Recently joined a bay area startup called Verkada, having mixed feelings
I joined Verkada after a brief stint at another bay area company. The interviews went smooth, the recruiters pitched hard, the execs wooed me with fancy food and a generous offer I couldn't refuse. Some N months later my bubble is burst and I regret coming here.
It all started when I discovered that most of the senior engineering managers can't write a decent piece of code or conduct a simple technical interview. I have never seen a bigger team of inexperienced engineers working together on a critical product.
The company is mainly sales driven, everyone here is blinded by getting rich young and quick, living in a successful IPO/acquisition dream bubble. The CEO is strongly driven by making money through sales, rather than focusing on developing a quality product for the customer.
Though a surveillance security company, the features appear quite immature and dysfunctional. There was a customer incident last year and the camera failed to notice it with it’s weak AI capabilities. Highly hyped, below-par product features are released every quarter targeted to make even more sales than previous quarter. The engineers work long hours and operate under a 'release quickly first, fix later' motto.
The company is loaded with investor money. They constantly throw lavish parties, team outings and provide crazy bonuses that brainwash employees to work harder every quarter.
While having lunch with a couple of early engineers on the team, one of them confided that the company culture is no longer the same as the time when he joined. People are frustrated and uncertain with where things are heading, there are plenty of latent egos floating around.
He told me that one particular head of Sales quit and joined another surveillance camera competitor, which was a huge bad sign in itself. Many people in sales were unhappy when they found out. The mobile and web design teams seem okay, the core software engineers work 24/7, fixing constant bugs and working on ambitious features that are killed in the bud or replaced with a newer dream feature next quarter. The new products team doesn’t have a working product yet. Majority of the AI computer vision portion of the product is powered by deep learning services from external companies, far behind other similar startups in the surveillance domain and is at best average.
To save costs, the camera hardware is cheaply manufactured from Asia with limited capabilities. The engineering hiring targets are scarily ambitious, engineering culture hints traces of ageism, there’s plenty of prevalent nepotism in hiring execs and fellow employees across all teams.
The product targets are listed out every quarter to achieve a shorter term success, without clear long term goals. This sets of a repetitive cycle of broken features, weak bug fixes, duplicate engineering workload and a state of confusion among team members.
Another engineer said he was quitting sometime this year and was already interviewing actively.
My initial good impressions of a seemingly successful startup are now replaced by severe doubts. The startup is 3-4 years old and has a long way to go to be a game changer in the market. My fear is that they will be acquired by a giant company(Cisco, Amazon, or equivalent) in the next few years and squashed down quickly.
And us newer employees will leave with nothing but peanuts in hand.
I want to take a calculated risk between leaving asap and staying on. But I have a family and this decision is not that simple.
I need your help and advice!