“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
Plato is democratizing computing with a low-code platform that lets anyone build their own internal tools. We’re a seed stage team with $2.3M in funding, seeking to hire our third full-stack engineer. You’ll be the technical architect of novel visual computing features based on programming-by-example, and be implementing those features in Typescript, Node, and React.
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 the average person need to build their own tools? Surely engineers will always be better programmers. But this is like wondering why everyone would need to know English. Surely novelists will always be better writers.
Just as the average person has unique ideas that only they can express in language, they also have a unique job that only they can model in software. But today their work is mediated by mass-produced software.
It doesn’t have to be this way. Early works, from Smalltalk to Squeak to HyperCard to VisiCalc, have long presaged a Gutenberg Revolution that democratizes 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 vertical apps are unbundled into baskets of composable capabilities, and horizontal platforms enable the creation of entirely new software that integrates those capabilities across application boundaries.
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.
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.
Every startup promises that you own your work and have the opportunity to get rich. Here’s what Plato uniquely promises:
- Build novel visual computing techniques on the cutting edge of the Future of Coding, in the tradition of Alan Kay, Douglas Engelbart, and Bret Victor.
- Work under an engineer CEO who recognizes that quality technical architecture is the #1 priority to the company’s success.
- Earn above market equity (1-3%).
- Join a small, elite team of engineers and designers who trust each other to leave their ego at the door and make rational decisions.
- Work from anywhere in the world, with competitive compensation and benefits.
Plato is founded by Michael Gummelt. Michael is a programming languages expert who studied Computer Science at Stanford, co-founded Heap Analytics ($1B company), built internal tools at Facebook, and owned the Apache Spark platform at Mesosphere.
Michael is joined by Maša, Alexey, Stanislav, and Andre. We’re a tight-knit, globally distributed team who places trust and respect above ego. We love to geek out on the Future of Coding while taking breaks to build and trade noises.
We’re grateful to be well funded by South Park Commons and A.Capital, with participation from SV Angel, Quiet Capital, and Charlie Cheever.
As a founding engineer, you'll be a big part of a small team. It will be your code base. As the company grows, you'll have the option to continue as an IC or grow into a management or architect role.
Every engineer at Plato is responsible for the design and implementation of significant features. You will be writing design docs, responding to feedback, and implementing features end-to-end, across the stack. We write statically typed code in a OOP style. Here are a few examples of what you may work on:
- Programming by example
- Formula language
- Drag-and-drop views
- Cross-datastore queries
Users automate their work in Plato by providing an example of their workflow, which the platform then generalizes and automates.
Plato supports an Excel-like formula language.
Users design new pages with drag-and-drop.
Data across different databases and SaaS services is surfaced to the user in a standard Airtable-like data table. The user can then issue queries across data sources.
- Development: Typescript, React, Apollo, GraphQL, Node.js, Prisma, Postgres, Google Cloud
- Communication: Github, Slack, Figma, Linear
- You have 3+ years experience as a professional software engineer.
- You have a B.S. in Computer Science or equivalent
- You have experience writing high quality Typescript, or a similar statically typed language.
- You live anywhere, but your working hours overlap with 9AM-1PM Pacific Time.
- BONUS: You have experience or interest in programming language design.
- BONUS: You're a student of the history of visual software development (Kay, Engelbart, Victor)
- Competitive salary ($120K-$180K for U.S. engineers. Strongly competitive for international engineers. Ask for more details.)
- Beyond competitive equity (1-3%)
- High-end health insurance (HMO or PPO)
- $5K equipment and WFH stipend
- Email firstname.lastname@example.org to connect and see a product demo.