Engineering at Instacart

Since 2012, Instacart has been focused on making grocery delivery convenient, affordable, and accessible to everyone. We bring fresh groceries and everyday essentials to customers across the U.S. and Canada from nearly 55,000 stores across more than 5,500 cities in North America. Instacart is available to 85% of U.S. households in all 50 states, and 80% of Canadian households.

Job Openings at Instacart

Top Engineering Values

Each team is asked to select, explain, and rank their top 8 values in order of importance.
  • Start-to-Finish Ownership

    Ownership is one of our key criteria when evaluating performance.

    Everyone in Instacart’s engineering organization is expected to take ownership of their work – regardless of where you or your team members physically work from (thanks to our new office, flex, remote policy). Ownership covers all of the ingredients – how you scope, plan, ship, communicate cross-functionally, and maintain your work. We value ownership so much that it is one of the main categories by which individual contributors and engineering managers assess performance.


    We value engineers who can truly “own” their projects and communicate with design, product, comms, and other adjacent teams. As the company grows, it becomes increasingly important for individuals to possess both the EQ and IQ to manage a project from beginning to end. Ownership grows as you grow within the company, too. Over time, engineers take on bigger projects that range across your team, the engineering org, or even the whole company.

  • Wears Many Hats

    We love generalists.

    If you’re not an expert in one particular language, that is completely fine! We love engineers who are generalists and have experience with (or interest in) multiple languages and platforms. Be endlessly curious!


    While there are tons of opportunities for those interested in depth, there are just as many for those looking for breadth. Instacart is a four-sided marketplace that connects consumers, shoppers, retailers, and brands. As a result, there are many opportunities to explore the intersections between our end users. We have unique and complex problems to solve here at Instacart because we focus on how consumer, advertising, ecommerce, and enterprise products interact with one another.

  • Cutting-Edge Technologies

    We maintain a complex, interdependent chain of technology.

    We’ve doubled down on machine learning and data science in order to maintain a massive data catalog (the largest grocery catalog ever), build our customer and shopper apps, identify lost demand in our fulfillment chain, and solve a souped-up version of the classic traveling salesman problem. There is no shortage of interesting models to improve, algorithms to optimize, and problems to solve as we reach scale.


    Millions of customers buy their groceries on Instacart. Our backend systems support tight integrations with some of the largest retailers in North America and our engineers are working to scale operations across our iOS, Android, and web applications. We currently use Rails, Ruby, Python, R, PostgreSQL 9.6, React 0.17, AWS, Docker, RabbitMQ, Sidekiq, Snowflake, PostgreSQL, Stripe, Twilio, Mapbox, and SiftScience, but don’t require folks to have experience with our stack. If you have a solid sense for basic languages and are eager to learn new ones, please reach out!

  • Internal Mobility

    Ten percent of our full-time employees started out as shoppers on the platform.

    We want to support you no matter where you want to take your career. While most companies focus on career progression in terms of “climbing up the ladder,” we fully acknowledge that many people want to move laterally, too. Not only does this mean working on different teams or on different parts of the stack, but also learning entirely new disciplines altogether.


    We have an internal coding bootcamp called Carrot University to help employees without technical backgrounds learn how to code and apply for open engineering positions. We realized people who are strongly motivated to make this transition will do so with or without our help, and these are precisely the types of people we value most at Instacart. Carrot U enables employees in non-technical roles to keep their jobs and simultaneously gain new skills. For example, Jeremy Flanagan was a student of Carrot U who started at Instacart as a shopper – he is now a full-time software engineer on our Shopper Success team.


    For engineers looking to make a smaller transition within engineering, we of course support that, too. Muffy Barkocy is a great example of this: she joined as a front end engineer and transitioned into backend/infrastructure engineering, and then into internal tools engineering. Most career paths aren’t linear, which is why we do our best to support you no matter where yours takes you.

  • Open Communication

    We are so much more than code, pipelines, models, and metrics.

    You can be one of the best engineers in the world, but how impactful your work is depends on how well you communicate and work with your team. Instacart has many moving parts, so to facilitate cross-functional collaboration, we host regular “Hackers Lunch” meetings. While these are optional in both our SF and Toronto offices, they’re a great opportunity to practice our public speaking skills and share what projects we’ve been working on with folks that aren’t in your immediate team. In the past, people have presented on topics like The New PagerDuty, Efficient Services, Technical Writing for Fun and Profit, and Building Availability Models.


    At a company-wide level, we meet on a monthly basis for our All-Hands where leaders share updates on projects, launches, and larger announcements. Our CEO also hosts a monthly AMA series called “The Scoop”, where he answers questions that are top of mind for employees. And our employee-led Employee Resource Groups hold regular internal discussions about topics of interest.

  • Engages with Community

    We believe community extends both inside and outside the walls of Instacart.

    From an engineering perspective, we love talking about what we’re working on with the greater engineering community. We share best practices at our SF HQ and our Toronto engineering hubs; host popular podcasts (Kaushik Gopal, Senior Staff Engineer, is the co-host of the Android podcast, Fragmented); demo and speak at conferences (Lesbians Who Tech, Pycon, DroidCon, ElastiCon, Collision); and regularly contribute to open source projects (Coil, Lore, Jardin, TrueTime, Arn and more).


    Our Social Impact Program “Instacart Serves” aims to nourish its communities by helping to remove barriers to food access and enriching the lives of our communities through an annual volunteer week of service, grocery donations, disaster relief, and giving campaigns.


    Instacart Serves currently focuses its support across 3 main areas:

    • Food Insecurity. The majority of our philanthropic support is dedicated to helping to remove barriers to food access and hunger relief with our primary giving partner, Feeding America. We also recognize that food insecurity disproportionately affects diverse communities and work to also raise awareness for this growing inequity.
    • Supporting Traditionally Marginalized Communities. We are committed to actionable change and standing up for injustice and equity, and support organizations that challenge economic injustice and work to uplift traditionally marginalized communities.
    • Disaster Relief. In the event of natural disasters which severely impact the communities in which our customers, employees, and shoppers work and live, we provide disaster relief through financial or grocery donations to centers and organizations which support evacuees and first responders.
  • Cross-Department Collaboration

    As a four-sided marketplace, cross-functional collaboration is critical to our success.

    We serve four key stakeholders:

    1. consumers using our app to order groceries,
    2. shoppers who are in-store and fulfilling grocery orders,
    3. brick and mortar retailers on our platform, and
    4. consumer packaged goods (CPG) companies who serve ads in our consumer app.

    Internally, we’re organized in four key groups to serve each of our stakeholders. Our four-sided marketplace means we effectively build four interrelated, but separated products, each with their own focus, challenges, and opportunities. Each technical team is composed of mobile and full-stack engineers, data scientists, ML engineers, and infrastructure engineers. We work together to build our mobile and web apps, B2B software, fulfillment chain technologies, and advertising networks. Given how dynamic our four-sided marketplace is, engineers regularly work with product designers, product managers, finance, marketing, communications, and many other teams to scope projects, prepare for scale, and launch new features.

  • Data-Driven

    Instacart is a data-driven organization.

    We build and test often, and use as much data as we can gather to inform new features for our customers and shoppers. Our data science team in partnership with our product team develops hundreds of experiments per quarter to improve the customer, shopper, retailer and advertiser experiences across our product portfolio.


    Our experiment-driven culture enabled us to ramp up efforts during the busiest period in our eight-year history. In late 2019 we began testing “Leave at My Door Delivery.” Months later, at the onset of the pandemic, we observed more and more customers in test groups opting into Leave at My Door Delivery. Knowing how critical this could be to customer and shopper safety, and having the test data we needed to make a confident decision, we were able to fast-track the experiment window and pushed the feature nationwide in mid-March to meet the moment. As demand continued to spike during the pandemic, we saw 30% YOY growth, raised a $265M Series D, and added more than 250 retailers in the U.S. and Canada to our roster. If you’re interested in learning more, we’d love to hear from you!

Values

  • Start-to-Finish Ownership
  • Wears Many Hats
  • Cutting-Edge Technologies
  • Internal Mobility
  • Open Communication
  • Engages with Community
  • Cross-Department Collaboration
  • Data-Driven

Company Properties

  • B2B
  • B2C
  • Technical Founder(s)
  • Remote-OK

Vacation Policy

We have "Take What You Need" time off, which people actually take. 😊

Tech Stack

Rails 5.2, Ruby 2.3.7, Python, R, PostgreSQL 9.6, React 0.17, AWS, Docker, RabbitMQ, Sidekiq, Snowflake