Working at Stellar Development Foundation | Glassdoor

Stellar Development Foundation Overview

San Francisco, CA
1 to 50 employees
Nonprofit Organization
Social Assistance
Less than $1 million (USD) per year
The Stellar Development Foundation (SDF) was founded in 2014 by Jed McCaleb. We consider Stellar the “platform of the people” - building world-class, decentralized, and open-source technology that’s accessible and affordable to everyone. We believe ... Read more

Mission: The mission of the Stellar Development Foundation (SDF) is to promote global financial access, literacy, and inclusion. SDF accomplishes this by expanding worldwide access to low-cost financial services through the development and maintenance of technology and ... Read more

Stellar Development Foundation – Why Work For Us?

Stellar is an open network for sending and exchanging value of any kind. Our global network enables digitization of assets - from carbon credits to currencies - and enables movement around the internet with ease. In doing so, it’s faster, cheaper, and more environmentally friendly than alternative platforms, and it empowers users and organizations to create a global, dependable network of trust while maintaining decentralization.

Working at Stellar (Stellar Development Foundation)

In order to build a financial system that is inclusive, diverse, and egalitarian, we believe that we have to start with our own culture. We believe it is important to be transparent, inclusive, and to hold everyone to high standards of integrity.

We're also a curious bunch, constantly looking for new ways to learn and build, and we tend to have a strong balance of debate and mindfulness, and needing to just get things done.

Finally, we're humble, and we enjoy being authentic with each other both inside and outside of work. Many of us maintain good friendships with each other outside of work, and are generally open and welcoming to all.

And of course, many other great reasons:

  • We've seen tremendous network growth in 2018 - from 244k to 2.1M accounts (8.6x increase), to most payments in a month from 377K (December) to 1.8M (August) (4.7x increase).

  • We're looking to double our organization's size in 2019; half of those hires will be within our engineering teams - which could be you!

  • We're a financially stable non-profit, which allows us to focus on the technology and network adoption over a particular profit motive.

  • We're small and agile, provide great benefits and compensation, and we're all working on a great cause in creating a more inclusive global economy.

  • All of our projects, outside of internal tools, are open source - we love being open and collaborative!

Engineering team and processes

Our core team focuses on major releases every quarter, with a strong emphasis on robust design and future-proofing our ideas - creating a strong decentralized system means a much more mindful development process then making a simple web application. Our platform team's projects move at different respective paces, and often major releases will come from all major projects in tandem.

Our planning is built around an RFC process, in which all developers (both internally and externally) are able to contribute. We have an extensive design and review process, but once complete the implementation owner has full autonomy to build and design a solution. We don't believe in top-down engineering - each person fully owns their features and implementations, and can participate in the wider discussions regarding protocol and ecosystem development.

From there, code is reviewed in Github Pull Requests, and shipped via releases on Github (almost all of our projects are open source). This includes community contributions, and being a responsible and cordial maintainer! It's the heart of what we think makes for a collaborative and inclusive project.

Finally, as we continue to build our teams, there will be more opportunity for individuals to take part in roadmap planning and technical leadership.

Technical Challenges

There are many challenges that come with building a large, open source, distributed systems project. Many of them include:

  • Building a robust system that needs to be usable by people all over the world. We want Stellar's protocol to be as ubiquitous and accessible for payments as email is for communication.
  • Because the system is not centralized, writing blockchain software requires an extra sense of robustness and care during development. If something goes wrong, you need an entire network to upgrade or rollback - not just your servers!
  • Decentralized systems have many more vectors for attack - it's very important to be security conscious throughout development.
    We're designing a system that needs to be scalable and lean (in terms of computer resources) for every network participant.
  • Changes need to satisfy a wide range of criteria and concerns, requiring meticulous forethought in the design phase.

Projects you might work on

Stellar-core is a replicated state machine that maintains a local copy of a cryptographic ledger and processes transactions against it, in consensus with a set of peers. It implements the Stellar Consensus Protocol, a federated consensus protocol. It is written in C++14 and runs on Linux, OSX and Windows.


Horizon is the client facing API server for the Stellar ecosystem. It acts as the interface between stellar-core and applications that want to access the Stellar network. It allows you to submit transactions to the network, check the status of accounts, subscribe to event streams, etc.


Stellar Dashboard is a web application that showcases network activity, lumen distribution, and validator status for the production and test Stellar network.


Stellar Development Foundation Reviews

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  • Helpful (2)

    "Great tight knit team with lots of autonomy and stress free work environment"

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    Former Employee - Software Developer in San Francisco, CA
    Former Employee - Software Developer in San Francisco, CA
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    I worked at Stellar Development Foundation full-time (Less than a year)


    At Stellar, employees are pretty autonomous. When I wrote code, I had a project I worked on and had an ordered list of the items I needed to work on. Then, I just worked at a comfortable pace and communicated to my boss when a certain feature would be finished. I wasn't pushed to rush out a feature by a deadline. This was great because I didn't stress about deadlines and I could actually enjoy the work I was doing.

    I was also able to share my opinions and they were always considered and heard. In a lot of the code I wrote, I got to pick what technologies I wanted to use. This way, I was able to develop my skills in areas that I wanted to grow in.


    With the lack of micromanagement, it may be hard for people that need lots of structured organization to strive. Stellar is best for someone who can manage their own projects.

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Stellar Development Foundation photo of: Conversing in the SDF mezzanine.
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