FirstLook and MAX Systems

  www.firstlookmax.com
  www.firstlookmax.com

FirstLook and MAX Systems Reviews

Updated October 8, 2014
Updated October 8, 2014
24 Reviews
2.9
24 Reviews
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Steve Fitzgerald
2 Ratings

Employee Reviews

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  1. 1 person found this helpful  

    The BOTTOM LINE

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Software Engineer in Chicago, IL
    Current Employee - Software Engineer in Chicago, IL

    I have been working at FirstLook and MAX Systems full-time (more than an year)

    Pros

    dont usually write these posts put feel like a couple of my former colleagues are taking out there frustrations here so i want to help the uninitiated understand the reality.
    The BOTTOM LINE on the company NOW: Lots of Smart People, Treat Employees Well, Good Managers

    New Business - MAX is doing some really cool stuff that helps consumers better decide on the #1 or #2 biggest purchase they make and is growing faster than any company i have friends working at.

    Lots of work on process improvement (line mgt catching up to scale) in last 2 years paying off in a big way (examples: data operations are very reliable vs. two years ago; products have low defect rates, etc.)

    Cons

    Kept too many underperformers and disgruntled types around for too long (this has gotten a lot better recently and makes it a stronger, more enjoyable team)

    Product Mgt and Engineering management in Chicago is the source of most of the negativity you might read about working here. There is new mgt over these areas (known as FirstLook) which seems to have a ton of relevant experience so the outlook looks much better.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Be quicker to make calls on people and process. When you've done it, its paid off. When you dont do it or put it off it causes us unnecessary pain (things very much moving in right direction)

    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
  2.  

    Poor management

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Former Employee - Product Support in Chicago, IL
    Former Employee - Product Support in Chicago, IL

    I worked at FirstLook and MAX Systems full-time (more than an year)

    Pros

    Benefits are okay and payroll company is amazing

    Cons

    Negative work environment, poor leadership, high turnover rate for small sized company

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Re-asses those in leadership roles

    Doesn't Recommend
    Neutral Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO
  3. 1 person found this helpful  

    Poor work-life balance with minimal reward for engineers

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Former Employee - Software Engineer in Chicago, IL
    Former Employee - Software Engineer in Chicago, IL

    I worked at FirstLook and MAX Systems full-time (more than an year)

    Pros

    Being as the engineering team is severely lacking in resources it does give you the opportunity and exposure to every facet of engineering from front to back end. There are a few exceptionally talented engineers there that I would love to work with again. There is not much red tape when it comes to researching and proposing new technologies to introduce into the stack.

    Cons

    Huge technical debt. The work life balance is horrendous. Both years I was there they put a freeze on vacation for months at a time on the engineering team to meet nearly impossible deadlines. I saw roughly 8 engineers leave in 2 years, quickly making me the most senior. I didn't mind the freeze on vacation days. What I did mind is the fact that they did not honor the vacation days that they "froze" or "stole". This brings up a trust issue that is the biggest concern in my eyes. I would find it difficult to recommend a company I do not trust.

    Doesn't Recommend
    Approves of CEO
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  5. 3 people found this helpful  

    Overcommitted grunts needed who believe in no work life balance

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee in Chicago, IL
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee in Chicago, IL

    I worked at FirstLook and MAX Systems full-time (more than an year)

    Pros

    -You'll have a job
    -You'll never be bored
    -You'll lose weight because there'll be no time to take a lunch
    -At least your getting paid to do this???
    -There is no red tape when it comes to implementing PROD changes

    Cons

    -You will be blamed for the terrible upper mangement decisions
    -no focus on a balanced strategic direction for the company
    -Most of your effort and time will be directed towards adding new features ontop of a bad design
    -Runs like a dictatorship, where upper-management points their finger to the grunts if ANYTHING goes wrong
    -Business and IT initiatives are not aligned. ("IDEAS" have preceidence over any IT initiatives)
    -small private company means you have no backup (oncall 24x7x365 even if you're on PTO)
    -employees are given worthless shares of company that are vested only after 4 years of service

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    -focus a little less on the selling of new products to drive the company's strategic direction, and little more time on improving the stability\useability of your existing applications\infrastructure
    -ideas of worthless without first understanding the actual work that needs to be done to see that idea come to fruition

  6. 2 people found this helpful  

    Avoid Working Here, Even Out Of Desperation

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Former Employee - Manager in Chicago, IL
    Former Employee - Manager in Chicago, IL

    I worked at FirstLook and MAX Systems full-time (more than 3 years)

    Pros

    Very intelligent people to work with, entrepreneurial culture, casual dress, pay was competitive, and work was interesting. The company vision is strong.

    Cons

    Not a culture that supports or respects women in business. Performing excellent work will not earn you any bonus points here unless you are a part of the "old boys' club". The "command and control" management style from middle and upper management is antiquated and inefficient with the highly intellectual staff. Bad office politics and competitive management stifled creativity, process improvement, and trusted relationships. Turnover was always extremely high, said to be a normal result in being a software company. In actuality, people realized that the culture would never improve. Communication was always poor and lacking truth. I experienced countless situations where people were treated unprofessionally and unfairly.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Foster decision making capability beyond the owner. Hire and empower a Human Resources Team focused on servicing the employees, training, and ultimately bettering the culture. Get management properly and professionally trained to obtain core skills on how to manage and respect people in the workplace.

    Doesn't Recommend
    Neutral Outlook
  7.  

    Great people to work with !

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Customer Support Specialist in Chicago, IL
    Current Employee - Customer Support Specialist in Chicago, IL

    I have been working at FirstLook and MAX Systems full-time (more than 3 years)

    Pros

    Very talented and committed people. Wide variery of skill sets. Have learned a lot in my 2.5 years so. Pay is good. Office environmen is busy and exciting. Always something new and challenging every day. We do a quartlery team event for morale building which all very fun: (ie: ice skating at Millineum Park), Bike rides at Lake Front, Architcetural Boat Cruise down Chicago River. These are always followed by a quality party at a local pub!

    Cons

    Communications could be a bit better on how we're doing as a company. We get good overall information, but not enough details

    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
  8. 1 person found this helpful  

    Management Padding of Reviews

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee in Chicago, IL
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee in Chicago, IL

    I worked at FirstLook and MAX Systems full-time (more than an year)

    Pros

    casual dress. drinks with certain employees. I can't meet the minimum words for pros, because there wasn't anything else that was positive.

    Cons

    everything. Miserable environment and some of the worst are middle managers who think they are the best. products are fine, but like another reviewer wrote: they are products for Used Cars Salesmen (put together by used car salesmen types--- who have the money, but nothing else). there is no logic put into the business and a lot of wasted busy time putting up KPIs and other stupid figures on the walls.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    you fired one of the only good managers. nice work.

    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
  9. 2 people found this helpful  

    The REAL story behind this company

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Former Employee - Software Engineer in Chicago, IL
    Former Employee - Software Engineer in Chicago, IL

    I worked at FirstLook and MAX Systems full-time (more than 3 years)

    Pros

    You will have to learn many skills on the fly
    You will work a few highly intelligent people
    Casual Dress
    You will learn what not to do in your next role once you leave
    You can get involved in many projects because there are many hands needed to keep the ship afloat
    Its filled with entertaining characters that you will never meet again(not the best to work for, or with, but it keeps you laughing)
    **Upper Management knows little to nothing about software dev. This is to your benefit as an engineer.**
    If you want to stay there and have a good laugh while getting paid this is for you. The core workers are awesome and great to hang out with

    Cons

    Be prepared to put out fires daily

    Zero career development/path

    High turnover

    You are either in or you are out....Sink or Swim: Can be good or bad depending on the person

    **Upper Management knows little to nothing about software dev. This will also drive you crazy an engineer.**

    There seems to be a lot of over inflation of what they are doing. "INC 500", "Rocket Trajectory" "Fastest Growing" "Dent in Universe": All sounds awesome until you actually look at what they do. It’s used car software, not Github or Heroku.

    It is fully backed by the CEO so money isn't the problem, but that is also where the Inc, and fastest growing line gets blurred. If you have the cash and really want those STATS you can hit them. INC 500 is a game of numbers, so don't get too wrapped up in that. There are legacy products that are written in 3 to four languages held together with cold fusion on a bridge to nowhere. The new products that are rolling out are a step in the right direction.

    Clash between Austin and Chicago offices is rather annoying

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Problems will persist until the main problem steps down or moves aside.

    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
  10. 1 person found this helpful  

    Smart people, cool products, Silicon Valley type growth company in Chicago but not a place for the uninspired

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee in Chicago, IL
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee in Chicago, IL

    I have been working at FirstLook and MAX Systems

    Pros

    Exciting and fast paced: Company was #4 fastest growing software company in U.S. in Inc Magazine's Inc 500 rankings a few years back (highest rank ever for a Chicago based company) - impact player types enjoy the challenges. Morale is generally very good - except for one IT team (seems to be the source of the negative reviews I saw here).

    Cons

    This is a lot more Silicon Valley than Chicago corporate 9-5. That's cool for people want that but too much for corporate types who confused a fast growth tech company for a small company when they signed up.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Do a better job of vetting prospective employees fit. Hiring people with the "skills" but not the "will" to build something great takes away from an otherwise elite team dynamic

    Recommends
  11. 1 person found this helpful  

    Exciting and rewarding to be at such an innovative place that is on the cutting edge. Great if you like pioneering

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee in Chicago, IL
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee in Chicago, IL

    I have been working at FirstLook and MAX Systems

    Pros

    We are"putting a dent in the universe" , our company's vision for the future sets the course and path for the industry we serve.
    Lot of smart, passionate and positive people.
    Lot of room for career growth

    Cons

    We split up into separate businesses a year ago (none of us actually work for INCISENT any more) and the FirstLook side seems to have not launched as well as the MAX side. Most of the negative reviews here seem to be from people in the FirstLook IT team. Seems like that group could be much better managed.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    We have a great vision, great technology and a unique opportunity but when we don't deliver there isn't enough accountability. Keeping under performers in place can be demoralizing to the mass of positive team players who are bringing their "A" game every day. Have the courage to move people out who aren't performing or are negative.

    Recommends

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