Backend Developer


Center City Jul 22
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We’re looking for a backend developer to join the Fastmail team in our Center City Philadelphia office.

About the Job

Together with the rest of our team, you’ll work on our email services Fastmail, Pobox, and Topicbox. When the vast majority of people get email for free, the reason people choose a paid service is because they value both privacy and a great user experience.

We strive to build clean, well-tested, reusable code — to have our backend code look as good, and work as well, as our interface. With a swiftly growing customer (and code) base, we are looking to add new team mates to help make sure we’re reaching our own standards.

We are a close-knit team, but do most projects individually. We are always ready to jump in with an extra set of eyes, a lengthy explanation of why things work the current way, or just to grab a coffee, but you should feel comfortable making decisions solo.

Our backend infrastructure is widely varied, in both subject matter and style — expect plenty of refactoring and converting in-place code to reusable methods. We are also looking ahead to adding more integrations with other services, our own new products, and improving existing features!

The Fastmail backend is written largely in Perl, and that's what you'll be writing most of the time. There's a little bit of this and that throughout, but we try to stick to Perl when we can. And we usually can. If you don't know Perl, that's no problem. It's a lot like Python, Node, or Ruby, but with more dollar signs.

About You

You may be a fit for this role if you:

  • Score "lines of code deleted" as high or higher than "lines written". Hearing "refactor" sparks joy in your heart. The first time you saw a flame graph profile, you thought of three pieces of code you were dying to get one from.
  • Enjoy developing, then working to, a specification document. Our user interface uses a well-defined API to communicate with our servers, and you will need need to be able to program to the specified API. We believe implementing to a spec ends up with high-quality, maintainable code, and hope you do, too.
  • Feel comfortable asking questions: we encourage dialogue with other team members over ambiguous, dubious, or otherwise suspect specifications, quirky code that doesn't make sense, or just the whys behind a task!
  • Are comfortable picking up new tools, evaluating existing solutions, or just building your own. We think long term, and want to ensure we control our future. We like to fully understand the code we run, whether it's something we wrote ourselves or an open-source component we contribute to.

You will definitely need excellent written language skills, strong verbal and interpersonal skills, patience, diligence, and an ability to gracefully adapt to change. You love engaging with your colleagues to find the ideal implementation solution.

Working at Fastmail

This is a full-time role. Like everyone on our team, you’ll get great benefits.

  • 100% covered medical and dental benefits for you from day one
  • generous contributions for partners and dependent coverage (also available from day one)
  • four weeks of paid time off
  • paid sick leave, holidays, and parental leave
  • paid sabbatical for long-term staff
  • annual professional development budget to fund your own growth
  • supportive work environment
  • team events to share your passions (from tech tools and user testing to crafts, movies, and games)

This job is based in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. We have a strong in-person culture and are looking for someone who will be on-site and part of that culture.

We also have an office in Melbourne, Australia, and we’re in close communication with them. This means that you’ll need to be available for an hour or two of evening calls each week. We are partners, parents and caregivers ourselves, and we understand time-zone flexibility goes in both directions. Talk to us if you’re unsure. (Also, once it’s safe to travel again, you’ll have the opportunity to travel to Melbourne, an artsy and charming Australian city!)

You can read about our values, and our blog contains interviews with some of the people who will become your colleagues at Fastmail.

We encourage employees to write and speak about the great work we do, and to stay engaged with their professional peers. Many staff members choose to attend conferences for learning and networking, and several staff members are regular conference speakers.

We welcome all applicants regardless of race, color, religion, age, pregnancy, gender identity or expression, disability, or sexual orientation. We can help you relocate to Philadelphia if needed. The thing we can’t help with is a visa or sponsorship. You must already have the right to work in the United States.

Sounds great, what’s next?

Email us at to introduce yourself and tell us why you would be a good fit for the job. Send us a resume (as a PDF, please). More importantly, though, have something else to say! Let us know what you’re interested in, what makes the job interesting, and anything else you want to tell us up front.

Job Type: Full-time

Retirement & Stock Options Benefits
  • 401k with company contribution
Perks & Discounts
  • Casual Dress
  • Snacks Provided
  • Commitment to Work/Life Harmony
  • Flexible Work Schedule
  • Paid Holidays
  • Paid Sick Days
  • PTO
Health & Wellness
  • Dental Insurance
  • Employee Assistance Program (EAP)
  • FSA
  • Health Insurance
Parental Benefits
  • Family Medical Leave
  • Parental Leave
  • Hybrid Work Options
What does “being a good internet citizen” mean? For us, it’s all about behaving ethically and responsibly in today’s internet landscape. We strive to always do the right thing and put people first. We value customers’ trust and never compromise the privacy of their personal data. We build and contribute to open-source projects that help move our industry forward. And most importantly, we bring a human touch to a high-tech industry.   What benefits do you offer that stand out from other companies? In response to Covid-19 and its new demands on workplace culture, we offer very flexible hours to enable a healthy work-life balance for all of our employees. We also offer very generous PTO with no leave cap. And if an employee has been with us for seven years or longer, they are able to take what’s called a "Long Service Leave," which is a 2-month paid sabbatical. As one of our company values, we place a heavy focus on our employees’ personal and professional growth. Every employee has their own personal/professional development budget to use as they wish, whether on a course, conference, books, etc. It can also be applied to board service at a non-profit or charity.   Being a global company, are there opportunities to travel? Yes! Before Covid-19, many of our Philadelphia staffers had regular opportunities to travel to our office in Australia, and vice versa. When it's safe to travel again, that is definitely an opportunity for the future.   What is the company’s current tech stack? Our client application is written in modern JavaScript using our own open-source framework, Overture, as well as Squire, a popular rich text editor which we wrote. Our client and server communicate using JMAP, a protocol we developed and turned into an open standard. Our server is made up of quite a few different software systems written primarily in Perl 5, but most customer data is stored in Cyrus, an open source JMAP (and IMAP and more) server written in C, and we're its primary maintainers.  All this runs on Linux running on our own real hardware.   What kind of qualities do you look for when hiring new technologists? We are looking for people who have a true passion for programming and the continual desire to push themselves in their understanding of programming concepts and techniques. Our culture is one of constant learning, and we look for that same interest from candidates. Development at Fastmail is a highly collaborative process so we want people who work well with others and are excited to build new things.