What’s it like to work at the Uber Engineering Seattle office? Our office has come a long way since its inception in March 2015. In February of 2016, after a year of substantial team growth, we opened a new engineering office to support future expansion.  Fast forward to today and our 10+ engineering and product teams are filling up two floors of a downtown Seattle office overlooking Elliott Bay. As our office has grown and developed, we’ve focused on several major engineering and product areas:

  • Business Operating System and Services (BOSS) operates at the critical intersection of product and infrastructure, building tools and platforms
  • Rider Experience brings our logistics platform to new audiences by incubating products and services, such as Scheduled Rides and the Family Profiles feature
  • Driver is focused on growing the number of partners in Uber’s marketplace.  We focus on building the infrastructure to enable Uber to onboard hundreds of thousands of drivers every month and to support millions of riders. In other words, the technology should never be the limiting factor in terms of our operational capabilities.
  • Developer Experience is building a cutting edge world class platform to enable Uber developers to deliver value to our customers as quickly and efficiently as possible
  • Site Reliability is focused on building the infrastructure, tools and automation that enables our engineering teams to build reliable platforms and services as Uber continues to scale
Divya Gupta from UberFamily and Aiden Scandella from Developer Experience team drink coffee in our coffee bar.

Divya Gupta from UberFamily and Aiden Scandella from Developer Experience team drink coffee in our coffee bar.

Here we introduce two key members of those teams: Tim Prouty, Head of Engineering, Seattle and manager of the BOSS teams, and Russell Dicker, Head of Product, Seattle, on the Rider Experience teams.

Tim Prouty, Head of Engineering, Seattle

Tim Prouty (left) with Seattle team members in one of our meeting cubbies.

Tim Prouty (left) with Seattle team members in one of our meeting cubbies.

What do you do at Uber?

The first part of my job is to build a world class engineering organization in Seattle. My teams are focused on the mission of creating technology platforms that increase the effectiveness and efficiency of Uber’s products and operations. We call this organization Business Platforms, and it is one of Uber’s key leverage points to create an enduring and sustainable business.

The other major component of my job is to build Uber Engineering Seattle, the site location. This includes ensuring we take a principled approach to building teams and organizations here, establishing and cultivating our culture, and ultimately creating an environment for all Seattle teams to maximize their impact at Uber.

What’s something about your role that most people wouldn’t know?

At Uber we talk a lot about hustle. When you’re building a site from scratch there are no shortage of opportunities to be scrappy and hustle to make sure the right things happen at the right time.

Over the first year, we moved offices 4 times while adding adding over one hundred people people. I’ve worked extensively with architects, hung out with commercial real estate agents to find office space, and even spent time debugging our video conferencing systems.

As the first engineer in Seattle, recruiting has been a huge part of my role. As you might expect I have interviewed hundreds of engineers and product managers, but I have also gotten to interview and hire everyone from recruiters and program managers to office managers and regional facilities managers.

These days the office is running like a well-oiled machine and I get to apply most of my hustle to building teams, products, and our unique culture here at Uber Seattle.

Walk us through a typical day.

My day starts with a beautiful bike ride along the waterfront to our office in the heart of downtown Seattle. After pulling a shot on our pro-grade espresso machine, I typically spend a good portion of my day doing the following:

  • My number one priority is to create healthy, high performance engineering teams that are delivering huge impact to Uber’s business. The best investment I can make is in the people who make this happen, so I spend a lot of time with my leaders and their teams focusing on their success and growth.
  • The hiring never stops as we continue to accelerate in Seattle, I’ll often times talk to at least a few candidates each day.
  • Engineering and product reviews, whether it is making sure we’re focusing on our customers to guide a product tradeoff or helping to define the architecture and direction for our next round of platforms.
  • Upleveling the Seattle team is a constant, evolving focus, so on any given day I may be working on how we’re going to run our next intern program, launching a leadership development series, or continuing the culture so we feel small even as we grow.

Why engineering in Seattle?

I believe Seattle is one of the most beautiful cities in the world. My wife and I have been in Seattle for 15 years, and with our three kids we plan to stay in Seattle for the long term. Uber Seattle is here for all of the like-minded people that want to work at Uber, but have absolutely fallen in love with this city.

Working for Uber in Seattle is unique, because we have all of the upside of Uber’s unprecedented growth while at the same time we are creating something truly special on a smaller scale. Each person who joins the team here gets to be a part of Uber and a part of creating an enduring culture that will be here for many years to come.

seattle-eng-15

 

Russell Dicker, Head of Product, Seattle

Russell Dicker (second from right) solving problems with team members.

Russell Dicker (second from right) solving problems with team members.

What do you do at Uber?

As the Head of Product for the Seattle office, I have two jobs.

As a Site Lead, I work with Tim to ensure that all the teams in Seattle are running well, have autonomy, and are set up to be successful. We think about all aspects of the office from environment to culture. There is a lot that happens behind the scenes to make an office successful. Since we’re relatively new, many of the things more established offices might take for granted, we get to build ourselves.

Second, I run the Rider Experiences team in Seattle. Our job is to build new experiences that expand the scenarios where Uber works well. This includes Uber at airports and venues, bringing the magic of Uber to all members of the family, scheduling rides on Uber, and a few experiences we’re still getting ready to show the world.

What’s something about your role that most people wouldn’t know?

When people think about the Uber customer and the product, most of them think about riders and our app, but that doesn’t tell the whole story.

We have two sets of customers: riders and driver partners, and they’re intertwined when thinking about what to build or how a change would have an impact. If you press a button in the app and a car doesn’t show up to take you somewhere, the product has failed. If a driver signs on to the platform but isn’t earning money, the product has failed.

Walk us through a typical day.

Typical day; ha! No day is ever typical; a new challenge is always popping up, but some common ways to spend my day are:

  • Get together with a small group and jam on a particular problem. Maybe we need to lower pickup ETAs at SFO or find a new integration point on scheduled rides. Whatever the case, we’ll get in a room and riff on ideas until we think we’ve cracked it and we’re ready to go. I always walk out of these meetings fired up with the possibilities.
  • Diving into a business. One of our mantras is that we’re building businesses, not products. Real data is always exciting, and we’ll deep dive into things that are working or not working. Where do we need to change our approach, and where should we double down on something that is working unexpectedly well?
  • Interviewing a candidate or two, as we’re still in growth mode and always looking for great people to work with.
  • Go heads down for a couple of hours and do detailed individual work. It’s important to carve off dedicated work time.  Write a doc, develop a plan, read an analysis from the data team. Sometimes I’ll put my headphones on and other times I’ll hang out in the coffee bar.

Why product in Seattle?

I love Seattle; I’ve lived here for more than a decade. Even though I actually grew up in the Bay Area, the Pacific Northwest is my home now. When I had the opportunity to build a product team for a company like Uber in Seattle I couldn’t say no.

Beyond the fundamentals, the specific program teams that I work with in the Seattle office represent the most fascinating and challenging problems of my career. We’re working on core problems that have a massive business impact, magical customer experiences, and the opportunity to take things from zero to a billion and beyond in shorter time scales than ever before. Yet we’re still a small team that knows how to hustle, grow and learn as a unit, and eats lunch together every day in one communal area.

seattle-eng-16

We’re continuing to hire and grow our teams. For more information on what we are up to, check out our Uber Engineering Seattle microsite and the variety of teams hiring in the Uber Engineering Seattle office.

Leslie Kincaid is the Site Program Manager for Seattle’s Engineering Office.

0 Comments