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Counsyl Reviews

14 Reviews
14 Reviews
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Counsyl CEO Ramji Srinivasan
Ramji Srinivasan
12 Ratings
  1. 5 people found this helpful  

    Changing diagnostic medicine through cutting-edge bioinformatics and software

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Software Engineer in South San Francisco, CA
    Current Employee - Software Engineer in South San Francisco, CA

    I have been working at Counsyl full-time (more than an year)


    First, a caveat, most reviews on glassdoor tend to be pretty polarized, either gushing with praise or sour grapes. I'll try to be more even-handed here. Also, I can only speak from my experience as a software engineer at Counsyl, so this review will be pretty heavily biased in that direction.

    The software engineering team is overall incredibly strong compared to most other software startups out there, probably up there with other top-tier startups of its size. These are A players that want to work with other A players. Consequently, the interview process is fairly rigorous, and a strong emphasis is placed on culture fit. Salaries are comparable with Google, Facebook, et al. but the equity portion has a much higher upside than what you would get at those places.

    Engineering management culture encourages bottom-up innovation instead of stifling with top-down imperatives. In fact, there is not a whole lot of management as the hierarchy is fairly flat and most engineers are given a ton of latitude to identify, spec, and implement solutions to problems.

    The engineering organization prefers people to become strong generalists instead of specializing on one particular thing. Teams are fairly fluid, and moving to different project areas to learn new skills and keep your mind fresh is encouraged.

    This is a culture that's focused around shipping code and products. There are cons to this, and I'll address that below.

    Overall, I would say that the most refreshing thing about working for Counsyl is the shared passion that everybody has for the company mission. It feels good to say that you're helping to change medicine in a positive way using software and technology, instead of using those skills to sling ads slightly more efficiently, or build exploitative freemium mobile games. I think there are very few companies in the valley today where you can confidently say "I am helping to make the world a better place".


    As alluded to above, this is a company that wants to ship fast. The consequence of shipping fast is technical debt, so there is always a compromise to be made. This was a fairly large problem in the past (messy code, monolithic apps, poor tests), but it has improved a bit over time.

    Also, as mentioned above, there isn't a lot of management or hand-holding on the software engineering team, so sometimes projects are given to people without a whole lot of guidance on how to execute on them, causing them to spin their wheels for too long. This is perhaps a relic from the earlier startup days when one would just be expected to Figure It Out.

    While most engineers are very solid in terms of background, there is a strong bias towards the backend side of development, and less experience on the frontend, user-facing side of product design. I don't necessarily mean frontend web development skills, but rather having the proclivity to think deeply about user experience and how to design products to delight users. There are some, but there needs to be more.

    Probably the biggest con is that Counsyl is growing quickly and consequently it becomes more and more difficult to maintain a cohesive company culture. I think all startups face this crisis at some point or another in their lifetimes, the "how do we not become too corporate?" crisis. I don't know that there's an answer to this one yet.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Disintermediate do-nothing middle managers. Keeping things flat throughout the company is how you avoid becoming sclerotic and bureaucratic.

    Positive Outlook
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