How can a company like Twitter or AirBnb have 3900 employees or more?

New Ab44
Oct 27 61 Comments

I don't mean any disrespect to people at those companies and just took examples I looked up, I just can't understand what all are doing.

I see this with others too, like WeWork and Uber. Companies that are more or less one platform, employ a lot of people doing things that is not clear for the average user.

What is the % of people doing what? Like how many server admins, frontend devs or customer support persons are there ?

EDIT: So I do NOT mean "uhhhh I could do that so easy". I was just interested in what and how many people are doing what, and for example how much is mobile optimization work vs normal desktop site and how much is spent on AB testing, is there a team for that and so on.

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TOP 61 Comments
  • VMware lftl00
    Have you ever worked for a tech company? If yes, not sure how you don’t realize there’s always more work than people.
    Oct 27 7
    • New
      Uncle Xi

      New

      PRE
      Google
      Uncle Ximore
      Airbnb and Twitter aren't exactly tech companies. Fucking "full stack web development" is not real tech.

      And "scale" my ass. It's all been done before with off the shelf parts. ZERO innovation going there.
      Oct 27
    • Compass / Eng mmmmmmll
      Twitter is not a real tech company?
      Oct 27
    • Airbnb TSfW65
      If twitter and Airbnb aren’t tech then why is Facebook considered tech? Why does it matter anyway?
      Oct 27
    • Twitter
      🐨 koala

      Twitter

      BIO
      I got a bio now. Do you?
      🐨 koalamore
      New guy what company do u work for? You know nothing about twitter.
      Oct 27
    • New kcqA50
      Uncle Xi you silly never saw how backend in tech company looks like, stfu
      Oct 27
  • VMware
    doof_s

    VMware

    PRE
    Dell, General Motors
    doof_smore
    Anyone can build a replica of Facebook using a handful of employees. But do you know what kind of effort it's needed to scale to billions of users ?
    Oct 27 6
    • VMware
      doof_s

      VMware

      PRE
      Dell, General Motors
      doof_smore
      Ok then put a number . How much should it be? I'm sure Zuckerberg would be glad to hire you as his COO
      Oct 27
    • Microsoft xle8sn27
      With the same example of Facebook, they reached 1 billion users in 2012 with less than 5,000 employees. Thanks, can you refer me?
      Oct 27
    • PayPal / Eng v3nm0
      MSFT 1, VMWare -1

      (Negative to have not done your research, pal)
      Oct 27
    • New kcqA50
      Where's the button to expel someone from Blind?? I vote for the folks who don't realize how much effort real large scale high-load system requires to build and maintain. I think all they know is the front end page layout and think the platform is made of the html tags they can see in page source :D
      Oct 27
    • PayPal / Eng v3nm0
      Okay easy now tiger (kcqA50).

      Your statement implies that only scing requires effort. I'm pretty confident that if FB can do it with 5k folks for 1bn users, it doesn't take 5-7 times more to get to 2+ bn.

      It should be noted that all these teams work on a lot of things and products that work behind the scenes.
      Oct 27
  • Zillow Group sofaking
    It’s hard to explain but here’s one way to get an idea. Go to AirBnB and Twitter. Count the number of features that you see (likes, comments, photos etc.) Multiply that number by 5. That gives you an idea for how many people are working on user-facing features (teams of 5). If they have mobile apps, multiply the total by 3 (web, iOS, Android). Then multiply the total by 4, which will include backend/infra, analytics, ops, and other products that you don’t see like advertising, recommendations, user engagement (email, SMS). That covers most of engineering. Then multiply the total by 2. That covers non-tech folks like marketing, HR, accounting, legal, recruiting, etc. And that is just the people at HQ. This will give you a barebones organization required to support a product like AirBnB at scale. Beyond that it starts to depend on the business. Twitter will have moderators, AirBnB will have local agents, etc.
    Oct 27 4
    • LinkedIn
      notml

      LinkedIn

      BIO
      c
      notmlmore
      Why 5 people working on likes though? What is the challenge in such feature?
      Oct 27
    • Zillow Group sofaking
      It’s a proxy for quickly coming up with an estimate of how many engineers are required. For every feature that you see there are three others that you don’t.

      That said, “likes” are not as easy as you make it sound. Think about likes on Facebook Live. There are animations for all of those. Everytime someone likes a stream, a stupid little icon pops up and floats across your screen, and the screens of all the people watching the same stream. App notifications are sent to all the people who commented on the post. There’s a whole real-time event processing framework behind that. Your client also needs to maintain a persistent connection to receive that notification in real time. Everything needs to be persisted on the backend. When someone replays the stream, all those likes need to be replayed at the exact time they were committed to the database as well. The events also need to get pushed to the data lake, so the ML teams can recalculate recommendations for what else you might like. And then when you unlike the stream, all that stuff needs to be reversed.

      Add in the terms “real time” and “at scale” to any feature and shit blows up real quick.
      Oct 27
    • Thanks for getting some math and estimation here
      Oct 27
    • Also in company's perspective, it's never a good idea for one person to work on a single feature. What if that person quits? The company needs time to fill gaps, and by having multiple people working on same domain, it reduces risk losing the visibility of features
      Oct 28
  • Snapchat snappity
    I get this all the time. I’ve come across peeps who thought Snapchat was just an app and were shocked we had 1k+ engineers.
    Oct 27 7
    • Snapchat snappity
      There is so much work under the surface. Performance, measurement, ads, targeting, privacy, spam, abuse, data, auth, cross cloud infra and service mesh. These are just examples on the backend. And snap is actually conservative with hiring.
      Oct 27
    • New Ab44
      OP
      No I've worked for eleven years but usually quit startups after they are more than 200 people. Too much politics and middle managers then

      A rule of thumb is that if I don't recognize people I see in the office and know their name it's too big
      Oct 27
    • Snapchat snappity
      Snap had a big monolith with bad engineering practices when it had only 200 people. So there’s value in working as a company matures.
      Oct 28
    • New Ab44
      OP
      Yes, I guess but like I said such companies become impersonal and you lose your friends in politics or reorgs
      Oct 28
    • Snapchat snappity
      Agree. There are pros and cons. Depends on what you’re looking for.
      Oct 28
  • Google Tegriddy
    Oct 27 1
    • New Ab44
      OP
      I never said it sounded easy or hard though, was just curious since people here rarely write about what they do other than how much they earn or some level
      Oct 27
  • Twitter
    🐨 koala

    Twitter

    BIO
    I got a bio now. Do you?
    🐨 koalamore
    Anyone who asks this question hasn’t been in industry very long and doesn’t understand how companies work.

    You only understand what you as a consumer see on the surface. There is so much other stuff going on that the consumer never sees. B2B stuff, advertising deals, data center, infrastructure, privacy, security, biz dev, compliance, accounting, etc.
    Oct 27 3
    • Eigen 🔥blind
      I have been and seen enough of it to comment here.. Where do you work? Backend ?
      Oct 27
    • Twitter
      🐨 koala

      Twitter

      BIO
      I got a bio now. Do you?
      🐨 koalamore
      Would you also ask why does Dropbox have 2300+ employees?

      I wouldn’t. I understand a company could have way more employees than a layperson would think is needed. I know what I don’t know. I’ve never worked there so any number of employees is possible. We don’t know all the private stuff they are working on, only the public stuff.
      Oct 27
    • Eigen 🔥blind
      So you suck mine, I suck yours ? I am not saying you guys arent doing nothing.. The context here is, you are shooting neighbourhood dog with F22 raptor
      Oct 27
  • Facebook Almostdone
    I was asked this a lot by my friends - why Facebook needs so many engineers to build one web site lol
    Oct 27 5
    • Google nxtintview
      It’s because ur friends are naive or because Facebook is creating many duplicate efforts
      Oct 27
    • Credit Karma 🐨Koala
      Duplicate effort says Google?
      How come Google keeps launching messaging apps & still don't succeed? Do you guys compete among yourself to launch a messaging app or G is unaware of other teams also making the app?
      And GCP is another duplication master-piece, you guys have multiple APIs to use one service, I scratched my head figuring out how can I solve GCP problem using just one of the correct library 😕
      Oct 27
    • Amazon lsFI70
      @Koala, I’m confused about your profile. Here, it says you work for Credit Karma. Literally 3 comments up, you work for Twitter. Wtf?
      Oct 27
    • Amazon lsFI70
      Nvmd... “K” vs “k.” Stupid.
      Oct 27
    • Credit Karma 🐨Koala
      There are 5 Koala 🐨
      They copied my name.
      Postmates, Oscar, Snapchat, Twitter there are lot of fake Koala 🐨
      Oct 27
  • Microsoft CeAE87
    Have you ever actually used Twitter?
    Oct 27 2
    • New Ab44
      OP
      Yes since 10 years, currently it's not possible to follow a link there without refreshing the page because "something went wrong"
      Oct 27
    • Microsoft CeAE87
      Not sure that’s Twitter issue but they got lots of features man.
      Oct 27
  • LinkedIn
    notml

    LinkedIn

    BIO
    c
    notmlmore
    I think most people dont know the answer, not sure why people are that toxic. I think it is a valid question. I assume there will be some login team to make sure login works everywhere, passwords are secured, data encrypted, https everywhere and authorization in place when you access data. Next there is listings management, messaging as the main content. There will be some anti spam team that has to make sure these are not abused (they likely scan requests, text and some whitelist with ML to detect bad things). I suspect they also have some data scientists that try to gather data so that leadership can make better option such as - which country is growing the most, what type etc. Some teams will be responsible for databases, internal frameworks and tooling to speedup development.
    Oct 27 1
    • New Ab44
      OP
      Because like the danluu link posted, maybe my post come off as a bit ignorant, so I added an edit. I know that just doing ONE change in how some checkout process works(I work with ecommerce) might require 2 sprints for one team. Testing all platforms, not confusing old customers, what if the 3rd party order system mess up etc etc

      So I for sure understand the theory, but I guess also the question could be phrased more like "how much is too much" because let's say for extreme case you have 0M devs working on the same platforms, that would probably never make anything useful
      Oct 27
  • Apple dingbats
    Dude I wondered the same shit before joining Apple.

    Long story short, there are a lot of duplicate efforts and redundancy. There is also R&D and internal tools/infra.

    But tbh, startups with < 100 people can achieve a lot comparatively. At some point when you get big, you need more people to manage those people. Also it’s easier to hire than it is to fire, so naturally companies will grow over time.
    Oct 27 0
  • DoorDash Bh34567A
    I'll give an incomplete rundown from areas I know

    IT: can be half dozen or much much larger maintaining the physical computer infrastructure etc
    Finance: easily dozen or more planning forecasting budgets etc
    Marketing: dozen or more branding the product company etc
    HR: includes recruiting, immigration, all other people initiatives can be dozens
    Sales: can be huge 100's selling product to enterprises or small clients
    Engineer: many many different things but certainly both the development and maintenance of the products if tech co
    Legal, Accounting, Ops, Analytics, M&A, Corp Dev etc etc . It all adds up
    Oct 27 0
  • Airbnb not🌭
    It takes like 50 people to change fonts lol, just because the change might create marginal differences in UX.... profit(?)
    Oct 27 5
    • Credit Karma iopsifnr
      Especially at places where there is very little marginal costs associated with that revenue, can be quite a boost!
      Oct 27
    • New Ab44
      OP
      Let's say you are right, don't people complain about such small things? Like why it's necessary or so
      Oct 27
    • Airbnb not🌭
      Even if 1% complains about it, that’s thousands of people lol. Think thousands of lost profitable behavior ever single cycle
      Oct 27
    • New Ab44
      OP
      Yes but a lot of devs would see such small changes pointless I mean
      Oct 27
    • Airbnb i pee. oh.
      We don’t really build these things to make devs happy. We do them to improve our product, which in turn drives usage, which grows the business. This is not just us. Somewhere at Apple sit well paid, highly skilled engineers who too are obsessing over drop shadows. It’s not for everyone.
      Oct 29
  • Google
    MacDouble

    Google

    PRE
    Google
    MacDoublemore
    How about backend?
    Oct 27 1
    • New Ab44
      OP
      Yes, that what I was wondering about. What are the ratios of backend vs frontend and designers and how much of the product do they work on etc
      Oct 27
  • Facebook aN48dH
    A lot of Facebook teams are doing ads, machine learning, internal tools (logs, tasks, review tools, version control, databases) that aren't visible products. Also we have only 10k engineers, other employees aren't engineers. Also WhatsApp is small, less than 400 engineers, so I don't understand either why something like Snapchat needs 1000 engineers.
    Oct 27 2
    • New lMRH41
      Have you seen those filters? Each probably needs 5 engineers including testers, there there is the discovery tab, and the special content for advertisers
      Any of that on WhatsApp? No.
      Oct 27
    • Facebook aN48dH
      True, reading user messages for ads targeting is important for them, this needs a lot of machine learning to parse all this text. While WhatsApp can't do this because of e2e encryption.
      Oct 29
  • Uber ghgngjgn
    I think it's a good question! I asked this exact same question when I was just out of college. I think this might be a good question to learn someone's experience and knowledge in working on scalable systems.
    Oct 28 0
  • Uber / Eng itsdara
    Operations take a lot of human efforts, sadly that's what most opportunities today are.
    Oct 27 0
  • Eigen 🔥blind
    This is my question specially for twitter folks.. and no I have worked for Big MNC as well as small startups.

    Startups are so lean that you will develop 3 feature in one day and call for a day where as in this big corp, there is whole lot of process and reviews and what not. Its kinda unnecessary, thats why you have an amazing satisfaction working for startups
    Oct 27 0

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