Hot or Not?

These are the top tech companies London designers want to work for

With the recent news that Revolut, a one-time darling of the London tech scene, is in fact a dumpster fire of money laundering, negligence, and toxic culture, there has been a lot of discussion in the Triangles Slack, a water cooler for mostly London based designers, about the importance of company culture, good ethics, and increased awareness of serious issues like burnout.

Among the discussion, I posted this:

Which got me thinking, what companies would I hypothetically work for, and why? What is it about a company’s outward facing appearance that attracts candidates to want to work for them?

If a company like Revolut, despite rumblings in the community and warnings from friends who’ve worked there, can have a largely positive image until one day they definitely don’t, then how much can we trust our gut feeling about an organisation’s character?

I turned to Typeform, asking a simple question: What tech companies in London would you work for?

Now, before I share the results, there are a few caveats to mention. The list of companies on the survey was in no way comprehensive and I’ve left off some big names (sorry Citymapper and Lyst, etc.). I literally just wrote down a bunch of companies I knew of and pushed the publish button.

The survey could have gone into way more depth, asking a few more insightful questions. As one person in the Slack mentioned: “I’d be interested to know why people want to work there. Is it because of the brand mission, or because they sell the dream the best?” All I could reply was:

In an attempt to capture some of these “whys,” when I shared the results in the Slack, I also asked people if they were surprised by the top companies, why they voted for the top ones, and why they didn’t vote for some of the ones further down. I’ll share some of their answers in a little bit.

But first, the results.

78 London based designers replied to the question “What tech companies in London would you work for?” Here’s how they voted:

The 8 “Other” companies were: Improbable, CrowdStrike, Coconut, Novoda, IBM, Thriva, Patient, and Snapchat. The theme with these seems to be people adding the company they currently work for, and it’s again another indicator that my list wasn't in any way indicative of the whole London tech scene, but merely a slice of it informed by my own experience.

What interests me about the results is how large the hottest companies to work for actually are. If I had to guess, they all have design teams of at least 20–50+, and in the case of Spotify and Google, probably 100–500+.

One of the respondents shared their thinking behind how they voted, and it offers an insight as to why larger teams can be attractive:

Pretty much matches with my answers…I voted for companies with established design systems, career ladders, big design teams (I need people to learn from and be challenged by) and products where the design effort is clearly visible in the end product. I especially love Spotify’s UX and feel like I would have the freedom to experiment and research more on designing for the delight of the user.

Another trend in the results which cut across both negative and positive impressions of companies was a consideration of morals. One person, for instance, said: “I voted for companies that work for a good cause or inspiring vision, like Babylon Health and Bulb.” Another said: “Not at all surprised with some of the ones at the very bottom (I’m looking at you, Palantir and Badoo) based on friends’ experiences. Glad to see Spotify and Monzo up there! ❤️”

As this last quote shows, in addition to reacting to large-scale news stories like the Revolut ones (although I have to say, I was surprised to see 3 respondents indicate they’d still work at Revolut despite these revelations — maybe they weren’t aware?), the decision often went hand in hand with insights gleaned from insider knowledge. Such as this response:

I only said yes to 4 companies.
First, morals: no Facebook, Uber, Palantir, etc. Then I filtered out anything I’m not interested in (fintech, shopping).
Finally, I ruled out other companies based on things I know or have heard about them individually.

And this one:

I voted from companies I thought had / heard have good culture, a good design team and an interesting product to work on. Which I think is the majority of the top 12! A little surprised Google was 3rd, as I personally categorise it along with Facebook as too immoral. I’d worry that working for companies like those that get the majority of their revenue from selling data, would end up shackling you to having to employ some dodgy tactics in order to “hit targets” and progress.

I’m interested in hearing what the broader London tech scene makes of these results. I asked only designers to participate as it provided me, as a designer, with a super relatable set of data — one that actually still presented me with some insights I didn’t expect.

A significant number of people said they’d work for companies I personally wouldn’t, and vice versa (I think I’m that lone respondent who said Ravelin there at the bottom). What would you have voted for? Do you agree with the top 5, the top 10? What do you look for when you’re considering a new move? Let me know in the comments below.

Finally, the last thing I noticed about the hottest tech companies in London is that they’re all hiring…