Where to work in IT, release 1: Voximplant
The job description and the first day inside the company are similar to both expectations and reality - everything is approximately like this, but there are lots of surprises. About the company, where are you settling in, you want to know much more than your intended function in it. How is life inside, what are the policies, rules and processes, what are the goals of people?
Now "My Circle" will talk about it regularly. We will talk with large and small companies about their inner life so that you can look there.
In the first release, Voximplant , a cloud platform for developers of communication services and applications.
About 10 years ago, Aleksey Aylarov and his company made the Zingaya service, which allowed companies to call directly from the site, without using a telephone and installing additional software.
At about the same time, a whole market of cloud communication platforms as services (CPaaS) began to take shape in the world. At first it was SMS via the cloud, then calls, messages, video. Now the market has grown strongly. For example, only one Twillio platform, which a few years ago went public in the US, earns hundreds of millions of dollars a year.
In 2014, together with Andrey Kovalenko and Sergey Poroshin, Alexey launched the Voximplant service. This is also a cloud platform for calls, on the basis of which you can build any applications and services. We talked with Alexei (A.A.) and Vasily Kudryavtsev (V.K.), Voximplant HR-specialist, about how the work in the company is arranged, life in the office and what kind of developers they are now looking for.
Vasily Kudryavtsev and Alexey Aylarov
Product and technology
- How did this name appear - Voximplant? Sounds cyberpunk.
A.A .: And so it happened. Implants are used to empower people in science fiction films: insert something for yourself and become more advanced. And we approached this way - “vox” (voice) as an implant can be embedded in various applications and services. And in the future, who knows, maybe something will be built into people. Now it is not very common, but little by little any body modding will come in this direction.
- And what problem do you solve with your product?
AA: The point is that before businesses, start-ups or just developers needed to develop everything from scratch themselves. I want to make your Skype - you need to find engineers, specialists and make work.
Now you can take such a platform, take the usual web developers or developers of mobile applications, and they can use the platform and its tools to make a conditional Skype or call center, or PBX, or something else.
- What are the parts of the product itself? What technologies?
Similarly, a session in the cloud may occur if the call comes from a phone number connected to the platform. You can buy or rent phone numbers directly from us. You can connect your numbers or your infrastructure via SIP: in order to build an application on us, and receive traffic through SIP and send it back.
A session with calls may also occur if one of our SDKs (a library that can be integrated) is ringing through our platform. There is a web-based SDK for the browser that uses WebRTC technology for working with sound, video and data. There are SDK for Android, for iOS, React Native SDK. There is even an SDK for Unity, if you want to build communications in any AR or VR application.
A.A .:Depending on which part of the platform is used, different people are needed. The mobile SDK needs people who work with Android and iOS. Objective-C, Java or Swift, plus knowledge of C ++, so that you can build a library on the RTC and so on.
- This is due to the fact that your task is to integrate and implant in any system?
A.A .:Not only. We simply choose the technology and language that is most suitable for doing something concrete from the backend point of view. And if we talk about the SDK and the library, then yes, this is already a question of the limitations imposed by the platform. For example, iOS wants the SDK to work with Objective-C, then for development we need a person who can do it.
Evaluate Voximplant on My Circle
- We recently launched a valuation service for companies as employers on My Circle . Your ranked third among companies numbering up to 100 people. Our companies are evaluated by 12 criteria, and what do you consider your strengths as an employer?
AA: We are trying to make people interested in what they are doing. We find people who care, they do not write code for the sake of code. We have a large part of people interested in the result, and this, I think, is one of the main criteria for the success of any company.
We try to maximize working conditions as much as possible. Our office is expanding, we are improving it in every way. Naturally, we do not compete with companies such as Yandex or Google, because this is a slightly different level of approach to this process. If we grow up to 1,000 people - then, probably, we will also be that way. And now we are just trying to make everyone feel comfortable working.
- You have the highest scores just in the nominations “Interesting tasks”, “Modern technologies” and in the nomination “The company makes the world better”.
A.A .:Yes, I just said that. As for such things as career or professional growth, again, if the company is large, such as Google and Yandex, there are longer verticals, and it is clear that there you can jump from position to position long enough if you come from below. If the company is not very big, then your professional and career growth will be associated with the development of the company itself, including its level. This is what we are trying to develop through internal programs, English training, conferences, and so on.
The structure of the company
- How many people work in your company?
AA: Now we have about 65-70 people. Basically, everything between 25-35 years. At the same time, we do not divide employees into office and remote. Basically, everyone works full time in the office. There are cases when someone can remotely work, but these are rather rare cases.
- You, I understand, do not work on the remote. And the experience of working with foreign experts on the remote is also missing, respectively?
A.A .:The only thing that we have ever done on the remote is the design for large concepts - for example, to completely update the site. But gradually, in the process of work, many things began to appear that need to be done constantly. You can’t give them to big guys, like AIC Media - they are not comfortable doing small things. Or we now have new internal products such as Smartcalls, a service of robotic calls. There is a lot of work associated with the UX, and you need people inside who will do it.
Of course, we take some things from partners, like Google - for example, Cloud or speech recognition. But those parts of the product that we consider important and critical (and now we, in principle, consider everything important and critical) - we try to do inside.
- Is this your principled position?
A.A .:Honestly, we do not have good management of remote employees, and a couple of times there was not a very good experience. But I'm talking about the technical part.
Naturally, developing geographically, you have to think about remotes. But this is still not development, but technical support, Customer Service, sales, marketing. If we sell in the USA, then we have people who do it on the spot.
Maybe at some point we will have new offices for development in new markets. Sometimes it is pointless to close only on Russia. But the development we do not want to make somewhere. There are enough specialists, enough money to keep and feed them in Moscow too.
- Tell us about the departments and teams.
A.A .:Formally, the company is divided into two major parts: development and sales with marketing.
In development, everything is structured just as the platform is structured. There are backend developers who directly make the platform. There are mobile SDK developers. Under each part is allocated its own unit. And there are infrastructure issues, engineering.
If we talk about the rest - we have management, marketing, sales, accounting, there is support. In general, everything is more or less horizontal. Designers are now separate, before there was.
- How are units organized?
A.A .:These are groups from 2 people to 10 people. We have colleagues who develop the server side, use C ++ and so on - complex high-performance pieces with telephony. They report directly to the technical director Andrei Kovalenko. There are now about three people in this group. In this particular unit, all seniors, we do not have the possibility of holding juniors here.
And if we talk about front-end development, with regard to websites, UI / UX, grocery items, then there are both juniors and middle ones. There is a high-level team manager - team leader. Whether one individual management is needed or not depends on how many people there are and what function they perform.
- I wonder what your sex ratio is? Most likely, more, of course, men?
VC.:30 percent to 70! In the development of four female programmers we have.
- What about your collective meetings? I now read that some companies shorten them extremely, in order not to waste time. Some, on the contrary, follow the path of expanding these meetings.
AA: We have some kind of hybrid - not to say that we tend to do a lot of meetings, but we can’t do without them at all either.
There are meetings dedicated to specific problems and their solution. There are - about "to tell who does what and why it is needed." Recently, we began to introduce small rare meetings on mentoring, so that someone could tell someone how to use, how to become better. There are strategic meetings in which the whole company listens to what we are doing, why, why, what plans we have for the year, quarter and so on. I spend them myself about once every six months.
As for sales, they have their own system of meetings.
- What kind of collaboration tools do you use?
А.А .: We had a conversation around the Telegram, Slack somehow did not get accustomed.
Virtually every administrative unit has its own group in the Telegram. And so - like everyone else: Email, Jira, CRM, phone. Task trackers all sorts, someone Trello uses when you need something simpler.
- Do you as the CEO and founder participate in the daily development or sales activities?
AA: I’m more involved in observation. I communicate with techies who develop products, and with the business that sells the product. I need to understand what is claimed, what is not claimed, what can be done, and what is not, what can be done long and expensive, and so on. That is, I no longer write huge chunks of code, naturally.
Training and putting newcomers to work
- Do you often have new employees?
AA: Over the past 2 years we have been actively expanding. In a year, probably, almost twice as many people became.
- How do you introduce them to work?
А.А .: At first, all this was not very organized, but now, when there are more people, and people like Vasily appear who are involved in HR-processes, everything is already being rebuilt.
We have special systems. For example, the training system for sellers is one, and the system for connecting a developer to tasks is slightly different. Everything is repelled by the tasks and KPI, which puts leadership. Then it all breaks down into subtasks, and people are just told what, why and why. It usually takes some time, within a month or two, in order to enter well into what we do. This is not the easiest thing in the world! Well, after people are already quietly working.
V.К .: Now we are just introducing a training system for beginners. So far it looks like a series of some lectures and stories on different products and in different directions: the technical side of Voximplant, the business side of Voximplant.
We plan to formalize all this in the form of presentations and videos so that people who will come later have a knowledge base for entering the company.
AA: From additional training, we have English - teachers come and work with groups a couple of times a week. Our task is for all employees to improve their English level: for example, to communicate with a client, if necessary. Plus written English for those who write documentation and so on.
- Do you attend any external events - conferences, seminars?
A.A .:Yes, usually these are individual wishes. There are events in which we act as a company to tell about ourselves. There are events where we send people, and where they just share their experiences and listen to others, get acquainted.
Usually, the developers themselves choose where they want and say: “May I go there somewhere?”. And they are answered: “Well, okay, go, why not!”
- Does this company sponsor or does the developer lay out his money himself?
AA: Depends on what kind of event. The company sponsors the participation of the developer in the event, if he is traveling in the interests of the business. If the interest is personal, employees, as a rule, understand this and pay for everything on their own. That is, depends on the circumstances and what you need to get to this event.
About education and universities
- Yesterday, we just talked with Grigory Petrov, your evangelist, and he defended the opinion that our technical universities, in fact, do not prepare high-quality developers. Did you finish Bauman? How far are our universities lagging behind in order to prepare a really good developer who will be in demand now? A
.: I think that this is not even a function of the university. Development - it is developing so rapidly that no university just has time for it. Therefore, the main task of the university is to give a fundamental education.
Relatively speaking, if there they learn to program in C ++, then later you can study additional materials yourself, go to conferences, work in companies - develop your skills and learn further programming.
The university has another task. On the other hand, no one bothers them to do this with additional courses, which some, in my opinion, are doing now. In principle, if sufficiently good programmers emerge from MIPT, Baumanki, ITMO, Moscow State University, MSTU, it can be concluded that a combination of factors related to fundamental education, plus self-development, at some point allow people to become normal programmers.
Motivation and career growth
- Tell us how the motivation of employees is built?
AA: We have different KPIs that we follow. This is easy to check in sales and more difficult to develop.
We have a roadmap and there is an understanding of where it goes well, where it goes wrong. If everything is good - naturally, there is a bonus. If everything is bad, then there is no depremiation, but the manager conducts a conversation with an employee. Therefore, everyone knows what they want from them.
And if we talk about motivation, which seems to us important - we are making a serious and high-quality product known on a global scale. People want to be involved. Their motivation is to contribute to the development of the company's brand.
There are all sorts of corporate parties, team buildings - well, it's like everyone else. People are able to relax: get together when the company offers to do it, and go on their own somewhere, communicate.
- In the “Heroes of Might and Magic” on Fridays, chop it all together?
AA: It’s already difficult for us to do this so that we could interest everyone at the same time. Each group finds common interests and communicates on their basis.
65 people are no longer relevant to centralize. Even for a corporate party, it becomes difficult to assemble them so that everyone can, and even for some such things it is even more difficult!
- You have a relatively small company so far, although the threshold of a startup has definitely outgrown. Who is making a decision on salary increases and bonuses?
A.A .:The idea may arise either from the management, or the team leader comes and says that this employee has already pumped his skills, he is no longer a junior, but has become a middle. He works well, it would be time for him to raise his salary. Management is considering this option, and we raise the salary of the employee.
- How do you decide on the transition to the next level - from junior to middle and above?
AA: Timblid solves more often. Or the manager, the head of the department, who says that these employees are great, they are developing, moving forward. By experience, once or twice a year, such cuts are made.
But this is, after all, already larger teams, there is a vertical movement in them. And, as I said, we have places where only the lords work. In principle, they have little to develop in terms of skills. They just do their job, and we constantly encourage them for this job.
- How do you fight burnout employees? Do not get bored in one place?
А.А .: There is more likely a question of interesting tasks that we usually update, new ones appear. I think you'll be bored if you do the same thing all the time. We constantly have something new for people.
We are quite ambitious, and our tasks are the same as we are, so there’s not much to be bored here! We compete with companies that have many times more resources to create the same things, so we need to be more flexible, faster and smarter in order to continue to be competitive.
- Do you have a horizontal movement? I did one project and then switched to another.
AA: Depends on the project. In principle, it is possible. If this is a web frontend or web backend, then it is easier for them to migrate from task to task. These are the parts that are very often found in different pieces of the platform, different projects. In more specific things, this is more difficult. But these guys have the opportunity, again, to do all sorts of cool things, abstract from their large pieces.
We have a colleague - he studies Machine Learning and Tensorflow - as a side project he did training in voice mail detection during calls. We invited scientists, talked with them. This is probably not a jump from task to task - it is rather an attempt to expand what a person can do, given his current skills, his desire. Its main task will still hang on it - it will not go anywhere, because there is a platform, it works, it is constantly used and it needs to be maintained and developed.
But if to dilute, so to speak, the routine - we have a lot of interesting things. It's like with bugs: bugs need to be repaired, but we can not afford to say that you are only fixing bugs, and you are doing new things. This will very quickly lead to fading. Therefore, we mix tasks.
Search and hire new employees
- Tell us about how you hire?
V.К .: We use several channels: standard working sites, we try to invite guys from mitaps in different ways, plus recommendations from our colleagues. There is a referral program. About 30 000 rubles we pay to the employee for the resulted person when that will leave a trial period.
And the process itself is more or less standard: this is a telephone, this is a Skype-interview, a test task.
- Do you have any channels where you communicate with potential candidates?
VK: In social networks, all this is: on Facebook and LinkedIn, I often communicate with our possible employees. Plus professional forums, because many programmers are sitting on the forums. There and vacancies, and have the opportunity to answer questions.
As an employer, we talk about ourselves on LinkedIn, the same professional forums on Facebook.
AA: For the time being, we are selecting people. Basically, this event dating. Grisha Petrov also knows all the community if we talk about development. And in sales, there is a different process there, it is very different from developers by what we are looking for.
- Where do they come from: acquaintances or from work sites?
V.К .: Rather, from work sites.
A.A .:In terms of development, there is its ratio, and in sales, its own. In sales, almost all hire "from the street." It happens sometimes when a referral from a friendly company. We have our partners, customers, and people come to us from there. And we, knowing the founders (it makes no sense to hide), immediately ask them the question: “Does the colleague want to come to us, is everything normal?” So that there are no problems. They say "Yes, everything is fine! He just wants to try something new, good man, take it. ” This we have in sales for sure, in the development - no.
Previously, it was generally 50 to 50: we found someone through our old friends and acquaintances, and someone from the market. Now the whole story is shifting towards the market due to the fact that more people are needed, we are getting bigger.
- What stages need to go through to get to Voximplant?
VC.:The process itself is more or less standard: it is a telephone, a Skype interview, a test task, an in-person meeting.
The processes in sales and development differ slightly. In development, the technical director and the timlid often communicate. It all fits into one meeting, which lasts just over an hour. Firstly, there is a story about the company, secondly - a practical skills test, short tasks for the candidate - three lines of code need to be written on a piece of paper.
And, actually, then we send the test task. It takes from 2 to 4 hours, and after all the stages we decide.
- And what do you pay attention to when choosing: soft skills or technical skills?
VC.:In fact, for us they are equal, because the team is quite well chosen and do not want to worsen the average temperature in the hospital. Therefore, we are looking at both. Alexei said that it is important for us that a person burns with work, and not just write code for the sake of code.
All people are very different, who work for us and who come. We definitely do not like any conflict people who, for one reason or another, will create problems. Of course, this is not always possible to understand. Sometimes people honestly admit themselves and say that I have such features and problems, and we can always evaluate whether we need it at all or not. Our task is for new specialists to strengthen the team and the company.
- How long is the decision to take or take?
A.A .:As a rule, we are looking for people for specific tasks, that is, we don’t hire "in reserve". When we have several people in one position, this is convenient, because you can think for yourself, you can give them time to think. And when there is no such possibility - of course, we don’t particularly want time. If a person suits us - an offer is done quickly - within a week - so that he does not find another place for himself during this time.
- Did you have to deliberately hunt someone in the company?
AA: Directly to a specific person? No, specific people - no. There were cases when people came to us whom we used to know from other places. Not because we hanted them down, but because something went wrong with them, and we knew that they were good guys. This has happened.
- That is, you play by the rules, you can say.
AA: We believe that the market is large, and we do not have such tasks, where we need some kind of gurus, which you won’t find anywhere else - just steal from competitors. Rarely encountered such problems. Such that we need some kind of superstar, which has a specific name, has never been in our practice.
- What do you think, what really attracts people to come to you to work?
А.А .: Last time, people who heard something about us or who knew something and say “We want to work with you” began to appear more often. People, apparently, are increasingly faced with our products in their lives, as our platform is embedded Sberbank and Yandex, all sorts of large companies. Maybe they heard Grisha or read the articles on “Habré”.
When the information space begins to be filled with information about the company, then there are already people who want to work with us. And first of all they are interested in exactly an unusual product. In Russia, there are no more companies that make such a platform. Yes, and abroad there are a dozen of them. Therefore, if people have the desire and desire for something like this - they come and want to try their hand.