May 17 2018

Engineer Josh G. is Optimizing Messaging for Every Android Device

By Meta Careers
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We recently sat down for a cup of coffee and a chat with Android Engineer Josh to learn about his work on Facebook Messenger Lite, and how the team is working to create the best experience for all Android users. Josh, who's been at Facebook for over five years, shares what he loves most about being an engineer at the company; and like most good Seattleites, he spills the beans on his favorite coffee right now (ever heard of a soy cortado?!).

You’ve been at Facebook for five years now - what keeps you here?

I joined Facebook because I saw an incredible opportunity to scale something really big in the mobile space. I started out as an Android developer for T-Mobile, and then went to a small startup called Point Inside, both of which made me really excited about the Android ecosystem.
I remember when Facebook pivoted to being a mobile-first company, there were a few things on the Android app that I thought could be improved. As a user and an engineer, I thought the best way to address them was to apply to Facebook and fix them myself. While that was my reason for applying to Facebook, I had no idea how great it could be once I was there.
What I love most about working at Facebook is the incredible amount of autonomy Facebook gives its employees. I had a few friends who were already working at Facebook when I applied, and they talked about the autonomy within teams. I was somewhat skeptical but when I joined the team, I was surprised to learn how true this actually was! My managers often tell me, “I’m not here to tell you what to do, I’m here to help you be successful.” This incredibly collaborative environment makes me feel genuinely respected as both an individual and an employee.
Facebook really doubles down on the idea of work-life balance. My wife and I just welcomed our second child to our family. Since I’ve become a parent, it’s been very important to me to spend quality time with my kids, so every Friday I go to preschool with my son and head into the office at noon. I’ve never had to formally request this time - my managers have always said, “Of course! Anything you need to make your life work.” If I do take these half days, I’m compensating them with working on Saturday mornings or other times to ensure my work gets done. This flexibility works so smoothly because at Facebook, it’s not about the time you are spending grinding out work on a project; it’s about the impact you’re making.

What projects are you working on right now?

Currently I work on the Messenger Lite team. Messenger Lite is a slimmed down version of the Messenger app that allows people who have older or slower phones to still be able to message their friends and family. I would say Messenger Lite is the best project I’ve ever worked on at Facebook.
If you talk to any startup founder about building an app to scale for millions of monthly users, within a few months of launching, they would be shocked. But that is what we did with Messenger Lite. From the point of conceptualizing the Messenger Lite app to getting it out in the market, it was under one year. Facebook provides this incredible and unique access to technical context (from code, to experienced engineers) that enables a compressed timeline, which is so different than anything you’d find at a startup.

What does a typical day look like for you?

I spend approximately 80% of my day coding. One of the cool things about working at Facebook is that if you don’t feel like you would provide value or get value from attending a meeting you’re invited to, you can politely decline. Facebook embraces the idea that you should be spending your time on projects and in meetings where you’re making a real difference. I’ve made it a priority to only work on the projects that I feel will make the most impact. This mindset allows me to spend the majority of my time doing what I love: coding.

What types of problems does your team help solve for people? How do you think your team's work relates to Facebook's mission of bringing the world closer together?

Working on the Messenger Lite team has helped me to really dig deep into what makes technology work differently around the globe. I invest heavily in tools and troubleshooting systems to help understand a wide range of hardware and network environments. With this in mind, it’s my job to not only provide access to the platform, but provide a quality experience for all users. It’s important that everyone, in any kind of environment, can be connected to their friends and family.

Last question - what is your favorite coffee?

Great question, and one of my favorite subjects! My drink is definitely a soy cortado, thanks to my home setup and the wonderful folks at Caffè Umbria!

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