Software Engineer for Jaan Tallinn


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We are looking for a highly independent, self-motivated software engineer to design, develop, configure, implement, and support software solutions for Jaan Tallinn as he is looking to craft highly secure tools that can empower his productivity and multiply his impact.

  • Ideal Start date: As soon as possible (rolling applications)
  • Contract Type: Full-time contractor
  • Compensation: USD 200,000 annual, negotiable
  • Work location: Remote

About Jaan Tallinn

Jaan is a computer programmer and investor known for his participation in the development of Skype and file-sharing application FastTrack/Kazaa. He is also a leading figure in the field of existential risk, having co-founded both the Centre for the Study of Existential Risk (CSER), and the Future of Life Institute.

His main worries are related to artificial intelligence, unknowns coming from technological development, and biological risk. He believes humanity is not spending enough resources on long-term planning and mitigating threats that could wipe us out as a species. He has been a supporter of the Rationalist movement. He has also contributed to Chatham House, supporting their work on the nuclear threat.

Because of his numerous projects and involvements, there are various custom tools in his personal backlog that he has envisioned to craft for improving his productivity but have unfortunately not progressed much due to his priorities. 

He is looking for one or two software engineers to help him build these tools to multiply his impact.

Projects & Requirements

As this position is focused on Jaan’s needs, you will be working directly with him and on his projects. You may be interfacing with staff and contractors from other teams to move forward with your assignments - but Jaan will be your primary stakeholder. Here are four (4) possible projects that you may embark on depending on your fit:

  1. Bespoke geolocation tracking solution with granular control of privacy and data
  2. Language translation & learning solution that leverages Netflix clips and IPFS (similar to
  3. Custom desktop productivity solution using Workflowy (
  4. Communications app that combines instant messaging and email

These may not be the only projects you will be involved with as priorities evolve. However, here are some baseline must-have requirements for all applicants:

  1. Possessing a high level of expertise in Python and Javascript
  2. Experienced in implementing Docker containers
  3. An affinity to functional programming (Jaan has a high preference for this)
  4. Ability to prototype and deploy functionality rapidly for feedback
  5. Have designed, built, and maintained full-stack applications similar to any of the above 


Your primary goal is to empower Jaan by building software. The key outcome is that he becomes more productive as the result of the solution you crafted. Some activities that drive this outcome are as follows:
  1. Elicit requirements from Jaan and align with his vision
  2. Develop flowcharts, layouts and documentation to verify requirements and solutions
  3. Write well-designed, testable code
  4. Integrate software components into a fully functional software system
  5. Develop test plans and quality assurance procedures
  6. Document and maintain software functionality, configurations, deployment & release procedures
  7. Troubleshoot, debug and upgrade existing systems if necessary
  8. Deploy programs and evaluate user feedback
  9. Providing opinions, concepts, and recommendations to improve the solutions built.
  10. Brainstorming and problem-solving as part of a team, or individually, to meet the needs of the project(s)
  11. Maintain backups of the code, the database, and the configurations, etc. as assigned by Jaan.

Key Attributes To Succeed

While there are baseline skill requirements above to execute responsibilities for this role, here are some important factors that will most likely ensure you succeed at the job:
  • Your energy is a 70/30 mix between a software consultant running one’s own practice and a startup product manager. The former brings the maturity and intuition of the engineer that has built many types of solutions - while the latter brings a lot of empathy and deep understanding for user needs. Both roles are highly flexible and employ independent thinking.
  • You are curious and independently problem-solve creatively. This role will not be micromanaged and will hinge on your own proactive research and problem solving skills to succeed. Jaan will expect you to bring to the table possible solutions you have discovered in the course of your work.
  • You are primarily motivated by internal factors and are satisfied with one client. This job will be different from most software projects in that your primary client is one stakeholder, which may not be as motivating (or demotivating) as thousands of customer feedback and user activity data. If you think you can be driven by making one client insanely happy constantly - you might be good for this role.
  • You are happy working alone or with small teams. As the role is primarily for one client, it will most likely be a small team. You will most likely be working as the individual engineer or with one to two other engineers assigned to the project you are working on - with an occasional collaborator for UI design, QA testing, etc.
  • You have a good understanding of architectural practices. You should practice good design patterns and write functional code that is readable, maintainable and debuggable. In addition, you should be able to articulate the trade-offs one makes with adopting certain approaches versus others - and be able to provide recommendations with good discussions about them with Jaan.

What’s Awesome About This Role

  • High flexibility and autonomy. The work is primarily measured by output. As we assume you are self-driven, you can decide your work hours and have a good amount of freedom to define your work style - as long as you maintain a high level of communication and manage expectations with integrity.
  • Interesting niche projects. Jaan’s use cases can be quite specific where there is most likely no existing solution available. For a mind that wants to explore, it could be a good avenue to scratch that itch.
  • Few stakeholders to report to in terms of managing requirements. No endless debates with a variety of end-users. You only need to manage one user’s expectations.
  • You get to work with Jaan directly and improve how he works! Pick the brain of the co-founder of Skype and Kazaa.

If all this sounds exciting to you, we invite you to apply!

To set expectations on the hiring timeline, here is our current process:

  1. Submit your application
  2. Go through a screening interview
  3. Submit your work tests 
  4. Go through a technical interview
  5. Go through a 2-3 weeks paid work trial 

We will be doing a rolling approach and allotting 5-10 days to respond with a decision for each step above if your application moves to the next round.

Candidates missing one or more of the criteria mentioned above could still be successful in this role. If you feel you do not meet these qualifications but are still interested in applying, we encourage you to err on the side of applying anyway. All qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment without regard to race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, national origin, disability status, protected veteran status, or any other characteristic protected by law.

Time commitment: Full time

Applications due: 2022-12-16

  • Category Other
  • Created by Raymund Ed Dominic Bermejo
  • Submitted 24 Nov
  • Last updated 24 Nov