Owl Labs (OL): Tell us about how you got to where you are in your career today.
Weiting Liu (WL): I was born in Taiwan and was fortunate enough to move to Silicon Valley many years ago. I graduated from a well-known school, and being in Silicon Valley showed me that changing the world with your bare hands is really possible.
I started my first company, Social Picks, in 2006 as part of Y Combinator. Back then, even before "remote" was a trend, I operated my team remotely. It was especially hard to grow our remote team because it meant trusting strangers on the internet to join our newly launched startup. Then I launched Codementor in 2014 as part of Techstars in Seattle. I saw a gap in the market I felt I could fill: connecting developers around the world with live mentorship opportunities.
My journey as an entrepreneur has certainly been filled with ups and downs. From these experiences, I learned a lot about what it takes to build a successful remote team. In hindsight, it makes sense that I've decided to focus on helping more individuals and organizations go remote with Arc today.
OL: What inspired you to create Arc, and what's the mission of Arc?
WL: Great talent is global, but for most organizations, hiring is still local. We believe remote work is the future, yet finding remote work, and hiring remote talent, is still hectic and a gamble for quality. The bulk of remote hiring services are still focused on finding short-term freelancers, rather than thinking of remote work as a genuine full-time employment option.
This inspired the creation of Arc, an all-in-one platform that helps you hire world-class remote engineers and teams effortlessly. Our mission is to make remote hiring easier. We aim to empower more people to do work that matters from anywhere.
Great talent is global, but for most organizations, hiring is still local. We believe remote work is the future, yet finding remote work, and hiring remote talent, is still hectic and a gamble for quality.
OL: Arc helps connect businesses with developers around the world. Who are the typical users of Arc?
WL: Arc serves both remote developers and top organizations looking to hire them. Developers from a variety of backgrounds and countries apply to our network, but only a tiny fraction passes our strict vetting processes. Arc developers also interview with senior engineers at leading tech companies to assess personality and communication skills. We aim to ensure Arc developers are not only technically the best in their field, but also ready to work remotely as part of a team.
For those looking to hire remote technical talent, we've worked with a variety of clients ranging from Silicon Valley startups to Fortune 500 corporations. Some organizations are looking to add bandwidth for existing projects and others want to build a fully-distributed development team. We're proud to have connected hundreds of developers and companies worldwide, such as Spotify, Nestlé, and Chegg just to name a few.
OL: How is the spread of remote work impacting both engineers and developers and the companies who hire them? Are you seeing more and more people working freelance?
WL: The spread of remote work allows engineers to access the best opportunities that match their skills, interests, and lifestyle. To succeed in remote positions, they must demonstrate a more well-rounded skill set. Remote developers must prioritize soft skills like communication and teamwork, not just demonstrate their strong technical abilities. Companies that hire remote developers can increase the speed and quality of their technical recruiting because they no longer need to rely on a limited pool of local talent.
We've also seen steady growth in applications for the Arc remote hiring platform and the Codementor marketplace. For many engineers and developers, working short-term freelance contracts are the norm for most remote opportunities available today. However, we're seeing increasing demand for more permanent remote positions from both the developers and the clients. We believe this is a natural evolution of the remote movement, with full-time remote team members becoming an integral part of the organization rather than just short-term freelancers.
The spread of remote work allows engineers to access the best opportunities that match their skills, interests, and lifestyle. To succeed in remote positions, they must demonstrate a more well-rounded skill set. Remote developers must prioritize soft skills like communication and teamwork, not just demonstrate their strong technical abilities.
OL: Tell us about the people who work at Arc. What sets your company's culture apart?
WL: We're a distributed team spanning eight cities and four time zones. As an international team, we're a unique blend of personalities and backgrounds. But regardless of the individual members, we all share the same values as our company culture: collaboration, going the extra mile, and putting people first. Our internal processes also facilitate open communication (such as weekly 1-on-1s between all individuals and their managers), honest feedback (anonymous AMAs with the CEO), as well as transparent documentation (e.g., notion documents accessible to the entire team).
OL: Do many people at Arc work remotely? Where are your office locations based, and what's the breakdown of remote vs. co-located employees?
We have a hybrid team set-up at Arc. About 10% of our team right now is fully remote and these members work from all around the world including Mexico, Canada, and Singapore. Our co-located team in our Taiwan headquarters has an optional "Remote Work Day" once a week to help everyone understand what it's really like to be a remote worker, and to better work with and support our remote team members.
As an international team, we're a unique blend of personalities and backgrounds. But regardless of the individual members, we all share the same values as our company culture: collaboration, going the extra mile, and putting people first.
OL: What's your ideal working environment? Do you like to work fully remotely, in an office, or a balance of both?
WL: I travel quite a bit and usually split my time between the Bay Area and Taiwan. With the travel and our hybrid team set-up, I get to enjoy the best of both worlds and generally balance working remotely and working in the office. When I'm in Taiwan, I get to work closely with my colleagues and have valuable face-to-face interactions. When I'm not in Taiwan, I get to enjoy extended periods of uninterrupted deep work.
OL: What's the next big challenge on the horizon for the remote workforce to overcome?
WL: Working remotely is not the same as being a digital nomad. For remote work to become mainstream, the entire working world needs to shed the stereotypical image of a digital nomad working on the beach. While both remote workers and digital nomads share the aspect of completing their work online, most remote workers are permanently situated in a home office or coworking space.
Working remotely is not the same as being a digital nomad. For remote work to become mainstream, the entire working world needs to shed the stereotypical image of a digital nomad working on the beach.
OL: What does the future of work look like for your industry?
WL: All trends are pointing to the fact that working and hiring remotely will become mainstream in the near future. While not everyone in every industry can work remotely, being remote-first will help many companies stay competitive by tapping into the best talent regardless of where they happen to be. Building successful remote teams will be an advantage that will eventually become standard practice.
OL: What do you love most about working remotely?
WL: I love that working remotely empowers you to do the work that matters most to you, which aligns with our mission at Arc. Moving to a tech hub like Silicon Valley to find great work is simply not an option for most people, whether that means moving from rural areas to the city or leaving your home country to find work abroad. Being location-agnostic opens up more opportunities for both individuals and businesses. As working remotely becomes more accepted -- and even encouraged -- I truly believe it will equalize the playing field for great talent everywhere to find more meaningful and satisfying careers.