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Ask HN: Best big companies to work for?
110 points by deanmoriarty on Jan 26, 2014 | hide | past | favorite | 114 comments
In the event that someone wants to take a break from the typical startup life (e.g. after a burnout or because of shifted priorities in life) and work for a big company, what would HN recommend for a senior software engineer (late 20s) with a very solid background developed while working like a horse in startups for the past few years (and MS in computer engineering)? These points (in random order) might be important:

- Very very competitive salary and "deterministic" benefits (401k with good employer contributions, RSUs, cash bonuses, etc.)

- Challenging working environment where neat technical problems are still solved despite not being a startup, possibly with modern tools and technologies (e.g. not a "we use CVS as our SCM" shop)

- no more than 40-45 hours a week expected as per company culture

- Stable job (no serious failure possibility in the next 3 years or so for the company)

- Possibility of working from home (even just once or twice a week to break the routine)

- Main headquarters in SF bay area (where I'm located)

I'm of course expecting Google, Facebook, etc. But I'm curious to see what else might be there.

I had applied to work at Google. A few years ago, Google would have been in my top 5. This time the experience was disappointing. Their offer was low, a little lower than what I make at a startup. When I tried to negotiate with my recruiter, she said "we think this offer is good enough" and that was it. Instead, they offered me a small signing bonus if I responded yes WITHIN THE NEXT TWO HOURS.

So they made me the offer on thursday, I responded on Friday afternoon, and they demanded an answer by Friday at 5pm. I ended up rejecting the offer but the whole experience left a bad taste in my mouth.

As someone who has experienced an exploding offer, don't ever take them. If it's that hard of a sell and they're putting that much pressure on you, you don't want the job. I will never, ever except an exploding offer again even if it comes from someone I know.

The hiring process at Google is affected by a lot of variables. But for senior engineers, the salaries + benefits (especially stock and bonuses) are definitely very competitive.

It's also much easier to negotiate a better deal if you have a competing offer from another firm. And doing extremely well on the interview process also helps, along with a strong track record or in-demand skill set (e.g. mobile development). This is generally applicable to the most tech companies, not just Google.

Disclaimer: I'm a hiring manager at Google.

Blind allocation for senior talent is just st00p1d.

And I speak from personal experience. As Erich stated, all the cool work is taken at Google. Blind allocation will likely land you on a team doing work unrelated to the standout work that got you noticed by Google in the first place.

If you don't mind trading away your life's passion for Google's admittedly fantastic perks, then it's a great career move. OTOH if you're finally making your mark in the world such that Google notices you, don't fix what isn't broken, avoid Google(1). My stint at Google could best be described as "Career Interrupted."

1. Exceptions: Acquihires and moonshots in your area of expertise. These are no-brainers and a great deal. Google perks plus compelling work? Sign me up. Sadly no longer an option for me because I got labelled as unmutual for leaving.

I don't think, that pressing down wages because so many want to work for Google does the company real good. Happier (content) programmers are better programmers.

Funny that you mention Google's low offer, there was an interesting article about salary at the big companies around here: http://pando.com/2014/01/23/the-techtopus-how-silicon-valley...

I think every personal rejection to Google would be a hell because after all the hell interviews... there comes the moment you have to reject the offer. I find that pretty sad :(

Even though you're expecting it, I did want to mention Google. We're actively hiring and there are lots of really great opportunities, especially for startup / mobile folks who also have really strong fundamental CS backgrounds (e.g. algorithms, data structures).

Having come from the startup world myself, I'd encourage anyone who wants a change of scenery, even if it's only for a few years, to apply here.

  * Great company culture, competitive pay, and amazing benefits
  * Lots of interesting problems to work on
  * Learn about developing at scale
  * Good work-life balance. 
And, especially if you want to go back and do a startup again in a few years:

  - Expand your network of really talented people.
  - Understand the kinds of products and teams the top-tier companies are looking for
Although I also wouldn't be surprised if you decided to stay for a lot longer.

One of the downsides to the hiring process is that team placement can still be a bit random. If you're a senior dev who still loves actively coding and is in the startup world, and is thinking about applying but is worried you'll end up working on something that doesn't interest you, drop me a line at the email in my profile. Especially if you're interested in mobile.

Disclaimer: I'm a hiring manager at Google.

The problem with established companies like Google is that all of the cool projects are already taken.

That, and that they claim ownership over whatever you create, including stuff you do in your off hours, and any ideas you may have had.

But the lack of opportunity is the big one. There's just too many people who've been there too long, with their own projects to work on that overlap with the work you'd want to do, to have any shot at actually doing groundbreaking work.

Interesting work? Maybe. Groundbreaking? Not gonna happen.

As an example, I work on pretty much the same problems as Jeff Dean and Sanjay Ghemawat, albeit with a radically different approach. Would I be able to continue that work at Google? Extremely doubtful, again, because all of the groundbreaking work is taken.

(Note: Jeff Dean and Sanjay Ghemawat are awesome, I'm not trying to imply that they aren't up to the task or whatever. Far from it. Just that there's already really good chefs in the kitchen at Google, so there's no point in joining in the fun.)

I have to disagree. Just in the last few years, tons of new, groundbreaking projects have sprung up. e.g. most of the publicly announced Google X projects didn't even exist a few years ago. And there's so many areas where there's interesting stuff to work on.

Now obviously, unless you're really special (e.g a known expert in your field) you're not going to be able to waltz in and be given a huge area of responsibility and a team, but that's just common sense. You do have to prove yourself, and there is some discounting down of your work pre-Google (your impact since Google is valued far more highly).

At the end of the day, Google is a heavily engineering-driven company, so if you have good ideas, nothing is stopping you from going ahead and starting your own cool project. If you're driven and talented and demonstrate success, the 'cool project' could transform into something much bigger, and you could end up leading an important company initiative.

they claim ownership over whatever you create, including stuff you do in your off hours, and any ideas you may have had.

Does this mean that if you are working on side projects during your free time (ie. at home on weekends), you do not own them?

Many employment contracts try to claim that, or something that practically amounts to the same. Some states do limit the enforceability of such contracts. For example California prohibits the company from trying to grab ownership of inventions produced entirely in one's spare time: http://www.leginfo.ca.gov/cgi-bin/displaycode?section=lab&gr...

However, even in CA's case there is a big exception: work that is closely related to the employer's business might still be owned by the employer, on the theory that if you developed something closely related to your day job (you work at an industrial-sensors company and are developing your own industrial sensors on weekends), you probably inevitably used some of the employer's trade secrets / business information / etc. in developing it. Whereas if you develop a side project in a different area (you work at an industrial-sensors company and are developing C++ dev tools on weekends), you're more in the clear.

The problem with how that interacts with Google is that nearly every field of technology is related to Google's business! They do search, datacenter infrastructure, IaaS, PaaS, operating systems, programming languages, compilers, robotics, computer vision, AI, storage systems, email, mobile apps, mobile phones, office/productivity software, news aggregation, data visualization, etc. So it's difficult to come up with a safe side project that isn't closely related to your employer's business.

I'm been a full-stack web/mobile developer for various startups over the past couple years.. I've always thought it would be cool to work at a larger company like google for awhile, seems like I'd learn a ton.. but I didn't really go through school and don't have your standard strong CS fundamentals as a result, so haven't been quite sure about what to do :P. Any tips on the best way to acquire these skills through self-study?

Read "The Algorithm Design Manual", and do exercises from every chapter.

Whether or not you decide to interview at Google, building up strong CS fundamentals will make you a better programmer. And we're not the only ones who ask those types of questions. :)

Unless you know your CS fundamentals you are unlikely to get hired in any top software development company (regardless of whether you would be actually using these skill in your job). They're basically used as a hiring differentiator, because competition can be fierce. That doesn't mean you shouldn't try learning, although my approach is to work a side project that would develop these skills by necessity.

Back when I graduated a part of me really wanted to apply to Google. I think it's a great company, I love the idea of working with so many great employees of many disciplines, and I was even excited about the interview process.

However, I didn't bother, because my primary language was C#. I knew Java to a reasonable level, but after an internship at a non-tech service company and a startup I was sold on the .NET framework. I went to the Stack Overflow DevDay in Cambridge and ended up having a drink with two Google employees, and neither had anything good to say about .NET or on working with anyone that used Windows as their primary dev OS, so I decided not to bother, and on graduation I stayed with the startup I interned at.

One day, I might dust off my copy of CLRS and apply for Google, but probably when I feel a bit more comfortable with a more Linux friendly language like Python.

You can't work from home at Google.

This policy varies on a team-by-team basis, but generally Google is pretty good about giving people some flexibility in this regard. It's pretty common to see people work from home because they e.g. have a dentist appointment in the middle of the afternoon or something. We generally treat people as responsible adults unless they give us a reason to otherwise.

That said, we really value the team-building and communication that happens when everyone is in one place, and that typically means WFW (work from work) the majority of the time, so we try not to make a habit of WFH.

This is kinda the same issue with remote work. We have great videoconferencing tech, but we generally find that you miss out a lot when you're apart from the rest of the team. This makes even being on a geographically distributed team kinda difficult. Some teams do a better job than others on this (e.g. Chrome is very far-flung), but it requires a lot of coordination and discipline to make it all work.

I'm curious. I have applied a few times (from India) but can never seem to get in. Do you have some sort of a reject list? Where once denied twice shy (of an interview) or something? How is the hiring process for international regions (like south east asia)?

I've been approached by different people at Google several times over the years, and I've always passed for two reasons:

* You require relocation, with no remote options for working that I was ever able to learn about.

* The interview process seems unduly complex and needlessly difficult.

When I applied to Google, it consisted of a phone call with a recruiter, a 45-minute technical phone interview, and a one-day visit to the office consisting of four 45-minute technical interviews and casual lunch.

I believe my experience is fairly typical; have you heard otherwise?

I started down the route of phone-interviews (two) before being told that I'd need to relocate to either Ireland or Switzerland, and that I'd need several in-person interviews to proceed further.

(I'm a system administrator, rather than a developer, although I'm a competent programmer in my own right.)

They may have streamlined, or it may be dependent on the type of position you're applying for, but in the case of a few of my friends it involved multiple days in mountain view from NYC, many in-person interviews in NYC, and so on.

I think in two of the cases I can think of it was a ~3 week interview process.

What year was that? I applied in 2011, and I've been conducting interviews for Google ever since, and I think the most in-person interviews I've ever seen on anyone's slate was 5.

Occasionally, a second phone interview is necessary, but usually only if something went wrong in the first one.

Someone I know went to 5 different in-person interviews with Google over a period of something like 3 months. Each time there would be a 2-week or so limbo before talking to someone at Google again. Then after 5 interviews, nothing. Total silence.

This was 2009 or so and was for some sort of infrastructure management position.

This was back in the mid-2000s. I think both of them did way more than 5 in-person interviews - it was probably 2 phone, 3 in-person NYC, 4-5 in-person in MTV.

Both were relatively senior positions, so perhaps they're the exception, or perhaps it's been streamlined since then. I'd buy either.

does ur NYC office need C++ infrastructure guys?

"Challenging working environment where neat technical problems are still solved despite not being a startup"

This phrasing makes me chuckle. Why's there a presumption that "neat technical problems" are the sole preserve of startups? If I were to make a generalization at all, I'd say a successful company with a solid customer base has a lot more areas of technical challenges (both new products as well improvement and scaling of existing products) than a small startup, (especially when those small startups are in the consumer space where product features/design and customer support are far more important than sheer technical solutions).

It isn't that large companies don't do interesting things, it's that they also do a lot of horribly uninteresting things. Large companies often have large customers (e.g. governments) with obtuse and inflexible requirements, internal politics that restrict what you can invent, legacy code bases that have to be maintained and/or transitioned away from, etc. There is no doubt a whole team of people at Microsoft whose jobs are to make and test patches for Windows Vista. Those people are surely well-compensated for their work, but they're not exactly changing the world.

You are right, reading the sentence again it doesn't make sense at all.

I definitely confused "technical problems" solved by the company mission vs the feeling of excitement and freedom that a single developer gets solving a "technical problem" in a typical early stage startup.

I agree with chetanahuja that there are more "single developer's technical problems" in established software companies rather than startups.

During my time at Google, there was an engineer next to me working full-time on GCC, because found compilers most fun and technically challenging. On the open-source version, not a private branch or anything.

Very few startups would have the scale and stability to allow an employee to work on something that maybe delivers 5% faster code or 5% faster build times in a few year's time.

Red Hat. You'll work on open source stuff all the time, in systems, infrastructure (Openstack), kernel development (Red Hat, Fedora, CentOS), cloud stuff (Satellite, Foreman, Katello, Openshift), or even programming languages (JRuby).

- 401k match and bonuses from the start. RSUs after you've spent a significant time in the company.

- Lots of problems to solve in areas that are out of reach for a lot of startups.

- Good work/life balance in my experience.

- I am 100% remote, and I'd say 50% of my team is remote too.

- There is an office in Mountain View, but your house is probably more comfortable ;)

Again this is just my own experience, I definitely recommend it.

RedHat doesn't hire many junior people outside of internships, am I right?

Just wanting to know. It's harder for us folks doing a career change to get a decently cool job...especially sans degree.

The shittier junior dev jobs out there suck a lot more when you're 30.

Why do I get the feeling that Red Hat is a software company run by software engineers?

It's hard for me to shake off the distinction between companies run by business/product-goons whipping their engineers into submission to produce code that they can sell and companies run by engineers themselves. Wether or not the CEO codes is irrelevant, but the fact that it's entirely engineer driven.

It seems to me that key management in Red Hat come from Digital/DEC, and have the same engineer-led ethos that Digital had (before it was acquired by Compaq).

Edit: Also Red Hat is somewhat cult-like (I say that in a good way). Open source, "upstream first", etc are taken very seriously.

It seems like Adobe checks a lot of your boxes. The pay, from what I've seen personally, and tracked on Glassdoor seems pretty competitive. They've got great 401k, benefits, RSUs, bonuses, etc.

All the engineering teams I've worked with are fairly forward thinking in both process and technology. Most teams use the hosted, enterprise GitHub for source control. There are a bunch of technical problems across the company spanning everything from researching photo/video manipulation, open source projects like Brackets, to a bunch of cool stuff going on as part of the Creative Cloud (or even analytics/big data in the Digital Marketing part of the company).

The company will definitely be around in 3 years and is on a good trajectory. A lot of teams have an unofficial work from home day every week, and while "main" HQ is in San Jose, a lot of fun stuff is going on in the SF office. In general I've found it to be a great culture in terms of work-life balance as well as encouraging volunteer activities.

Disclaimer: I work for Adobe.

Not only does it fit most of the criteria youve listed, Adobe technical leadership is becoming infused with alot of new blood since the acquisition of Day. Technologies like Apache Jackrabbit/Oak, Apache Sling, Apache Cordova/Phonegap are becoming integral pieces of Adobe's go to market on the DMS (Digital Marketing side - which is the lesser known enterprise offering side opposite the Creative Cloud/Creative Suite products).

It may be an big, "old" tech company, that gets a bit of grief for stale technologies like Flash, but IMO theyre moving in the right (and interesting) direction as quickly as their internal structures and market offerings allow.

Nice to hear that they are having a positive impact. Sling is one of the most compelling pieces of software that I've worked with in a long time. It's odd that AEM/CQ5 being as big and as disruptive as it is, doesn't get any play here in HN

The more I look into Adobe, it seems to be a great company, but whats with the whole November layoffs I read about on glassdoor.com?

Microsoft Silicon Valley is actually pretty awesome. HQ isn't in the bay area, but their Silicon Valley campus is 10 minutes away from Google's HQ in Mountain View.

I agree as well. Microsoft Research in Mountain View is pretty awesome, my time there was nothing short of amazing. I have sinced moved but I enjoyed my time there and the compensation and benefits are top notch.

I'd like to second this. The smaller campus when compared to Redmond gives you the benefits of a big company while still feeling like a closer community of a smaller company.

Red Hat

-- all of the above, except the head office is in Raleigh NC, which probably doesn't matter as you can work at home full time if you want, and there is an office in Mountain View if you prefer to work in offices.

I'd look at NetApp. They're consistently listed as one of the top places to work (in the US and worldwide) and have a variety of software projects (hardware/firmware work to web management tools).

A friend in SF who was the prototypical "startup designer" just got tired of it after too many failed projects and too many unstable positions and got a job with General Electric designing extremely technical user manuals. He loves the rhythm and by his account it seems like a great job. Not sure that he can ever work from home though. Otherwise it fits your criteria.

I've been a sysadmin since the mid-90s, working almost exclusively for startups and small companies. Eventually I got tired of it, and went to GE in late October (not as a sysadmin, but a security/automation related position).

So, on the bright side, there are no more insane hours, there's no begging for money, I'm doing a bluesky / "fun" project for a living, and for a big company a lot of it seems to be more fast paced like a startup. My coworkers are nice people, and my boss is like a real life Ron Swanson.

Downsides? We're not really supposed to telecommute though some managers allow it. There's a dress code, but it's tolerable. Lots and lots of meetings, and lots of lots of management. There can be a lot of communication issues between different departments. Almost everything has a well designed workflow, but they often break down due to those communication issues. As GE is a very large and political company, people without great social networking skills may need to work on them.

All in all I'm happy there, and it's a really nice change from burnout-inducing workloads, pagers constantly going off at 3:00 AM, and wondering whether any of us will have a job by the end of the day.

I don't know if we count as big, but Mozilla fits all of your criteria.

Groupon is headquartered in Chicago, but has a big office in Palo Alto. Very modern tooling, decent compensation, working from home is fine, keeping your own hours is fine, 40 hour weeks (including lunch) is the norm, interesting problems.

As a former Groupon employee in Palo Alto (they acquired my startup this past year) I can tell you working from home is most definitely not "fine."

My startup was based in San Francisco. Even though Groupon has an office in the city, they mandated my entire team be in the Palo Alto office from day one.

The rest of the things you mention are spot on. Besides the commute issue I had no complaints.

It might've been the plumfare crew. They had little issue with my working remotely as well. Of course when they attempted to pressure me to come in the office more I gave them the choice of having me less hours and in the office or more hours and working from home. Not there any more, but just adding more views on things...

I would differ with the "modern tooling" opinion though.

You reckon they'll be around in the next 4-5 years?

Does anyone here work at Dell? How has the culture changed since they went private? Are they still "corporatey", or are they trying to be more "start-upy" like their recent ads hint at?

I'm on the end user consumer side (can't speak for enterprise). Unfortunately, no, there hasn't been change for the better. Their primary focus is on reducing operating expenses rather than focusing on technological innovation. There has been some reorganization; however, in the end it's still the same old guard leadership that's been in charge for decades (nothing new).

Including Michael Dell I think.

Rackspace, cloud server company.

https://github.com/rackspace https://github.com/rackerlabs

- 401K is available. Salary is competitive market rate for SF tech even if you're not a particularly strong salary negotiator. Quarterly bonuses, shows up as another ACH deposit to your bank account besides your regular bi-weekly(Fridays) deposit. Commuter-card, currently $125 free a month. If you want more than that, it's deducted pre-tax from your paycheck. Currently healthcare is Humana & Kaiser.

- Opensource is the name of the game. Built on Openstack, so python is big here but we do have Ruby and nodejs too; and probably other languages I'm not remembering right nwo. Challenging problems exist to work on and still given room to develop new ideas and pitch them to upper-management. Also allows at least 1 day a month for hack-a-thon to work on anything you want(ya know, as long as it's legal and not NSFW). I saw the beginnings of floobits.com when it was alpha-ware that crashed. They ended up being accepted into YCombinator.

- Life balance focused. There isn't the attitude that burning beyond 40hr/weeks is expected at all.

- Stable. I don't see Rackspace disappearing anytime soon.

- We have several people who work from home at least twice a week.

- Main HQ is actually in Texas, but the SF office isn't bad. No cubicles, open plan. Big eating area, foosball, table-tennis, plenty of space to bring your bike into the office and a machine that makes bubbly water. Free drinks like ice tea and diet soda. The soda is kept out of site though because people are trying to be healthy. Out of side, out of mind ;) ...But if you know where to look, you can get it. There's an Xbox on a big screen TV that people sometimes play football(as in soccer) on too.

Have you heard of Workday? We, the employees, continually vote Workday as the best company to work for in the bay area. I wouldn't consider us a big company, but we fit a lot of the criteria that you've specified. I've been at Workday for a while, and we have very interesting technical problems.

And what about something like OP asks for but in the Northeast? Chicago/Boston, NYC, DC??

You should work for Intel. We have free coffee.

I was going to say Intel checks all the boxes

- Very very competitive salary and "deterministic" benefits (401k with good employer contributions, RSUs, cash bonuses, etc.)

Total comp is high, but the bonuses are super deterministic. There's 2 cash bonuses, both based on formulas that are published. 401K is just a contribution, not a match, RSUs based on performance (4 year vesting for each issue). You also get discounts on Intel products. There's also a very nice "kudos" system where you can send people small cash awards for promoting company values or doing a good job.

- Challenging working environment where neat technical problems are still solved despite not being a startup, possibly with modern tools and technologies (e.g. not a "we use CVS as our SCM" shop)

Intel takes sand and turns it into computers, and they spend several billion dollars a year making that happen. There's a lot of tough technical problems all over the place, like how do you make drivers and software for a chip that doesn't exist yet?

- no more than 40-45 hours a week expected as per company culture

Depends on the group again. Some managers will push you to work more than 40 (all the time, not just crunch), but you have to let them control you.

- Stable job (no serious failure possibility in the next 3 years or so for the company)

The company is definitely stable. In the event that your particular group is restructured or given the axe, there's retraining opportunities to keep you in the company.

- Possibility of working from home (even just once or twice a week to break the routine)

Most are okay if you work from home once in a while. Consult your specific manager on their views of structured or regular work from home.

- Main headquarters in SF bay area (where I'm located)

Santa Clara or Folsom would be the nearest sites, but both of them are huge.

There's free tea and soda in addition to the coffee.

> The company intends to jettison the jobs without laying off workers, said Intel spokesman Bill Calder. The reductions instead will be achieved through attrition, buyouts and early retirement offers.

And free fruit!

Your best bet might be startups that have been acquired by mega-corps. Such as:

* Heroku (owned by Salesforce) * Climate Corporation (owned by Monsanto)

The above two and some similar companies should hit all your checkboxes.

I work for The Climate Corporation, and while I really like it, it really doesn't have a 40-45 hour a week culture right now.

[Disclaimer: I work at GM]

General Motors fits all your criteria besides location. We have IT centers in Austin, Phoenix, Atlanta and of course Detroit.

I've been here a year and there is an amazing amount of bootstrapping and getting things done across the company. Fortune 5 company, making a billion in profit a quarter, moving all of it's outsourced dev in house and turning IT from a cost center to an innovation/profit center.

I work on shopclickdrive.com which is GM's foray into selling cars online (we leverage our relationship with our dealerships...a third of our US dealers signed up for the program in 3 months). Very cool stuff when you think about how no other auto manufacturer is trying to sell cars online...especially at our scale. [http://www.detroitnews.com/article/20140124/AUTO0103/3012400...]

Beyond the we use SVN as our SCM, we're moving our stack to all the best practice stuff: client-side mvc, restful apis, SOLID code backed by automated unit and functional tests.

If anyone is interested, email me at gaurav.patel@gm.com.

Microsoft fit all of those criteria except the main criteria in SF.

Generally, you would only need to be in the office if you have a meeting ( as long as you get your work done).

Depending on your team, you may or may not be expected to work over 40 hours a week. On my team, we are encouraged to work 40 hours with no overtime.Even if we need to stay in late for a bug fix, we would come in late or leave early the next day.

Charles Schwab seems to be pretty good in regards to taking care of their employees. This is my first corporate job and most people I work with have been @ the company for 10-20 years. All of those people rave about working for Schwab. I don't feel quite the same way but I also don't have anything to compare it to. They love benefits and how well the company treats them. The IT side is pretty well funded and you can work with some neat tools.

If you get on the wrong team, you will have a tough time getting past the "group-think" established by the ranking veterans who refuse to innovate. However, that seems to only exist at the "team" level rather than the organizational level. I had to learn the appropriate place to take certain ideas.

A downside is that they don't seem to fire anyone which can lead to quite a bit of "bloat" at the lower end of the staffing spectrum. However, the higher up the technical ladder I climb the more brilliant people I meet.

The corporate red-tape is a never ending battle and my favorite managers @ the company thus far have been able to remove me from those situations and let me work on fun stuff.

The culture is a little too formal for me. The dress code is "business casual". I feel like a renegade for wearing a t-shirt to work. They have an odd reluctance to spend money on certain things and have no trouble dumping 100's of K into something else. We still use 4:3 monitors at work and I can't bring in a widescreen from home. It drives me up the wall.

Overall, the company will treat you well. You will receive a reasonable compensation. You will fight normal corprate red-tape related fights. The "unofficial technical leaders" are really smart people and drive the company in the right direction. A few people seem to take advantage of the "it is hard to get fired" here mantra, it shows.

Look at the government or public institutions like medical schools or hospitals.

There are lots of interesting projects in state and local government. Great benefits, pay is usually competitive with a company (but no bonuses), and you usually get a defined benefit pension.

For this person I would advise working against any company that isn't a software/tech company (or, at the very least, that doesn't have the development of software as a line of business or as the primary means of support for their revenue driving activities).

These organizations--governments, schools, and hospitals--aren't "tech companies". Their cultures are generally the opposite of what a person interested in technical challenges in software would want. They're places where "playing it safe" and "playing politics" are far more important than writing software.

It all depends.

I've had the privilege of working on some really amazing technical projects for a state government.

My corporate work experience is minimal, but I think it's possible to find a good groove at Intel. You would have to check if they have teams working in your area of expertise in Santa Clara or San Francisco though.

VMWare seems to be a company that'll fit your bill. I don't work there but personally I found their APIs and documentation to be among the best in the industry. Just high quality.

They’re headquartered in Amsterdam, not SF, but Booking.com are probably worth a mention. (They have offices globally.)

I was invited over to their HQ to give a talk late last year and wow. An amazing company, every employee has a huge smile and nothing but great things to say, they have a really great culture, are a very wealthy company, and engineers are given a lot of freedom. Had I not just started working for myself, I would have taken them up on the full-time jobs they offered me!

I've heard the opposite.... very very opposite. They have scorched the Perl community from what I heard.

EDIT: http://blogs.perl.org/users/booking_employee/2014/01/booking...


I work there as a senior developer and those blog posts couldn't be further from the truth. There was some discussion about them on Reddit a while ago that I contributed too (I'm "avar" there too): http://www.reddit.com/r/perl/comments/1mkdl4/what_exactly_is...

Anyway to reply to @csswizardry while we have offices worldwide (including in SF) the only office where we're hiring developers/sysadmins is in Amsterdam, and very small sysadmin operations in Seattle/Singapore that mostly handle pager load outside of Amsterdam office hours.

If anyone's interested I'd be happy to field questions about it, my E-mail is listed in my profile.

>It is estimated that the Dutch transported 550,000-600,000 Africans as slaves. Although slavery is banned, the Dutch society still has exploitation of expats ingrained in their mentality.

Just read the blog... what the hell?

Indeed, the law he's referring to applies to everyone. Expat or not. He later on clarifies that it solely applies to Booking.com. This kind of emotional writing I can do without. It is way too easy to assume he's talking about all Dutch people, so IMO badly written and not worth it.

Thank you for this. The comments are funny. Most of them are the exact "layer" he was mentioning in his article.

"no serious failure possibility in the next 3 years or so for the company"

I've mostly worked in big non-tech companies and one common thing I've seen is the eternal oscillator of centralization/decentralization. So the company might not fail, but that doesn't prevent your entire team from being shut off like a lightswitch as things are either centralized or decentralized or both around the same time.

Also see mergers and project cancellations.

Strange nobody listed Apple Inc.

Not really, there's not much interesting happening on the software side there, and Tim Cook wants it that way.

Can you imagine having to work under Craig Federighi? Uh, pass, that guy is a political creation I wouldn't trust to architect a Rails app.

Bottom line: If you want interesting, innovative software work, Apple is at the bottom of the list these days.

Intuit is consistently ranked highly in lists at Glassdoor, Fortune, etc. Often cited as a relaxed work environment compared to others in the Bay Area.

Nearly all of my former-company's middle-management and business development people were ex-Intuit. I'd like to think that means that Intuit is good at getting rid of its worst hires.

Obviously though I have my doubts.

Okay, it's on the East Coast instead of the west. But SAS is one of the best places to work for in the world. Some of the perks that seem applicable to you:

* 7 hour work day

* Flexible work schedules

* Everyone has a private office

* On site Day Cares

* On site Health Care

* Gymnasium, Natatorium, Hundreds of acres of trail laced land bordering a national park.

* Extremely stable company

* One of my co-workers on the development team just celebrated her 25th year at the company.

Personally, I feel empowered and respected. It's a great place.

Does SAS hire people with a machine learning / software dev background? Would you be be okay with passing on my resume?

It's quite possible. I would keep an eye open at http://www.sas.com/en_us/careers.html#openings However the organizations that would be interested in your skills, which is our R&D group, is separate from mine. I wouldn't even know which person to show it to :)

You should look into Chevron. They're in San Ramon. Other than Shell, they're probably the most liberal of the major oil firms with their work policies and they have massive technical challenges to solve. The only thing I'm not sure about is if they have a software department in their San Ramon headquarters—those guys might all be in Houston.

ARM has a CA office IIRC (not HQ though obviously). It's nit a big big company but it is a nice place to work.

I am not if I should start a new thread but if this exact question was asked but instead of a senior dev, a university graduate (with experience in a large company and a startup). What would your suggestions be? (also.. I am located in UK)

Amazon is expanding fast in SF, and we're hiring! Come check us out...

Any ios dev happening in Bay Area

What are you guys doing in SF?

We're not so big, but we check off most of your boxes (except that we're in NYC). Anyone who's interested, details are in my profile, feel free to shoot me an email.

Check out: http://automattic.com/work-with-us/

We work on WordPress.com and other cool services.

SAP would have most of the items you care for. Probably the recent acquisitions like SuccessFactors would be a good place.

Disclaimer: I am a hiring manager at SuccessFactors.


Lot's of investment/work in "BigData" (Hadoop, HBase, etc). Interesting scalability challenges at all levels. Great work/life culture.

What about companies for a junior with 2 years professional experience and and math degrees from legit but no-name colleges/universities?

Take a look at SAP. Not all areas of the company are desirable to work for, but they have a lot of good groups from old acquisitions.

IBM -- It's got a lot going for it, if you don't like one division/project there are bunch of other ones to look at.

Not sure what your definition of "big" is. I have worked at Linkedin for 4 years and have been very happy there.

I think it's large enough to be considered a "big" tech company. I've enjoyed my first year at LinkedIn. Small enough to have a big impact, big enough to not need to worry about resources.

Marvel is hiring, but we are located in NYC.

OP here

Thanks for all the responses so far, definitely interesting names I wouldn't have considered otherwise!

Trimble Navigation, Caterpillar, SAIC, Genetech, General Electric, MITRE, SLAC, SRI.

I work in IT at Caterpillar and they meet all of your points except being located in SF.

Check out Workday, we meet all of your criteria.

Why did you have to ask HN for this you sad idiot?

Says the coward who hurls insults under a veil of anonymity with a fresh throwaway account.

What makes the OP a "sad idiot"?

You must be really sad and angry to register just so you could post this ignorant comment.

PS: I accidentally upvoted this ... hazard of using HN on a mobile phone :/

If you're on Android, check out Hacker News 2. Much better experience.

I know you're just trolling, but honest question, where else would you ask?

real mature

Does anyone hear a small, annoying whine in here?

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