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Daily Life of Binance Developers

2023-10-16

Main Takeaways

  • A story about how globally distributed developers at Binance play the roles of surgeons and therapists of this vital “heart”- the trading engine.

  • Know more about the unique challenges and culture our developers face in the blockchain industry and Binance, the highlights of their jobs, and why they choose to stay here.

Imagine a high-altitude airplane traversing the globe, carrying millions of passengers to various destinations. The engine, tirelessly running 24/7, serves as the beating heart of the airplane.

The heart of Binance's encompassing crypto ecosystem is its trading matching engine, which provides cryptocurrency services to more than 150 million users, executes 1.4 million orders per second, and has matched daily transaction volume at the hundred-billion dollar level during peak market periods. Upon opening the Binance app, you will find more than 20 diverse features apart from trading services, including payment, content, and earn, etc, making it a truly Super Application.

The globally distributed developers at Binance play the roles of surgeons and therapists of this vital “heart”, they are also the ones who stand closest beside the engine and feel its heat. Just as an airplane engine needs to be lightweight, efficient, and have a low failure rate, the developers' daily tasks involve diagnosing, maintaining, and handling everything related to ‘this engine’, solving the problem, and ensuring its smooth operation.

In the language of developers, this involves adeptly managing an array of unexpected issues, such as debugging, resolving compatibility concerns, addressing scaling issues, and optimizing performance.

Regardless of the complexity, it is essentially a race against time, mirroring the challenges faced by surgeons. In an industry where users are time-sensitive down to the second, managing system capacity properly and ensuring system stability is crucial and tough, especially in extremely volatile market conditions. At certain moments, operating this giant real-time trading machine amidst market fluctuations is akin to carrying out maintenance and repair work mid-flight at high altitudes. 

Beyond work pressure, Binance developers also have to face the most direct feedback and complaints from users when issues arise.

This means that developers in some positions are on call around the clock, prompting them to carry their laptops even when stepping out for routine activities like grocery shopping. Other widely circulated scenes of working include trekking, deep-sea fishing, or even watching a movie in theaters. Almost every Binance employee has experienced situations like working in airports or restaurants, while many engineers see them as routine. Just like surgeons must always be prepared to answer a call and rush to the operating table.

Another major challenge arises from Binance's unique approach to remote work. As a fully remote organization since day one, this is rare for a company of its scale with thousands of employees. Binance's team comprises six continents and over 100 countries, spanning almost all time zones in the world.

It's like a coin with two sides, the dual-sides coin brings freedom and flexibility on one end, with challenges on the other. For instance, odd meeting times due to time differences, colleagues of diverse languages and cultural backgrounds, and extra cost of cross-team communication, are the challenges displayed on the other end.

Jaden, a BigData developer based in Dubai, narrates a scenario where he wishes to seek a glance at his screen, a kind of ‘non-official’ assistance, from a nearby for code bugs, only to find himself alone in the room. "Colleagues are always willing to help, but it becomes a bit weird to schedule a meeting just for a random look and catch up," said Jaden, scratching his head.

The challenges in communication across continents seem to align with the common belief that developers usually have a higher proportion of introverted personalities.

However, some efforts behind the scenes can be glimpsed through an online learning platform Udemy. Binance provides Udemy learning accounts for its employees, and the developer team was among the first and most active users. This might be related to the proportion of Binance employees, as the Tech team is the largest department after Customer Service department. Interestingly, the course related to cross-departmental and interpersonal communication has long topped Binance developers' popularity list, surpassing Java, Python, JavaScript, and others.

Some developers view cultural diversity as an opportunity for growth, which helps them broaden their worldview and create globally tailored products and solutions.

Binance's developers typically boast outstanding backgrounds and skills, having experience with top internet companies or extensive knowledge of the cryptocurrency industry.

So, what draws these intelligent minds to join and remain at Binance, despite the immense pressure of racing against time, remote communication across cultures and departments, and the complex and ever-changing external regulatory and market environment?

“I've never seen this kind of freedom offered by any other organization with thousands of employees,” said Shawn, one backend engineer behind Binance know-your-customer (KYC) tool, who highlights the unique freedom and flexibility at Binance. 

Shawn explains that freedom doesn’t just entail how you plan your schedule or where you’re going to work today, but also about being encouraged to propose ideas, push professional limits, and learn from both wins and setbacks. Shawn’s experience exemplifies this freedom—he and his team brought a new product idea to life and fruition in just one month and five days, impacting tens of millions of users.

"At Binance, individual creativity is encouraged, and there is a sense of purpose," added Shawn.

Unlike other similarly sized companies, Binance fosters a "can do'' attitude that you often find in startup environments. Here, strict boundaries between "my responsibility" and "not my responsibility” don’t exist. The flat organizational structure at Binance ensures job titles won’t overshadow one’s opinions. For example, developers are encouraged to have ownership and consider insights from multiple perspectives including product, marketing, and of course, users, across levels.

YZ, a mid-level data service developer based in Singapore, agrees with this point. Initially deployed for spot trading, their data management platforms expanded to support over 20 business scenarios, driven by proactive exploration of new business unit requirements. "Usually we can't get immediate feedback since our products do not target retail users, and to be honest, sometimes the work with data can be tedious. But the thought that our efforts are behind a leading product serving tens of millions of users gives us a strong sense of happiness and motivation,” says YZ.

In addition to freedom and a sense of achievement, competitive salaries and bonuses are offered to attract top developers worldwide, aligning with global leading internet companies. Dedication is recognized and rewarded at Binance, as noted by Daniel from Denmark, a junior developer focused on system stability."At Binance, when you work hard, you will be rewarded, materially and spiritually, and you know it."

Alongside freedom and a sense of achievement, one of the biggest reasons they shared lies in the opportunity to work alongside some of the brightest minds in the blockchain industry.

"I was only able to work with the best people in my city, but at Binance, I am surrounded by the finest minds in the tech sector around the world.” Mindy, a developer supporting payment products based in France, shares, “You can seek advice from anyone you’d like, and the open-door vibe and interaction trigger great ideas that help you continuously learn.”

Zen, a backend engineer from the Infrastructure team, acknowledges the demanding pace under working pressure and long meeting hours, but he also admits that he enjoys the work here. “The satisfaction of resolving problems for users brings a sense of accomplishment and a lingering rush of adrenaline you won’t find anywhere else.”

“It’s not easy to maintain an airplane mid-flight, but we’re building the best airplane,” he said.

Further reading

  • Binance's Work Culture Explained