By Amy San Felipe
With Uber’s around-the-clock, around-the-world mission, it is no wonder we are building out an engineering team in The City That Never Sleeps. Since Uber’s first New York City-based engineer started in January 2015, our engineering team has grown to nearly 100 people (and counting). Located in Manhattan’s lively Chelsea district, Uber Engineering New York City has two main activities:
- Observability is a platform for measuring and monitoring every mission-critical service at Uber. The Observability team is part of Uber’s infrastructure group.
- UberEverything is the next generation of Uber’s logistics network. This team aims to enable restaurants, businesses, and people to quickly and reliably move anything that is not a person from Point A to Point B. UberRUSH and UberEATS are two of the products encompassed by the broader UberEverything organization.
Here are members of some of our New York City-based teams who have helped enable our success:
Chamara Paul, Software Engineer, UberEverything
What do you do at Uber Engineering?
I’m a software engineer on the UberEverything Delivery-Partner Trip Experience Team, and I primarily do iOS development.
What motivates you?
It’s all about the people. I’m surrounded by thoughtful, hardworking, driven individuals who care deeply about software development and solving problems.
What’s the most interesting problem that you’ve tackled at Uber?
Delivery logistics is a very interesting problem in my opinion! We want to provide a simple and frictionless experience on mobile devices while supporting various use cases for pickups and dropoffs; we’re constantly testing and improving upon what we’ve already built.
Stephen Hebson, Engineering Manager, UberEverything
How long have you been with Uber, and what have you worked on?
I joined Uber Engineering in May 2015. I first started on UberEATS as an individual contributor working on web front end. I built Uber’s restaurant and merchant signup service, and I was one of the engineers who built the inventory and menu management tool for UberEATS. The main technologies I work with are Go, Cassandra, Node.js, and React.
What do you work on now?
Currently, I manage the UberEATS EMEA growth team. The majority of my time is focused on the management and development of the engineers on my team, defining a clear mission, and working with Product Managers to define a unified roadmap. As a manager, I jump in to fill in the gaps, and I still get some time to code. It’s important to be able to be able to pick up whatever needs to get done to help the team succeed.
What have you been working on at Uber?
I joined Uber in August 2015, starting in anomaly detection. I had never worked in that space before. I worked with data engineers to combine data science knowledge with the infrastructure knowledge I was familiar with for real-time anomaly detection. We built out the minimal viable product (MVP), we iterated, we got a lot of great feedback, and it was really impactful to catch outages and become reliable.
I moved to the observability applications team in July 2016. It shows Uber’s flexibility in terms of what you do. I’m now building monitoring tools that other engineers are using to understand the health of the overall Uber ecosystem as well as the health of their services. It’s full stack development, while still being infra-oriented, in how you monitor a system at a global scale.
What’s been the biggest surprise for you so far?
Definitely the scale at which we operate. The amount of technology at the infrastructure level that’s still being built is pretty exciting. The necessity for unique and custom tools because of the scale at which we operate at is a surprising and interesting challenge.
Bob Insley, Android Engineer, UberEverything
What do you do here at Uber?
I’m a senior Android engineer on the UberRUSH team. Driver-partners use our app to deliver things (food, packages), but not people. The idea is for Uber driver-partners to move things. My team builds the tools to make sure it all works. If you build something that doesn’t scale or is needlessly complex, it will fall over or not be used.
What does it take to get a job on your team?
Really, you just have to be smart and hardworking. Those are two of the most important things. Other than that, it’s difficult to say. When I look around Uber, I see a group of people with diverse backgrounds working here together. I’m constantly impressed by the wide variety of backgrounds and interests that members of our team have.
You can’t just look at someone’s résumé and say “Oh, I’m not going to like this person.” When you get into an interview, it’s smart to just let a person be who they’re going to be. You can help people with a variety of different skills to fit in at Uber. It’s kind of cheesy, but people who are passionate about Uber’s goals and mission can really make an impact.
Justin Stallard, Software Engineer, Observability
What are you currently working on?
Mainly I am focusing on M3, which is our internal metrics system for engineering. All of our engineering systems feed into M3. We use this to drive monitoring, alerting, dashboards, forecasting, and anomaly detections. This system is the driving force behind monitoring all of Uber’s systems and for detecting failures.
My role is a site reliability engineer. I participate in systems architecture discussions, work on the storage systems that back M3, capacity planning, and focus on the systems eng requires to operate four nines.
What does success look like?
We know we are successful when no one realizes we exist. When everyone at the company uses the M3 system without even realizing that it’s running… that is when we are successful.
Melissa Pak, User Experience Research, UberEverything
What does a User Experience Researcher at Uber do?
As a UX researcher on UberEverything, I am responsible for connecting with delivery-partners, learning their needs through various means of research, and then bringing my learnings back to the the designers and eventually the engineering team to help shape the decisions made when building the product. After we’ve decided what to build and started building it, it is our responsibility to talk to our users to ensure we are meeting their needs. We do this by interviewing users, through concept and usability testing, and field testing. We have delivery-partners come into the office to test out the new product, and go out in the field ourselves to test the product. I have tested the app experience on a bike and done ride-alongs with some of the driving delivery-partners to see how they interact with the app.
It’s imperative to field test the product. The experience is dramatically different on the road versus in an office. When you’re out on the road, you notice things that you would not have thought of in the office, such as glare on the phone and daytime versus nighttime use.
Why did you choose to work at Uber?
Well, it’s Uber! :) The impact our company is having around the world is really exciting. At the time I joined (March 2014), the company was at the cusp of a growth explosion. What’s really cool to see is that over the three years I have been with the company, the impact hasn’t slowed down, and neither has our growth. It’s truly inspirational when I see a suggestion I made based on my field research, rolled out within a week or two to thousands of drivers around the world. We’re designing for an experience that is so much more than app.
How does your role fit into engineering?
I bring my research to the engineering teams to help them build the best products for our users. Our research provides them with insight on how the product they are building works outside of the office, in the real world.
One of the most insightful experiences we had as a team was a field study where we had a designer, researcher, and engineer ride-along with a driving delivery-partner as they completed deliveries. The researcher and designer followed the screen and called things out when certain automations and features weren’t working properly, and the engineering was live filing the bugs. It was an opportunity for the engineer to see their feature working live and to troubleshoot it live. Sometimes [what they called out] wasn’t actually a bug, it was something built purposefully but was causing a poor user experience.
An instance like that is not something the engineer can account for when building the software. With this information though, it allows the team to rethink the features and determine what would be a better way to build them.
Robert Dunnette, Product Manager, UberEverything
Why did you join Uber?
I joined Uber because of how decentralized it is. We can move really quickly; if you have a great idea, you can pitch it and see it implemented the next week. It doesn’t just sit there. Another unique thing to Uber is that we can test out a feature in a few cities and, if it performs well, we can roll it out globally. It’s really exciting to see something you work on have a global impact. The opportunity in the Uber NYC office was particularly exciting for me as well. When I joined, there were no product managers yet, so the potential for impact was immediate and infinite. It still is, and we’re hiring.
What has surprised you the most so far about your experience working at Uber?
The first thing that really stood out to me upon joining was the speed of execution. I started my career in finance, where you you execute very quickly and then switched over to tech, where it was a slower process. It takes time to make the decisions, build the software, and ship a quality product. However, at Uber it was different. An idea can be conceptualized one week, and the next week we will ship the product. That was really surprising to me. I didn’t expect a tech company the size of Uber to move so quickly. In that regard, it definitely maintains a start-up feel.
I was also surprised by how the Uber NYC office really operates as a standalone entity. Most companies with a large HQ, such as Uber’s HQ in San Francisco, have what are known as “satellite offices.” The Uber NYC office does not operate as a satellite office. We have specific teams that are working on meaningful projects for the future of Uber. We are still very much connected to HQ, but the people you work and interact with on a day-to-day basis sit in the same office as you.
If you are interested in meeting members of the Uber NYC engineering office, join our Meetup group.