What’s your role at WhatsApp?
I've been an iOS developer for the past eight years at WhatsApp. I started as a contractor in 2009 and relocated to California in 2013 to join the rest of the WhatsApp team. When I joined the team in 2009, there were only three employees! I helped to create the very first iOS version, which was pretty bare bones. At that time, the app only allowed users to update their status. In 2009, we created the chat feature and started adding more features as the years went on like location sharing, group chats, photo sharing and voice calls. I’m proud of the work our teams are doing. It's a great feeling to see how much our app has progressed over the years and to be a contributor.
Can you talk about a project you've worked on that you're proud of?
Close to two years ago, I was playing with chat screen wallpapers in our iPhone app. My goal was to find something appealing to look at throughout the day. I realized what I wanted to see was an option to set the background chat to a solid color. So, I added that option. People instantly loved the new feature.
What is something that most people don't know about your team?
My team values each other like family. We are a tight-knit group and have fun with each other.
Is there a word that describes the culture of your team?
Focus. Focus on reliability. Focus on speed. Focus on user experience.
What is your favorite part of your job?
Coming to the office the day after a new app version is released. The best is checking our reports and not finding anything new. That is seriously satisfying! Not to mention, I get to work with out-of-the-box thinkers and creative individuals within a fun culture.
Since WhatsApp joined Facebook, what has changed?
Not a whole lot, and that’s what engineers love. WhatsApp has held its autonomy and at the same time has full access to Facebook’s resources like Learning & Development. We have expanded with growth and interact with many engineers from Facebook. We have reached new milestones, growing our reach to over 1 billion active users, and the free food isn’t bad either! :)
Why would someone want to join your team and WhatsApp?
WhatsApp is an amazing place for people who want to work on a consumer-facing mobile application with a massive global audience of over 1 billion active users. Our culture is unique. We operate and feel very much like a start-up. Our team consists of engineers who are passionate about helping people around the world to connect and share.
What are some of the engineering challenges you tackle?
One challenge that we face is ensuring backward compatibility with older iOS versions. Outdated operating systems severely limit our ability to use the latest and greatest technology, but our team understands the importance of such support. For over 1 billion people around the world, WhatsApp is the primary method of communication with friends and family. We want to make sure everyone can use WhatsApp, even people with older iPhones.
What inspires you about your work?
I get a lot of inspiration by reading stories from around the world about how WhatsApp changes people's lives. On a trip back to my hometown of Moscow from the U.S., I sat next to a man who said he uses WhatsApp to stay in touch and connected with his daughter who lives in South Africa. The father turned to me and said, "WhatsApp makes the world feel smaller." WhatsApp allows people to communicate freely and stay connected with loved ones. For some it’s their lifeline to home, to familiarity, to those they love.
What is your typical day at WhatsApp like?
I like to start my day caffeinated, either in the office or with our friends at Red Rock Coffee near our office. Red Rock is a special place for us here at WhatsApp. It is known for its "start up" vibe and a handful of us engineers make frequent trips there. As a tribute to the coffee shop, we had one of their employees paint a mural for us in our office. After my coffee, I like to dedicate my mornings to investigating and fixing bugs. There is never a dull moment and always something to work on or improve. For lunch, a bunch of us either eat at the office cafeteria (fast, free and healthy) or in one of the downtown Mountain View restaurants (not so fast, free and sometimes not so healthy). We have our own WhatsApp-lunch group chat so people can suggest restaurants and take out.
After lunch, I like to chip away on larger projects that require more than one day of work. WhatsApp is pretty flexible and encourages us to have an active and healthy lifestyle. Every Monday, Wednesday and Friday, I have a personal workout at the gym. We also have variety of fitness related activities and classes, which other employees participate in too (for example: weekly push up challenges). One of my favorite work days would have to be Thursdays. Every Thursday at WhatsApp, we either have happy hour or an ice cream social, which is provided by local vendors around the Bay Area. Another great way to get to know your colleagues and support local vendors. Friday mornings are also very special to me. Every Friday, my wife and daughter visit me at the office for breakfast. Our company does a great job of not only making our employees feel welcome but extending that feeling to our family and friends!