Angaza has five engineering teams: three in San Francisco and two in Nairobi. Each team has a high degree of autonomy, physically sits together, and owns internal processes such as daily standups and work tracking. Cross-team "working groups" bring together engineers across the company to solve common challenges and address shared concerns. The typical team has several engineers, a product manager, and an engineering manager. Together they own a broad area of functionality. For example, our IoT Solutions team owns everything from embedded firmware to time-series databases, while the Network Partnerships team integrates an ever-growing range of digital currency services.
Somewhere between 80% and 90% of our work is done while pairing. We pair program regardless of location, so whether you’re physically side by side at the office or on your own in the comfort of your own home, we’ll likely pair. We tried tools like tmate and saros for collaborative editing, but have also found that simple video calls with screen sharing work. The drivers share their screen and the co-drivers do their best to not interfere except for talking. If anything, remote pairing has helped us become more disciplined when pairing! 😀
We enjoy being a cohesive team, even when we’re not physically coding. We eat lunch together, do a team breakfast each month, and regularly get drinks together after work. Our engineering team is also close to the other teams at the company. Every month, we do an information exchange and also meeting to touch base on what our company values are and discuss our company’s culture. Once a year, we also have team days where we visit a new European city.
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Let’s Do This is a collection of seriously impressive individuals, but we thrive as a unit and are willing to make personal sacrifices on behalf of our team members. Our team-first mentality stems from our shared love of exercise and the product we’re building, and a mutual understanding of fun. Everyone has a voice in big product decisions and when we’re not working, we go to the gym together, go on runs during lunch together, and enter races together, too.
Perhaps one of the best examples of how team orientated we are is our willingness to move across the world with each other. During Y Combinator, eight of us moved from London, UK to Palo Alto to make the most of the 3-month batch. We raised a seed round after YC, and four team members moved to San Francisco together to open the office. In the summer of 2019, we took the whole team (everyone from both London and San Francisco) to Cambridge, UK for an intense “training camp” where we more than doubled all of our top-line metrics in six weeks in the run up to our Series A. None of this would have been possible without a team that believed in each other, put each other first, and was willing to make personal sacrifices, like moving their lives across the world in pursuit of a shared dream.
Even as a distributed company on two continents, we maintain cohesion. We keep open communications and everyone feels like it is easy to reach out to anyone else in the company, regardless of their role or location. Early in 2019, we helped relocate a U.S. engineer, Connor, to London and also moved a UK engineer, Tom, to San Francisco. Our hope is that every engineer spends at least one week each year working out of their non-home office, and so far, many of us have spent up to six weeks doing so. Doing so helps us stay close to one another and feel comfortable making quick FaceTime calls to discuss cross-office issues when we’re not in the same city (a much better alternative than potentially misinterpreting written Slack messages anyway).
If you ask anyone at Let’s Do This why they work here, what they love most about working here, or which value represents LDT the most, the clear winner is always “the team.”
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Cloud-based observability platform
San Francisco, Portland, Seattle, Phoenix, Denver, Dallas, or Los Angeles
At New Relic, we believe everyone has things to teach and to learn, regardless of seniority. While there are some engineering teams that work in silos, our Data OS team (DOS) is happiest when we’re collaborating. If we’re crunched for time during a sprint, everyone will pause what they’re doing to help their teammates get across the line. Even though we’re distributed (with team members in the Bay Area, Phoenix, and Portland), we find joy in supporting one another. You’ll see this from the start, since part of onboarding and ramping up includes pairing and shadowing existing teammates.
It is standard within New Relic to have performance reviews twice a year, which is coupled with leveling. However, our DOS team does these quarterly. We do these more frequently to give our team members additional opportunities to review key strengths, accomplishments, areas of improvement, goals, and how managers can help. Our Engineering Manager, Teresa Martyny, shares 1-on-1 docs with everyone so that we can add questions, keep track of quarterly goals, and make sure feedback is transparent both ways. We are all growing always!
Teamwork is especially important within DOS, where also use project “squads” composed of folks from different teams (e.g. infra engineering and analytics). This isn’t a typical practice at New Relic, but we find it beneficial for us to prevent knowledge silos and encourage more collaboration. Bringing together experts on different parts of our systems and business ultimately helps deliver greater value. That’s why internal transfers are also fairly common. All new engineering roles on teams are posted in an internal job board, and employees can apply and go through an accelerated interview process. We encourage people to transfer to different teams when it will support their career growth goals. New Relic as a whole considers it a better outcome for someone to transfer to a new team to help grow their skills than to leave the company entirely.
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It’s a reflection of how humble we are and what motivates us day-to-day. Team members will go out of their way to help each other, even if it means that their personal tasks will fall behind, so long as it is in the interest of the greater good.
We emphasize this by aligning the entire team around a common team goal and being fully transparent on how we progress towards that goal. And when we meet those goals, we celebrate as a team! Recently we took the entire team on a 3-day retreat to Whistler and went white water rafting. We have monthly social events where significant others are always welcome.
Another example is how we do our year-end bonuses, which are tied transparently to team objectives, rather than individual ones. In that way, either the entire team wins or the entire team loses!
As founders, we go out of our way to collect everyone’s feedback through monthly one-on-one meetings, surveys, and voting on Trello/excel, this includes office location, off-site activities, as well general company process improvements. We are open to hiring individuals who prefer to work alone. At the end of the day, it's about getting the work done, and finding joy and meaning in the work that you do, regardless of the personalities around you. I want to attract candidates who want to take on a lot of responsibility at a growth stage company, is emotionally mature, and wants to work in a drama free environment.
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Everything we do is team based. We have two pairing rooms (called Pairadise), which are always occupied. We focus on aligning around team goals throughout projects, which means we’re incentivized to give and receive help (pairing, mentoring, whiteboarding, unblocking tickets, etc.) over focusing on solo hero work.
Collaboration also prevents us from creating silos of knowledge. It facilitates information sharing and there are many “game-changing” instances where one person’s good habits or use of a awesome tool gets shared across the team to everyone’s benefit.
Above all, we are big believers of succeeding and failing together as a team. We celebrate feature launches with a physical trophy ceremony where the team presents who built what and why. They then place a small token that represents the project in a glass case with white gloves, music playing, and all the pomp and circumstance a feature release deserves.
We’re currently too small of a team to worry about titles. In the not too distant future, we’ll have more clearly defined roles and a hierarchy that fits our company culture, but for now, we are one team. We have deliverables and company goals that we all work towards together. The way we plan and operate is heavily collaborative. In the rare cases where we don't have a consensus, we operate under a "first among equals" style where the CEO acts as final arbiter.
Meet our team:
You can also learn more about who we are on our team page.
One of our strengths is having an open and clear communication channel between different teams. The Technical and the Business teams are both just a stone's throw away from each other. We try to eat lunch together, and also have monthly team dinners so that we can bond with one another. While we do provide the facility of working remotely, we prefer working together as a team.
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Seamlessly create, send, and track video emails
Colorado Springs, Denver, or Remote in CO, NY, PA, WI
We follow the Inspired model from Marty Cagan to create cross-functional teams centered around specific business objectives. Every triad has at least three people (and their supporting casts behind them) and all stakeholders are equally valued and included from ideation to product maintenance. By having these three perspectives represented across all stages of the product life cycle, we’re able to build better products, faster. We also place an emphasis on testing and failing quickly, which enables us to move through multiple iterations with speed: once we find something that works and verify it by data (we A/B test, do small rollouts to subsets of users, and use Pendo to track events), we build it to scale.
Our triad model is wonderful because it also guarantees a tremendous amount of exposure to every team member: product managers understand technical challenges, engineers learn design processes, and designers can watch how user needs translate during problem solving.
We encourage folks to work in ways that makes them and the team strongest and most productive. We embrace the idea that everyone and every team has its own unique working style. We have a "how to work with me guide" folder. New hires read through the folder when they join and also outline their personal working style. To respect each team member’s time, we avoid unnecessary meetings and ensure that any meeting we do hold is run by a meeting owner with a clear agenda.
When our founder and CEO Matt Mullenweg talks about the Future of Work (as he does in his podcast, Distributed, and in a recently published TED talk) he shares his belief that distributed teams are a big part of that future. And we know, from years of hiring and from our recent user research study on hiring, that talented and diverse candidates might be just as interested in pursuing a role with a specific team, versus simply pursuing a specific role.
We go to great lengths to help each team in our company continuously iterate, share feedback, and meet goals. All full-time Automatticians are members of a certain team, and work as closely with their teammates as possible on all tasks. All teams have areas of responsibility, but can choose to go outside them. Teams have names that aren’t descriptive, because teams aren’t limited in the ways they can influence any part of the company.
Automattic teams also have their own unique rituals, from how they hold standups in Slack with geekbot or take turns writing biweekly updates for other teams, or how they kick off projects and celebrate successes.
Teams are so central to how we work that our Team Leads are less managers, and more leaders. They help employees cultivate opportunities for impact and growth, while staying on top of the vision and goals for their team and all of Automattic. Developer Team Leads spend time with extra coaching sessions, biweekly leads roundtables, and get-togethers at relevant lead dev events.
In fact, we’re so constantly iterating on the tools that help our teams perform well together that in 2019 we launched Happy Tools, a suite of products for handling scheduling, customer support, and other things that help distributed teams navigate the future of work.
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As of August 2019, we have three overarching themes to which smaller teams of 3-6 engineers each belong:
In addition, any engineer can propose a new project, which goes through a selection process. All projects typically start with a conversation with the product manager (PM) on your team, followed by a collaborative drafting of a 1-2 page brief that outlines the problem space, potential impact, and engineering effort level required to complete a solution. Briefs are then grouped together, reviewed, and further vetted by the entire team, including the PM, EM, engineers, and designers. During this process, we have both verbal and written mediums for anyone to provide feedback. Ultimately, the teams make a collective decision to work on the highest impact projects.
Even our interview process reflects how collaborative we are. Every engineering candidate meets with panels of two team members who focus on productivity and teamwork. Having a pair of interviewers lead each onsite panel helps reduce bias in the hiring process and more accurately assess a candidate’s ability to collaborate and work with diverse perspectives. Using the feedback from both interviewers, we can continuously reflect on and improve our interview practices. We’ve heard from candidates that they also appreciate this setup, since more people in the room adds greater perspective and generally yields more interesting conversations.
We embody teamwork in so many different ways that it’s difficult to make a comprehensive list! We do company-wide offsites twice a year where we take multiple days/nights away from work – really, we don’t do anything work-related – and spend time bonding as a team. We do a full or half-day offsite as a company once a quarter, too, and sub-teams will do quarterly offsites in smaller groups as well. But to us, being a team is even more than these offsites.
At our office, we have a Creative Corner where people can take what we like to call “brain breaks.” We bring the supplies and you get to take 5-20-minute breathers in the middle of your day to unwind. Throughout the year, we’ll have small events in the middle of the workday to make wreaths, Valentine’s Day cards, or do meditative yoga. More regularly, we have a coffee bot that randomly selects a colleague for you to get coffee with (or during COVID-times, connect over a 30-minute video call).
While these are all things that we do, they’re more of an expression of who we are. We’re all here at Seesaw to better engage kids at school, build trust between parents and teachers, and improve learning outcomes, and we apply the same principles within our team. We know we have different learning and working styles, so we have multiple avenues for people to create, converse, clear their heads, or just play.
Sometimes walking away from your code and doing a jigsaw puzzle (there’s always one being worked on) helps you think through it. Other times, it’s better to think aloud while doing some arts and crafts with a colleague you haven’t talked to in a while. Whether you’re a 5-year-old kid or a 50-year-old working adult, engaging with different parts of our brains throughout the day (and engaging with different people on a regular basis), makes us happier, connect with one another in more meaningful ways, and ultimately, be more productive.
What distinguishes us at Jane is that we’re truly a cohesive team comprised of good humans. Some of us like to surf together (Pleasure Point is just half a mile down the road), play music together, and the list goes on. We also have a company-wide happy hour every six weeks. Our friendships extend beyond work, and we think that speaks to how bonded we feel as a team. It’s akin to being on a sports team really.
We all have different lives and fully support one another. Some like to arrive at 8:30am while others arrive at 10:14am for our daily 10:15am standup. Some are regular cannabis consumers while others have never consumed it before in their life! Many people take a work-from-home day once a week, and we’re always open to flexible scheduling. (Need to pick your kid(s) up from school? Go for it!)
We purposefully design our onsite interviews to be as human-centered as possible and we’ve gotten a lot of positive feedback: “That was unlike any onsite I’ve ever experienced!” is a common refrain. We have candidates meet with as many team members as possible, from engineering and design, to C-suite execs, to get a feel for what it’s really like to work here. The more exposure you have to the people at Jane, the better. After all, you’re not just interviewing for a job, you’re joining a team.
At the end of the day, we all pitch in to get things done and feel collective ownership for what we’re building. All accomplishments are co-accomplishments. 🙌
Together, we have a wealth of knowledge in cybersecurity and it is our cumulative experience that gives us an unfair advantage as we take on this massive market. Managed Security Service Providers (MSSPs) already represent ~20% of total global security spend and the global Managed Security Services market is projected to quadruple to $101B by 2026.
Learn more about who we are and please reach out if you’d like to help us build a first-of-its-kind AI platform to manage cybersecurity holistically!
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