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Building a Top-Down Technical Strategy in a Bottom-Up Culture

Posted Jan 27, 2023 | Views 523
# Culture
# Strategy
# Team Structure
# ELC Annual 2022
Tom Adams
Head of Engineering @ Cash App

Tom Adams is the Engineering Lead for Cash App at Block. Prior to Block, he was a Director of Engineering at Redbubble, principal consultant at Cogent, and co-founded & led development at Oomph, the world's #1 mobile & tablet app platform. He is a keen purveyor of functional programming, servant leadership, and bikes.

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Tess Winlock
Staff Software Engineer @ Cash App

Tess is a Staff Software Engineer who has been in the industry for more than 12 years across a number of companies. She joined Square 5 years ago and has had many positions: everything from Engineering Manager of Square’s Risk Data Infrastructure to an Engineer on Cash App Investing. Tess is now a member of the community organization, which aims to build a better Cash App network by connecting its users. In addition, she’s been a major contributor to Blocks Engineering career ladder, and Cash App’s Promotion process.

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Cash App’s engineering team has historically had a very bottom-up culture where teams are chartered with constraints and goals, and are empowered to achieve those goals however they choose. And while we share a lot of technical foundations, such as service containers, frameworks, common/shared infrastructure, tooling & developer experience, teams may choose to adopt different tools, vendors, technologies, architecture or programming languages & paradigms if this allows them to achieve their goals more quickly or efficiently.

However, while this approach has allowed us to build a successful business, as we’ve grown in scale to almost 1,000 engineers, it has started to show signs of failure, and manifests as overchoice, confusion, redundancy, and lack of leverage.

In this presentation we will walk you through some of the history of Cash App’s engineering team, how we developed the culture that we have, our successes, and the unique challenges that this causes. We’ll talk about how we’re approaching solving them with a high level of engagement & alignment across our entire engineering team.

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