Counsyl
4.2 of 5 13 reviews
www.counsyl.com South San Francisco, CA 150 to 499 Employees

Counsyl Reviews

Updated Jun 26, 2014
All Employees Current Employees Only

4.2 13 reviews

                             

100% Approve of the CEO

Counsyl CEO Ramji Srinivasan

Ramji Srinivasan

(11 ratings)

85% of employees recommend this company to a friend
13 Employee Reviews
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    Changing diagnostic medicine through cutting-edge bioinformatics and software

    Software Engineer (Current Employee)
    South San Francisco, CA

    ProsFirst, 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".

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

    Yes, I would recommend this company to a friend – I'm optimistic about the outlook for this company

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    Culture, People, Values--all great. Career Advancement--ok for now.

    (Current Employee)

    Pros-Smart people
    -Pretty transparent in news relayed to entire company
    -Small enough at this point to feel intimate and make a difference
    -Technologically advanced company. I've never felt like we were ever stuck in the dark ages regarding the way we work and the tools we use.
    -A young energy that is thriving (company seems like, 80% under 30 yr olds)
    -Good perks. We do a lot of fun events and a lot of people tend to hang out after work. There are also stocked fridges, fully catered lunches and dinners 5 days a wk, and a pretty good gym.

    Cons-Some managers need training. I acknowledge this in part is not entirely their own fault--at the time of their hire, this probably wasn't as big of an issue. However, there are actual teams of people begin established now, so this is super critical for employee retention.
    -Career advancement for certain teams is questionable. It's unclear right now for those teams, especially non-engineers. However, this seems to be a work-in-progress.

    Advice to Senior ManagementPlease work on career mentoring, especially since our company hires quite a few young people early on in their careers. Some people don't know how to speak up for themselves.

    Also, please give the members of your team credit where it's due! The bonds of trust between a manager and his/her team can only be strengthened if you simply acknowledge them once in a while.

    Yes, I would recommend this company to a friend – I'm optimistic about the outlook for this company

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    Rebuild healthcare from the ground up! Go to work every day excited to make a difference!

    Sales Development (Current Employee)
    South San Francisco, CA

    ProsBy far the most advanced technology company in Healthcare today.
    Silicon-valley mentality and talent in a space that truly needs it most.
    Using technology to make a direct impact on people's lives.
    Organic company culture that has maintained its strength through enormous growth.
    Leadership that you can trust.
    Very competitive compensation, including every great benefit you'd expect from a tech start-up!

    An opportunity to be a part of a company that is growing at a RAPID rate. A true pioneer in the industry.

    ConsWith growth comes obvious specialization of responsibilities. Luckily, the company is still only in its infancy, especially relative to other larger tech companies in the silicon valley. The company hires young talent so I can see it being eye-opening to join the company with 15-20 years experience elsewhere. If the energy inspires you, you'll fit in great!

    Advice to Senior ManagementContinue to treat your employees as your greatest asset. As we get larger, segregation between departments will become more imminent. Maintaining an open culture is crucial to employee happiness.

    Yes, I would recommend this company to a friend – I'm optimistic about the outlook for this company

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    Fast paced and exciting

    Manager (Current Employee)
    South San Francisco, CA

    Pros-Product is ambitious and tangibly helps people and makes the world a better place
    -Deep sense of mission
    -Flat structure
    -Very Transparent
    -Lots of freedom to do your work
    -Leadership is very accessible
    -fun culture
    -great perks - gym, meals, happy hours, etc.

    ConsOnboarding can be tough - hard to be new
    Long hours

    Advice to Senior ManagementTry to promote a single cohesive culture

    Yes, I would recommend this company to a friend – I'm optimistic about the outlook for this company

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    Ample opportunities, exciting environment all the while helping the public make conscious decisions about their future

    Anonymous Employee (Current Employee)

    Pros-Company culture; great buzz in office
    -Potential to grow in role, lots of room for advancement
    -Still small enough where your voice is heard. A lot of face time with executive team
    -Product is helping others to make big decisions about their life while fixing problems in healthcare
    -Fast paced

    Cons-Teams can be cliquey
    -Tons of work to be done, a lot of hours to put in
    -Sometimes objectives are not clearly defined

    Advice to Senior ManagementContinue to invest in people with raw talent, extreme potential and a passion for Counsyl even if they don't perfectly match the role

    Yes, I would recommend this company to a friend – I'm optimistic about the outlook for this company

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    Everything you want in a Silicon Valley Startup

    Scientist (Current Employee)
    South San Francisco, CA

    ProsImmense freedom to explore and learn
    Minimal bureaucracy
    Supportive environment
    Fantastic perks
    All opinions and ideas are valued

    ConsDue to lack of rigid chain of command, one has to be proactive and take ownership of projects. Not a place for someone that simply wants to be told what to do.

    Yes, I would recommend this company to a friend – I'm optimistic about the outlook for this company

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    Fast-growing biotech company with positive outlook. Mission is commendable!

    Genetic Counselor (Current Employee)
    New York, NY

    Pros- All employees seem to be well-respected
    - Promise for career advancement
    - Incredible learning curve (learned so much in 1 month with the company compared to years at previous in role, weekly webinars to learn more about the inner-workings of the company, etc)
    - Provides various technological equipment to perform work remotely with ease
    - Headquarters (newly renovated, lunch/dinner provided during business week, gym on-site, etc-remote employees rarely benefit from this)

    Cons- Some positions are remote (professional relationships may be difficult and slow to develop, though the company facilitates local and national meetings to encourage building relationships)
    - Work/Life balance (there's always work to do, and it can be difficult to know when to stop working; the company does strongly encourage maintaining balance though, so this may be more of a personal issue)
    - Benefits (getting better, but not comparable to clinical position in a hospital or similar)

    Advice to Senior ManagementN/A

    Yes, I would recommend this company to a friend – I'm optimistic about the outlook for this company

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    The best place I've ever worked at!

    Laboratory Director (Current Employee)
    South San Francisco, CA

    Pros- Clear vision, which is communicated well
    - Management is very passionate and leads by example
    - Most highly automated clinical laboratory in existence
    - Working with some of the smartest people I have ever known
    - You are helping people learn vital information
    - Still growing very rapidly

    Cons- Heavy workload, partly due to still having much of the lean startup culture
    - Some HR decisions lack clarity, which can create confusion among employees

    Advice to Senior ManagementRock on!

    Yes, I would recommend this company to a friend – I'm optimistic about the outlook for this company

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    Smoke and Mirrors

    Account Executive (Current Employee)
    South San Francisco, CA

    ProsInteresting product offering
    Lots of young people
    Base salary is ok, as long as you don't expect or need to make bonus money

    ConsThe company sounds great in the surface. But beneath the smoke and mirrors it is a disorganized mess, lacking a strong direction for the future, and inept leadership in the sales side. Seriously, I think one of the new sales director's is like 25. It all sounds great during the interview process and during on boarding, but unless you are in NYC, San Fran, or LA forget about making money. They keep carving up the territories knowing full well that reps in the flyover states, or basically anywhere outside the 3 cities I mentioned above, don't stand a chance.

    Advice to Senior ManagementStop adding so many new sales reps, until the business grows to support all of these positions.
    Improve benefits package.
    Get in network with more payors, so reps can get through the door at an office.
    Stop sending bizarre email communications to clients.
    Hire managers who are qualified and understand healthcare.
    Be honest with new employees, otherwise it'll always be a revolving door.
    And by the way, good luck to any women trying to get ahead here, seriously there is not one woman in upper management!

    No, I would not recommend this company to a friend – I'm not optimistic about the outlook for this company

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    Melding Affordable Healthcare with Savvy Software; Fixing the Bumps along the Way

    Anonymous Employee (Current Employee)
    South San Francisco, CA

    Pros- The work being done here is helping many people all around the country (and world in some cases!) make informed health decisions. The company mission statement makes this goal clear.

    - Overwhelmingly everyone here is friendly, intelligent, and interesting. Conversations at lunch or company mingles (which we have at least weekly!) are always fascinating, and you're guaranteed to learn something.

    - The company is highly supportive of company outings or hangouts, and overall providing a lot to employees. Movie nights, catered meals, a fully-equipped gym, surprise birthday parties...

    - Upper management has a open-door policy and are quick to respond to concerns or questions. No need to jump through hoops -- you can go straight to the person you want.

    - At least in my department, Counsyl is HIGHLY flexible in regards to the work that you do. This is perhaps my favourite part of the company; if you have ideas for work that you would like to do, you can express them, and there's a good chance that you'll get the okay. It is unlikely that you will end up stuck doing something you don't like, or doing something that just feels like "busy work".

    Cons- Organization and stability are very much works in progress. When I joined, turn-over was VERY high for the first few months, and changes in positions would happen without warning for the employees (even those being promoted!). Now people are staying longer and seem happier, but there's still work to be done to keep things less sudden for people.

    - Related to that, there can be a bit of "hands off" management here (likely from that start-up feel). While overall I approve of this, I have noticed instances where people or problems fell through the cracks because management wasn't around to see it, and no one said anything about it. Now that organization is getting better, this is improving, but there's still work to be done to make sure management is able to monitor things properly without being overwhelmed.

    - Speaking of overwhelmed, there's a lot a work to be done by a small amount of people. We're all workaholics here. The high energy they ask for in their applications is no understatement!

    Advice to Senior ManagementDon't lose sight of the humans behind the numbers.

    Yes, I would recommend this company to a friend

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Glassdoor is your free inside look at Counsyl reviews and ratings — including employee satisfaction and approval rating for Counsyl CEO Ramji Srinivasan. All 13 reviews posted anonymously by Counsyl employees.