VSCO is a creative channel. We build creative tools, spaces, and connections driven by self-expression. Our mission is to help everybody fall in love with their own creativity. Void of ads, public likes, and comments, people on VSCO are free to express themselves however they choose.
Each team is asked to select, explain, and rank their top 8 values in order of importance.
Customer Comes First
We believe creativity is a part of everyone and our purpose is to help them discover and fall in love with their own individual creativity.
We never lose sight of who our users are and what our creative community wants. We continuously collect qualitative feedback and quantitative data and incorporate our findings into our product roadmap.
On the development side, our Data Engineering team is consistently informing product and business decisions with consumer data. They regularly look at how many users we have per day, renewal data, membership data, and many other metrics to garner intel into what our consumers are doing.
Additionally, the Growth team routinely conducts A/B tests to figure out how to improve the user and membership experience. Though developers aren’t generally interacting with users firsthand, they learn a lot about our users from data.
Our Research team also plays an important role in feeding qualitative consumer insights to technical teams at VSCO. They regularly interview users across varying geographies, age ranges, and user personas. The goal of these interviews is not only to understand current product sentiment, but also to help inform our product development process. Before launching new features, we’re able to amass key knowledge of how users would respond to these additions or changes, cross-check assumptions on hypotheses, and iterate if and where needed.
For the users to come first, they must be a part of the development process from start to finish. The question of how product changes affect and improve our mission are a guiding light in making sure consumers remain our focal point.
In order to best serve our global, creative community, we’re constantly evolving and iterating on our technology.
In addition to working on day-to-day tasks and projects, our team has the space to explore emerging technologies they’re interested in via self-learning, engineering conferences, and/or alternate forums. For example, our team recently attended TensorFlow Dev Summit, Google I/O, and Android Dev Summit.
We’re working in completely new spaces, particularly for mobile. Our Machine Learning team is focused on creating meaningful user experiences in social and creative spaces, rather than using ML to drive ads. One recent feature that demonstrates this is For This Photo, which automatically recommends presets based on the type of image you upload.
Even though we’re foraying into new spaces from a technology stance, we don’t expect candidates to be familiar with every technology we use. For example, our Android team shifted to Kotlin, but we’re open to adding on folks without direct experience in Kotlin. At the end of the day, we’re looking for candidates who are inherently curious and hold a growth mindset when it comes to finding and learning new technologies aligned with our mission.
We’re using technology to build for the bigger purpose of human creativity and celebrating differences. The challenges we’re solving related to ML, photography tools and creative expression on mobile platforms are novel. We take an avid interest in emerging technology and how we can use it to enhance these experiences in unexpected ways.
High Quality Code Base
We’re constantly working toward finding the perfect balance between code speed and code quality.
There’s no exact algorithm, but a guiding question Louis Bennett, our VP of Engineering, asks is, “What is the expiration date of this code? Think through the lifetime of said code to determine the amount of time spent on it.” Knowing when to invest in - quality versus speed - requires good judgement. We challenge every engineer at VSCO to identify this balance in each situation before deciding what the most appropriate course of action is.
We adhere to code guidelines and our code review process involves small cross-vertical teams. We work to make sure engineers aren’t blocked and have the standardization in place to keep quality top of mind. Our relatively small engineering org supports millions of daily active users and we take pride in producing scalable solutions that are written in clean, readable, and maintainable code.
Non-engineering teams are considerate of engineering timelines and make sure engineers have ample time to complete tasks in a thorough and methodical fashion. We also have a dedicated QA team and release process to ensure that our code quality remains high.
When every employee knows what’s happening and why it promotes a culture of trust and security.
We strive to foster a psychologically safe environment for our employees and open communication is a key methodology in achieving this. Transparency and feeling like your voice really matters are just a couple of phrases you’ll hear from our engineering team on what it’s like to work at VSCO.
As a company, we meet twice a week on Wednesday and Friday mornings for All Hands. Here, we’re able to learn about what teams across the company are working on and celebrate both the wins and losses as a collective group. During this time, there’s Q&A with our leadership team, where employees are encouraged to ask tough questions. Maybe it was a specific goal we didn’t meet on time or a question about why we do things a certain way - nothing is off limits and all questions are answered. Our CEO, Joel Flory, also takes time to meet with individual teams on a regular basis to answer anything that’s top of mind for them.
Leadership actively seeks to keep employees in the loop of what’s happening inside our walls and within the market. For example, we brought in one of our vendors, App Annie, to learn more about what’s happening in the mobile space, as well as an outside financial expert to weigh in on equity. We’ve also had lunch sessions around belonging and inclusivity, user research, and subscription businesses, to name a few.
On an operational level, engineers often remark on the lack of politics and high level of awareness they have regarding business decisions. There’s an inherent closeness to product and design that was purposefully designed to craft open and collaborative working relationships. It also ensures engineers possess a voice in shaping our product. We look for engineers who are excited about this level of impact and ownership.
Finally, our open, minimal, modern floor plan provides employees the space to connect with one another in real time. You’ll often find individual engineering, product, and design teams whiteboarding in conference rooms or congregating around the office to ideate and build together. A hotspot for engineers is our lunch area, where many enjoy coding together throughout the day.
Creativity is a global language and VSCO uniquely sits at the intersection of art and technology to help unlock the world’s creative potential.
At VSCO, product-driven means we’re evolving our product offering to meet, inspire, and guide consumers in their individual creative journey. We seek to bring on engineers that resonate with our mission of building something for a bigger, human purpose. We’re excited to tackle ambiguous technical challenges in order to meet that goal. Our flagship product is VSCO membership, which provides access to our full suite of editing tools and presets, as well as education, inspiration, and more. We are a mobile-first product serving a global community of over two million subscribers.
Much of our engineering team specifically calls out the unique values and mission of VSCO as being a fundamental reason for why they joining and remaining with the company. “The mission of the company empowers creative people and is empowering a creative online community. I needed a community like this at a young age. It’s rewarding to be building that now,” says Samantha Bobra, engineering manager for our Engagement team. “We’re supporting artists and creating a safe space on the internet, which is pretty rare and fantastic,” adds Lydia Schiff, an engineer on our Core Creation team. The ability to build a product that mirrors the team’s personal ethos is rewarding both personally and professionally.
We build for a diverse community, which requires every person at VSCO to play a role in shaping our product. Engineering, product, and design work hand in hand to shape our product, especially on the technical side. We aren’t singularly influenced or driven by one org.
All teams are a part of the product development process from inception to completion. We’re not only focused on what to build in the near-term, but also think far down the line. For example, our Imaging team goes beyond the current product roadmap. They ideate and work on forward-thinking concepts and tools in the video and image editing space that will challenge the status quo of what you see today.
Safe Environment to Fail
We’re pushing the status quo which means failures are inevitable and something we fully welcome.
A fundamental ideology we hold is to always be curious. Curiosity sometimes lead us down the right path, such as our membership offering. Sometimes it leads us down the wrong one. Take “joystick” for example - this was a navigation overhaul that, while aesthetically pleasing and pushing the boundaries of UX and design, ultimately ended up leading to a negative end user experience. Regardless, we look to bring on individuals who are curious and hold a growth mindset above all.
You could say our Growth team fails regularly, but it’s never seen as a “failure,” rather it’s an important learning. “Shipping winning experiments is great, but every experiment teaches us something even when it fails. We learn something about the user psychology and can better determine what to do the next time around,” says Henry Ly, an iOS engineer on our Growth team.
Team is Diverse
We serve a diverse community and believe that in order to meet the needs of our global user base, we must reflect that diversity ourselves.
Stagnation is one of the biggest fears of any creative person, and that’s what would happen to us as a company if we only hired the same type of people.
We celebrate diversity of experience and background at VSCO. Our engineering team is composed of both senior engineers and recent grads, as well as engineers who have been here since the inception of VSCO in 2011. Some of our team members have previously worked at small startups, large tech companies, and some have even transitioned into engineering after pursuing ventures in food, AI, and photography.
The majority of our leadership team is made up of women, and in looking at the totality of our employees we have a pretty even split between the male and female genders across the board. We also have a smaller subset of employees who identify as non-conforming/non-binary. A big selling point to join VSCO for one of the engineers on our Engagement team, Angela Park, was seeing so many women in managerial and leadership roles (in the engineering org as well as on other teams). Angela says that being here has opened new doors for learning and growth, by directly seeing what path can be carved for women in engineering.
Not every org, including engineering, has an even mixture of gender identities, which is an area for us to improve on. It’s not just about diversity from a high level, we recognize we also need diverse representation at the team level. We place a heavy emphasis on a fair and inclusive recruiting process to continually balance the scales. This includes interview and unconscious bias trainings, tailored job descriptions, sourcing across various backgrounds and demographics, and seeking out culture adds versus culture fits.
A core value at VSCO is ‘Be You’.
We know that in order for you to do your best work, you must take care of both yourself and those you care for first. We aim to holistically support our team’s care and well being, so they’re able to bring energy, focus and motivation to VSCO.
We believe it’s most important to have a high performing, motivated engineering team whose members do what they need to do and push us forward as a business. That means offering employees the flexibility to do their job as needed. We trust our team to determine what work schedule allows them to create the greatest impact. When you’re on call, you’re not alone - the team all pitches in to take care of and resolve challenges together to minimize any overtime.
We trust our employees to think like owners and be responsible with their time. We also have a flexible vacation policy that allows our team to take ample time to fully check out and have the time to rest and recharge in the ways that benefit them. When you’re not here, you’re fully disconnected. A soft-close occurs during the winter holidays and Summer Fridays allows extra weekend time from Memorial Day until Labor Day.
Engineers speak to the fact that when you’re here, you’re here. Fully present and bringing your best self to work. When you’re not here, you’re chasing your dreams and have the time to commit to outside interests and projects. Our monthly tech and wellness stipend provides employees with the opportunity to expense creative, wellness or tech-related pursuits. We’ve seen this used many ways - coaching, phone upgrades, educational classes, pottery classes, fitness memberships, museum memberships, and various others. Mental health and wellbeing are critical. We know wellness looks different for everyone and do our best to cater to these differences.
Customer Comes First
High Quality Code Base
Safe Environment to Fail
Team is Diverse
56 Engineering Team Members
5 Product Managers
6 Technical Product Managers
VSCO has a flexible vacation policy. We trust employees to exercise good judgement when taking time off, and regularly check in to ensure that team members are taking off enough time to recharge and thrive. We also have a soft-close around the winter holidays where we close the office and encourage each other to rest up. Though there may be work that arises here and there, as we do have to keep the business running, things in general slow down here.
Our interview process begins with a call with one of our technical recruiters and if there’s mutual alignment moves on to a conversation with the hiring manager. Should things go well from there, we’d set up a technical screen and the final stage would encompass an onsite that typically lasts about half the day. We aim to provide an update to candidates after the onsite stage within 5-10 business days.
Typically, the entire interview process from start to finish spans about 2-4 weeks (depending on both candidate and interviewer availability).