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Why you should aim to be at a company with a lot of users

This is something I wish I did earlier on..

First I worked at a small startup, I don’t think anyone used what we built…and it was horrible.

My next few jobs were working at B2B enterprise software companies where not daily active users used the product.
My current job has LOTS of users, and I’m one of them. And I’m happy and it has done a lot for my career for credibility.

Why is this important?

  1. From a technical perspective its important to be in a company where “oh shit” protocol is in place and you know how to fix a problem that could be potentially costing the business hundreds of thousands of dollars

  2. When you are networking or going into an interview, if they have used your product your credibility goes through the roof and they want to work with you.

Its ok not to be at a company like this, but strive to get there one day.

It will help your career development and the problems you get to solve will most likely be more fun.

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  • Scott

Top comments (4)

jonrandy profile image
Jon Randy 🎖️ • Edited

I have to say that I can't disagree with this more. I've been a developer for around 25 years (16 as a web developer), and have worked at many different sizes of company at different points in their growth. I've found that by far the best places to work are the small places, ideally with a product or project that is in its early stages.

If you join a company where the product already has a lot of users, then it's extremely likely that the project is already fairly mature and all that you will be mostly doing is effectively just tending someone else's baby to keep it happy and healthy. There will be little opportunity to be truly creative, have a real say in the direction of the product, feel truly invested in the project etc. It can ultimately become soul destroying.

Sure, it's nice to be associated with a large, very successful product - but it feels way better to know you played or are playing a key role in the creation of something, rather than just knowing about / dealing with a small part of a larger system and just being a cog in a machine. Looks better on your CV too. If the interviewer is doing their job properly, name-dropping should mean very little indeed.

At a small place you can feel much more a part of something, with a real chance to show what you can do and actually feel like you're making a difference... it's infinitely more rewarding, and makes your job feel like something you actually want to do - rather than just something to pay the bills, and use as a stepping stone to the next salary bracket.

Just my two pence...

scottstern06 profile image

Thanks for sharing Jon!

Really appreciate your input and agree with you.

My point of view isnt dogmatic, I was just sharing something that helped my career trajectory and hopefully someone finds value in it.

I agree, you should be apart of something you're passionate about.

Thats always the goal. But through a high user base comes impact (given the size of the company/seniority etc)

again thanks for reading and sharing :)

chuniversiteit profile image
Chun Fei Lung

This kind of reminds me of these two lines from Baz Luhrmann’s Everybody Free (To Wear Sunscreen):

Live in New York City once but leave before it makes you hard
Live in northern California once but leave before it makes you soft

The two cities are presented as extremes, which small startups and companies with high-volume products often tend to be. Not sure which is which here, but that doesn’t matter.

Does building things make you happy? Follow Jon’s advice: look for places that are new, where you can still make huge contributions. Would you rather solve hard, complex challenges? Do what Scott suggests and try to work on an application that already has millions of users.

Most people will eventually end up somewhere in between.

But everybody’s different. Some already know that they only want one or the other. That’s fine too!

scottstern06 profile image

Thanks for reading and sharing that passage :) I love it