Engineering at DuckDuckGo

DuckDuckGo is the Internet privacy company that empowers you to seamlessly take control of your personal information online, without any tradeoffs. We’re raising the standard of trust online, which starts with making privacy simple and accessible for everyone.

Job Openings at DuckDuckGo

Top Engineering Values

Each team is asked to select, explain, and rank their top 8 values in order of importance.
  • Committed to Personal Growth

    Your career trajectory isn’t limited to two tracks at DuckDuckGo.

    Ensuring our team members feel empowered to grow and challenge themselves on a daily basis is core to how we operate. One way we do this is by offering every team member an annual budget of $1250 to invest in their professional development. It can be spent on virtual and in-person courses or lectures, books and other paid learning materials, or conference attendance (including necessary travel expenses). We also give every team member a dedicated Career Advisor, who serves as a guide to help you develop your strengths, identify your motivations, understand your weaknesses, and set goals. Weekly 1-on-1s with your Career Advisor ensure you’re tracking toward these goals.


    You may have had to give up your individual contributor role to take on a management position or enter leadership at previous companies, but not here. At DuckDuckGo, we don’t believe leadership roles are effective when limited to two tracks. We have many different types of leaders and possible combinations of leadership roles, so you can grow your career in a way that aligns best with you personally. For example, while we all lead projects, you can seek additional leadership roles by DRI-ing an objective (see Start-to-Finish Ownership below), owning a unique product area, developing and maintaining a new internal process, seeking career, project, or objective advisory roles, and much more.


    There are written expectations for all of these roles, too, so it’s always clear what you’re responsible for and what you need to do to get promoted. What’s more, our review process doesn’t rely on single decision-makers. When changes to professional levels are considered (every nine months), your peers are consulted. This way the collaborators, stakeholders, and advisors you’ve worked with can directly speak to your work and its impact. We also actively encourage our engineers to work on projects across platforms in order to widen their skill set and eventually move into new functional areas (if they wish to do so).

  • Bonded by Love for Product

    Our shared vision is to raise the standard of trust online.

    We’re the second largest mobile search engine in the US and UK, with over 5 million monthly downloads and 3 billion private monthly searches. Everyone at DuckDuckGo shares the belief that your personal data is nobody’s business and we’re always looking for ways to improve our users’ experience. For example, we’ve provided users with mapping features within DuckDuckGo Search for many years, improving them along the way with greater accuracy, dark mode, local re-querying, and more. We were able to take that even further by adding route planning. As with all our search features, we protect users’ privacy when using these directions.


    While our roots will always be the search engine that doesn’t track you, our mission to secure online privacy doesn’t stop there. Our goal is to protect users wherever the Internet takes them. As a new engineer, you’ll work to improve and optimize the user experience in our all-in-one privacy solution. With three innovative projects slated for release this year, and more on the horizon, you'll also be responsible for helping us launch new features into the marketplace. Your work at DuckDuckGo will have a direct impact on our promise to deliver privacy, simplified.


  • Flat Organization

    Our team structure eschews chain of command-style management.

    There are two types of teams at DuckDuckGo: Functional Teams and Objective Teams. Unlike other companies, these teams do not follow a typical reporting structure. Instead, they function as part of a non-hierarchical system that enables empowered project management and sustains distributed collaboration. Functional Teams contain people with related functional skills (e.g., Mobile Engineering or Finance) and provide a consistent space to share best practices and navigate specific workflows. Functional teams also host virtual or in-person meetups annually to enrich team culture, reinvigorate comradery, and support professional development. When you join, you'll automatically become a member of a Functional Team with people who specialize in the same kind of work you do. Since primary functional skill delineates these teams, Functional Teams rarely change.


    Objective Teams contain people from various Functional Teams who support one of many company-wide initiatives that we call Objectives. Each Objective represents a common company goal and ultimately supports our mission to show the world that protecting privacy is simple. While your Functional Team is your home base, you'll more likely find yourself collaborating with members of your Objective Team day-to-day. Unlike Functional Teams, people may move between Objective Teams as company priorities shift, and we try to match up personal interests as much as is possible and practical.


    We’re always working to ensure diverse perspectives are shared and that the playing field is level. When referring to each other internally we don’t use external job titles and we expect any two people at the same professional level (regardless of team or role) to contribute similar value to company objectives. Feel free to collaborate directly across teams and levels, and yes, you can ping our CEO directly anytime.

  • Start-to-Finish Ownership

    We have one Directly Responsible Individual (DRI) for every project.

    The most effective way to achieve our mission is allowing every team member to propose and contribute to initiatives. While this doesn’t mean anyone can execute anything of their choosing, it empowers people to influence strategy and direction across the organization, allowing any team member to push projects and objectives forward.


    The underlying concept is that good things happen when individual people are directly responsible. This is why we don’t have an explicit Project Management team at DuckDuckGo. Instead, we have one Directly Responsible Individual (or DRI) for every objective, project, or task. We’ve documented DRI expectations for every role and built-in advisory roles at the personal, project, and objective level. Along with members of their Functional and Objective Teams, DRI’s have ongoing support from Career Advisors, Project Advisors, and others.


    Every quarter we hold three (day-long) Hack Days, during which we work on anything we choose. If you can utilize data to craft a compelling case for a new product or feature, we'll implement it.

  • Work/Life Balance

    We want you to thrive both in and out of the office.

    Maintaining satisfaction at work is one of our company objectives, just like maintaining and improving our private search engine. We trust you to use good judgement and encourage you to take as much time off as you need to bring your best self to work. Our CEO, Gabe, makes sure to set a good example by taking regular vacations and encouraging the rest of the team to do the same. We also offer a $1000 annual wellness stipend, which you can use on things like a gym membership, yoga classes, counseling (e.g., mental health, nutrition), athletic activities, or equipment (e.g., treadmill, dumbbells).


    Since we’ve been fully distributed from the start, we prioritize a work/life balance that keeps the pace sustainable but also leaves time for your personal hobbies and passions. That said, we reserve time for connection during work hours, too. For example, we use Zoom for weekly 30-minute “Neighbors” calls with four or five randomly selected team members to get to know each other better. Similarly, a weekly “Know Your Company” thread in Asana invites everyone to share opinions, photos, and experiences about a given subject. Previous topics have included everything from pet showcases to favorite relaxation music and travel stories. The “DuckDuckGo Coffeehouse” (a Zoom room open 24/7) is also great if you just want to pop in for a quick work break, though it’s usually busiest after our Friday all-hands meeting.


    We also have more structured social clubs, called Guilds. For instance, the Writers Anonymous Guild meets on Zoom for weekly write-ins, where members make progress on their novels, comic books, or short stories. The Random Acts of Learning Guild hosts monthly meetings, inviting subject matter experts (both internal and external) to speak about their work or field of study.


    We also love meeting up in person when we can, too. We host annual company retreats, team meetups, and optional “work-ations” where you can work with colleagues in various destinations around the world.

  • Safe Environment to Fail

    You'll always have guidance and a second pair of eyes.

    Project Advisors change from project-to-project depending on the needs of each individual project and DRI. For example, you might have an advisor with a high degree of skill in a functional area you’re less familiar with, or an advisor who can help avoid duplicated effort because they’ve done the same type of work before. Whether you’re developing a new unit testing harness or designing a new onboarding experiment, your Project Advisor will be there to guide you whenever uncertainty arises.


    Professionally questioning each other’s assumptions is key to rejecting bias and creating a more inclusive culture. By continually challenging our conscious and unconscious biases, we’re validating our own direction constantly and can better elevate our work. Not only does this allow for fast and sustainable growth, but it also ensures our culture and processes remain productive and empowering.

  • Open Communication

    With team members spanning the globe, we list every major project in one place and document everything so everyone can participate.

    For a distributed company, with team members in over 15 countries, working according to our values depends on transparency. Team members have the freedom and flexibility to organize their work schedules around meetings, and any mandatory meetings are scheduled so people in different time zones can comfortably attend. You can participate in almost any company initiative if you’d like, regardless of professional level, team, physical location, or your preferred working hours.


    Day-to-day transparency happens in Asana – our shared source of truth. There, you’ll find every major project listed in one place, organized by company-wide Objectives. We make it a point to document meeting agendas and outcomes here so people can weigh in asynchronously, even if they don't attend the call. We also try to keep Wednesdays and Thursdays meeting-free so people can have time for deep work.


    Want to know what happened in the last board meeting? Review our monthly revenue numbers? Catch up on takeaways from a teammate's kick-off call? Not only is that information available to everyone in the company, but you can always ask questions, share your point of view, or clarify areas of uncertainty.


    Of course, not all conversations can happen asynchronously. We use Zoom for must-have meetings (like our weekly all-hands, team sync-ups, kick-off calls, and 1-on-1s) and rely on Mattermost for direct messaging (and most of our day-to-day banter).


  • Rapidly Growing Team

    We’re looking to add at least 20 developers to the team by the end of the year.

    It’s safe to say we do remote work really well, and have built a culture of trust and transparency. Ever since our second team member joined in 2012, average employee retention has been 95%. This remained true in 2019 and 2020 as well, when we grew our team from 56 to 118. As we look to hire even more people by the end of the year, we believe this high level of retention only underscores our commitment to seeing our company values in action. Here’s why you should join us:

    • We're on a mission. Our vision is to raise the standard of trust online. Together, we're on a mission to show the world that protecting privacy can be simple.
    • We're growing. Every day millions of people rely on our free all-in-one privacy solution. We're the #2 largest mobile search engine in the US, CA, and UK with over 125K downloads and 100M+ private searches per day.
    • We're profitable. The world needs an alternative to the collect-it-all business model. We’ve been profitable since 2014, and our current run rate is in excess of $100m a year.
    • We're remote work pioneers. We've always been a fully distributed company with team members all over the world. We trust you to get your work done wherever, whenever.

    If you’d like to learn more, we encourage you to apply!

Values

  • Committed to Personal Growth
  • Bonded by Love for Product
  • Flat Organization
  • Start-to-Finish Ownership
  • Work/Life Balance
  • Safe Environment to Fail
  • Open Communication
  • Rapidly Growing Team

Company Properties

  • B2C
  • Technical Founder(s)
  • Remote-OK

Team Members

  • 125 Team members across: Engineering (66), Product (6), Design (14), Research (5), and Other (36)

Vacation Policy

Maintaining satisfaction at work is one of our company objectives, just like maintaining and improving our private search engine. We trust you to use good judgment to take time off as needed so that you can be your best at work. Our CEO sets a good example by taking regular vacations and encouraging the rest of the team to do the same. Our Team Support Guide explains more about how we make you our top priority.

Tech Stack

Frontend – Custom MV* JS Framework, React, SASS, Handlebars

Backend – Perl, Go, NodeJS, Python

Data Science – Jupyter, Python, Clickhouse

Internal Operations – Linux, Terraform, Chef, Azure, Jenkins

Privacy Engineering – JavaScript, Python

iOS + macOS – Swift, Bitrise

Android – Kotlin, Jenkins

Windows - C#

Interview Process

Our interview process starts with a 30-minute call with a member of our recruitment team, followed by a paid project assignment. Next, you’ll have an interview with a Director of Engineering and a Senior Engineer, followed by a second paid project assignment. Finally, you’ll meet with the CTO and CEO.

For a more in-depth breakdown of our recruitment philosophy and process, check out our How We Hire Guide.