Hey, Talented Engineers: These 6 LA Companies are Growing Their Technical Teams

by Michael Hines
September 19, 2019

Engineers have more options than ever when it comes to where they work, and they’re increasingly looking for companies with more to offer than cool perks and good pay. While those factors will always be important, many engineers also want to join a company that offers challenging and interesting work and a team that’s unique and does things a little differently. 

So, how do companies stand out from the pack and attract top engineering talent? To find out, we spoke with six local companies to learn more about what  traditions, challenges and projects make their engineering teams one of a kind.

 

NEXT Trucking Los Angeles tech jobs

NEXT Trucking is a logistics company whose end-to-end shipping logistics platform is designed to make shipping freight less painful by making it easier for carriers and shippers to connect. Director of Software Engineering Byron Lo said his favorite team tradition involves celebrating success, something his team does often and in many different ways.

 

What is your favorite engineering team tradition at NEXT Trucking?

We’ve built a really tight-knit group of folks and we really like to celebrate our successes. There are group and team lunches almost every day, and there are a large number of ways that our team gets to show off what we’re doing to the entire company. We present at every all-hands meeting, highlighting progress against our product roadmap, and we have a weekly huddle to learn about something exciting happening at the company.

We’ve built a really tight-knit group of folks and we really like to celebrate our successes.

 

What is the coolest or most challenging project you’re working on right now, and what do you enjoy most about it?

We’re building a two-sided marketplace, which presents a number of challenges. Recently, we’ve focused on shortening our delivery pipeline through technology, automation and architectural best practices to allow for multiple deployments or updates to production per day. This is very exciting because of the impact it will make to the speed and velocity of our ability to bring value to our users.

 

System1 Los Angeles tech jobs

System1’s mission is to make advertising better for advertisers and consumers. The company uses pre-targeting algorithms and machine learning models to analyze consumer attributes and help companies zero in on consumer intent.

System1 has experienced rapid growth since launching in 2013, which has in turn led to an increased amount of people in its Venice headquarters competing for conference rooms. Senior Director of Engineering Chris Terhune-Testa said the increased competition for conference rooms is actually what drove the creation of his favorite team tradition.

 

What is your favorite engineering team tradition at System1?

My favorite engineering team tradition is the way we do one-on-one meetings. Our office is pretty close quarters, and there are often not enough conference rooms to have one-on-one meetings, but we take advantage of our amazing location in Venice Beach. Instead of cramming into conference rooms, we head to the Ocean Front Walk together, which is right outside. There’s nothing like taking a break from sitting at your desk and walking down to the beach to get the creative juices flowing. The sun and beautiful backdrop are invigorating and inspire good discussions, and you get some exercise to boot.

There’s nothing like taking a break from sitting at your desk and walking down to the beach to get the creative juices flowing.

 

What is the coolest or most challenging project you’re working on right now, and what do you enjoy most about it?

The most challenging thing I’m working on right now is building a company-wide recommendation platform, which is being used by many different teams and products. I enjoy how it connects me with many parts of the company, including our other offices in Washington and Canada. Most of all, I enjoy working on the difficult challenges that encompass building a machine learning system, such as working with data scientists to build training sets and models, and the inevitable detective work needed to analyze the results and improve the system. I’m also getting to play more with natural language processing. That keeps me learning on the job, which I love.

 

Relativity Space Los Angeles tech jobs

Relativity Space has an ambitious goal: To 3D print and launch a rocket into space. Lead Materials Engineer Samuel Tonneslan works primarily with the company’s 3D printer, the world’s largest metal 3D printer. Tonneslan said what makes his work so rewarding is that every small amount of progress he makes gets the company closer to its goal — that and all of the “detective work” his role requires.

 

What is your favorite engineering team tradition at Relativity Space

We try to be very intentional about celebrating accomplishments, both as a company and as individuals. At a startup, a lot of awesome work needs to be happening all of the time for the company to succeed, and it’s easy to lose track of all the great stuff people are doing. We have a tradition of announcing shoutouts, which anyone can submit, at every all-hands meeting we have, and I think that’s so great. It’s cool to work somewhere where you’re still able to be plugged into the big company wins as well as the little things people are doing every day to be awesome!

It’s cool to work somewhere where you’re still able to be plugged into the big company wins as well as the little things people are doing every day to be awesome!

 

What is the coolest or most challenging project you’re working on right now, and what do you enjoy most about it?

I work a lot on our huge metal 3D printer that we use to build the structure of our rocket, specifically on selecting the best materials we can use to make the rocket lean and mean. It’s been very challenging because it’s hard to make new metals, and also to make those new metals into a form you can use. It takes a tremendous amount of energy and it’s an expensive process. It’s definitely rewarding, though. Every little bit of progress is a huge win for the company, and the team-wide detective required work to make these new materials is really fun to be a part of.

 

Spring Labs Los Angeles tech jobs

It’d be easy to excuse Spring Labs for not having any company traditions. For starters, the company is young, having only launched in 2017. Also, its team has been busy developing a network that uses advanced cryptography and blockchain technology to allow financial institutions to share information about data without having to share the actual data itself. 

Despite how busy things have been, Senior Back-end Engineer Michael Young said the company has still found time to form a unique tradition that brings the entire team together once a week over food and fun.

 

What is your favorite engineering team tradition at Spring Labs?

I think my favorite tradition has to be our weekly Thursday dinners, where dinner and drinks are catered for everyone at the company. It’s all too easy to get trapped in our own worlds with how busy we all are. A weekly gathering in an informal environment has really helped us stay collaborative. Plus, after dinner we almost always segue into company-wide games of Jackbox or Settlers of Catan, heated discussions about the best moves to make on our communal chess game or impromptu karaoke trips to Sawtelle.

I think my favorite tradition has to be our weekly Thursday dinners, where dinner and drinks are catered for everyone at the company.

 

What is the coolest or most challenging project you’re working on right now, and what do you enjoy most about it?

One of the greatest things about working at an early stage startup is being so integrally involved with the product on almost every aspect, especially one as ambitious as ours. I always feel like I’m driving our mission forward, whether that’s through trying to ensure our products are well-tested, scaling the system for the loads we expect to face or future-proofing features for our even more ambitious ideas.

 

Lucky Day Los Angeles tech jobs

Lucky Day’s app is designed to bring users joy by giving them the chance to win prizes and earn rewards by playing games, all without any financial risk. CTO Hootan Nikbakht said that the company’s engineering team is hard at work developing the next version of Lucky Day. To ensure everyone remains close during this busy time, Lucky Day makes sure to schedule frequent engineering team dinners and company outings.

 

What is your favorite engineering team tradition at Lucky Day?

As part of our monthly all-hands meeting, we ask our engineering team to present interesting topics we are working on and discuss challenges. Every other week we have a demo day so our product and engineering teams can show what they have been working on. We have engineering team dinners and company team outings so everyone can get to know each other better and establish friendships beyond work hours. This is by far the most impactful activity we have done as a team. It brings everyone together in a very positive way.

We have engineering team dinners and company team outings so everyone can get to know each other better and establish friendships beyond work hours.

 

What is the coolest or most challenging project you’re working on right now, and what do you enjoy most about it?

Building the next version of Lucky Day. Bringing more variability into how our users win rewards is a very interesting and challenging project that involves building algorithms and being able to benchmark those algorithms at scale. Breaking our monolith architecture into microservices and moving toward a server-less architecture has been very rewarding. This agenda has allowed our team to work with various cloud provider technologies and understand all technology considerations required to make this a successful migration. 

We have a few new upcoming projects that will give our engineering team more freedom in choosing the technology stack. We are always open to exploring new technologies as long as our team can understand and manage the risks.

 

Clutter Los Angeles tech jobs

On-demand moving and storage company Clutter has experienced incredible growth recently, closing a $200-million funding round in February. That type of success means you’re doing something (or more likely, a lot of things) right. That said, Clutter’s engineering team is always working to get better. In fact, Engineering Manager Brad Charna said his favorite team tradition is one where the entire tech team gets together to brainstorm ways to improve their code quality.

 

What is your favorite engineering team tradition at Clutter?

We have what we call a “Code Quality Guild.” Every few weeks, our entire engineering team comes together to discuss ways we can improve our code quality via new processes, patterns, tools or technology. Someone presents a topic — for example, one of our software engineers recently asked, “Should we begin to use Sorbet, a new static type checker for Ruby?" — and the group weighs in. This has been a great way for engineers of all levels of experience to chime in and really make an impact on the way we write code at Clutter.

Every few weeks, our entire engineering team comes together to discuss ways we can improve our code quality via new processes, patterns, tools or technology.

 

What is the coolest or most challenging project you’re working on right now, and what do you enjoy most about it?

As an engineer on our growth team, we are constantly A/B testing new landing pages and customer onboarding funnels. Because we are moving so quickly, defects are unavoidable, yet these defects can be extremely costly. We spend money on ads to bring potential customers through our web flows. My current challenges involve building extensive anomaly monitoring and alerting systems so that when we do break something, we are quickly alerted so that user impact is minimized.

Generating growth is only one example of the critical role our team plays. Engineers at Clutter have the unique opportunity to collaborate closely with product, and all functions of our business, to solve complex business and logistics problems at scale using technology.

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