If you’ve ever wondered what it’s like to work at StumbleUpon, who we are, or what you can do to join us (imagine getting paid to stumble!), this week’s blog post will reveal some insider facts about life and culture at StumbleUpon. While the spotlight is usually on our service, we want to highlight the wonderful people here and the energy and creativity that drive StumbleUpon!
Nobody can introduce the SU Team better than Alli Goldenberg, our wonderful HR Manager. I interviewed Alli the other day to hear her perspective on the culture at StumbleUpon. Laptop in one hand and coffee in the other (a typical sight in the office), Alli joined me for a quick interview.
Monica: “So, Alli, what’s a typical day at StumbleUpon like?”
Alli: “There really are no typical days. Every day is exciting and different! People start coming in around 9am. Most of us take public transportation to get to work, as our office is located in SOMA, (a vibrant and busy area in downtown San Francisco), which is easily accessible by various train, bus and subway lines. We even have someone who takes the ferry to work every day from Sausalito and a few people who bike to work or ride their scooters and motorcycles.
Once in the office, we serve breakfast every Tuesday and Thursday. Quite a few morning meetings happen in the kitchen area while hovering over the coffee and bagel counter. Every morning our engineers have a scrum meeting. During scrum meetings, everyone stands in a circle and each person presents what they will be working on that day.
Three days a week we also provide lunch to our team from a local organic caterer. And let me tell you, the food is amazing! Healthy salads and greens, as well as a wide variety of dishes from all over the world. During lunch once a week, we have “Show & Tell” presentations, where one or two employees present a project they’ve been working on. These presentations are fun and informative at the same time, and keep everyone in the company in the loop with what other teams are doing.
Every Friday after lunch we grill the executive team during our TGIF Q&A. This is an opportunity for anyone in the company to ask any question, even anonymously. Our execs have to answer it, no matter how strange the question may be.”
Monica: “Can you give us an example of a strange question?”
Alli: “Right after “The Social Network” was released, someone asked Garrett, our CEO, who would play him in a movie about the founding of StumbleUpon. I’ll let our users take a guess about this one!”
Monica: “Is there anything else specific to daily life at StumbleUpon?”
Alli: “We have a few habits or routines that are quite specific to our office. A lot of us are huge coffee fans and we have several gourmet coffee shops within a block from our office. We grind and brew Stumptown in the office and in the afternoon you can see groups of engineers getting their coffee fix from the Peet’s or Blue Bottle nearby. You can tell we live in SF – have you seen the Coffee Wars video?”
Monica: “Do you organize or host any special events?”
Alli: “We do actually! We often host developer meetups or coding hackathons. We’ve hosted several HBase meetups (since 3 of the main HBase contributors work at StumbleUpon) and a Selenium meetup for Quality Assurance specialists. We also host game nights in turn with our neighbors at Rapleaf and Twitter, where employees from different tech companies in the area get together for pizza, beer and games in our office after hours. It’s a great opportunity to network, exchange ideas, and unwind after a day of coding. We also organize bug bashes – which are basically testing marathons before a big release. We all get together and test out a new feature to make sure it’s solid before it goes out to our users.”
Monica: “Tell us a little bit about the StumbleUpon Art Program.”
Alli: “We rotate different art pieces in our office and give some free traffic to the artist’s website. We also buy one of the artist’s pieces for our permanent collection and host art receptions. We’re really proud of this art program, as it both supports emerging local artists and enhances our work space. The next art reception will be on November 10th and potential candidates are invited to join us, meet the team and talk about job opportunities at StumbleUpon! You can read more about the art program in our recent blog post where Bibiana Lozano, our office manager extraordinaire, presents in detail how the art program works.”
Monica: “Speaking of job opportunities, what makes one eligible to work at StumbleUpon?”
Alli: “First and foremost, we want creative people who are able to speak up, not be afraid to ask questions and, for the engineering positions, really enjoy coding and being an engineer. These are probably the top qualities. You’d have to show a strong interest and passion for StumbleUpon, a desire to build new things and make this company grow. Of course, you’d have to be interested in new technologies and be up-to-date with the industry. In terms of cultural attributes, we look for humble and easy-going folks who thrive in start-up environments.”
Monica: “Tell us about a weird/funny request you had from an employee or a special accommodation you had to make for someone.”
Alli: “Haha! It’s hard sometimes to make everyone happy when we all work side by side in a big open space. We don’t like cubicles, so our open-floor space is more conducive to sharing ideas, brainstorming, having a good giggle at a site someone stumbled or simply connecting with your co-workers. To help avoid the noise, we recently ordered those fancy X950 noise canceling headphones for everyone. But we also have “silent rooms” where engineers can retreat to code away in complete silence.”
Monica: “Thanks so much for the interview, Alli. Before we let you go, can you tell us where people interested in working at StumbleUpon can apply or find more information?”
Alli: “ Anyone who is interested in learning more can email firstname.lastname@example.org, an address that I frequently check. Or they can apply directly to one of many jobs at StumbleUpon by checking our Jobs page. If you think you have what it takes to work at StumbleUpon, please take this chance to apply. At an employee base of over 50, now is the time to get in and make a difference!”