VP of Engineering

Job description

Team: Engineering

Location: London, UK 

With our Series A funding secured, Ably is looking for a leader to scale all of engineering for our globally distributed, fault tolerant, and highly available realtime messaging platform.

Working at Ably means helping to build the infrastructure that will power and shape the future of the internet. We enable things like HubSpot’s chat and collaboration products, live scores for millions of Australian Open tennis fans, and real time transit updates for three million Chicagoans. Engineers at some of the largest companies in the world choose Ably because, when it comes down to it, we’re the only platform that dependably delivers on the most demanding realtime requirements at global, production scale.

The opportunity in front of us is immense. Our mission is to become the definitive realtime infrastructure of the internet while powering and accelerating the emerging ecosystem. We’re on track. Today we deliver billions of realtime messages to more than 50 million people across web, mobile, and IoT platforms. But we can’t rest yet. In five years we want to reach one billion people everyday.

We’ve got some hard technical and business challenges ahead of us. We know that. But we believe the greatest rewards lie on the hardest paths. We’re looking for an engineering leader that will be instrumental in driving Ably’s product vision and will hire, develop, and guide our engineering team as we work toward our mission.

Who you’ll work with and what you’ll do

Ably’s engineering team is deeply technical, collectively bringing a wealth of experience and broad technology skills across infrastructure, security, distributed systems, and much more. The calibre of the code we produce is what excites and motivates us each day. If you enjoy solving hard distributed system problems that are mostly platform agnostic and theoretical in nature, then you'll love working at Ably.

You’ll work directly with the founders of Ably: our CEO Matthew O’Riordan and CTO Paddy Byers. They started Ably because they were unable to find a realtime solution that provided adequate guarantees for performance without compromising on data integrity or reliability. They’d found a hard problem to solve, and so they solved it. They architected and built Ably around Four Pillars of Dependability: performance, reliability, availability, and integrity. This is what sets us apart.

Matthew has been a programmer for over 20 years and first started working on commercial internet projects in the mid 90s, when Internet Explorer 3 and Netscape were still battling it out. He’s previously founded and successfully exited from two tech businesses.

Paddy is a security and realtime specialist with over 20 years experience architecting systems, developing new technologies, and setting industry standards. He’s done some serious stuff. He was CTO for eight years of Tao Group, creators of the intent virtual OS, and the first full Java VM for mobile, where he worked to set new standards in mobile operating systems. He holds a degree in Mathematics and a PhD in Theoretical Computer Science from the University of Cambridge.


  • Collaborate with our CTO and team technical leads in to design and architect our infrastructure, services and client software;
  • Work in coordination with Ably’s internal customers (head of product and head of developer relations) to formulate the technology roadmap;
  • Manage, prioritise and optimise the backlog to allow us to deliver against this roadmap;
  • Build, lead and develop the engineering team;
  • Define and promote the application of the development processes and all supporting resources, infrastructure etc.


You will be successful if you:

  • Are an inspiring leader who can recruit, develop and retain developers in the most competitive technology landscape;
  • Proven experience in building high-performance teams and scalable best-practices in an engineering organisation;
  • Have experience with identifying, evaluating, and removing blockers for engineering teams;
  • Have exceptional planning and execution capacity with an ability to monitor progress, take corrective action when necessary and communicate changes;
  • Are a seasoned software practitioner with a demonstrable track record of technical execution and process-based delivery;
  • Have broad and relevant technical experience in the areas relevant to the Ably product and service, particularly cloud-native architectures and infrastructure, distributed systems, and operation of those systems in a production setting.
  • Highly proficient programmer, ideally with experience of both dynamic and statically-typed languages including go, nodejs, elixir and/or ruby.

Nice to have skills and experience:

  • Have recent and directly relevant technical experience in areas such as distributed and fault-tolerant systems, realtime protocols and services;
  • Our team are active open source contributors and are encouraged to do this as part of their role at Ably.  Being an active contributor to the open source community is beneficial.

What’s it like to work at Ably?

Ably is entering a new phase of growth led by an experienced senior team from the likes of Econsultancy and ThoughtWorks. You’ll be part of a successful, highly motivated, and extremely collaborative team. To provide the infrastructure required for the next generation of the internet, to tell the world about it, and to support everyone inside Ably to do so we hire people who are ready and capable of taking on challenging problems in a high-growth environment. We want to work in a company of inclusive people who treat each other well. We’re building a company with a diverse set of people who value:

  • Ownership and impact of work. You have real autonomy and ownership over your work with a visible impact inside Ably, and externally on products powered by Ably that you use in your daily life.
  • An environment to thrive. Modern, comfy office in the heart of Old Street. Excellent transport links, lots of great food, bars and restaurants nearby, and multiple work spaces to match your working style.
  • Truly flexible working and not just lip service. We like people to be in the office most of the time, but work should also fit around life and individual ways of working so you’re free to mold hours and environment to your needs.
  • Work is varied and challenging as we’re solving hard, complex problems that push the limits of what’s possible with today’s software and infrastructure.

What's in it for you?

  • A good, competitive salary
  • Flexibility with working from home
  • Your choice of high quality tech kit to work on
  • Health insurance
  • ClassPass membership
  • Cycle to work
  • Company contributions towards your pension
  • Regular company away days and social events
  • Weekly team breakfast or lunch
  • Free drinks and snacks in the office
  • Ongoing professional development (training, events, conferences), including an assigned budget
  • 25 days of paid annual leave (33 days including bank holidays)

Ably has a culture that values employee freedom and responsibility. Apply to talk to us to see if this role on an impactful and collaborative team is right for you.