Engineering Spotlight: SimpliSafe
SimpliSafe's mission is exemplified in their name; they want to keep their customers safe through simple, easy-to-set-up home security devices.
SimpliSafe's QA Automation Manager Kevin Cormier connected with us to talk about the company’s engineering team and how they continuing to innovate in the home security space. Cormier also touched upon the engineering team’s tech stack and their culture inside their offices in Downtown Crossing.
Interested in joining SimpliSafe’s engineering team? Click here for all of the company’s job openings in all of its departments, including engineering.
Quick Hit Details
Year Founded: 2006
Number of employees: 675
Number of engineers: 60
Industry: IoT, Home Security
Can you share a summary on what SimpliSafe does?
SimpliSafe is a smart home security company. We strive to give our customers peace of mind, knowing that their home is secure not just from intrusion, but also fire, CO2, and water. If the system does pick something up, our cameras let you visually verify what the sensors are picking up before calling it an emergency.
SimpliSafe is building both hardware and software. Can you share how that is set up in terms of the work between different teams?
Each product’s team includes engineers who work on both embedded firmware and the backend service running which they communicate with. In this way, they can quickly develop and iterate on both sides. Each product’s backend service exposes a well-defined API to our other internal services. Beyond these services, we have a number of teams, each with a focus on a different portion of our infrastructure.
What are some of the different technologies that the engineering team gets to work with and at what scale?
Given that our product includes both a hardware component and a SaaS component, the breadth of technology is incredible. On the software side, you will see mostly Angular, Java (Android), Objective-C (Apple), node and PHP. For automation, the team works heavily with Ansible and Terraform with some python, go, ruby, and a few other experimental projects in different languages sprinkled in.
What are some of the interesting projects that the engineering team is tackling?
SimpliSafe is adding doorbell cameras, smart door locks, outdoor and battery operated cameras to our product offerings. We are also building our technical integration partnerships with Amazon, Google, August Smart Locks, and others. In addition, we are presently working on localizing our product for the global market.
Does your engineering team have a chance to work on projects outside of their day-to-day responsibilities?
Each team takes time to work this into their plan. As an example, our DevOps/SRE team takes the free time from their two days for demo, retro, and planning as free time to pursue whatever projects they choose. That being said, we have a few open source projects that are used in-house and that we’ve contributed back to as part of our normal operations. If there is an opportunity to get your work merged upstream it is encouraged.
What is the culture like at SimpliSafe for the engineering team?
SimpliSafe has an exciting and interesting work environment. We have a great mix of people and personalities. There is a strong focus on hard work and humility. We encourage people to take risks and try things in a way that can be measured and validated. As much as possible, we try to build our process to make experimentation (and failure) cheap and easy. When you mess up, be loud about it so that the team can learn and help you fix it.
What can a potential employee expect during the interview process?
We want every candidate to get the full SimpliSafe experience! You can expect to get a 360 tour all the way from the call center to our QA test station. The best part of our interview is the demo, we love for our candidates to get the products in their hands!
Are you involved in any local tech organizations or Meetups?
The Boston tech scene is more exciting than ever, members of our team attend and present at Devops and Node.JS meetups around Boston. The learning never stops.
Rapid Fire Q&A
What’s on tap?
Our Friday Happy Hours feature every local craft beer, wine or mead we can get our hands on.
Star Wars or Star Trek?
Star Wars all the way. Our conference rooms and internal codes are all Star Wars-based. Sorry, Star Trek!
iPhone or Android?
This is a touchy subject...
Coffee - hot or iced?
This is New England, even in the snow we are having iced coffee.
Favorite employee perk?
Our yearly ski trip! Every winter we rent a huge ski lodge, this year we have our own indoor pool and slopeside lodging!
What TV show describes the engineering team’s culture?
Sherlock! Where the unlikeliest pairs of people collaborate and work together to accomplish the incredible.
What music is playing in your office?
Lots of upbeat music! The majority of us here are optimists at heart and the constant positivity in the office is contagious.
View from your office?
Downtown Crossing is where Boston’s history collides with some of the coolest companies! We are surrounded by landmarks and some of Boston’s cutting edge tech industry.
Cleanest desk / Messiest desk?
I don’t think there is a single clean desk in the department. Every desk is covered in hardware and that’s the way we like it!
Images courtesy of SimpliSafe