About Tech Talks
In this Tech Talks series, we will share with you the attitude and vibe of the PayPay Tech Team through the voices of the unique product members from around 50 countries!
In this issue, we will talk with three active members of the Developer Experience Team.
Jens Sebastian Ullstroem
Hi, I’m Sebastian from Sweden. I was an exchange student at the Tokyo Institute of Technology for 6 months in 2010, which made me want to come back to Japan one day. After graduating and working as a software engineer in Sweden for a few years I decided it was time to look for jobs in Japan. I worked for a startup in Tokyo for a year before moving to PayPay.
My name is David and I’m from Taiwan. After graduating from a university in the United States, I worked as a software engineer there, and later moved back to Taiwan. Over the years I have worked on a variety of projects, and more recently started working on SRE-related tasks. I moved to Japan in search of an international environment and at first worked for a Japanese startup, after which I joined PayPay.
I am Anshul from India. After working as a network engineer and DevOps engineer, I was working as an SRE at my last job. I decided I wanted to live and work in Japan when I visited here in 2019 and joined PayPay in 2022 after the pandemic subsided.
Tell us about the team’s operations and mission
The Developer Experience Team was formed in 2022 as an independent entity from the SRE Team to focus on services for developers. We manage numerous tools, including Backstage, Deploy Panel, and SonarQube, to create a more comfortable environment for developers in all departments.
Without a dedicated team, each developer will develop with the tools they see fit and in different ways, which does not necessarily lead to the best methodology. So, we address the common challenges and demands of developers to help improve the software development cycle.
In addition to providing a seamless developer experience, I also believe that one of our key missions is to create a good developer culture. What I mean to say is, we don’t just provide technical solutions but also softer aspects. For example, improving communication and knowledge sharing between all our developer teams. How we build such a culture is part of our responsibility.
One of the projects we are working on is building an internal website to support developers with production go-live. PayPay has traditionally only made production releases around midnight to minimize the impact of any problems that may arise, and the new tool we built solves this problem by enabling progressive releases. Progressive releases allow developers to release the new version with very low traffic, and also allows rolling back quickly in case there are issues. Because developers are no longer required to release new versions in the middle of the night, the tool was quite a hit in the company.
What made you decide to come to PayPay?
PayPay is the second company I worked for since I came to Japan. I was attracted by the opportunity to work at a very well known company with talented engineers from around the world. I actually never heard of PayPay before coming to Japan. I only found out about the company when a headhunter recommended it for job-seeking engineers who cannot speak Japanese. As I researched about the company, I became convinced it is a very good match for me, and I was fortunate to be offered a position here.
I’ve been working in the finance industry since I was in Sweden and previously worked for a company that dealt with cryptocurrency. But it was a small startup with a chaotic work environment, so I wanted to move to a company with larger scale systems and more colleagues. I joined PayPay in 2019, shortly after the company’s inception. I chose PayPay because as far as I could tell the company had little hierarchies and gave engineers a lot of freedom in shaping the technology of PayPay. To be honest, before joining I was worried if that was true, but now I can say it was a good choice.
In my case, PayPay was the perfect match for me when I was hoping to work in Japan. It is first and foremost a very diverse environment, where specialists with diverse experiences from various countries work together. Second, the fact that it was growing rapidly and the product itself was very well known were also major factors to joining the company.
What challenges do you face in your department?
As PayPay grows rapidly, it is difficult to keep track of everything that is happening in development and provide a solution that satisfies most engineers. So we have to communicate better with other dev teams and stakeholders. I would like for us to roll out our services more quickly and with more penetration within the company.
At the same time, another challenge is to establish a way to get feedback from developers. We do get a lot of feedback from developers when a service goes live, but it is nonetheless only a partial picture. So we are holding workshops and drop-in sessions where developers can provide feedback.
Our job is much like creating a new product—we build something from scratch, get feedback from developers, and regularly improve it.
The freedom we have to choose what kind of technology to use is another plus side of working here.
How is your team’s vibe?
We get along really well, and we often have lively small talk in our regular meetings. It is easy to gather in person since many of us live in Tokyo, so we get together at the office at least once a month. Everyone is very open and comfortable to proposing and debating ideas, and if anyone is having difficulty, we discuss it as a team. No matter what the issues are, from simple coding, process-related matters, to simply being stuck on something, anyone can send a message on Slack and someone in the team will respond.
Not having a tech lead is currently one of the perks of the Developer Experience Team. Basically, no one assigns anyone a task to work on, but we freely choose which project to work on. Then we become the project owner on our own accord, with senior members at the core of the projects.
We don’t have different roles in the team and everyone is free to take up any tasks or propose their own. We encourage everyone to take ownership in delivering tasks or projects even if they have only been in the team for a few weeks. That said of course we also collaborate on design decisions and there are senior engineers present in the team. We encourage ad-hoc video meetings to discuss something, and on Slack the discussion is always ongoing.
What do you want to try out next at PayPay?
I would like to communicate more openly with developers. One of our goals this quarter is to have a communication channel with developers so that we can routinely get feedback on our initiatives.
I want to work on maintaining the culture and sense of community among developers. This is a challenge different from solving technical problems, which we usually know how to do pretty well.
It’s about making developers feel they work in a good company, with helpful colleagues and interesting technologies. One example we want to try is bringing developers together with similar interests, like working groups that can organize tech-talks and develop best practices for different topics such as Kotlin, Databases, AI frameworks etc.
Finally, any words for job seekers?
Our managers have great faith in us and often let us pursue our own project ideas, which is both fun and rewarding. PayPay employees come from so many different backgrounds and we also work mostly remote these days, communication is key for us.
PayPay is a great place to work in, with a diverse environment. Also, the change-making work we are doing for developers in the company is a massive challenge. If you are willing to learn new things and have good communication skills, you will fit right in.
Leaders and colleagues are open-minded about new solutions, and you can be a part of a project that you proposed, so I’d say I’m pretty lucky. Like many startups, PayPay was pretty chaotic immediately after it was founded, but gradually the work environment and management have greatly improved. Today, PayPay is a company that I can confidently recommend to my close friends. If you are motivated, proactive, and a good communicator, we would love to work with you.
Current job openings
*The recruitment status is current at the time of the interview.