Founding Designer at Plato

As children we discovered that clay can be shaped into any form simply by shoving both hands into the stuff. Most of us have learned no such thing about the computer. — Alan Kay

Mission

Plato’s mission is to turn every information worker, not just the 1% who are programmers, into literate authors of their own tools.

Why would everyone need to build their own tools? Surely programmers will always be better equipped to build software. But this is like wondering why everyone would need to know English. Surely professional authors will always be better writers.

Just as everyone has unique ideas that only they can express in language, every information worker has a unique job that only they can model in software.

Today, these jobs are found largely in Software-Enabled Services (SES) companies, such as Flexport. A back office operator receives a new customs requirement from their partner at the Port of Baltimore. The operator must model these requirements, define new business rules to ensure they're satisfied, as well as create and delegate task queues to their shippers. This process is bespoke — It can’t be modeled by off-the-shelf software — and the game of telephone between operators and engineers is slow and error prone.

Throughout the history of computing, works from Smalltalk to Squeak to HyperCard to VisiCalc have presaged a Gutenberg Revolution that will democratize the connection of mind to machine.

Today’s low-code revolution promises to fulfill this prophecy in the mainstream. It represents a mass migration, on the same scale as the shift to the cloud, where apps are unbundled into baskets of composable capabilities.

But today’s low-code platforms fall short. Those marketed toward programmers merely repackage a traditional development environment with a facade of WYSIWYG, whereas those marketed toward a broader audience offer “building blocks” that fail to approach the computing power of code. No product has yet to achieve the stepwise leap in power that Visicalc managed forty years ago.

Plato’s Product

Today, Plato is Airtable for your database. Tomorrow, Plato is the next spreadsheet — a general purpose computing platform for building internal tools, designed for all, yet retaining full programming power by introducing novel techniques for codeless programming.

Plato’s unique approach is based on a visual computing principle known as Programming by Example. Users automate a process not by writing down its steps, as they would with code, but by recording an example of the process, which Plato then generalizes. Programming by Example is by far the most accessible visual computing technique and the key to unlocking computing for the other 99% of information workers.

Team

Plato is founded by Michael Gummelt. Michael is a former cofounder of Heap Analytics, and Stanford CS alumnus. While at Stanford, Michael conducted research in the UI of programming languages, laying the groundwork for Plato. Michael is joined by fellow engineers Stanislav, Alexey, and Andre. We’re a tight knit and friendly remote team who loves to geek out on the Future of Coding while taking breaks to build and trade noises. We are all itching to implement the work of our first and lead designer.

Plato is seed stage company, well funded by South Park Commons and A.Capital, with participation from SV Angel, Quiet Capital, and Charlie Cheever.

Your Role

This role is unique. Programming by Example is a greenfield technique, so you will not be applying existing interaction patterns, but rather inventing new ones. We have a working product, with customers in production, but many of our core features still need to be designed. Your work will be exploratory and problem solving oriented. While Programming by Example has a rich history, it has yet to be applied to web apps. While you will ultimately be responsible for both UX and UI design, we are open to pairing you with an agency or junior designer to build a design system.

You will:

  • Conduct user interviews
  • Develop interaction models and user flows
  • Build assets in Figma or the tool of your choice
  • Work with engineers to ensure your designs are implemented to your standards

Requirements

  • Professional experience designing web apps for B2B SaaS (BONUS: Experience designing creation tools)
  • While aesthetics and ergonomics are important, you should have a greater interest in solving high-level UX problems.
  • While you need not be a programmer, you should be able to intelligently discuss topics such as object-oriented programming, namespaces, scope, variables, and conditionals, as your job will be to bring these ideas to life.

Benefits

  • Market salary. 50th percentile. Our salaries are benchmarked against SF Bay Area salaries. For international candidates, we apply a generous location factor that results in 95-99th percentile salaries relative to local markets.
  • Far above market equity. Greater than 95th percentile.
  • Health insurance. High quality HMO, with a cost-equivalent PPO option.
  • Office and equipment stipend. Set up your ideal working environment, on us.
  • Flexible PTO. We encourage you to take vacations and mental health days.

Contact

If solving this problem sounds as exciting to you as it does to us, please reach out to the CEO directly at mgummelt@plato.io.