Our European headquarters: Growing the Front engineering team in Paris

This article is written by Front’s CTO and co-founder, Laurent Perrin.

Front is growing rapidly — and we just announced the opening of our second office in Paris, France. Serving as our European headquarters, members of our engineering, customer support, sales, and marketing teams will be based in our Paris office.

I'll be mostly in Paris now to help build and globally scale our world-class engineering team, alongside the growing engineering team in San Francisco. You can read more about our Paris sales team in this Q&A with our Head of Sales EMEA, Martin Duhamel.

How we got to today

This is a kind of homecoming for me and our Front team to have a Paris office, again. In 2013, Front started as a team of five, living in Paris. A year later, we moved to Mountain View, California to join Y Combinator, and spent three trying months growing, learning, and evolving our product.

After speaking with investors in Europe and the US, we realized Silicon Valley was the best place for us to accomplish our mission: to build a company where people love coming to work, and to build a product that would help other teams to do the same. So in 2014, the five of us moved Front to San Francisco.

Now, we’re starting a new chapter with an additional $66 million in Series B funding to help move us forward. We’ve got a lot planned for Front in the coming years, and with our Paris office, we’ll be working to make Front better for our customers and our team.

Tackling new engineering challenges together

We’ve spent years researching the right UX for our product. After seeing thousands of customers in different industries use Front — and using it in our own team all the time — we’ve learned a lot about the steps we need to take to improve it. You could say we use Front today to always be building a better Front for tomorrow.

Most of Front’s complexities are hidden below the surface, and our engineering team thrives on unearthing and working through these new questions every day: With multiple people working together in real-time, how do we make sure they understand the impact of their actions? Who can see what I’m seeing, who am I changing this for? How can we enable teams to implement their ideal workflows with building blocks that work for everyone?

Our Paris engineering team will initially focus on Front’s backend and infrastructure. Our stack is made up of isolated, self-contained pieces. This makes it easy to collaborate on projects, even with a 9-hour time difference between Paris and San Francisco. Some of the major projects we’ll lead from Paris are enhancements to our live chat product, inbox search functionality, reporting analytics and insights, and real-time syncing capabilities.

We’ll also work on making Front faster. The first step will be to re-architect all our apps with performance in mind. We already made significant improvements last year: we released support for multiple regions, which brought customers closer to their data to comply with local regulations. We plan to continue this work by opening new regions in 2018.

Building our global engineering team

We want to build a product that makes people enjoy coming to work. And that starts with our own team. Work-life balance is important to all of us, and our Paris office will help us keep that balance as we grow. With our teams in two different time zones, we’ll be able to react faster during business hours and collaborate across our engineering, sales, and support teams to serve our customers around the clock.

We live out our values in our work, and they’re apparent in the way we approach engineering. We believe that our biggest long term risk is to write code that is smarter than us, so we always look for aggressively simple solutions. Most of all, we love code that we don’t write. We also believe that our biggest asset is trust: to maintain it, we always choose tradeoffs that are easily understood by everyone outside of engineering. We are big fans of the principle of least astonishment.

Just as our product inspires transparency for the teams who use it, transparency is at the core of our own team. We keep our roadmap public, to foster accountability and ensure we’re building for our customers. In anything we do, we operate in a way that’s understandable to the rest of our team. That builds trust.

We’re looking forward to growing the team in France, and there’s a lot of work to be done. We’re hiring — come join the Front team in Le Marais.