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Looking for an Outgoing DevOps in California

Nov 1st UPDATE: the position has been filled! Go Kyle! 🙂

Hi this is Peldi from Balsamiq. We are a three-year old, bootstrapped and very profitable little company. In order to help rid the world of bad software, we make a sketch-quality wireframing tool called Balsamiq Mockups. We sell it as a Desktop application, as a plugin to various wikis and bug trackers and as a SaaS web app. We have nine full-time employees, and are looking for #10. The job description is below. Enjoy! 🙂

About the job

As with all jobs at a small startup, this is a very broad job.

We need help in three areas:

  1. Maintain, support and improve our existing plugins, and develop new ones: this is a fun job if you like to work with different technologies. The Mockups editor is done in Actionscript/Flex, while the back-end of our plugins is done in Java and C#/.NET. Plus there's some HTML+CSS+JS integration code sprinkled in there as well. The job here is to bring our plugin versions to parity with the Desktop version and myBalsamiq, adding linking and symbols support for instance. Beyond that, the sky is the limit. Our existing plugins need to be supported, maintained and improved. Plus we develop new ones! This means working directly with some of the best companies in our industry to take the new plugin from idea to reality. This is where your great communication skills will come in handy. 🙂
  2. Help us make myBalsamiq - our web-app - known for its reliability: at minimum, this is the sysadmin side of the job. Luis, the main myBalsamiq dev, is in Paris, France. While he sleeps, we need someone to monitor the servers and respond to emergencies. Hopefully you'll be able to contribute a lot more than that though, helping us design and implement the best server architecture for our SaaS app as it grows over the years. Improving our build processes, helping Louanne design and implement load and stress tests, all that good stuff. There is a ton of fun stuff to build here... I'd love for us to have a little version of a Chaos Monkey like Netflix for instance! 🙂
  3. Improve myBalsamiq with new features and bug fixes: this would mean becoming a Grails + JS guru over time, helping Luis and the rest of the team improve myBalsamiq with new features as it grows. This is a great time to get in, since myBalsamiq is just about to launch, you'll really be able to make an impact here. An area we would love help with for instance is in turning our SaaS app into an enterprise-ready WAR: this means adding LDAP integration, creating an installer and lots more fun stuff.

About you

This is a job for a multi-talented person: you need to be a server-side developer, a system administrator, a middle-ware developer, a product manager and a tech support agent, all at once.

  • You already live in California or are willing to move there, and can legally work there.*
  • The idea of jumping between different languages and technology stacks on a daily basis excites you.
  • You have real-world experience as a SysAdmin of a SaaS product.
  • You know what most of these terms mean: AWS (EC2, S3, RDS, ELB, EBS, etc), LDAP, API, REST, SSL, MemCache, Hibernate, GORM... you get the idea.
  • You stand out among your peers for your communication skills. Past experiences speaking in public, writing technical books and/or doing direct customer support are a BIG plus.
  • You're looking for a job that will let you use ALL of your talents, and develop new ones.
  • You are self-motivated and able to set your own schedule.
  • You are able to work from home productively and have done so in the past.
  • You have an unquenchable thirst for learning.
  • You'd never admit this publicly, but deep down inside you know we'd be lucky to get you. 😉
  • You're not scared by this list: you know that you can rise to the occasion and fill the gaps if given the chance and time.

*The job is in California because we want someone in PST to assure 24h coverage, and we're all setup to do business in California already (we're registered, reporting sales, etc), so it's easier for us to hire someone there rather than Oregon, Washington, Alaska (not to mention Canada). If you live in one of these states and really really want the job, apply anyways, but know that you'll start off at a disadvantage.

IMPORTANT: if you've read so far and are thinking: this isn't for me, please think for a moment about someone else you know who'd be perfect for this job and pass them this link! Even if you're not totally sure, we'd be super-grateful if you could send out an email or two, or even a Tweet! Heck, if we hire based on your recommendation we'd be totally happy to send you an iPad or an AR.Drone or whatever other fancy toy in that price range you want, or make a donation in your name! 🙂

About us

Balsamiq is a bit different from many other companies. We are trying to build a little top-quality restaurant on the web, which is not how most tech startups operate. If you don't know us, our manifesto should give you a pretty good idea of what we're about.

We look up to companies like FogCreek, the Omni Group, 37 Signals, Red Gate, Atlassian, Panic... bootstrapped, independent, profitable, small-ish and thinking long-term.

This is a sweet gig.

Let me tell you why:

  • You will help us in our mission to rid the world of bad software.
  • You will be working on stuff customers love and competitors routinely try to copy.
  • You will be surrounded by a diverse group of extremely talented and yet humble individuals.
  • You will be respected as the expert you are.
  • You will be paid better than your peers.
  • You will participate in our generous quarterly profit-sharing program.
  • You will make a large impact within our company.
  • Slowly but surely, you will make an impact within the industry.
  • You will participate and speak at conferences / hackathons / user groups / you name it.
  • You will be flown out somewhere in the world once a year for a week-long company retreat.
  • You will not have deadlines.
  • You will have the best hardware available (both computers and desk/chair setup).
  • We are a ROWE environment: there are no set working hours.
  • We don't like policies, but we have a few. For instance, our vacation policy is take some.
  • You will be free to make mistakes as long as you learn from them and fix them quickly.
  • We treat our own like family. If all goes well, you won't have a different job for many years to come.
  • We offer great medical benefits, 401k, dental, vision and all that stuff.
  • We are genuinely good people (here's a couple of blog posts that should give you a hint: one on donating our software and one on software piracy).
  • You will work in an environment where the CEO asks "what do you need?" rather than bossing you around.


  • Working from home, with your colleagues spread around the World, can be lonely and distracting.
  • Working on so many different things all the time can be a bit disconcerting.
  • We're growing fast, but the goal is to stay as small as humanly possible while maintaining excellent customer support and a healthy work schedule. So if you're looking for a chance to grow into being a middle-manager, this is not for you.
  • We're in the limelight once in a while, but don't seek it. We care WAY more about doing good work than getting press mentions. If you value your self worth by how many times your company is mentioned on Hacker News, you might not be super-happy here.
  • There's no exit strategy. In fact, those words disgust us a little bit.
  • Peldi really doesn't like braggers, whiners, bigots and dishonest people. So if you're like that, please don't apply.

How to apply

This is the first time we publish a job posting like this, so forgive us if our process is not as smooth as it should be, we're learning here.

Here's what I expect will happen:

  1. We will spend two or three weeks collecting applications (but we're ready for extend this period if the right person doesn't come along).
  2. We will review them internally and pick a few people to interview over Skype (this will be a four-hour interview with different team members).
  3. We will hire one or two people for a short and well-paid contract to work on a single feature or quick project (something that can be done on the side / at night time in a week or two - so if you already have a full-time job, don't worry it will be quick. We might even skip this step for the right person).
  4. I suspect at this point we'll have a pretty good idea of each other and will be able to decide whether to move forward or not. We might do a trial period as full-time employee as well.

Have questions? Suggestions on how to improve our search for the perfect candidate? Are we asking too much? Thinking this is too good to be true and want to apply NOW? Just email me!

We can't wait to work with you.

Peldi for the Balsamiq Team

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Comments (5)

  1. The Downsides part is excellent. I wish I would be a developer yet.

  2. I wish you were hiring desktop dev (without “Ops”) in eastern Europe… 🙂

  3. Wow, Peldi! You don’t take jobs lightly at Balsamiq, but I can see the reason why you don’t have so many policies…your on-boarding process is scary tighter than a US Government agency. I would apply, but I can’t produce a single line of code. If you need someone that can hammer, but can’t find anything but this old screwdriver with a wooden handle, let me know!

    Nick Panagopoulos
  4. Guys, you’re so cool even when you post a job vacancy 😉 good luck with your search

  5. If I only lived in California — sigh…