Overstock.com

www.overstock.com
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9 people found this helpful  

Life was good in IT, but the company may be headed downhill

  • Comp & Benefits
  • Work/Life Balance
  • Senior Management
  • Career Opportunities
Former Employee - Software Developer in Salt Lake City, UT
Former Employee - Software Developer in Salt Lake City, UT

I worked at Overstock.com

Pros

Developers get to spend a fairly large percentage of their time doing development and related tasks. Meetings are minimal if you’re in IT and not a manager. I probably averaged 1-2 meetings a week. Day-to-day life as a developer is pretty good.

Management seems to understand that technology is a key part of the business, and IT is treated well. I experienced little pressure to meet deadlines; when something changed, we either removed some functionality or pushed the deadline back.

Developers do not have on call responsibilities. The Network Operations Center takes care of operational issues and they are the ones who get paged. Occasionally I had to stay up until around midnight for a major deploy my team was involved in, but you can do this from home.

IT management cares about code quality, in particular the codebase for the main website. They also care about keeping somewhat up-to-date on current technologies. Developers and testers can join once-a-week lunchtime reading groups about technology subjects that may or may not be directly related to their everyday jobs.

Most people are smart and reasonably good at what they do.

Nice location near the Wasatch mountains and very close to I-215.

Work/life balance was great. I rarely had to put in any extra time, and when I did I could come in late the next day. Some departments, especially IT, have flexible schedules.

Cons

Upper management seems to have taken a real dive lately. Some of their decisions leave lower-level employees scratching their heads. The most recent example is the “O.co” rebranding. A majority of customers, after seeing a commercial about the new O.co name, tried to go to “o.com” instead of “o.co”. Any person at my level could have told management this would happen, if they had bothered to ask. Lack of confidence in executives has led to a general feeling of instability, culminating in the laying off of about 50 people, most in IT, just last week. The Provo development office was also closed after being open only about a year, and people who were hired expecting to work most of the time out of Provo are now stuck with a long commute.

Financial results have been disappointing the last few quarters. As part of the financial rebalancing that happened at the beginning of the year, most of the employee perks were cut: parking shuttle, holiday party, and conference budget.

Work areas are pretty crowded, and many people don’t have cubicles.

Life is not very good for some development leads. Instead of being a technical leadership position, dev leads really end up spending most of their time managing people, coordinating projects, and going to meetings. For those that would like to stay technical and still spend time every day writing code, this is frustrating.

Advice to ManagementAdvice

Stop worrying about whether Wall Street is illegally driving down the price of your shares, and instead focus on getting Overstock back on its feet. Pay your people what they’re worth, or they will find another company who will.

Disapproves of CEO

423 Other Employee Reviews for Overstock.com (View Most Recent)

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  1. 5 people found this helpful  

    Always shifting like sand dunes

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Associate Buyer in Salt Lake City, UT
    Current Employee - Associate Buyer in Salt Lake City, UT

    I have been working at Overstock.com

    Pros

    Overstock.com is recognized (by our partners) as being a MORE professional environment, than many other online retailers. The benefits package is fair, and Salt Lake City is a great place to live and work.

    Cons

    There are some very basic retail functionalities that are absent from the site, like the ability to price by option. Overstock has the resources and employee talent to become a game changer, but senior management doesn't seem to rally the troops towards those kinds of focused objectives. Overstock seems to be a couple steps behind competitors sites in terms of functionality and vision.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Drop the vacations, cars, insurance and O.Biz. Dedicate all efforts towards redesigning the site, updating the product view page and leading the charge in terms of "shop-ability" with things like price by option, better product images, etc.

    No opinion of CEO
  2. 11 people found this helpful  

    Very frustrating place to work, they are headed for a crash

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Senior Software Engineer in Salt Lake City, UT
    Current Employee - Senior Software Engineer in Salt Lake City, UT

    I have been working at Overstock.com

    Pros

    Overstock generally hires smart people that are nice to work with. The location is very nice and composition is on standard with nation and generous for Utah.

    Cons

    Overstock has been one of the most frustrating places to do software development. I have heard software development at Overstock described as 'Mob Architecture' and cowboy development. You can literally be writing code and have someone else change it the next day and not talk to you at all (but its ok because they talked to Arch). Their biggest code base is their Shopping Site and it is a complete disaster. It is like no one thought at all about where to put code, who should maintain it and most code is placed where ever 'it just works'. When new projects are implemented usually little thought is put in place to design, but just what is quickest.

    The Architecture group mainly focuses on writing 'frameworks' that wrap just about every open source project they use (hibernate, jersey etc) in what I consider mostly fluff and unneeded abstractions of the true underlying framework. Overstock has created their own JSP like framework and their own dependency injection framework as well. They don't adhere to many basic pragmatic design choices (such as write once) maintaining many different internal libraries for model code that map the exact same behavior in a different library. Applications sometimes share the same table structure and communicate through database changes. They even have a reporting structure that tells the applications what to do through the database, there is no clear authority when it comes to data management. Communication between architecture and the teams varies quite a bit, depending on which person in Arch your working with (they don't communicate with each other either).

    Development teams are organized according to how the Business is organized, which on the surface works. But in reality leaves the development team vulnerable to the creativity of the senior management around the business entity. If you work for a Product Owner that lacks vision get ready for some uninteresting work (just do what X e-commerce site has already done), and potentially left for layoffs when push comes to shove. What the team works on is not collaborative at all. It is more like a hand me down of project work that is approved by senior management and left for the team to be excited about. When it fails that team is gone and the senior management chalks it up to a bad year. This recently happened when Overstock let go of 25% of it Developers and Testers, but not one senior management was affected even though it was widely known of some poor marketing decisions at the senior level brought about the bad year. And this was after they just hired quite a few individuals just 3 months previous!

    Overall I would avoid working for Overstock. Senior management doesn't allow for creativity on the team level. Domain ownership on a team level is almost nil. Company is headed for some rough times financially unless they start innovating!

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    You hired smart individuals, let them find ways to make the company profitable rather than make everything a directive.

    Doesn't Recommend
    Disapproves of CEO
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