“I think most people are still sleeping on the paradigm shift we’re heading for AR in the next few years.”— Danny Zlobinsky (@dannyzlo) on Threads
Today we have @dannyzlo. What does an Engineering Manager at Meta Reality Labs do?
Hello! Let’s try my best at distilling this down to a reasonable length: an engineering manager does a few things here: first and foremost we’re there to support the people on the team — a specific, Facebook-ism you’ll see often is managers referring to supporting teams rather than managing teams. That involves things like helping navigate their career, giving feedback, fostering relationships with other teams/orgs, etc — generally being the support system that you can rely on. (cont.)
EMs are ultimately responsible for the teams’ execution, but they’re also responsible for driving the long-term vision, strategy, and shape of the team and broader organization. On top of that is also the typical tables-stakes of engineering management: hiring, interviewing, dealing with people conflicts, and generally being a shit-shield a lot of the time.
You’ll notice that driving technical direction is something that I haven’t specifically touched on. That’s obviously a baseline expectation, but the depth and breadth of that varies heavily between the type of team, and the type of manager (tech-lead manager vs org leader), and the make up of the team/org. There’s a lot of variety here and we can talk about that at length on its own.
How did your career lead you to become an engineering manager? Did you start as a developer?
I did! ~13 years ago. I started out at blip.tv (RIP) and after that my entire career, until my most recent change of teams to where I am now, was centered around iOS. I joined Facebook 6.5 years ago, and worked on video infrastructure until this year.
What are some engineering challenges faced at a large social networking company that might not be encountered at an organization with a smaller user base? And how are those challenges addressed?
Oh man, where to start? Obviously working in an place with tens of thousands of engineers breeds lots of specific problems, but it also leads to having thousands of engineers who work on making engineers’ lives easier. Our dev/data tooling is incredible, and I worry about the day that I’ll have to go somewhere without them. Shoutout to folks like @statsig_hq who are bringing similar tools to the masses! Some of the challenges are obvious: such as operating a multi-million LOC monorepo, (cont.)
one less obvious difference is that at that level of scale, investing in performance and reliability are critical. A crash rate of .1% sounds reasonable but with 2B DAU, that’s 2M crashes a day. The scale also means you can have people who are dedicated to solving the hardest technical problems — there aren’t a lot of co’s where you can work on a team, or even entire orgs, that’s dedicated to compiler optimization, or compression algos
From what you can speak about, what is happening in the Reality Labs which would interest developers?
This one is near and dear since I work in the space: but I think most people are still sleeping on the paradigm shift we’re heading for AR in the next few years. Apple brought a lot of new excitement in this year with the Vision Pro, but I think people haven’t yet internalized how human-machine interaction will change in the next decade. (cont.)
I’m biased and super excited about neuromotor interfaces (folks can google what we have announced on this in the last few years), but developers should be excited for a world where people are untethered from touching screens and keyboards as our primary means of interacting with computers in our lives — it’s not here yet but it is closer than most think.
For a high school student interested in a tech career possibly AR, what advice would you have for them?
Get a jump start on learning CS fundamentals — I was lucky enough to go to a high school where I spent the last two years immersed in CS (shoutout
@brooklyntech_hs on IG). Other than that, just start building. It’s easier than ever to learn everything you need to build amazing projects — start building little tools to make your life easier. Oh, and don’t get sucked into bikeshedding about things like which JS library is better or why a hot new programming language is the best — build instead.
How can people find you elsewhere online?
@dannyzlo on IG/Twitter— DMs on either if anyone wants to get in touch. Thanks for the great questions!