If you're a software engineer interested in joining the booming fintech industry, you have undoubtedly heard of two of the current fintech giants: Coinbase and Robinhood. Both companies are actively hiring new engineers at the moment, but which should you choose?
Both Coinbase and Robinhood are financial technology or fintech companies. This means their business models focus on using technology to apply innovations to the finance space. FinTech companies serve many different roles, whether it be financial trading like Robinhood or Coinbase, tax calculations, accounting, digital lending, and more.
There are many different roles available at fintech companies like Coinbase and Robinhood. Some of the most common are:
In many ways, these two companies are very similar. Unless you have a strong preference for a cryptocurrency exchange or working in a more traditional stock exchange, it may feel challenging to choose between the two. So, in this article, we'll take a closer look at each company to give you a better idea about what it means to work as a software engineer for each. Let's get to it!
Coinbase (or Coinbase Global, Inc.) is the largest cryptocurrency exchange in the United States. The company is notable, amongst other things, for being a primarily remote company. In fact, there are no physical headquarters. Coinbase was first formed in 2012 by American businessmen Brian Armstrong and Fred Ehrsam. It is driven by a mission to make cryptocurrency trading more accessible and transparent for everyone. While it initially opened its doors with Bitcoin trading, it now allows users to trade hundreds of different cryptocurrencies.
Interested? Check out open Coinbase jobs here.
Robinhood (or Robinhood Markets, Inc.) is an American financial services company based in Menlo Park, California. The company is famous for providing its customers with access to stocks and ETFs (exchange-traded funds) without commissions. Not only that, it is well-known for its mobile app that was first released in 2015. Now, in 2021, Robinhood reports over 30 million users that regularly use their services. Like Coinbase, the company is driven by a mission to democratize financial trading. While it is most famous for traditional financial trading, Robinhood has recently moved into cryptocurrency trading.
Interested? Check out open Robinhood jobs here.
As we mentioned, Coinbase is actively hiring for many roles, especially software engineers. The company is also very transparent about its hiring process and provides many in-depth details on its corporate blog. First and foremost, hiring managers at Coinbase evaluate their SWE candidates based on their corporate values. These are:
Given the rapid growth that the company is actively experiencing, they also expect their engineering teams to sustain a high level of performance. Coinbase is a mission-driven Fintech firm. Therefore, software engineers need to align with their mission to democratize the crypto market. Finally, as you can probably already guess, Coinbase wants those engineers with the passion for being on the front lines of Blockchain technologies. Currently, the company is actively hiring backend engineers to help further develop the infrastructure for their many crypto trading products. These engineers will be tasked with many challenging and large-scale engineering problems.
With all that being said, what does the Coinbase interview process look like? Like many tech companies, the Coinbase SWE interview consists of several stages. Each stage has its particular focus. While your engineering performance will be evaluated at every step, hiring managers will ultimately judge your candidacy against the company's cultural values.
The Coinbase SWE interview stages are:
While software engineering candidates need to perform well in every stage of their interview to get an offer, the company reports that most struggle with their pair programming rounds. As such, be sure to prepare for these ahead of time!
In many of their job postings, Coinbase lists some of the following requirements for their SWE candidates:
While these are not required to become a software engineer at Coinbase, the company lists the following as "nice-to-haves:"
“The talent that we hire today will build the products of tomorrow and will further drive us to fulfill our mission.” -Vlad Tenev, Co-Founder and CEO
Robinhood is a young company. It has also grown rapidly in recent years. This growth doesn't show signs of stagnating anytime soon. And this hyper-growth-oriented mindset extends to their hiring process. This means that software engineers at Robinhood need to be culture builders, curious thinkers, and innovators.
The interview process for a software engineer can take 2-4 weeks at Robinhood. The software engineering interview is slightly simpler than at Coinbase but still consists of several stages.
In many of their job postings, Robinhood lists some of the following qualifications for their SWE candidates:
While the following qualities are not needed to become a software engineer at Robinhood, the company prioritizes those candidates with:
As you can see, both Coinbase and Robinhood are very similar fintech companies. Both are driven by a mission to democratize financial markets. However, a significant difference between the companies is in the particular financial market they are involved with. While Robinhood is moving into the crypto space, Coinbase is the largest cryptocurrency exchange in the United States. Robinhood, however, focuses on the trading of stocks/ETFs.
So, if you need to choose between the two, you should first decide which you'd want to work for: a stock exchange or a cryptocurrency exchange. Beyond that, there are many similarities between the two companies, as we mentioned. Let's take a closer look at the software engineering role at Coinbase and Robinhood:
Software engineers at Coinbase will be contributing to the latest and greatest in cryptocurrency systems. Operating under the mission to make the cryptocurrency accessible to everyone, software engineers will develop real-time applications with high frequency, low latency updates. They will also manage secure, dockerized, and cloud-based infrastructure.
What Coinbase Software Engineers Will Be Doing:
Coinbase Company Perks & Benefits:
Insurance & Health:
As a software engineer at Robinhood, you will develop backend services, technical infrastructure, and data storage for financial trading products. Doing so would give you an inside look at the financial systems of the US and elsewhere while developing your domain knowledge. When it comes to engineering at Robinhood, the company is chiefly concerned with its unique scalability and reliability challenges.
Software Engineers at Robinhood typically work within three different departments. These are:
SWEs on the product team are tasked with the end-to-end user experience of the Robinhood platform. These engineers work closely with product managers and designers.
The engineers on the data team are responsible for working with Robinhood's infrastructure to collect, clean, and organize financial datasets.
Finally, the software engineers on the infrastructure team provide the backend necessary for Robinhood products. They are also responsible for maintaining system stability and reliability.
Robinhood Company Perks & Benefits
Insurance & Health:
There are many different industries that software engineers can choose from. However, the Fintech industry is very appealing for many reasons. There are countless opportunities with dozens of innovative companies, not just Coinbase and Robinhood. Most have built platforms used by hundreds of thousands or millions of users. This means that their engineering teams are using the latest and cutting-edge technologies. Needless to say, these companies have some of the most exciting work environments when it comes to software engineering.
Along with cutting-edge technologies, Fintech companies like Coinbase and Robinhood use agile development frameworks, cross-functional teams, and innovative work cultures. Not only that, but the FinTech industry is exploding in growth. This is especially true for Coinbase and Robinhood. Coinbase, for instance, has hired nearly 1,500 new staff in the past year, growing the company by 137%. Robinhood has seen a similar, if not greater, level of growth in recent years. The company has gone from less than 300 employees to almost 3,000 since 2018. And, make no mistake: this hiring boom shows no signs of stopping going into 2022.
Do you have an upcoming interview at Coinbase or Robinhood? Here at Exponent, we have plenty more resources to help aspiring software engineers practice for and ace their upcoming fintech interviews:
💬 Study up on previous SWE interview questions
📖 Read through our company-specific interview guides
👯♂️ Practice your behavioral skills with our interview practice tool.
👨🎓 Take our complete Software Engineering interview course.