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Farewell Buffer

After four and a half years working at Buffer, I will be moving on to a new opportunity. Next month, I’m joining Netflix to work on developer productivity and tooling.

It is difficult to describe my feelings right now because Buffer has become a huge part of my life. I couldn’t have found a better place to grow as an engineer and as a person. I’m incredibly grateful to Buffer, which took a chance on me in my early career. I’ve had the best and most supportive team I could have imagined. I found co-workers who turned into my friends—hopefully for life.

I joined Buffer in February of 2016 as a back-end engineer, but I transitioned into a full-stack engineering role building Buffer Analyze over time. However, earlier last year, I realized that my passion and interests lie in developer and infrastructure tooling. So, I reached out to my manager and engineering leadership to find a fit for me to work on what I enjoy and what the company needs. At that point, we were close to finishing up our transition from a monolithic application to microservices in Kubernetes, which meant new exciting challenges coming to life in our distributed systems.

Later, I joined the infrastructure team to work on the reliability of our services. I focused on all things site-reliability, observability, and monitoring. I wrote a long (but quite popular) post about this transition if you’re interested in reading more.

In my new role as an infrastructure engineer, I was able to work with product engineers and support them with reliability, monitoring, and production readiness. I liked my role because I had full autonomy to decide what to work on and was able to work at my own pace. The domain of problems is broad, and the impact on developer happiness is huge. What I love about developer tools is that even a simple 5% improvement can have an enormous impact when you multiply it by the number of developers in your organization.

So why leave Buffer then?

For the last couple of months, I reflected more on my work, and I felt I needed new challenges in my professional life. Nothing was pushing me out from Buffer, but rather a new force was pulling me outside. I was ready to explore new opportunities and think about what to look for next.

I also felt that I needed to change the domain of the product that I’m working on. When I joined Buffer, I was excited about social media scheduling and analytics, but that interest dwindled over the years. I think Buffer has a great product, but since I was not the target audience, I found it difficult to be excited about the product. This is really important for me because, ultimately, regardless of whether you do product development or infrastructure work, being passionate about the end product is important. I developed more affection toward different markets like developer tools, media, and tools for creation throughout the years.

I put together some requirements to help guide me in my search.

  • I want to work in a larger company to learn how big tech companies function. The operational and technical challenges in big companies are very different, and I want to experience it. The only time I worked in a bigger company was a summer internship at Twitter, which was very short for me to grasp fully.

  • Most big companies have scaling challenges, and when systems scale, they act differently. This means that if I work at a bigger company, I can expose myself to new technical problems that excite me.

  • I want to work on a product that I use and love. It’s a significant factor for me because it helps me with motivation, especially knowing that I’m an internally motivated person.

  • I want to work on things that I’m deeply passionate about, and that’s developer tooling. I like building things that make developers more productive in their workflow. I firmly believe that more companies should invest in improving the tools that developers use to ship great features. Most programming and infrastructure tools are still primitive, and we have a huge opportunity to innovate in this field.

  • Culture is incredibly important to me. I want to work at a company with a strong emphasis on cultural values that align with mine. I think values empower teams to build trust and transparency, necessary for building highly functional teams.

  • I have removed the remote-only criteria from my search. I felt that I’d be okay with working in an office and commuting to work. It’s a big change to my lifestyle, but I’m ready to take it on depending on the opportunity.

  • I want to work in a highly collaborative environment to learn from my co-workers and grow as an engineer. I like the freedom to build things on my own, but I also appreciate collaboration because it energizes me and helps me learn faster. This was one of my challenges at Buffer. Even though I had full autonomy, I didn’t have many projects where I could collaborate with someone else in our team.

Why Netflix?

Netflix is a unique company. It’s the company that I’ve been admiring for a long time. I use Netflix nearly every day to watch shows and movies. I’ve always been impressed by the quality of the shows they can produce. I’m a movie nerd and interested in media companies, maybe because I also like to create content even if it’s in the form of writing.

Last month, I finished reading That Will Never Work: The Birth of Netflix and the Amazing Life of an Idea, a book by Marc Randolph, which tells the founding story and the early days of Netflix. It inspired me a lot. If you read Netflix’s cultural memo page, you can tell what it would look like to work there.

The company has a strong focus on culture and real values. As someone working at Netflix, you have the freedom and responsibility to do your best work. Compared to other big tech companies, it’s leaner and focused more on independent decision-making, transparency, and collaboration.

Apart from the company, I’ll be working on things that I love. I’ll be joining TVUI - Developer Productivity team to help TVUI engineers build industry-leading Netflix TV apps. I’ll focus on driving innovation and efficiency on how developers build, test, and deploy new features. Of course, I’m incredibly excited about this opportunity and this new milestone in my life.

I’m planning to write another blog post about Netflix, so I’ll keep this part short for now.

My feelings

I feel bittersweet. It’s hard for me to say goodbye to my amazing teammates. I’ll be following Buffer’s journey from the sidelines and root for the company’s success. I have no doubt I’m going to hear great things about Buffer in the future.