Engineering Team at Carbon Five

Carbon Five is a digital product development consultancy. We partner with our clients to create exceptional products and grow effective teams. We work with for numerous startups in addition to companies and organizations like Charles Schwab, Skype, National Geographic, and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.

Job Openings at Carbon Five

Top Engineering Values

Each team is asked to select, explain, and rank their top 8 values in order of importance.
  • Work/Life Balance

    Work/life balance is precisely why we started this company.

    When we started in 2000, engineers were often siloed off. There seemed to be a lack of respect for both the work engineers were doing and their balance between work and personal commitments. The company was founded by a group of people who saw value in people’s ability to focus very intensely during the day and then completely unplug at the end of the day. Work/life balance to us means that when you come into work, you work hard and when you’re done, you’re completely done. At Carbon Five, you get to work on really interesting things without the overhead of politics, harsh deadlines, working weekends, or pagerduty.


    We also have sabbaticals at Carbon Five. One of the benefits of being a consulting company is that it’s natural and easy for people to take time off. After one project ends, there is a wrap up to the work and provides an opportunity to take time off without disruption. Once you’ve been with the company for 2 years, you can take 3 months off (unpaid). It is an uninterrupted block of time that people use to spend the entire summer with their kids, surf, launch an album, or go rock climbing. It’s an opportunity for you to do whatever you want.

  • Uses Agile Methodologies

    We practice a certain flavor of Agile known as Agile XP.

    We advocate frequent release of working software. Sometimes the hardest thing to put into practice for larger companies is pushing code continuously. We use continuous integration, do test driven development, and try to deliver something that has business value to actual customers as often as possible. We have weekly iteration planning meetings, where developers, PMs, designers, and the project owner (usually from the client’s side) come together to plan the work for the week. It’s an open, collaborative discussion to identify what the highest value work is and estimate each unit of work. We’re pragmatic about pair programming and leave it up to individuals to decide. Most of the people here have had 8+ years of experience in the industry so we trust each other to reach out for a pair when needed. Some people pair all the time, some less than that, but everyone pairs some of the time. At the end of the week, we do a demo as well as a retrospective (with everyone from our team and from the client) to go over what went well and what didn’t go well this last week.

  • High Employee Retention

    The average tenure at Carbon Five is 5 years.

    All of the partners have been here for 11 or more years. People tend to stick around for a long time and those that don’t are the ones that come in and leave pretty quickly because they discover that this isn’t the right environment for them. There is big difference between having a product-type versus a consulting-type of involvement at a company. Some people want to have ownership in a product over many years, and potentially move up in title and in a hierarchy. Whereas for us on the consulting side, we are people who constantly like learning, leveling up our skills, and enjoy doing it quickly. You might go from doing data-warehousing work with Java to building a platform with Node to developing in React Native for a mobile application. People who like diving into different domains and code flourish here. If working on new things every 4-6 months with a senior team appeals to you, we’d love to hear from you. (Note: we do hire about one junior dev per year per office.)

  • Fosters Psychological Safety

    We’ve worked with a lot of companies. The #1 thing that we see in companies that can grow, scale, and move quickly is a sense of psychological safety.

    It’s amazing how companies are able to move quickly when they allow a certain level of autonomy and agency to their team. Whether it’s through an actual system or by teaching their team by inherent values that are made clear within the working paradigm at the office, it’s necessary for teams to have a way to do risk assessment. What is reversible risk? What isn’t reversible? When everyone trusts that they are within those guardrails, the team can move and make decisions quickly. We are incredibly thoughtful of this at Carbon Five as well as in assessing the companies we take on as clients. We take a lot of metrics for all of the companies that we work with, and a strong presence of psychological safety is one of the strongest signals for success that we’ve seen over the years.

  • Cross-Department Collaboration

    We have this venn diagram of developers, designers, and product-focused leaders to create our balanced team.

    We really push hard within Carbon Five, as well as with our clients, to have diversity across skills. We also look for people that have low ego; strong opinions are welcome if they are loosely held. Almost every one of our developers want to know that the thing they’re building is being used. Even if it’s not specific to product or design, they like understanding the value of what it is they’re building and having input on it.

  • Engages with Community

    We encourage everyone to write blogs, give talks, and contribute to the community in any way.

    Our team members speak at conferences all over the country including Railsconf, ElixirConf, QCon, O’Reilly, Strangeloop, SXSW, Lean Startup Conference, Pluralsight Live, among many others. We have a group within the company called Outreach for people to help come up with ideas for talks and review talks. Speaking allows you to distill your knowledge down into something that is accessible to others, become a part of the greater community, and mentor and inspire others in the community. We also provide assistance for travel. For example, one of our engineers, Anna, is on the board of RailsBridge and runs ElixirBridge, and we fly her around the country to do Elixir workshops on the weekends.


    To many of the developers at Carbon Five, speaking at conferences is important on a personal level. Courtney, who supports a variety of initiatives like Railsbridge, Women Who Code, and Balanced Team, says “I think seeing women on stage speaking about something that they know showcases that there is a body of work that a diverse set of humans is responsible for. To me, that is the greatest opposing argument to the anti-diversity mindset. Plus, it’s just fun.”


    More locally, we also host a speaker series and hack night that is open to the community. We host many events and invite you to come.


  • Ideal for Parents

    The flexibility and balance at Carbon Five is great for parents. That’s why there are so many here!

    We have an equivalent maternity and paternity leave policy and we support fathers that want to be at home with their kids just as much as mothers. Our company barbecues are always family friendly and we encourage everyone to bring their kids. Across our four offices, parents make up a large proportion of the company (maybe about a third) which makes our Slack channel for parents a great place for stories and support. The work/life balance and flexibility we have is ideal for anyone with a growing family that also like to have fun with the people they work with.

  • Eats Lunch Together

    We have the same lunch traditions in all of our locations.

    Our offices in San Francisco, Santa Monica, Chattanooga, and New York City all have big farmhouse tables that we congregate at for lunch. (Though in Chattanooga, people tend to go out for lunch together instead.) We have a tradition on Wednesday where each week, one person presents a lunch talk at each office. It doesn’t have to be about technology, and it can be off the cuff. Talk about an interesting article you read earlier in the week and open it up for discussion, or bring in clay and teach everyone pottery! We do it alphabetically and when it’s your turn, you can talk about whatever you want. Are you already thinking about what you’d present?

Values

  • Work/Life Balance
  • Uses Agile Methodologies
  • High Employee Retention
  • Fosters Psychological Safety
  • Cross-Department Collaboration
  • Engages with Community
  • Ideal for Parents
  • Eats Lunch Together

Company Properties

  • B2B
  • Technical Founder(s)

Team Members

  • 8 Designers
  • 40 Full-Stack Engineers
  • 7 Product Managers

Vacation Policy

Three weeks with a week for the winter holiday which becomes 4 weeks after 2 years.

Tech Stack

The majority of our work is in Rails, Node, and Java, but almost everything is up for grabs. The only tech we don’t work in is .NET and PHP.

Interview Process

After meeting one of the hiring managers over coffee or video, there’s a short in-person second round. If that goes well, you’ll come in for a whole afternoon with the company that involves pair programming on actual code and a series of technical and product management interviews.