Staff Backend Engineer

About us

Our mission is to become the de facto way people learn foreign languages. We begin by teaching the next billion people English and Spanish.

English is the global language of business, culture, and communication, and over 1.5 billion people around the world are actively trying to learn right now. Others dream of communicating with the half-billion native Spanish speakers across the globe. The problem is that it's nearly impossible to learn to speak a language without constant access to a speaking partner. Grammar and vocab apps don't really help – you need to actually converse with someone.

Speak is on a journey to fix this. We're creating an AI-powered experience that replicates the flow of a conversation, without needing a human on the other end. The goal is to make it radically more accessible to be able to have conversations in a foreign language and eventually help hundreds of millions of people gain fluency who otherwise wouldn't be able to.

We started on this journey over five years ago and we've still got a long ways to go. We're thoughtfully adding new team members only when we think they can truly play a big role in our mission.

Speak launched first in South Korea where we have quickly grown to become the top grossing education app in the country. We have now delivered this winning product to more than 30 countries globally and are continuing to expand to more markets in the coming months. The company is well funded, raising a recent Series B backed by investors like OpenAI, Founders Fund, Y Combinator, Khosla Ventures, Lachy Groom, Josh Buckley, and others. We’re a team of 60 based primarily in SF, Seoul, Tokyo, and Ljubljana.

About this role

We’re looking for a senior backend engineer with extensive experience building scalable technical systems, preferably from scratch. This role offers a large amount of ownership and responsibility over key backend systems and design/architecture decisions.

What you’ll be doing

  • Design, build, and scale the backend of learning experiences within Speak's product, including new lesson and content types

  • Build and improve forward-looking content and data architecture and database solutions

  • Ownership and responsibility for clear and high quality system design documents and backend tech specs

  • Help us improve overall engineering efficiency and quality, and develop best practices as we scale the engineering organization

  • This role is primarily focused on product backend, with some infrastructure & reliability work as well as we scale.

What we’re looking for

  • 8+ years of experience as a backend engineer

  • Expertise in scalable and forward-looking technical system design and architecture, particularly with complex data modeling

  • Experience with our tech stack, which includes: Typescript, Node, Python, Postgres, Redis, Kubernetes, GCP, AWS

  • Experience setting a strong foundation of backend engineering tooling & processes: build & deployment process, CI/CD, monitoring and observability, etc.

  • Exceptional written communication, particularly around writing great system design documents

  • Strong bias towards execution speed while balancing maintainable systems

Why work at Speak

  1. Join a fantastic, tight-knit team at the right time: we're growing super quickly, we just raised our Series B and an additional extension from some of the top investors in the valley, and we've achieved product-market fit in our initial markets. You'd join at a magical time when a single person could significantly change the course of the company.

  2. Do your life's work with people you’ll love working with: we care strongly about our craft and want every person at Speak to feel like they're growing every day. We believe in the idea that working with people you both enjoy and have respect for makes everything better. We hire thoughtfully and only work with people we admire deeply.

  3. Global in nature: We're live in over 30 countries and launching in a number of new markets soon. We have dedicated offices in San Francisco, Ljubljana, Seoul, and Tokyo, and you’ll have the opportunity to talk to users in each of these regions on a regular basis as well as travel.

  4. Impact people's lives in a major way: Learning a language is one of the single most life-changing skills one can learn, and right now 99% of people never achieve their goal because the process is broken. We’re helping millions of people achieve their goals and improve their lives.

Speak does not discriminate based upon race, religion, color, national origin, gender (including pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions), sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, age, status as a protected veteran, status as an individual with a disability, or other applicable legally protected characteristics.

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