In everything that we do, Thumbtack strives to be comprehensive, super-helpful, easy, dependable, and encouraging. These core values inform our decisions across the board, from product-based changes to social interactions with each other, and they manifest themselves in our passion for our work, our obsession with our customers, and our relentless self-improvement. Here’s why.
I’m a rising sophomore Computer Science and Robotics major at Carnegie Mellon University. I like robots. They’re great. But I love Thumbtack – the people, the company, the product. I’m finishing a summer internship here at Thumbtack, and it’s been one of the greatest experiences of my life. I joined because I felt like I could do the following: first, work on something that has a profound impact on people’s lives; second, work at a company that really believes in the power of a great culture; and third, learn from some of the most ridiculously intelligent (yet remarkably humble) engineers I’d ever met.
But you’ve already heard from Brandon about why you should definitely want to intern (or work full-time!) at Thumbtack, so instead, I’ll do my best to describe our culture. As with any company’s culture, it’s nearly impossible to describe in a few words; alternatively, I’ll provide a few quotes that I think aptly encompass what’s unique about Thumbtack Engineering.
“For, firstly, the social instincts lead an animal to take pleasure in the society of its fellows, to feel a certain amount of sympathy with them…” -Charles Darwin
We’ve got a diverse group of interesting people who are sociable and intellectually curious. We love spending time with each other, and have tons of fun studying CS theory together (if that’s your thing, of course!), reading and debating literature at a book club, and playing foosball at an almost-amateur level. We’ve gone urban hiking in the city, biking to Sausalito, and explored the ‘Desolation Wilderness’ at our engineering retreat in Lake Tahoe. The fact that we’re so close to each other socially allows us the opportunity to truly feel comfortable working with, understanding, and having fun with each other. It’s important to everyone at Thumbtack that there’s a balance between work and life, and that makes us more excited to work every day.
“Everything is an experiment.” -Tibor Kalman
At Thumbtack, everything – everything – is an experiment. We truly believe that data are a vehicle that we can use to answer the toughest questions, whether the data be quantitative, anecdotal, or anything in between. This belief pervades everything we do, both internally and from a product standpoint.
We even experiment in how we organize and review ourselves. In our Product Process Review, we review positive and negative aspects of the current product process (the way we, as members of the product team – for us this includes PMs, designers, and engineers – organize ourselves and the way projects travel through the pipeline), and develop (if needed) a new methodology to solve the problems we faced and the problems we think we’ll face in the future. One of the greatest things about this is that although we, as engineers, are able to give feedback about product and engineering decisions, we also get an opportunity to give impactful feedback about the way in which we give feedback (inception, right?). The fact that this meeting between every person working on our product is so successful is a testament to how truly collaborative we are, and how well engineers, designers, and project managers are able to effectively communicate with each other.
We’re also strictly data-driven when it comes to product changes. Our Engineering Technical Lead, Steve Howard, is an avid statistician when he’s not talking to our engineers, interviewing candidates, or playing foosball (what a nerd!). Steve has created an environment of statistical rigor, where we analyze everything we learn with a critical eye. Interacting with him has grown within many of us a love for the fundamentals of statistics, experimental rigor, and data – and that has made us better engineers and better people.
“Love is a quality, not a quantity.” -Vanna Bonta
There are two ultimately important things that I can draw from this. First, Thumbtack Engineering emphasizes quality as an important factor to balance with speed. While many startups push for fast release cycles and development of a minimum viable product as quickly as possible, we recognize the importance – the necessity – of maintainable, readable, and high quality code. We focus on developing our codebase and our individual coding style every single day – engineers code review every change that’s made to the website (in order to promote high quality code and prevent against knowledge siloing), and improve each other’s performance with every review.
Secondly, and perhaps more importantly, we, as a company and as individuals, love what we do. It’s that simple. We’re truly passionate about changing people’s lives and making a difference. The passion that pervades through our work is apparent, and there’s nothing that can stand in the way of us doing our best to improve the lives of our customers. There’s simply nothing that’s more powerful than real passion about helping people, and that’s what makes us tick.
Thumbtack is a unique and wonderful place. The culture here, without a doubt, is one of the things that makes us come back for more, day after day. If company culture interests you, or if this sounds great to you, let us know.