Working at HBO Seattle?

Jul 20, 2019 26 Comments

Any current or former HBO-Seattle employees, what should I know before considering a SDM (Software Dev Manager) role there?

How is the leadership team?
How is the quality of engineers (say compared to Amazon, Google, FB)
What are the biggest challenges?
What is the best thing about working there?
Any interview tips?


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TOP 26 Comments
  • HBO / Eng HBOEng
    To provide an engineer’s perspective on the current state of things:

    Engineering, for the most part, has been isolated from the upheaval seen in product and design. We have our own set of problems.

    One big challenge we are dealing with is that we have is a complete vacuum of qualified managers. To be blunt, our engineering management is a complete mess.

    Nearly every engineering manager at HBO Seattle is a recently promoted IC with no real experience in management. People who are great at slinging code, but terrible at motivating people or leading personal growth.

    I don’t know of a single engineer who actually believes we are going to launch the HBO Max beta on time, nor do I know of a single engineer who cares about the fact that we likely won’t make it.

    While part of this is due to some really poorly thought out recent technical decisions, most of it is simply because we don’t have any qualified leadership who knows how to motivate and inspire their employees.

    The constant complaint from
    engineering is that they don’t feel valued. They don’t feel motivated. They don’t feel like there is any career growth. All things which could easily be fixed with better management infrastructure. Instead we just keep bleeding all of our ambitious talent.

    HBO internally is aware of these problems and is making a concerted effort to fix them... with mixed results. It will get better but probably not for awhile.

    With that said there are some good things about HBO. The engineering talent is great. While not as ambitious as the engineers I knew when I was at Amazon, definitely just as talented.

    There is a great spirit of collaboration. People are willing to drop everything to help each out. People are great. It’s the one thing keeping me here.

    And while this is probably going to change, the WLB is seriously some of the best in Seattle.
    Jul 21, 2019 5
    • Microsoft oppensive
      Thanks for sharing detailed review. Why do you think WLB will change? Are most of managers from one country or is it a good mix without dominant nationality? Some companies have Chinese mostly other have Indians for example. Well some have Americans mostly or Russians. Can I also ask whether TC is better than Amazon?
      Jul 21, 2019
    • Cash (both base and bonus) are much better than Amazon. But there is no stock. TC depends on your assumptions about AMZN I guess.
      Jul 22, 2019
    • We have a thing to deliver, so we are assuming there will be a crunch to deliver it. Seems fine, honestly, as long as it's temporary.

      And yeah only 1-2 really experienced managers who are trying get things in order, but they seem to be drowning under a mountain of org debt. All of the worst managers are now gone, but there is a vacuum for sure.
      Jul 22, 2019
    • Not all of the worst are gone.
      Jul 25, 2019
    • When you get rid of the worst, you have a new worst until you have only perfect managers. I'd definitely work at whatever company had figured out how to get perfect managers.
      Jul 25, 2019
  • HBO / Design GJDH14
    First, you should know that you won't be working for HBO, but rather WarnerMedia. That's at the root of this whole mess.

    I can’t really speak for engineering but on the product design side (my team) things are not good. It all started with our team being plucked out from HBO and moved under WarnerMedia new leadership, effectively forcing out one of our directors who we’d ride or die for, along with others.

    Super low morale on our team that I’m not convinced leadership has actually picked up on. We’re literally bleeding designers without those roles being back-filled (we lost THREE this week). Lots of candid conversations with peers (and managers) about where else we’re interviewing and which recruiters we’re in touch with. It’s fucking weird.

    No real incentive to stick around for the HBOMax beta (end of this year), and even less so for launch (sometime next year) other than to “see this through” and power through with current teammates on design, product, and engineering (who I want to support and are great). It’s especially hard to be motivated to stay when we find out they’re throwing money at a select few to stay (this has been confirmed several times) and at new engineering recruits.

    If there’s any upside to this mess it’s that it’s weeded out some awful people 🤷🏻‍♂️

    It takes a village but it’s going to be problematic to launch the beta in time if the majority of the ICs on the design team leave; (some of us) have a good collaborative relationship with engineering and that’s a lot of our working platform design experience out the door that can’t easily be replaced by back-filling with contractors.

    Hopefully that sheds some light on one part of the Seattle office's situation. Hopefully things are better on the engineering side of the org, but judging by the comments on Blind... I'm not optimistic.
    Jul 20, 2019 2
    • Qualtrics user1214
      Also looking at an SDM role there so thanks for the well thought out reply!
      Jul 20, 2019
    • HBO / Design Maxxinista
      A few more thoughts:
      The one constant since the transition has begun is the conflict between what leadership says (“we’re all in this together”) and the actions they take. We’re told that this is still a collaborative process and that we’ll all have a say in how HBOMax evolves, but the way things play out just feels like we’re executing someone else’s vision (a vision, which to be frank, prioritizes some really weak ideas over some amazing ones that everyone would be excited to work on).

      Maybe this whole thing is just harder for those of us that have had to sit through this transition and see our colleagues leave, whereas *new* hires will come in at the just the right time without having to suffer much. I really hope that’s the case for the sake of all the new people joining the org.

      For all the bad there are still a few good things:
      (a) You’d be working on a new streaming product – although not from scratch, but built on an existing foundation. There’s a lot of eyes on us right now.

      (b) WLB historically has been great.
      Jul 20, 2019
  • Amazon on-call
    How does the bonus work? Spread over 3/4 years? And is it annual?
    Aug 16, 2019 10
    • HBO / Eng ashpool 3
      I don't totally understand your first Q though
      Aug 16, 2019
    • Amazon on-call
      Cool, thanks!
      I meant, does everyone get paid the annual bonus on the same day (after review cycle) or do you get paid one year after your hire date?
      Aug 16, 2019
    • HBO zr8K8s
      Everyone gets paid on the same day. If you have been here less than a year, it will be prorated.
      Aug 16, 2019
    • Amazon on-call
      Makes sense. When is it typically? End of calendar year ?
      Aug 16, 2019
    • HBO zr8K8s
      Usually they are paid out towards the end of February for the previous year.
      Aug 16, 2019
  • HBO / Admin QgWN71
    HBO is dying thanks to John Stankey. Go elsewhere
    Jul 20, 2019 0
  • HBO / Eng ashpool 3
    WLB is second to none in ENG. Comp isn't quite FAANG but is good (B+?).

    I don't know what creates such a great culture of WLB and collaboration but I sincerely hope it stays
    Aug 1, 2019 0
  • New / Eng QTdN03
    HBO must have Albertson’s level pay and WLB because they steal our senior devs.
    Jul 20, 2019 1
    • The WLB is second to none for the comp, I think. Who knows how it’ll last thru the launch of the new app, but they care about it.
      Jul 24, 2019
  • Amazon HomeBoxOff
    How's the VP and his directs?
    Jul 27, 2019 0
  • HBO / Eng yakko
    Don’t be scared off by what others have said in this channel. While there are challenges for sure, the organization is growing fast and there is a lot of opportunity to make big splash and impact as a SDM here.
    Jul 26, 2019 0


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