How We Work: Engineering at Samsara

January 28, 2020

As engineers at Samsara, our culture is defined by the work we do and the decisions we make every day. We believe that how we work is just as important as what we ship. Our approach is particularly important because our work has real-world impact on an audience that’s traditionally been underserved by the tech industry.

The industries that many of our customers work in—food distribution, utilities, emergency response, public transportation—make up the backbone of our country’s infrastructure. But we see that technology isn’t always built with them in mind. Many of them are still reliant on manual, inefficient processes. This is Samsara’s greatest opportunity.

Our work has a significant impact on our customers’ lives. Whether it’s creating automated reporting to reduce admin time, building AI dash cams that can help identify dangerous driving and reduce accidents, or launching an easy way to track asset utilization, the code we push has real-world effects.

To maximize our impact, we believe in getting our information straight from the source. That’s why all our engineers work very closely with our customers and regularly visit them on-site. These on-sites help us see our products in action, quickly gather feedback, and witness firsthand the impact our work has on our customers.

In just four years, we’ve built and scaled the business to over 10 billion data points across 10,000+ customers. In order to work quickly and efficiently, we’ve created a set of core engineering philosophies to work by. These shared values allow us to have a common language, help us stay aligned and motivated, and make us stronger as a team.

Samsara Engineering philosophies

1. Iteration and execution: “pull requests welcome”

Often if you make a suggestion for an improvement to a product in an engineering Slack channel, you will be met with the response “PRs welcome”. This is our way of saying, from day one, if you see a problem, you are empowered to fix it. The best engineers at Samsara find ways to get stuff done.

We ship code every day. We improve our products every day. We make our customers’ lives better every day. We understand that customers are not only buying Samsara’s products for their current capabilities, but also for their potential. Customers buy Samsara with the expectation that we will constantly deliver improvements to their business. We successfully build products and win customers by implementing thoughtful feedback loops with our customers.

We run fast. We run fast by having small teams that have full ownership and autonomy over a product area. Teams are designed to be small, cross-functional, independent and autonomous. One team isn’t dependent on another team to deliver on its core mission. Through small teams, we can work on a wide variety of initiatives in parallel, and engineers can experience a significant amount of ownership over the team’s area of responsibility and exposure to Samsara’s technical and business domains. At Samsara, you are the champion of your own project and should feel a sense of pride in leading it from start to finish.

Engineers at Samsara also frequently work in tandem, joining up to pair program and learn from each other. If you face a roadblock or need extra support, there’s always a cohort of subject matter experts here to help. Not only does this allow us to share knowledge, it helps create a culture where we’re all comfortable asking for help and providing constructive feedback.

2. Technical excellence

Just because we move quickly doesn't mean we sacrifice quality or don’t build for the long run. We are constantly balancing between delivering capabilities today and making technology investments that set us up for years to come. We understand that we are part of a rapidly changing business and our technical approach will need to adapt and flex with that business.

Samsara is a technically capable organization top to bottom. We value technical excellence and we screen for strong technical capabilities at all levels of the organization. We believe that details matter. By obsessing over details, we build and deliver products that exceed customer expectations over and over again.

3. Focus on customers

We love to build things that solve real world problems and that our customers love. We visit customers to gain empathy and insights, we pore over customer feedback, and we resolve customer issues quickly. We obsess over how features should be designed to be the most intuitive, but we are also intentional about getting products and features into customer’s hands quickly to make their lives better.

We consider impact to the customer in everything we do. We pay close attention to NPS scores, but we also measure and closely monitor aspects of our system that indicate user experience, so that we can proactively address issues before customers even notice them.

Whether it’s your first week or your hundredth, as an engineer you have the opportunity to connect with our customers directly to better understand their problems. We ship fast and gather customer feedback through regular customer phone calls and on-site visits.

4. Constantly improving

We not only iterate on our product, but we also iterate on ourselves, as individuals and as a team. We are a learning organization and we learn from our mistakes. When something goes wrong with our system, we don’t blame an individual, but we rather look at ways we can improve the system to prevent this failure mode in the future. We embrace blameless postmortems. We also use retrospectives at the team level to ask ourselves what is working and what isn’t so we can make small improvements to how we work over time.

We try to hire people who like getting involved with a number of different projects, enjoy working with various teams, and are always trying to push themselves to improve. Engineers at Samsara don’t just code—they have responsibilities that span across customer research, recruiting, product management, design, and of course, engineering.

For instance, Albert Hu, an engineer on the compliance team in San Francisco, had the unique opportunity to participate in a rotation program where he traveled to our Atlanta office for four months. While he was there, Albert was not only committed to the world of engineering but also helped shape our recruitment pipeline. In keeping with our cultural principles of learning, diversity, and inclusion, Albert attended and hosted many local tech meetups, including the Atlanta Go User Group, Women Who Code Atlanta, and

5. Having fun

At the end of the day, we do this because it is fun. We like hacking on things in our spare time. We carve out time to explore new ideas as a team in our quarterly hackathon. We show off our cool work to each other in Friday Dev Demos. We are happy to take credit for Samsara’s boba tradition.

While it’s customary to rave about the technical ability of an engineering team, it’s the inclusive and collaborative spirit that sets this team apart. This is a great team to work with.

Is Samsara right for you?

One of the most exciting things about Samsara is that we provide an opportunity for every employee to grow as the company grows. For engineers, every new product, project, initiative, and customer reflects an opportunity to express leadership and make an impact.

What can you expect as a Samsara engineer?

  • The opportunity to explore new technical and market domains through cross-team projects, rotations, and transfers

  • A learning-focused, collaborative environment with leadership opportunities

  • Transparency and feedback from your leaders and peers

  • A personal growth budget for continued, self-directed learning

As a company, we’re committed to creating an environment that encourages growth and learning, but growth also requires a commitment from the individual. To ensure a good fit, we look for individuals who display deep technical innovation, a collaborative mindset, curiosity, and persistence.

If you’re excited to join a fast-paced, growth oriented environment and work with a team of curious people creating new solutions for complex problems, take a look at our open positions.

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