Product Manager, Linkerd

Remote /
Buoyant /
Hi, we're Buoyant.

We build Linkerd—the lightest, fastest, simplest service mesh for Kubernetes.

Linkerd is an open source project. It has a thriving community of adopters and it powers the production systems of companies around the world. Companies like Microsoft, Nordstrom, Timescale, Expedia, and many, many more use Linkerd to add critical security, reliability, and observability features to their Kubernetes applications.

We’re a small company with an incredibly outsized impact on the world. We’re remote-first and fully distributed with team members all over the world. Our competition is fierce: every day, we take on some of the largest companies in the world with essentially infinite dollars and infinite engineers to devote to their competing projects. Our secret weapon? Focus, and a deep sense of empathy for our users.

Working here is not for the faint of heart.

What's Linkerd?

Imagine taking ultralight, ultrafast L7 "micro-proxies" written in Rust, sticking them next to other people's applications running on other people's clusters, and having them mediate all TCP (and in the future, UDP) communication to and from these apps—no matter what it is. Imagine these proxies upgrading connections from HTTP/1 to HTTP/2, initiating and terminating mutual TLS, retrying requests, emitting fine-grained metrics, issuing CSRs to the local CA every n hours, and so on. And imagine the end user blissfully operating 10,000 of these proxies, as a whole, with an easy-to-use CLI and API. That's a service mesh.

(The best way to learn more is to try it yourself. If you can run Kubernetes, you can get Linkerd up and running in 5 minutes.)

Under the hood Linkerd is extremely sophisticated and deeply technical, but the key to the entire project is simplicity. It's extremely difficult to make a simple service mesh, and very easy to make a complex one. (Heck, look at pretty much any of the other options.) And simplicity in this case means operational simplicity: it doesn't mean that you get a one-click install wizard, it means that whenever Linkerd is running, you can understand what it's doing and predict its behavior. It means no leaky abstractions, no complex tuning, no hidden gotchas. We spend a lot of time and energy in ensuring Linkerd is simple—it's our central promise to our users.

Linkerd is a graduated-tier project of the Cloud Native Computing Foundation, just like Kubernetes, Prometheus, and other defining projects of the cloud native space. It's written in Rust and Go; Go powers (most of) Linkerd's control plane. Rust powers Linkerd2-proxy, the source of Linkerd's true power. We're the only service mesh that uses something like Linkerd2-proxy, and it's a tremendous differentiator.

On the commercial side, we make Buoyant Cloud, a cloud-based management system for Linkerd. Buoyant Cloud makes Linkerd stress-free to operate. You connect your existing deployments, and Buoyant Cloud monitors their health and alerts you if anything looks weird. It takes on the toil of upgrades, data plane management, and more. In short: Buoyant Cloud turns Linkerd into a managed service, even though it's running on your own clusters.

What are you looking for?

In this role, we're looking for a product manager with a strong engineering background who wants to lead product direction for Linkerd.

Linkerd is not a trivial project. It sits at the intersection of Kubernetes, the network, and the user's application, and any of them can do very weird things and Linkerd needs to keep working. Not only does it need to keep working, it needs to have all the features that people need AND it needs to improve their security while not introducing new security issues AND it needs to be operationally simple AND performant AND low resource. It has to handle all of that gracefully, without requiring complex tuning, without having unpredictable resource usage, and while running in a container on unpredictable hardware with an unpredictable network.

We're a small company and everyone wears a lot of hats. Your day-to-day work as product manager will be a combination of strategic vision and planning, research, tactical project management, responding to users and customers, writing internal and external-facing docs, and prioritizing work in conjunction with your engineering counterparts. You may be called on to speak to the press, on occasion.

Linkerd is an open source project, and it feels like one: we have a lot of users, a continuous stream of GitHub issues and Slack messages asking for help or describing problems or asking when something is going to be ready. The cloud native space is rife with buzz, FOMO, and distraction. You need to be able to be productive in that environment.

We interact with our Linkerd users in the community Slack and we try to engage with them authentically while not being distracted. You don't have to deliver keynotes at Kubecon (unless you want to!), but participating in the community is part of your job.

We’re a team, not a family, but we have families and are the kind of place where work doesn’t get in the way of that. There will be crunch times, but work life balance is important and our p95 work times are pretty good for a startup.

This is an extremely technical project that pushes the boundaries of modern network software. If that sounds fun, this just might be the job for you.

This might be the role for you if you have:

    • Expert-level understanding of the Kubernetes and cloud-native ecosystem, especially as it pertains to service meshes.
    • Five or more years of professional experience in a technical role, or a product role for a technical product.
    • A keen ability to cut through marketing noise and hype and uncover actual problems faced by actual people.
    • Excellent written and oral communication skills and a willingness to communicate with other human beings.
    • The ability to work with in a distributed team with members across with different timezones.
    • A weird but adorable love of software infrastructure.

In this role, you will:

    • Navigate complex tradeoffs in product and engineering spaces, balance multiple competing priorities, ask hard questions, admit ignorance, prioritize ruthlessly, and empathize with compassion.
    • Develop and communicate product strategy, design, tactics, and requirements.
    • Give and receive critical feedback on design proposals while maintaining a supportive and friendly environment.
    • Represent Linkerd to customers, the open source community, sales teams, and the broader Linkerd community.

You are:

    • Low-ego, collaborative, and results-oriented.
    • Able to give and receive constructive feedback.
    • Willing to learn from and mentor teammates.
    • Passionate, empathetic, and kind.
Buoyant is a fully distributed, remote-first company. Applicants from anywhere in the world can apply. However, working hours must overlap at least partially with US or EU timezones.