Engineering in Berlin
Milda Mitkutė and Justas Janauskas have founded Vinted in 2008. Since then, all the software engineers were co-located in Vilnius: from our founder, CEO, and the first software engineer Justas to the more than 240 people working in engineering today. This year, 2021, we will expand our engineering team outside of Vilnius. We’ve already started hiring for engineering (and product, design, analytics) roles in Berlin. It’s a big and essential step. In this blog post, I will explain the why, what, and how of this move.
Over the last three years, our engineering team has doubled each year. We grew from 30 to 55 in 2018, from 55 to 110 in 2019, from 110 to 210 in 2020. We didn’t double just for the sake of doubling. We’re a technology company. To make our mission - make 2nd-hand 1st choice - a reality, we create and improve software. We’ve created the largest online C2C marketplace in Europe dedicated to second-hand fashion, with a growing community of 37+ million users spanning 13 markets.
Over the last year, we’ve built new product capabilities, enhanced existing ones to better support our members’ ability to trade internationally, and improved our tech to handle more than 50k requests per second.
We want to continue scaling our engineering team. But that is no longer possible by only hiring in Vilnius. Lithuania’s capital has an incredibly strong software engineering ecosystem. Some of the top technology companies in the world have offices here. But as a city with a population of a bit more than half a million people, the size of the talent pool is limited.
We see that 100 might limit what we can hire in Vilnius per year, considering the people we need. Hiring more than 100 people for engineering in Vilnius puts at around 310 by the end of 2021 and around 410 by 2022. Our ambitions are bigger than that.
We’ve looked at various options and multiple cities. Berlin landed at the top of the list due to its diverse talent pool and vibrant tech ecosystem. We also already have part of our marketing team located in Berlin - meaning we won’t have to start entirely from scratch.
Most of the engineering team works on our product. Our product engineering teams are divided into domains. Each domain consists of multiple teams. Our product teams are cross-functional - engineers work together with product managers, analysts, and designers to achieve their objectives.
Two of the domains will expand to Berlin: Ship and Categories. Both of them are critical to the success of our second-hand marketplace. Ship and Categories will be the fastest-growing product domains at Vinted in 2021.
Categories domain will work on accelerating our growth through deepening and widening of categories. No category is the same as the other one. We will improve the experience of selling and buying, for example, sneakers and dresses in specific ways.
Today we have one team working on categories. All the members of that team are in Vilnius. By the end of the year, we’ll have four teams working on categories, with the domain co-located in Berlin.
Ship domain enables shipping of goods between our members, both locally and internationally. We integrate various shipping providers, figure out the best routes for our members, and improve service quality.
Today we have more than 40 people working in the Ship domain in Vilnius. That includes 4 product teams. By the end of 2021, the number of people working in Ship will have doubled. The domain will be split between two locations - Vilnius and Berlin.
We’ve started by hiring leaders. Two domains mean two engineering directors. Adam Mullen and John Collins have agreed to join and lead Categories engineering and Ship engineering. Both of them are experienced leaders whose skills and knowledge will level-up our team overall.
Over the next couple of months, we’ll continue to focus on the most senior roles. We want to have a strong foundation in place before we start expanding our teams. Thus we’ll focus on hiring a staff engineer, engineering team leads, and senior engineers.
In the long-term, we want the teams in Berlin to be as autonomous as possible. In the short-term, they’ll work closely with teams in Vilnius, while they get up to speed with our processes and ways of working. Autonomous teams can function effectively only by having comprehensive knowledge about the company and domain context, our company, and engineering culture.
At Vinted, we usually build new teams by splitting existing teams. We balance tenure, seniority, and people’s preference to create two effective teams out of one. We’ll continue using this amoeba pattern. The first engineers we’ll hire in Berlin will be part of existing Vilnius’ teams. They’ll get onboarded to how we work, eventually forming autonomous co-located teams in Berlin.
When conditions permit, we will regularly travel between Vilnius and Berlin to exchange knowledge. We also offer relocation (both complete and temporary) to our people in Vilnius to help boost knowledge transfer.
This is a new and exciting chapter in Vinted’s story. If you’re interested in joining us in tackling the many challenges we have (about some you can read in this blog), the job ads are already live.
While reading this blog, you will notice that we use specific technologies (e.g., MySQL, Elasticsearch, Kafka) and languages (e.g., Ruby, Kotlin, Swift). But we care first-and-foremost about hiring great engineers who want to solve complex problems. If you don’t have experience with a specific language or tool, we’ll help you get up to speed.
We’re a young and fast-growing company. If you’re a pragmatic engineer looking for your next opportunity - we might be the place for you.