond their ability to manage every facet of operations themselves, their leadership ability breaks down and a bunch of people end up leaving and the cycle repeats. They very often have temper/anger management issues as well.


Your description is so on the point I think many here will be able to resonate. I worked under one such owner myself! The flipside was that we were so often blocked by him that I got a lot of free time to experiment and learn.


This! I have been to such a company, sticked to ~10 employees for years due to managers and founding engineers firing people all the time and engineers leaving and coming within 1 year due to toxic micro management.

From that point i always ask questions about the employee count across the years, the projection and average retention.


In my current role, I've been lucky because we're in a market that IS very financially viable, but isn't HUGE. There's no push to grow crazy big or fast; the push is to keep the product ahead. And we're doing that, with a small team.

We will need to grow a bit in the next couple years, but mostly in (I'm guessing) testing and support.

Before this I was in some other small orgs with generally good management, but they failed. We had lean years at this firm -- there was a furlough period, with 4-day workweeks and 80% salary, and I thought about leaving but honestly also enjoyed the extra day off, too.

We made it over that hump, and are now doing well. My main concerns at this point are leadership succession at the top, and also at the top of the actual dev group. The latter is more easily addressed than the former.


I worked there! Canadian company. Seemed very determined to stay a small company while having huge aspirations.


I feel there is a story here...


“Small business tyrant” is a term of art for a reason.


I switched to big Corps after a micromanaging owner and his yes-man CTO.


My experience was the opposite, the only time I've ever had someone pay me late, and on top of that asked me to work for free was when I was dealing with a very small business owner. You either need to have some VC funding, or be a well-established company for me to even want to apply.

I guess there might be some unicorn bootstrapped exceptions to the rule, but in general I find the bigger the company the smoother things are when it comes to actually getting paid.


I could have written almost the same 2 paragraphs. Feels like you worked where I worked. Never again.


And when I say late I mean I didn't get my first paycheck until 60 days after I started!


I've had good luck with this too. More diverse work, more free rein to experiment with stuff, less oppressive IT department...you can generally get away with telling 'Joe' to eat your ass if he wants to try to pull you into windows/AD only with no admin or WSL...


Being a developer without local admin is rough. My IT department recently rolled out such a policy and it has really made development a challenge for several teams. Fortunately, they allow us to use WSL2 and don’t interfere with what’s running in there. My team uses VS Code dev containers running in WSL2, and for the most part haven’t had major issues.


Don't go too small though. At least where I live, FIRE/ESBI has caught on hard. A lot of bosses are not interested in running a company, they're interested in owning one and keeping the income as passive as possible.

They're the face of the company. They use the company to get talks and government sponsored trips to Silicon Valley, but the company means nothing to them. It's like a car, a liability. It loses money every year, which the CEO doesn't care about, until they have to shut it down.

There are also huge companies that are still owner run. The place I work has hundreds of people, but the CEO tried to talk to everyone he can. We have town halls every month, and the CEO tries to take some time to talk with us face to face, and just to make sure he gets everyone, he also does a mailing list on updates, where the responses go direct to his inbox. It's not a 1:1 relationship, but it tries to be a human to human relationship.


How do you find those? I've worked in places like this and loved it. Probably didn't earn as much as elsewhere, but it feels pretty good to show up to work motivated to work on something interesting.


Startups obviously. Less obviously look for "SBIR" shops if you're ok with a little bit of weird gov contracting overhead.


Startups don't stay small though. They're aiming to get really big or have some kind of big exit in a hurry. Some of them are a lot of fun, some stay good even as they grow, others turn into depressing places to work.


Honestly the biggest issue with this strategy is US capitalism isn't kind to companies that just stay small. You're not going to find a lot of places that want to remain tiny, just a lot that, as mentioned above, remain so through micromanagement.

Maybe you get lucky and find a labor-of-love kinda place where someone is just trying to be really good at making one type of thing (highly niche products) but a better bet is to just find a comfy place, stay there a few years and help them get bigger, then leave and repeat.


I suspect that a lot of these companies just don't make a lot of noise, but quietly do their thing without being pasted all over the HN front page.


SBIR shops often pay abysmally (with bad benefits) even if the work is interesting.


Depends on the shop. SBIR farms that have never commercialized a single product are terrible. Ones that have a revenue stream are fine.


That also involves a lot of proposal writing, which can be hard and involve some late nights! But the work can be very interesting and varied.


I don't agree with this.

The smaller the company and the closer you are to the owners, the more your relationship with them is that of a tool. A disposable and replacable tool.

When you work for a larger company (assuming you are providing more value to the company than your employment is costing them), your job is secure. Your day to day is relatively comfortable. You are also likely to be surrounded by more peers which contributes greatly to job satisfaction. You belong.

Look at it this way. If you notice your postman one day looking at his phone for a bit instead of delivering mail, you probably arn't going to get too bent out of shape over it. While you are paying taxes to employ his services, you're not too invested in his productivity.

On the other hand, if you've hired a plumber and you're paying him $150/hour, discovering him taking a personal phone call is worrying. You're directly paying for every minute he's on the phone. You aren't happy and the next time you need a plumber, you'll be considering your options.

Now consider taking an emergency phone call as the employee:

If you are a plumber working directly for an owner/customer, taking an emergency phone call is stressful. The customer/owner is JUDGING you because it's his money paying you. That phone call is more likely to negatively affect your livelihood.

If you are a plumber working large company, your foreman is probably more interested in not losing you and having to spend time replacing you. Your wages aren't coming direcly out of HIS pocket, so he's more invested in believing your phone call is reasonable. He WANTS to believe that.

I've worked for a dozen small companies (20-100 employees) and a couple large companies (200-10000 employees). My job satisifaction has been much, much higher at the two large companies.


There must be a HUGE pay discrepancy. I mean millions of dollars over the course of a decade. Too much opportunity cost, and for what? What is the value of the loyalty shown by the owner?


Most developers have lifetime earnings of that kinda figure. Earning a million dollars total (adjusted for currency differentials) over a decade is an absolutely insanely huge number. that is closer to my expected lifetime earnings than decade earnings. 300-500k$ of value in total in a decade is more realistic for an average value, with a small company to large company difference being maybe 100k over a decade.

All in my location, country, etc.


Developers at a large tech company in the US can easily earn 300K per year. This is US specific, but working at one of these companies isn’t particularly stressful.


For many, it is happiness and focusing on other things in life once they have the means. Millions don't really matter if that's not a motivator in life.


I understand what you’re saying, but focusing on non-work things and working at a big tech company are not mutually exclusive. You can do the same amount of work and make a lot more money.


Right, but some people don't care about making a lot of money.


Sure, but all else equal, wouldn’t you rather earn more? That’s what I’m saying: all else is equal.


Went this direction once only to encounter nepotism and unwillingness to pay decently, but I have seen it work for some!


> Find a relatively small firm, still owner-run and controlled.

Is n’t that a single point of failure?


I work for a small financial SaaS in Boston. 30-50 people. Nobody offshore. I've worked here for 18 years and 11 months and a couple of days. Yes, we're hiring.

The best thing about the company are the people who are already here. The basic hiring criteria are "clever, competent and kind". That doesn't mean we never have disagreements, but they tend to be technical disagreements about the best approach to reach the same goal. Before the pandemic, and hopefully after it, the kitchen was the center of the company: casual questions turned into great discussions, explanations... there's a big whiteboard wall in the kitchen, and it got used a lot.

That goal, incidentally, is to drive down the cost of good portfolio analysis until it's within everyone's reach. We're succeeding: there are clients who have programs where people start their investments with $50/week.

Our folks are reasonably diverse in terms of background and talents. There's a robust co-op program. The benefits are pretty good -- fully paid health care premiums -- but it's definitely the people that make it great.


Sounds heavenly! Is it worth putting a link to your company here?


If you're interested, I have an email address in my profile here.


That Junior Financial Engineer position looks exciting to me!

I think I'd qualify for the Sr. one, in terms of C/C++, the math, and the Linux experience, but I'd never held a "financial" job before. Having to move back to Boston wouldn't be ideal but I lived in Cambridge for 7 years and could do it again.

I also really dig lots of the topics I see on the company blog, and will be reading them later. Are the compensation numbers I see on glassdoor in the ballpark?


I can't say for certain, but I expect remote will continue to be an option going forward. I also don't have a clue about compensation outside of my department.

Drop me an email (address in my profile) and I'll forward your resume right to the responsible party.


(loxias has an mit edu address)


What does "Nobody offshore" means here?


We don't outsource our employees. All development, IT, etc is in-house.

That's in contrast to "offshore development", where the US team is augmented by contracted development companies in some other part of the world.

We have sponsored H1B visas, on occasion. Employees are required to have the legal right to work in the US, and are expected to make their legal residence in the US.


Just curious if you don’t mind can you share the name of the company you work for


I work for Smartleaf -- www.smartleaf.com


Are these salary ranges correct. https://www.glassdoor.com/Salary/Smartleaf-Software-Engineer...

Looks like a software engineer would need to pick up a second job to make up for Boston's cost of living.


I've always found Glass Door salary ranges to be wrong (generally much lower than reality) for the positions I have knowledge about.


My experience as well. It makes sense. Of course, lots of people treat Glass Door like it's accurate.


That sounds interesting. Made me think of the Neoxam Boston office at first.


One challenge is that even in sucky workplaces, there always seem to be champions that will tell you how great it is. In part because it's a hard life focusing on how your job sucks and many people get good at being outwardly optimistic.

That said, it would be nice to see more authenticity than what mostly gets posted in the hiring thread, and on company websites. I'm sure we each have our own criteria of what kind of info we'd like to see, but I rarely see anything more than the usual bromides.

Honestly, I've found glassdoor to be pretty good if you've had a few jobs before. It's pretty easy to find which reviews to discard, and read between the lines for red flags even in places that are relatively highly rated.


> that even in sucky workplaces,

I would say... if there is a company with 6,000 employees... it's going to depend way less on the company and more on the team. Your direct manager, your teammates, the other teams you work with, the other managers involved... that can all wildly vary even within the same company.

They are fluid too. People come and go. Circumstances change.

I don't know how much top-down leadership effect really has. If the CEO + board of a 20,000 person company feel a certain ideology, is it really passed down 10 layers lower to managers working on small projects?


I had a team and project I really enjoyed for 4 years, then poof it was all gone when the executive team decided to buy a competitor and scrap our team. You never know what might happen!


I used to agree but after working at Amazon... yes, it really is passed down.

There is still large variation per org/team, but there are definitely a lot of things that can permeate all the way down. The way hiring is done, the way performance is evaluated and promotions/raises are done, the way weekly org-wide metrics meetings are done, the way escalations are handled, even the way we hold meetings or write documents... At Amazon, all of these things are influenced (or directly guided) by processes that are put in place by the highest levels, and they really do have enormous impact on the overall culture of the company.


Yes, if the new CEO decides to fire all the management who has been there for a while, replace them with his buddies, and drastically lower the hiring bar so the buddies can hire their buddies.


IDK about 20k people companies, but they can have drastic influence into 2k companies.


I don't know, I think it's pretty easy to ask questions for this during an interview process even if you have those "champions". Just ask "what are the current pain points and things that can be improved about the company?" If they give an honest answer then take it at face value. If they just bullshit you by talking around the question or flipping the question and talking about a "good problem to have" then you probably don't want to work there.


> "good problem to have" then you probably don't want to work there

Well it's a tradeoff:

[growing pains] = [potentially valuable stock options]

[ever changing technical choices] = [not boring / not stagnating]


I think it also just depends on the person. I've been in workplaces that felt great to me, and seen people leave because they found it sucky.

Similarly I have also left due to suckiness despite some people seeming to enjoy themselves. Though of course that may just be an act.


Often the people making it sucky have no idea.


I've been at Facebook for about a year and a half. Before this I was at startups in the marketing and financial industries. We've been under scrutiny for the whole time that I've been there, and the company is pretty unpopular from a vocal population on here, but it's been really nice to work for.

We obviously have job security, and I've been very impressed with the management chain above me. At least on my team, they all come from eng for a few levels until you start hitting VP roles. The fact that they were at least fairly recently technical helps with understanding some of the traditional pain points I've run into in the past in dealing with management.

Everything is built in house, which does have some drawbacks but it's nice that we can interface directly with the people who are working on all of our tools. And everything has an API so there is a great amount of inter-tool integration. Developers get raises, on my team Eng has a big say in what the product is going to be, idk it seems like it checks all of the boxes you're asking about.

Also it's kind of fun to see the company I work for get mercilessly memed all the time.


I find this very interesting...

'I get paid a lot, and they treat me well, so who cares about anything else'

Pull your head out of the sand and realize that when people talk about Facebook, they are talking about each and everyone of you. You are a representation of your company and your company is a representation of you.


OP isn't the face of the company. He or she is likely a small yet well-paid cog in a large machine and doesn't need to worry about outside pressure.

In this economy, I, and many people, would have no problem working at an unpopular company that leads to financial stability decades down the road.


Not everyone hates fb or cares that some people do.


I don't have a problem with any of this.


Agreed, liking it here so far. But you do have to make sure you get on an interesting team. I wouldn't want to be on a lot of different teams here.


Which ones wouldn't you want to be on? Or at least is there a pattern to them?


This is purely my preference, but anything customer facing would be a snoozefest for me.

Most L6+ that I've met in infra are incredibly sharp, and there's tons of interesting problems being solved in infra/core systems right now.

On top of this... the "move fast" motto really does ring true, compared to google, facebook speed is like riding a bike vs walking.


Is it really true that once you pass the interview and orientation you get to choose the team you want to work on?


For general role hires, this is true, although it's a subset of all teams - teams with high priority roles pitch to you, you choose a couple to try out tasks for a few days. They stack rank, you stack rank, matches are made.

Internal transfers after 1 year are pretty easy. I've seen people transfer earlier, if it's clear the fit between employee and team isn't there.


      if it's clear the fit between employee and 
      team isn't there. 
This is very interesting to me. How good is management at discerning between...

a: "employee 12345 has been here for one year and probably wasn't a good hire"

and...

b: "employee 12345 has been here for one year, and they were probably a good hire, but they're not a good fit for their current team so let's get them to a new one!"

???

On a human level, I'm a firm believer that (b) happens a looooot. Personally, I've been anywhere from a turd to a star depending on company culture and team fit, and it wasn't me that was changing.

But I am amazed there are organizations that manage to spot (b) and actually correct it rather than cutting a person loose or just pidgeonholing them as a low performer.


Def seems hard to do. You could pass an A many times before ”proving” they aren’t going to fit in any team.


One way to side step the issue - trust the hiring process. I haven't seen very many issues, but Meta seems to give people multiple chances, on multiple teams, under multiple managers, before doing a pip (or whatever the equivalent is).


Yes, if they have headcount, you should be good to go


I used to work at Facebook. I understand the vitriol. It's very easy to paint that picture. It's a very one-sided picture though.

Hands down, of all the companies I've worked for, I've never met so many rank and file people who cared about doing the right thing so much. Most jobs are just jobs. People do their jobs and they get money and sometimes they try to do a good job. And there are plenty of people like that at Facebook, the majority of people are like that.

But, nowhere have I seen such a large percentage of people who actually care and who care strongly. It is honestly shocking, coming from jobs where people just do their job and avoid stirring up trouble. These people do stir up trouble. And it's hard work to fight the inertia. Sometimes they fail and become bitter and burnt out. Sometimes they succeed. And when they do they are rewarded.

So that's what I wanted to say. Facebook is a big place but people do care about doing the right thing and doing the right thing is rewarded.


This almost reads like someone paid you to write this.


Ha really? I mean, no one paid me, but thanks?

Seriously, have you ever worked at a place where people (outside of leadership) care strongly about making sure the company does the right thing rather than just accepting the status quo? That's pretty rare I would say and it was very surprising to me.

I'm not saying that Facebook is good. I'm just saying that people paint it like everyone who works at Facebook made a decision to support an evil empire, which does a disservice to all the people there who are working really hard to do the right thing.


I've worked at two of the FAANG companies before as an engineer, so I have some idea of the general culture.

What I meant was that the average employee at any of them doesn't care about about doing the 'right thing' any more than employees at any other corporation care about doing the 'right thing'. I'm not saying employees at FB support an evil empire but neither are they revolutionaries who deeply care about the society and are fighting tirelessly to bring some positive change.

They know what their products do and they still work there, so I'm pretty sure they're okay with the compensation-conscience tradeoff they made and I have nothing against that, we all do that; but to paint them as some deeply caring people who tirelessly strive to do the right thing is just disingenuous and like I said earlier it sounds like something a paid PR person would write.


Yeah, you're right, I did get a bit dramatic there. This was helpful, I understand your comment now, thanks!

I want to note that like you I did say that the majority at FB don't care. I also didn't care when I started and that's why it was such a surprise that people actually did care and that it wasn't shut down by leadership. I think that is compounded by the fact that certain teams are more like that than others and I was at a stage in my life where I was ready to be influenced by that, and so I agree that I have a rosier view than is probably accurate.


It also reorgs every six months.

I was on Search. You either really like it, or you hate it. There's no middle ground.


Second this. FB Corp treats its employees very well.


Interesting take. Facebook is one of the few companies in the world I'd never work for.


> management... all come from eng for a few levels until you start hitting VP roles.

And then where do they come from? Ivy league MBAs or IB?

No shade at those guys, just curious. I'm early-career and I've got interests in finance and programming. It seems like I see fewer engineers running the show, as if committing to programming as a career tops-out at a certain point because you're missing certain experience. Though, I don't know enough to know what that special sauce is.


some of them are still eng background but it's long enough ago that they're not really technical at all anymore. others are what you said, I guess for the most part. engineering and managing engineers are sort of similar, or at least you can see how one might be valuable to the other. engineering and managing managers are way further apart, so I'm not surprised that technical people have less presence the further up you go


Agreed. I work for a company whose products are widely used but many might consider it morally wrong. On the bright side there is no guilt at getting raise at every opportunity possible.


Memed? It's being accused of assisting with genocide abroad and culture destruction locally.

Memeing is a bunny with a pancake on its head. Facebook is accused of helping dictatorships hunt and kill actual humans.

Good paycheque though eh.


it is also memed heavily. zuck with too much sunscreen, zuck in Congress drinking water, there are many


RIP Oolong rabbit.


Some how I would guess hate speech would still be spreadable if fb didn't exist.


For the folks reflexively downvoting because they don’t want it to be true…

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2021-10-28/facebook-...

I guess there is a difference between actively genociding and _just_ shielding genocidal regimes from facing justice.


Facebook fiddles while the world burns…


What is the employee sentiment towards Meta / metaverse products?


everyone I know is pretty excited


One thing quick - this is incredibly subjective. I've worked in some amazing companies but there were always people on Glassdoor or Blind who found something to complain about.

People are fundamentally different. Someone may really enjoy structure and being told exactly what they have to do. Others want ambiguity and open-ended challenges. Some want stability, some want opportunity. So when you hear someone complain about a company (or praise it, I guess) it's important to ask yourself whether this person's values and interests are similar to yours.

Also keep in mind that people who are crushing it are much less likely to spend time talking about this stuff, while people who are not doing well/miserable have more incentive to vent. So often times it's not just subjective to the person but you're more likely to hear complaining than praise all other things being equal.


The flip side of this sentiment is expressed quite eloquently in a sibling comment. In fact, we might even say the commenter is "crushing it":

One challenge is that even in sucky workplaces, there always seem to be champions that will tell you how great it is.

If I hear people say they are (or were) miserable at a certain job - I tend to take their word when they say there's a reason for it. Your take seems to be... they just ne'er-do-wells who are looking for something to vent about. But that's the difference between you and me, I guess.


>> If I hear people say they are (or were) miserable at a certain job - I tend to take their word when they say there's a reason for it

Like I said, there's an objective and a subjective here. I mainly found that people who are miserable at a job were miserable at every other job too. Doesn't totally mean it's "them" but it's kinda like "the only common in all your failed relationships is you."

Then there's the totally subjective. Example: two people get the same constructive feedback, one person goes "wow, I am getting feedback that will make me grow" and the other person goes "ouch my boss wounded my ego, I hate it". (I am not asking you to say one is good and one is bad, just making a clear example of situation that someone may like and another person may hate)


    two people get the same constructive feedback, 
    one person goes "wow, I am getting feedback 
    that will make me grow" and the other person 
    goes "ouch my boss wounded my ego, I hate it"
In that hypothetical example, yeah, I wouldn't know how to judge the company.

In reality things are a little more detailed. I would want to look a little deeper. Is the feedback technically sound? Is the feedback actually constructive, or more along the lines of "this is shit?"

I recently eliminated a company from my job search because I received feedback during the interview process that IMO failed in all possible ways: it was technically poor, it was rude, and it was unconstructive. (Perhaps one would say it was fragile ego, but I've been in this industry for a while and that was a first, so I've got enough anecdata to believe my ego is not fragile...)


I mainly found that people who are miserable at a job were miserable at every other job too.

That's not what I find at all - I can't even count the number of times I've been a shoulder to cry on for friends caught in miserable work environments, going all the back to grad school. And BTW I do mean literal crying in some of these cases - in others, it's been "merely" confessions of deep anxiety, hopelessness, insomnia and thoughts of self-harm.

Yes, there have been a few "miserable everywhere" cases, but at most they've been 10 percent of the batch. For the other 90 percent - it's clearly and objectively a result of the shitty environment they've been thrust into.


I love the place I work. It's got a Glassdoor rating of 4.8 [1], probably the highest I've ever seen for a company of its size. There's this theme of working hard that crops up there. The average person who makes it past the culture filter is actually grateful to be able to work that hard; in most other places, a workaholic trait is exploited. Whereas here, we're literally asked to take more breaks, stop thinking of work at home, stop working weekends, and the vacation policies are there to respect the people putting in incredibly hard work. They're also proactive in helping people deal with mental health issues.

But when all is well, there's really nothing to be talkative about. You just find a place that resonates at your frequency. I tried to post about it in this thread, but you're right, the feeling is pretty meh. Nobody wants to hear good stuff. Whereas I've complained a lot about bad companies in the past.

[1] https://www.glassdoor.com/Reviews/Xendit-Reviews-E1476305.ht...


I work for Esri and it's great. (we do GIS -- geospatial information systems. Our customers include all 50 (US) state governments, like half the Fortune 500s, most national governments...) Virtually everyone has an office, no open office nonsense. There's no pressure to be a 10x developer or whatever, you just do your job. Nobody gets let go for being a mediocre developer. Everyone's hourly, so if you want to work 40 hours a week and go home, that's fine, or if you want to work 60 hours a week and get 50% more money that's fine too. It is, for the most part, a very chill, relaxed work environment.

The owner is a good person. Big into environmental activism. The big company conference is mostly about all environmental conservation (also we added new features to our product). It's weird to work for a big company and get an e-mail from Jane Goodall at Christmas thanking us for the work we do.

The money isn't great though, that's the biggest downside. But personally the money isn't that important to me.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Esri

https://www.esri.com/jobs


I'm definitely familiar with Esri, they've been around a long time. Full time people are paid hourly though? Do people negotiate their own hourly rate or is it set?


I wish Redlands was a little closer to LA! Seems like a cool place to work.

I couldn’t believe when the owner bought/preserved Bixby Ranch (on behalf of the nature conservancy). I was a daily ESRI user for years, but my heart leans toward QGIS — yet ESRI will always be in my good graces after that Bixby move.


How long have you worked there, and have you had any experience with the international offices? I’ve heard a few bad stories and was surprised to see something so positive here.


Coming up on four years. I know next to nothing about any of the international offices. I work on the main campus in Southern California, so that's basically all I know. I'm familiar with some of the smaller remote offices; some of them don't do the "everyone gets an office" thing.


> The money isn't great though, that's the biggest downside.

How bad are we talking?


In my experience small companies tend to be the best to work for, but this varies wildly.

Large companies are more reliably mediocre across the board, but bad small companies can be outright abusive (usually you can detect these with a few questions in an interview... for example, ask how often employees work outside of regular hours).


This is accurate in my experience.

Actually, I'd say you're lucky if you find a small company that isn't at least mildly dysfunctional.


The silver lining with those dysfunctional ones, though, is that if you can clearly identify the issue your voice can probably carry enough weight (even as a new hire) to spur them to re-evaluate their process.


Yeah this is exactly why I like small companies... they're often not perfect, but you can do a lot as long as leadership is receptive to feedback (if leadership is bad, get out!).

In large companies I've had a hard time just getting everyone into the same organization on Slack, let alone changing any policy or embedded behavior.


Agreed. I'd be curious what people count as "small" these days though. Less than 100? Less than 50?


I'd say less than 100, but prefer less than 50 personally.


As soon as I hear "work hard play hard" I know it's a company that expects long hours for mediocre pay, and then the boss likes to go to the strip club on the weekend.


"Word hard play hard" is one of our mottos. The office is empty by 5PM. I guess we're doing it wrong?


there are exceptions of course, but the phrase has become a big red flag


I don't like working for small companies as it can be seat of your pants stuff very often. A lot of them don't understand the concept of what a fire fight is and how to avoid if one occurs. You also don't have as much flexibility if you're on vacation and your role isn't well seconded. Stability is another issue unless it's flush with cash. It can be a crapshoot but obviously it depends. Anyway, my experience is this.


I’d rather just pick one that pays the most while letting me keep sane work hours of 8-9 hours per weekday and doesn’t have 24hr on-call schedule for one person during that person’s on-call rotation.

Quit Uber in 3 months - simply the most pathetic work-life balance I’ve experienced. What a toxic place! What made me sad that I had taken Uber BLR over Fb London.

Worked at an Indian startup for few years - it was balanced. Nothing great, nothing shitty.

Working at a USA startup currently who flat out lied about timing and timezone requirements which I was specific about - so after some time I sent a polite but firm fuck you email one day after mass rejecting all the odd hour meetings from my calendar and setting my google calendar to reject anything after 6pm automatically everyday. They have stopped bothering me but I’m the exception there. It’s a very uncomfortable silence. So leaving soon.

Samsung was really nice. I appreciate the place in hindsight now. Disliked back then. What a blessing it was that let alone work I couldn’t even access email from out of office. And 9-5 was the norm even for managers and higher management.

Yeah, I’m done with the rhetoric of challenge, excitement, ownership, and shit like that that are just buzzwords used as fronts for exploitation. Will take work-life balance over and above anything today.


Haven't worked at these places, but heavy +1 to "take work-life balance over and above anything". Currently, I've realized I'm willing to take about a $50k pay cut for better work life balance, and I can only put up with bad balance for about two weeks. When I was younger, I'd put up with all kinds of shit, but now it's never worth it.


> What made me sad that I had taken Uber BLR over Fb London.

You absolutely fucked up there. I hope you can recover.


The tricky thing about this question is that a great company for one person could be a terrible company for another, and vice versa.

Based on your description, it sounds like you're looking for a smaller company where the CEO is technical, and understands what the developers are doing.

This is probably an under talked-about part of the interview process: that you should be interviewing the company as much as the company is interviewing you.

No easy answers here I think...


This is the right answer. The size of the company also often has a lot to do with different mindsets and what fits for some people. Some people like the relative stability of a large corporation (you're more of a "number" but you are more likely to be able take a paycheck and clock out mindlessly), the pace and learning curve of an agency/startup (higher risk/reward threshold, wildly wonky work-life balance), or even consulting as a different career path for more independent types.


I work at a small API doc company called ReadMe, we're ~40 people currently and I've been here since we were 5 people. It's been incredible to see the company grow over the years. We hire excellent people who tend to stick around. We treat people with respect and give them the tools to succeed.

We interview a little differently than most other startups (https://blog.readme.com/designing-a-candidate-focused-interv... ); we've always had very flexible working arrangements (even pre-Covid) and we have a modern codebase (Node.js + React) with high test coverage.

I lead the engineering team now (but still write and review code regularly). We're hiring for a bunch of different roles across the stack (and a management position): https://readme.com/careers. My (personal) email is in my profile if you wanna have a chat!


That blog post was a fun read. I identify with many of the things said there, and it's always interesting when a company can make interviewing sound like a good time. I'll definitely apply soon

Edit: also, pardon my French but the owl is fucking adorable


I ended up at Shopify by way of a small startup I was at being acquired. I didn't know much about the company at the time thinking it was basically an ecommerce website builder. I don't think I would have chosen it on my own. I usually go for tech-heavy startups with significant technical challenges whether it's building up the product or scaling it up and the tech plays a large part of my interests. I ended up working at a Ruby/Rails shop once before and I didn't like it at first and got used to it while I was there. The RoR at Shopify is much more structured the way I would expect a good team of engineers would build something rather than a one-off solo dev. There's also a fair amount of in-house tech so it's Shopify-flavored-RoR. This is fine, but all pretty subjective.

The parts that I think most would find positive is that the company is very transparent internally with high alignment from executive through development. Management is technically aware for companies of any size and especially for a large one. Most decisions are easy to understand and rarely (if ever, can't remember one) has caused me internal conflict of interests. Regardless of the tech used, I haven't gotten bored or needing a challenge for very long. Each new project presents new challenges, that's left for the team to research, prototype, and build. I spend very little time in meetings, and usually only those I want to addend (e.g. team standups, tech talks, show n tells).

Subjective downsides: the company is remote (not '-first' or 'for now', but always for everyone) though team IRL events are +1. The main tech is RoR, MySQL, Go, Redis, Kafka, Elasticsearch. Some groups (e.g. data) use other languages/tools. Of course there's also lots of front-end web/mobile dev that has the challenge of building an extensible platform. Spending time on related opensource work is good. I made some contribs to Sorbet type checker.

Long reply, in short I usually leave a startup after 1.5 - 2 years because it doesn't have anything more for me. I'm coming up on 3 years now.


I have have enjoyed working at the EPA (US Government) as an IT Specialist.

The good parts are working with people passionate about their jobs, on things that truly matter. Work life balance and management trust is very high.

The bad parts are there as well: outdated technology, lots of committees, long processes to do certain things. Pay is less then I could get in industry.

Mixed bag: Not a "fast to fire" environment. Ethics/values are very high but that doesn't automatically mean good management. You need to meet and work with a lot of people.. but people are very open to collaborating.

I have heard that the government in a way is supposed to be the "model employer"; kind of being an example to others in terms of diversity/inclusion, time off policies, benefits, etc. And I think is that sort of true at least at this agency.

https://usajobs.gov


I have many of the same experiences within an agency of the USDA. It's certainly not fast paced, and you really have to have some experience to what different "IT Specialist" positions do at this branch vs. this other branch, etc... but I really do enjoy my current position as an IT Specialist / Systems Analyst and it has a very modern feel versus my previous gig with a different govt component. One of the unsung benefits to government work is the ability to network and get experience with entirely different 'fields,' so to speak, and potentially pivot (e.g. Development to Networking or Cybersecurity) without necessarily undertaking a new degree program etc.


Sounds perfect :) People are always asking on HN, "how do I do a tech job that helps people rather than doing evil stuff". What better example than this. And comes with other perks like work-life balance too.


If I knew, I'd work there already...

Slightly more serious, it's often more about your team than the company overall. If your manager is terrible, life is hell. If your manager's manager is terrible, it's going to be pretty uncomfortable. If the executives are terrible, you might do okay, but keep your resume up to date and shop around just in case they wreck it.


I want to preface this by saying I would strongly heed the advice of version_five. All of the most toxic work places I've been at had cheerleaders that would tell you it was amazing.

I have struggled with this issue for years and my approach was to build some heuristics based on where I've been happiest. I fundamentally believe the job landscape now for developers is just systemically worse than it was a decade ago, but these are things I've learned:

- Are you treated with respect throughout the interview. All the companies I've been happiest at had interviews that were basically extended conversations (even if they had coding challenges). I always felt comfortable and respected, different answers than expected where treated with curiosity rather than skepticism. Above all else you need to honestly ask "are these people I want to work with everyday"?

- B2B targeting larger customers tends to be much better than direct to consumer. Every "customer focused" team I've worked with is ultimately driven by a single moronic KPI, and ends up spending all of their energy trying to cheat users while convincing themselves that this is really good work. Large B2B contracts last for years and have a lot of revenue associated with them so there more room for thoughtful product development.

- How important is engineering as you climb the ladder? Is technical leadership (especially above you) really technical? Are they the kind of people that still like hacking on projects, solving technical problems? At my happiest companies technical competence continues up the ladder as far as it can. Your direct manager should be someone that hacking on an unsolved problem with would be fun.

- How financially healthy is the company? This doesn't mean "do they have a lot of funding", in my experience funding without fundamentals leads to weird behavior product wise as teams rush to please investors and come up with ways to survive. If investors and leadership and genuinely happy with the company there is a lot less pressure to do strange product things.

- I used to think smaller companies were my favorite, but have found that a good small team in a large company can be just as good if not better.

After several runs at some of the worst companies in my career I also felt it was impossible to find anything that was enjoyable. I'm currently at a place (that I won't name) where I finally enjoy going to work again, and feel no interest in dusting off my resume anytime soon. This above rules helped a lot with that.


> All of the most toxic work places I've been at had cheerleaders that would tell you it was amazing. I'm currently at a place (that I won't name) where I finally enjoy going to work again

These two statements made me realize the premise of this thread is flawed. Thanks for saving me some time.

> I fundamentally believe the job landscape now for developers is just systemically worse than it was a decade ago

I have this hunch as well. I tend to think it's because of proprietary monopoly platforms like iOS, AWS, etc forcing bad habits on everyone. Everything is so noisy these days.


Yeah I was passively scrolling the thread until I found the dude pointing this out.

I second your hunch about the platform lockdown and I'd add to it that the linux monoculture is stopping OS design from moving forward.


> I fundamentally believe the job landscape now for developers is just systemically worse than it was a decade ago

What aspects are you thinking of, and what reasons do you suspect?

The single biggest change between now and 10/20/30 years ago is the number of developers, and my gut reaction is that this could explain all of the problems you listed and more. It’s not like there haven’t always been some crappy software companies, but in my lifetime we’ve gone from only a few niche companies doing primarily software to hundreds of thousands. The number of devs has grown more than an order of magnitude since I started coding.

The growth of the field means that the trends in business practices combined with the law of averages will result in more people have bad and mediocre experiences. But it also means that there’s a larger pool of excellent top-10% or top-1% places to work, we just have to find them.


What I'd love to know is how to find the smaller more "hacker" oriented shops. I've worked at a few over the years... the kinds of places where everyone in engineering uses Linux desktops because that's the best choice for the work at hand and everyone's comfortable with it. Where the product is good, makes money, but is maybe kind of niche so the company isn't adding 10 people a week.


I would take literally half the going market rate to work someplace like that.

But I think they're near-impossible to pick out, unless you know folks who work there.

What I mean is: even if they publicly advertise open job roles in all the usual places, it's very tricky to actually know they're "that" kind of shop, unless you know somebody on the inside. Even if you are a very proactive candidate during your interviews.

Just IMO/IME.


Everytime I see something like this I’m in no position to apply to it, and by the time I am there are no positions.


> I've worked at a few over the years...

Have you reached out to your network ? Those that worked at those same places with you


From my experience: - NVIDIA seems to have best balance of culture of competency, work satisfaction vs how well is run, although it is getting more bureaucratic as it grows - Google used to be good in many aspects but now things are deteriorating - Facebook is mixed bag, where Oculus part is more of a wild west and main FB is still ok better than Google - Amazon other than "hire to fire" (loading your RSUs towards the end and then raising the bar to force you out before main RSU chunk gets vested) is a mixed bag - Intel is with a royally broken culture, rampant nepotism and crooked HR (just try to google HR flagging employees "THIEVE" just so they do not get re-hired regardless of their performance and also read in the Oregonian news about age discrimination where they mopped large number of actual best engineers - no wonder they lost the edge and are sinking further, not sure if the current CEO who is the best thing that happened to them can save them anymore. My bet if he does not do HR and culture cleanup, he won't be able to do much. The only hope for Intel is geo-political move of the fab manufacturing to the US but even that will have mixed effect.) - Apple is mixed bag, with some teams better and some worse and all suffering from culture of secrecy All in all in each company you can find a good team with a good manager/director/VP as well as you can find bad ones. All pay competitively, where Intel is at the bottom followed by NVIDIA although case by case for higher grades both can compete if needed.


Reformatted, because very interesting:

---

From my experience:

- NVIDIA seems to have best balance of culture of competency, work satisfaction vs how well is run, although it is getting more bureaucratic as it grows

- Google used to be good in many aspects but now things are deteriorating - Facebook is mixed bag, where Oculus part is more of a wild west and main FB is still ok better than Google

- Amazon other than "hire to fire" (loading your RSUs towards the end and then raising the bar to force you out before main RSU chunk gets vested) is a mixed bag

- Intel is with a royally broken culture, rampant nepotism and crooked HR (just try to google HR flagging employees "THIEVE" just so they do not get re-hired regardless of their performance and also read in the Oregonian news about age discrimination where they mopped large number of actual best engineers - no wonder they lost the edge and are sinking further, not sure if the current CEO who is the best thing that happened to them can save them anymore. My bet if he does not do HR and culture cleanup, he won't be able to do much. The only hope for Intel is geo-political move of the fab manufacturing to the US but even that will have mixed effect.)

- Apple is mixed bag, with some teams better and some worse and all suffering from culture of secrecy

All in all in each company you can find a good team with a good manager/director/VP as well as you can find bad ones. All pay competitively, where Intel is at the bottom followed by NVIDIA although case by case for higher grades both can compete if needed.


You worked for all of these places?


Yes in most while others have reliable information from multiple close colleagues. Also don't get me wrong, it is great experience to be part of any of these leading high-tech companies in relative to the most other ones, so my comparison is relative btw top ones.


I doubt it, considering their point about Amazon (the RSU backloading, not the hire-to-fire thing) is a misconception that only someone who has never worked at Amazon would complain about.

(probably some of the others too, but I only personally know about Amazon)


In what ways is it fault? It'll be helpful to correct the record if your experience is different.


The RSU vesting schedule at Amazon is nonstandard but it's not an issue. You may only vest 5% of your RSUs in your first year, but everyone is given a significant monthly cash bonus to make up for it. The compensation strategy at Amazon is that you always make the same "target compensation" each year, even your first. You aren't shortchanged just because you vest less RSUs in your first year.

An example with numbers: someone in their third year at Amazon makes $150k/yr salary + $150k/yr RSU vests, for $300k/yr total. In comparison, someone in the same position in their first year at Amazon makes $150k/yr salary, but only makes $30k/yr RSU vests, for $180k/yr total. That seems shitty, right? Except the person in their first year also gets a $120k/yr cash bonus, bringing them up to the same $300k/yr.


Since we are talking numbers, I am gonna do some hypothetical calculation.

Lets assume two employees A and B, their numbers are as follows: A - $150k Salary + $150k RSU -> TOTAL = $300k B - $150k Salary + $30k RSU + $120k cash bonus -> TOTAL = $300k

Also lets assume the year is 2017, specifically around Oct 2017 when AMZN price was ~$1000 ($1002 on Oct 13 2017)

With a price of $1000, A gets 150 RSU Units and B gets 30 RSU Units

Price of A's RSU on Nov 3 2021 - $3384 * 150 = $507,600 Price of B's RSU on Nov 3 2021 - $3384 * 30 = $101,520

Difference (A - B) = $406,080

You can say that share prices can go down, and then B's 120k cash bonus looks good. But that hasn't really been the case with Amazon. In fact, Amazon is so sure of their stock price going up that they by default include a 15% yoy increase when doing year end compensation reviews.

Furthering this hypothetical calculation, if B had also had an offer from Google with the following numbers:

$150k Salary + $100k RSU + $0 Bonus = Total $250k [Obviously B took Amazon's offer over Google's because of 50k difference]

As per GOOG price on Oct 13 2017, B would have received $100,000 / $989 = ~101 RSU

On Nov 3 2021, B's RSUs are worth = $2,935.80 * 101 = ~$296,515

Even after taking an offer that is $50,000 less, the cash bonus would still have been insufficient.

There are also other policies at Amazon which would have affected B's total compensation. For example,

- Amazon's 401k match policy is 50% match on the first 4% of base salary and Match vests only after 3 years. Amazon's base salary in Seattle is also capped at $160k. So max 401k match is $3200. Given the vesting schedule, Total 401k match received after 3 years = $9600

- Google on the other hand matches 50% of your contributions up to the IRS limit per calendar year. That is $9750. There is no 401k vesting at Google, so Total 401k match received after 3 years = $29250

All this is of course very simplistic calculations and a job has 100 other factors that are important (scope, team etc) but I would not call this "not an issue" like you said in your comments.

Please correct me if the calculations are wrong, but it looks like (4 years ago) taking a lower offer at Google seems like a better idea than Amazon.


Your math seems right, but again you're neglecting the $120k cash bonus in your calculations.

>Price of A's RSU on Nov 3 2021 - $3384 * 150 = $507,600 Price of B's RSU on Nov 3 2021 - $3384 * 30 = $101,520

This is the correct price of the RSUs, but again, neglects the cash bonus. If you look at it (more correctly) through the lens of "the amount of compensation given", the price of A's RSU+bonus is $507k, and the price of B's RSU+bonus is $221k (your $101k + the $120k cash).

But! There's no reason that the $120k cash just has to stay cash forever. If you're considering the stock appreciation of the RSUs, you also have to consider the appreciation of what you can do with the cash. For example, if you're one of the Amazonians that just gets the cash bonus all paid up front, then you just take the $120k and buy 120 AMZN stocks to go along with the 30 you were granted as RSUs, and you end up with the exact same 150 stocks ($507k) at the end of 4 years. There's no difference. If you get paid the cash bonus monthly instead of up front, then you would come out a little behind since you can buy less AMZN shares as time goes on, but not as drastically as your numbers make it look.


> This is the correct price of the RSUs, but again, neglects the cash bonus. If you look at it (more correctly) through the lens of "the amount of compensation given", the price of A's RSU+bonus is $507k, and the price of B's RSU+bonus is $221k (your $101k + the $120k cash).

The difference is still almost ~$300k. Almost 1 extra year's income.

> But! There's no reason that the $120k cash just has to stay cash forever.

This is obviously a very simple scenario. There is obviously an assumption here that neither A nor B does any extra investing on the side and just hold onto whatever Amazon has paid them.

Individual investment into the stock market is a whole different can of worms. B could just invest that $120k cash in one of the r/wallstreetbets and lose it all. On the other hand, A could cash out all AMZN vests and invest that in TSLA.

The scenarios become endlessly complicated if we consider side investments in individual stocks.

I think, despite being grossly simplistic, this calculation may provide an interesting insight into why AMZN prefers to delay significant stock vesting for its employees, especially when other similar companies don't. Especially given the fact that avg. tenure at AWS (as per linkedin) seems to be 1.6 years. So a large number of AWS employees may not be receiving 80% of their stocks.


The problem is that your calculations aren't just "grossly simplistic", they completely ignore the cash bonus, which again, is the entire problem. The cash bonus is a core part of the compensation strategy, which means you must include consideration of it in your calculations for them to be accurate, but you did not do so.

Even for the person who receives $150k in RSUs, they are still simply receiving a dollar amount. It doesn't matter if it's in AMZN stock or if it's in cash, because the cash amount and the AMZN stock can be exchanged equally, and B has just the same opportunity for stock growth as A has (because either of them can purchase whatever investments they want with the $150k they receive, regardless of it it's cash or a stock unit). If you aren't considering this, then all of your calculations about "which situation pays more" are wrong.

>The scenarios become endlessly complicated if we consider side investments in individual stocks.

And they become completely useless if we don't consider it. Attempting to simplify your calculations isn't a good reason to make them wholly inaccurate.

They also aren't "endlessly complicated". It's still very simple: any investment opportunity that A has, B also has, because they are receiving the same dollar amount of compensation that can be invested. So when comparing A vs B, there is no difference.

>So a large number of AWS employees may not be receiving 80% of their stocks.

Again, this doesn't matter, because they get cash instead of the stocks.

You are making the classic mistake that many make that imagines that RSUs are fundamentally any different than just receiving cash. But they aren't. Receiving an RSU for $3000 is the exact same thing as receiving $3000 cash and then using it to purchase $3000 worth of that stock. There is a reason that the IRS taxes RSUs vests just like normal cash income.


Thanks for explaining extra info. Is this the norm in Amazon to equalize total compensation with cash bonuses?


So why do they do it?


agree Amazon might be worst of the top bunch, although I have only 2nd hand info about them


At two years per that's only twelve years worth of experience.


Do your research. There’s tons of “Best places to work” lists out there. Glassdoor and LinkedIn. Probe your network of friends, acquaintances, friends of friends.

I work for Red Hat in Presales. Formerly of Red Hat Consulting for 4.5 years. I’ve been here over 5 years now. Love the place. I’ve only ever worked on our Kubernetes distribution, OpenShift and related products. Great mission. Great work to do. Great people to work with. Good Managers. We’re always hiring.

I also worked at NASA/JPL at the start of my career. Worked on the Mars Rovers, satellite network simulations and then enterprise software. Also great work to do. Great mission. Great people to work with. Good management. Pay was always behind industry. But hard to complain when closing down a project can sometimes mean creating an archive for submission to the National Archives.


Most "Best places to work" lists by city or in print publications are "pay to win".


I loved working at Microsoft. From a management that actually cares and understands dev struggles to great code review practices that don't waste dev time with bs.

Plenty of opportunities to learn, switch teams if needed. I've seen people shift from team to team just because they wanted to add their expertise to another product.

I'll admit, if you're a startup kinda guy you might find things a bit slower than you're used to. Focus is kept on extreme quality.

I hate the fact that Microsoft gets a bad rep coz of the older practices from Gates and Balmer's time. As a company it's really changed and they've embraced open-source finally.


Not only embraced, they've actually started the extend phase! A bit of extinguish, too, but only in a few situations (.net projects).


Can you be more specific? Microsoft is big, I am guessing you don't mean Microsoft Lahore?


> Project managers don't know anything about technology

In my 10+ years of experience, that's the rule rather than an exception. It is very rare to find a Project/Product manager who actually has decent technical knowledge. I think I've found one or two in my whole career (one is now product VP, the other moved to Switzerland).


Maybe I've been really lucky, but every product manager I've worked with or know personally is deeply technical. I can't imagine being successful in the job without that skill.


Product management and project management are very different career tracks (or at least, they should be); it's much more common to find technical backgrounds in product managers than project managers. I'd almost go so far as to say that if a company has project managers working with software teams, I'm not really interested in working there. Some situations do benefit from it, but my experience is that it's usually a sign of either a company that doesn't understand software development, or such a messed up situation that it will be impossible to succeed.


I'd say that the best project managers I have encountered were non technical. They were able to defer to technical people when needed but always kind of kept an arms length from it and it worked well.


The best project manager I've worked with was a lady in MissionCloud. She was PM of the consulting project that mission did for our startup. I wish I could find someone as skilled as her.


I'm sure you can imagine! Elsewhere in the thread you say you worked at Netflix, so perhaps you have spent most of your career in high-calibre companies with high hiring bars. Now, imagine PMs at 2nd and 3rd tier companies. Note that the qualifications for being a PM are...nothing really. So any kid with a university degree and a vague interest in working in tech, but with no technical skills can apply and get in as a PM. Congratulations, you have now imagined how bad these people can be!


> I can't imagine [a PM] being successful in the job without that skill.

Neither can I! But I have to agree with the parent: the overwhelming majority of PMs (for any P) that I've had to work with are technically illiterate, at the level of software engineering. I spend so much time explaining the most basic things, often over and over and over. How the system functions, and models the world around it (and thus, what is possible and what is not, at least, not without major changes) just does not ever seem to stick.

My uncharitable take (and sorry, since it sounds like I'm about to criticize your profession; hopefully, this comment doesn't apply to you) is glorified JIRA ticket pushers and deadline trackers. That said, I did work with one once who seemed to actually pay attention (and thus, learn) and was a good person too, so thus far she's been my favorite PM. But when I ask myself what would be useful to me, as a dev? … oh boy does it not look anything like the real world.


Where have you been working at?


eBay, reddit, Netflix. But at reddit it was just the four of us and at Netflix we didn't really have product managers except in the UI area, but those folks were all super talented.


I have the opposite experience. PMs who are technical that are clueless about people management or management in general.


Red Hat.

Worked there as an intern during college, continued for few more years and returned there after a brief stint at a startup.

Work/life balance is great, most code public has so many advantages and colleagues are friendly and decent humans.

Some teams might be worse than what I experienced, but even if I was growing mildly frustrated (i.e. pressure from product people to push product out of hte gate before it was ready and I was one of hte damned QA people), the robust internal transfer system meant, I could just move to a team where I felt my contribution was more valued even from non-programmers ;)


I'd be curious if the IBM acquisition has had any effect on that culture? Is that pressure from product people a result post-IBM?


No, product/dev disconect was there quite often for years. Red Hat has kinda been living off the unix-to-linux migration that happened in early 2000s, and because I think we didn't wan to become the kind of company that just maintains legacy kernel for banking mainframes, we spent most of the 2010s comming up with ideas to see what gains traction. And sometimes these ideas were ... oversold ... to our potential customers?

Despite how nice I find the culture at Red Hat, it definitely isn't lacking in some of the corporate disconnects that sometimes happen. Like, I think we are working on it and it differs from team to team, but it still is there :)

Other than that, I don't see much change in the culture in general.


How is assimilation into IBM going?


Well, there was lot of jokes at the start, people comming in to work in blue ties for day or two.

In reality, nothing changed, for better or worse, we did kinda speculate that this was kind of an expensive acquihire of one James M. Whitehurst and if the have to buy this profitable company alongside with him, might as well :D

Another speculation is, that we are one of the more profitable parts of IBM, so the rest of the company doesn't want to f- with that, but if we stop being the golden-goose our management was selling us as, more interference might comme our way.


I work for a consulting company called Slalom and for 3.5 years now I don't know if I've been happier working. It's a (private) big global place, but we have a "local market model" which effectually means you feel like you're working for a much smaller company (which is your home office). I still get to do plenty of development work during projects, but I also get to work in people leadership, practice leadership, give conference talks, sell if I want to (note: I don't lol), and the best part from a developer's standpoint is that when a project is over, you just... Leave. After almost 5 years of being responsible for an ever-growing list of software I had to maintain alone at a startup, it's a really liberating feeling for my ADHD self. And yes, we're hiring worldwide!


I am a Drupal developer for a government contractor. Management absolutely knows what the product is, and our PM knows the sites we build and maintain inside and out (both from a Technical and a UX/Design perspective). The pace is probably slower than a lot of devs are used to, and there are a lot of moving parts, but that is what it's like working around government hierarchy. I for one like the well-defined structure.

It absolutely does not suck. The people involved are not hotshot CS grads moving from FAANG to FAANG trying to get salary boosts every 6 months. They've been doing this kind of work their whole lives, and just want stability.

Also, that team in Transylvania are an excellent bunch of developers who've probably been doing CS since they were in middle school, so don't knock them for being foreign. Knock your company for offshoring their labor. Those Transylvanians are trying to make something of themselves and improve the standard of living in Romania. Case in point, I was one of them.

The main takeaway is that who doesn't suck to work for depends on what you want. You want money? The people giving a lot of money probably only care about you inasmuch as you produce something worthy of your salary. Beyond that (and whatever 'perks' they pretend to offer), they don't give a rat's ass about you. You want to feel like you're part of something? Get involved with a small-ish team in a mid-size company with long-term clients. Your life will be part of a team, the company won't have too much middle management, and long term clients mean long term goals.


This is highly dependent on who you are as a person, but I'd honestly say most of the big tech firms excepting a few which you can suss out based on reputation.

IMO people overestimate how much you can know about whether a team will be good over the span of 2+ years. I've had several friends land at a small company with what seemed like a great team and then the great manager was replaced by a bad one, the job started sucking, and everyone had to jump ship and go on a new job search. If it happens soon enough after you join you may not be able to leave for over a year for appearance's sake.

At big companies, you can still get bad teams but many places, such as Stripe, make it super easy to switch teams for a better fit.


I think employees wildly overestimate the negative resume impact of leaving any individual role "too soon". Your life is short and your career is shorter. Don't stay at a place that sucks.

If you show up with one short stint, I might ask about it, but I'll totally understand a "it wasn't what I was expecting answer". If you have two of those with at least one 2-3 year stint (ideally including a promotion), that's also fine.

The danger only comes when you have 5+ stints of 6-15 months in a row. That reads like you might have a performance/potential problem.


    many places, such as Stripe, make it super easy to 
    switch teams for a better fit.
Another commenter mentioned that this is a strength of FB, and I find it amazing. I've not experienced that in my time in the industry though I've never worked for any "famous" technically-oriented orgs.

Don't misunderstand: I have a rock-solid belief in the importance of team fit. Nobody can do good work unless they're a good engineer and have found a good team fit.

I'm just amazed that any orgs actually pull this off, rather than simply considering somebody a bad hire. That's what I've always seen. Unless it was an engineer that had already succeeded at a given company for a number of years, and was faring poorly with a new team.


It happens! I've fortunately never needed to do it but I know easily 50 engineers who've made a successful team jump within 3-8 months of the initial hire.


That's fascinating and excellent to hear. How does management (and everybody else involved) determine that they're a bad team fit vs. a bad hire?

In some cases it might be easy: if the developer has done highly visible, rockstar-level work elsewhere, or if folks on the team have worked with them in the past.

What about other cases, where you have a good engineer with a solid career that hasn't had high-visibility wins? If I was working "in the trenches" alongside such an engineer, I might have a sense of this, or I might not.

Maybe I just haven't worked at a company where this sort of patience is viable. FB and others have effectively infinite amounts of cash. But at the companies where I've worked, there's never been the patience (or cash) required to let 100-250K engineers sort of slowly find their way.

I feel I should reiterate that I'm 100% in favor of this; just kind of amazed it's possible. =)


I've been working for Xero since three years. It's a great place to work. Free barista coffee, fruits and social gathering every Friday. Everyone is very helpful and nice. Waiting to move into a brand new office here in Melbourne, AU. It's great to work for a company that cares about ethics and governance. We've to jump through several hoops before we can do anything with customer data. I have a lot of freedom in terms what tools to choose for my work. I've never had such experience working for big IT consulting companies prior to Xero.

Disclaimer: I'm a current employee here. I'm a data analyst! I haven't been asked or paid to write this. haha.


I don't work for Xero but I have worked with some of the data team and can honestly say that they've hired some of my favourite people in Melbourne to work there, and no one I don't like. High quality team that I hope I overlap with some day.


Thank you. Glad that you've enjoyed working with us. I can confirm that everyone I meet here have been wonderful human beings! I can safely say that it's a big part of the hiring process, without giving up too much details. :)


I work for an education focused nonprofit (medium sized 1000~) and while I still get frustrated at times, it's the 'this can be even better' VS the 'this is hell on earth' that I've dealt with at big corporations. Everyone is so dang nice which coupled with a savvy ceo and flexible work life has been ridiculously soothing to my previously burnt-out self. The unpleasant people that exist at all businesses are rare and are definite noted outliers. Even if people get upset or frustrated, it's always clear that it's about the situation or problem rather than lashing out at others. It is sweet relief to work with people that care about what they do and having the mission being a genuinely good thing. There is a practical and people first culture exemplified by remote only if you choose, transparent pay ranges, great benefits, and a sense of we can be better than we were in most aspects of the biz. We are in dire need of architect roles and have a variety of other dev, tech, and biz reqs posted. Like any org, there is room for improvement but those improvements don't feel insurmountable. :)


My friend built TrueUp (https://www.trueup.io/rankings). It has curated listings and rankings of companies related to diversity, ethical issues, employee happiness, and so on. This may be a useful tool when researching what companies to work for.


VMware has a lot of different teams working on very different and interesting problems. It's not listed with the FAANG companies, but it pays well and you won't feel like you're making the world worse off than it is.

You'll probably see some complaints about some teams in VMware, but it's been mostly a great place to work.


I thought about applying to some positions with them a couple months back, but it was hard to get a good idea if I was gonna miserable or not.

Also the team I was looking at worked on a type of product that while technically intriguing to me, makes me want to rip my hair out as a user lol.


VMware seems like a place where people work either less than 2 years or 10+ years. If you can identify a niche for yourself it can be quite comfortable.


I've been envious of the VMware campus in Palo Alto - seems like an ideal environment if WFH isn't an option.


Agree, VMware it's a very nice place where to work.


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