This is short blog to help you understand if Polarr is a good fit for you. For additional materials related to career at Polarr, checkout our career page.
Hey, students, fresh grads, or experienced industry veterans and PhDs from all corners of the world. This is Borui and Derek, founders of Polarr, and we're making creative A.I. for everyone 🤖.
You're looking at this blog post probably because I personally reached out to you, or you recently sent us your resume from our job portal, or one of the on campus career fairs. For students, we know it's a really busy season for you, and among all the midterms, finals, and other life choices you're going to make soon regarding course planning, interns, and full-time jobs, we don't want to worsen your decision paralysis. For those who're currently working in the industry, we don't want our process to hijack your existing work routine and schedule, so we'd like to keep it as simple as possible for you to decide if Polarr would be a good fit or not.
This blog has an estimated read time of 10 minutes. If you don't think Polarr is a good fit today after reading, things might change in the future and we will remain in touch. Otherwise, there is a link to an application for you fill out near the end of this post.
🏎 Our Mission Statement
To enable and inspire everyone to make beautiful creations.
❤️ What bonds our team together.
The ongoing act and potential of making once-in-a-career, gaming-changing and ludicrously interesting projects.
🛰 A brief history of Polarr.
Polarr is a Series A stage startup company (see most recently announcement) based in Silicon Valley. When we started Polarr in 2015, we saw the future of content is code, and the future in computation lies in smaller, more efficient mobile GPUs. But more importantly, we started to see conventional algorithms being repurposed for creative work to create music, writings and movies.
We believe this is largely due to the increased computing power and quality in cameras sensors in consumer devices. In 2019, most cell phones will be equipped with compute NPUs, 8K cameras, and we're seeing a new generation of users looking to creatively capture and express their lives with the new-found power in their hands.
While the A.I. compute capabilities in mobile hardware are truly promising, today only a very small fraction of applications and software leverage the hardware. This is because:
- The interfaces for apps to talk to A.I. hardware are still convoluted and fragmented.
- Developers don't have easy access to high-quality A.I. modules for creative use-cases.
Since 2015, Polarr's team has built cross-platform, A.I. enabled, award-winning apps used by millions of photographers. Such process required us to continuously tackle A.I. interfaces with different device platforms and chipset vendors. Our apps also became an amazing platform for us to experiment new creative A.I. use-cases to engage with our audience.
We pushed the limits of computer vision and neural network efficiency and trained a large set of modules that best represent our vision in content evaluation, manipulation, and curation. These modules help users to tell stories in albums, guide photo composition in real-time, understand photo aesthetics, and navigate cluttered media libraries.
99% of users of Polarr don't use filters created by Polarr, but rather filters created by other creatives of Polarr. How did this happen?
At its core, Polarr's photo editing application is not just a mechanism for producing content, but rather a potpourri of harmonious tools for creators to make shareable and inspiring visual recipes.
Over the years, our team has crafted a vibrant visual ecosystem where our users can now create millions of unique, fine-tuned filters for diverse themes and purposes. These recipe-filters entwine human-encoded and A.I. automated formulas to process content at scale.
Our creators, including thousands of social influencers, distribute these visual recipes to their followers for direct use, experimentation, and remixing. We designed this photo and video recipe paradigm for easy sharing, encoding, and decoding across platforms. In this way, Polarr's creators are not only able to visually portray the way they see the world, but also allow the world to experience this same vision.
Today, we believe Polarr has the largest collection of community-generated visual effect recipes that millions of users rely on for their everyday visual expression. We have a few new apps under work. We have companies such as Samsung, OPPO, Western Digital, Hover already using our modules to build new A.I.experiences on their new generation of products.
Looking forward, as our engineering and design teams expand on our toolset, and our marketing team builds a thriving partner/creator network, our filter knowledge base will become even more accessible. Soon, millions of people will benefit from our visually keen and curatorial community in expressing themselves.
To help you decide if Polarr is the right opportunity, below are a few caveats ⚠️.
🔥 Polarr is an early-stage startup company.
What this means is we're still in the early phase of our venture. Our team currently has 33 employees and more than half are remote in countries including Ireland, Russia, Spain, China, and Taiwan. Although the company is currently profitable and we've raised more than $10mm in our recent Series A funding and backed by reputable investors (here, here and here), there are tremendous competitions and risks in our technology and strategy. It means we will constantly adapt ourselves to new landscape and climate changes in the industry, and we might go through big detours to react to markets and new demands in weeks, not months. Practically, it means you are likely to touch on multiple projects and transition in and outs from multiple roles throughout the year, as opposed to focusing on one specific role if you were in a later-stage startup or a larger company.
🤯 You might be given more responsibilities than you're comfortable with.
Because Polarr touches on multiple areas in A.I., Product Design, Application, Engineering, Growth with a small team, each person is likely to own an area bigger than what they'd be given in a larger company. We don't have dedicated teams for crafting and auditing metrics, debating utility v.s. novelty in product features, or doing QA reporting for releases. We expect engineers to test their own code and understand UI principles, designer to program interactive prototypes and run their own user studies, researchers to document and benchmark their findings, and product managers to involve engineering system designs. This means our team structure is currently optimized for cross-disciplinary communication and task ownership, and it could be difficult for those who want to focus on building on one particular skill deeply such as database query optimization or design A/B testing.
🧢 High context sharing and autonomous culture.
Inside Polarr, every member on the team has an implicit title of "problem solver". We share every piece of context from execution strategy and tactics, risks and challenges to quarterly financials and board meeting notes. We want our team members to have active commitments on problems they genuinely care and feel passionate to solve, as opposed to passive commitments assigned by leaders or managers in the company. This means we have a free-market approach in the company when it comes to problems, and we expect each member on the team to actively initiate and ask for areas to work on and set their own goals and deadlines under the guidance of leadership, instead of waiting for tasks and new assignments.
⛰ We don't think Startups are "sexy".
As impressive as the products and offerings from Polarr might be, the day-to-day work in Polarr is full of challenges, hill-climbing/roller-coaster rides, potential struggles, and sufferings. These frictions bring Polarr's team closer as we run against the misunderstandings and resistance from society's status quo. The only sustainable competitive advantage we see in Polarr is our self-awareness and commitment to truths in our ever-changing market landscape and climate. With that being said, we don't take pride in comfort and security in working together, and we invest our resource for long term outcome in the company rather than short-term exits. Being long-term greedy is what it is at Polarr.
So to put the above areas into perspective:
- Polarr is a early and fast-moving. Polarr is not a place for stability and piece of mind.
- Your responsibilities at Polarr spans across multiple domains and are constantly changing, instead of confined and sometimes not clearly defined.
- Polarr relied on people to be self-initiating and we forgive mistakes, instead of asking for permission and following rigid process.
- The nature of our work is turbulent as opposed to be stable.
🎮 Work life balance
Startups can work crazy hours, regardless of your skill and ability. People always ask us how many hours per week do we work at Polarr, and our honest answer is we don't measure work by hours and we only measure by deliverables and outcomes. Your manager will never push you for deliverables and promises you feel uncomfortable with. We believe a focused, high quality 40 hour work week is more than sufficient for most startups to execute their mission. As a company we try to accommodate as much as we can to lower the friction of work for our employees, with policies like the option to work from home three days per week if you're based out of one of our HQ locations.
One of the biggest challenges we face is the fact that the earth isn't flat, especially for those whose work is dependent on teams in different timezones. Occasionally you can expect to work late or wake up early to meet with other teams or handle something urgent.
Many of our team members have serious hobbies (photography, surfing, etc.), social commitments, and family commitments that can take a significant amount of personal time. Let us know your commitments and we will work with you to set clear expectations.
On a separate note, our founders have achieved "work life integration" and they're happy to chat more about that.
Our compensation strategy is guided by a data driven pay bands designed by our board and our executive team and take into consideration a variety of different factors. We update our pay bands regularly to ensure that they are in line with the market. Like any process, the bands are setup as point of reference. We recognize that people have special life circumstances and may prefer more cash with less equity or vice versa. Our team will accommodate special needs and requests as much as possible to build an offer that works for you.
We are a Series A start up and we can't compete with offers from tech giants or later stage companies, although we frequently try to. As an early stage company we are excited about the company’s mission and vision but realize that we need to be sensitive about preserving cash position as much as possible so that our hard work pays off.
Polarr doesn't have a global pay structure which means that compensation will be based on market rate for your part of the world.
🚪 Our hiring process.
We try to maintain a flexible, lightweight, low-stress process as much as possible for our candidates. The process consists of the following steps:
- A short introductory call (15- 30 minutes) with a member of the team to answer any of your questions you may have.
- A take-home assignment that is async, open book, to be completed at your own pace within 7 days of receiving the assignment. Assignments are generally short and can be completed by all skill levels.
- A panel will review the assignment. If the result of the assignment is excellent, we will schedule 1/2 calls (30-45 minutes each) with you and someone on the team you will be joining to review the assignment and to better understand your passion, goals, and perspectives on things like culture.
- An onsite or video conference interview where you will meet with:
- 2 members of the team that you will be joining for 1 hour (technical interview)
- 2 members of our leadership team (CEO, CTO, Head of Product etc.)
- Lunch with the team (Onsite ONLY)
- Head of People Ops
- We will request references and have you complete our culture survey.
- The team will convene and review the results of each stage and decide whether or not to extend an offer.
The entire recruitment process can be completed in as little as 3-4 days. If needed, our team can accommodate an expedited timeline or any special needs.
For those who're interested in our full-time roles and prefer to work on assignments instead of technical phone screens, our assignments are located in Polarr Prospective Full-time Member Assignments, for interns, we will have a much simpler and shorter assignment sent to you based on your interests.
⛳️ Can I Change my applied role?
Because Polarr evolves fast, sometimes the role you were applying for would already have changed once you start your first day. In some rare cases, the role and responsibility could change during the interview processes. We understand how exciting as well as frustrating this might be depending on who you are, but such decision will always be mutual and any role given to you will be based on your own personal interest and technical match.
This process will continue after you join the company. Most of Polarr's existing team members have either passively or proactively rotated from one team to another, and touched multiple projects where they can make significant contributions.
Over the next two years, we want to grow both our and developer platforms, with an overall goal to become a leader in offline A.I. in the consumer application space. We plan to double our team size to around 60 headcount and remain in good cash flow position before raising our Series B.
For a full list of our open roles click here.
❓ Popular Qs and As
Q: What does benefits and perks look like in the company?
A: See Company Perks
Q: Do you support working from home or work remotely?
A: See Remote Working at Polarr
Q: What are the core cultural principles at Polarr?
A: See Culture & Values
Q: Will I have mentors in the company?
A: For each new hire we will have a dedicated mentor for the first three months at Polarr. Interns will always be mentored throughout the internship program. For interns, your mentor will help you keep track of your progress and will be available to discuss challenges with your ongoing work on daily basis.
Q: What internships do you offer?
We have a variety of different internships, including the ones outlined below:
- Mobile App and Frontend Intern - Learn and help embed one particular offline A.I. experience into Polarr's consumer apps.
- Backend Intern - Learn the inner workings and create internal tools to mimic and replace Google Analytics.
- Data Scientist Intern - Learn and help Polarr gather clean and massive dataset for A.I. researcher team to train new unique A.I. models.
- Interactive Experience/HCI and Design Intern - Survey, explore, understand and prototype one new interactive A.I. use case under the guidance of our CEO.
- A.I. Research Intern - Assist Polarr's senior research members to implement cutting edge research topics published in CVPR/ECCV/ICCV etc.
- A.I. Engineer Intern - Learn and develop skills to apply one particular research result from our A.I. Research team via end user demo application.
- Platform Intern - Learn to create scalable deployment tools and online compilation pipelines for developers to utilize Polarr's A.I. technologies.
- Technology Project Manager Intern - Work with our CTO to learn client communication skills and enterprise facing problem solving skills. Might require international travel to meet with large customers of Polarr.
- Product Manager Intern - Work with our PM of Polarr products of Photo Editor, Video Editor, Camera, and Album to ensure new AI features are incorporated and released in a timely fashion.
If you're still with me, by now you probably would have a decent understanding of what we're working on, and what type of team member we're looking for. If you remain excited, please fill out the form below and we will reach out to you again regarding our next steps.
Ready to apply? Submit an application here.
Borui Wang & Derek Yan