I have been working at Lulu.com full-time (More than 3 years)
I've worked at Lulu for many years, and while I've seen the ups and the downs, there is a genuine sense of the corner being turned. Sure, there have been distractions in the past with separate verticals, but now that the focus has turned back to doing what Lulu does best (servicing the needs of authors and businesses around the world in need of print), I have a new sense of optimism. The team I work with is filled with wonderful people, and at this point, most of the negative attitudes have left for other ventures. Atmosphere is nice, casual, and energetic. Obligatory snack room comment (though more options with less sugars would be appreciated).
The self publishing world is niche, in that there's not much training you can do externally to prepare you for working within the industry. By hiring people who are "bored of the product" or think we aren't exciting enough to sell, you only shoot yourself in the foot and discredit the hearts of the people who are passionate about the service provided. Those people also refuse to learn about the true benefits that Lulu can provide and end up floundering when new projects don't quite pan out.
Advice to Management
Make the relationships between managers and direct reports more open and communicative so that more people feel included and empowered to find their own path. Mentoring goes beyond simply identifying the "next step" to take.
I applied through a recruiter. The process took 3 weeks. I interviewed at Lulu.com (Durham, NC) in October 2015.
After the on-site interview I have some serious doubts about this company's future, and would recommend engineers avoid it due to hints of a bad working environment.
Started with a phone screen with a lead, then on-site with different groups. Almost all the on-site was personality/soft-skills questions with a little light discussion of their tech stack (a bit of a mess, but that's not rare). One trivial coding problem, but to be honest they didn't go deep enough to see if my technical skills were good or not. It felt like my skills were less important than willingness to put up with the chaotic environment, and they emphasized solving problems *fast* over doing them right.
Final interview was where it really went bad, with a senior executive. He came off very egocentric and not particularly pleasant, and bragged about how an effective manager could run a technical company without knowing anything about tech. Basically: "I don't need to understand this to make decisions about it."
Questions about the future plans for LuLu yielded suggested that after being crushed by Amazon's publishing arm, they were going to try to cater to some (very small) niche markets. I think the final straw was that he pushed for an early start date if hired and wouldn't accept a few extra weeks to allow for knowledge transfer. Also seemed horribly offended that I wouldn't reveal where else I was interviewing.
All in all: it feels like the company had very shaky leadership vision (not surprising with the turnover), a significant amount of technical debt and architecture issues, and didn't place much value on technical competence. Of course I didn't let any of this show, but still it was not a good impression to make.
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