Job search company Placement recently shifted its focus as a result of Covid-19, and cloud infrastructure provider Render made the shift easy.
Placement is a recruitment company focused on the people who are looking for jobs, not on the employers or recruiters that are the focus of most recruitment companies.
“Our whole goal is to be 100% candidate aligned,” said Sean Linehan, co-founder and CEO of Placement.
“When we started the company, we were originally helping people relocate for better job opportunities,” said Linehan. But as the Covid-19 pandemic started to take hold, the changing market conditions prompted a rethink of Placement’s priorities.
“When Covid hit, two things happened that were very interesting,” said Linehan. “Firstly, people were moving a lot more than they were prior to Covid. But secondly, those moves were really disconnected from a job change. The question about where should you physically be wasn’t bundled up together with the job search question. It would up being a question on its own.”
“We took stock of what we were good at, and what we cared about, and we decided to go basically all in on the job search side of things.”
Changing the focus of a high-growth startup in the middle of a pandemic meant acting quickly. Big changes to application functionality often have impacts on the underlying infrastructure, and more than a few founders have gotten a surprise when their new plans cause headaches for their DevOps or SRE teams. Modern cloud environments full of microservices are complex beasts and major changes to the business direction can have substantial impacts.
“Throughout the business model transformation there was no concern about what had to happen, technically, on the infrastructure side. I didn’t have to engage with a DevOps team to make sure that we could handle the new load. I knew that Render could make it easy for me to just scale that up,” Linehan said.
Cloud services are a regular part of most tech startups’ toolkit, but the complexity of managing cloud systems is often overlooked. While cloud makes spinning up and shutting down services much easier than provisioning the equivalent physical infrastructure, operating cloud services well still takes skill and experience.
“I have tonnes of experience with the managerial and attention overhead that comes from using the big cloud providers directly,” said Linehan. “In a past life, I built internal tools for all these types of DevOps and infrastructure tasks but, you know, it was always a distraction from the core product and business.”
That distraction indicates an opportunity to build higher level abstractions to take care of the details. Just as we replaced writing software in assembler with higher level languages, so too has cloud provided an abstraction over physical infrastructure, at least in part. Services like Render are a logical evolution of computing abstractions that allow us to concentrate on what matters to humans, not what matters to the computers.
“We’re walking our way up to the next level of tech stack abstraction and saying, ‘Look, what if most companies don’t have to worry about those details? What if that was actually abstracted away from you as well and you can just worry about the things that matter to you?'” said Linehan.
“We do use AWS directly for some things where we need, like, super-insane control. But in most cases, we don’t need super-insane control. We just want rational, standard, good defaults. We don’t want somebody who needs to be an EC2 consultant to be able to tell us what we should be running,” he said.
The broad ecosystem of AWS consultants and integrators is a credit to the success of AWS, but it also indicates a gap in capability that is being filled in with human workarounds.
“With Render, I got all the nice things that I wanted and I didn’t have to waste any time building them,” Linehan said.