Jesus Medrano, a Staff Software Engineer for Delivery, was among the original Engineers to help build Uber Eats’ Android application. Today, he’s helping scale our business across new areas, including Grocery and Pharmacy, while unifying the architecture of our iOS and Android applications. Jesus co-chairs the Los Ubers ERG, Uber’s community for Hispanic and Latinx employees and allies, and is a Board Member of Voices of San Diego, a member-based nonprofit investigative news organization.
Tell us a little bit about yourself.
“I grew up in the border towns of San Diego, California and Tijuana, Mexico. I lived an impoverished life, yet was fortunate enough to be part of a supportive family. I recall not having access to telephones, hot water, or paved roads for many years of my life. In my later childhood, we moved around often, sometimes living with relatives in a crowded situation. We also lived in poverty-stricken areas where violent crimes were common, such as a drive-by shooting done to our residence.
Fortunately, with some great mentorship, support, and luck I was able to excel in my academic life. With that, along with my curiosity and stubbornness, I was accepted to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Being a first-generation college graduate in my family meant my parents didn’t know much about schools or studies, but they were very proud of me nonetheless. I graduated from MIT with a Bachelor’s in Mathematics.
I started my career as an Aerospace Engineer for large autonomous drones. These massive drones would operate for a day at a time and could transverse most of the world. I analyzed flight plans and simulations to ensure safety. I also worked on fun projects that analyzed various environments from high altitudes, such as the Pacific Ocean over a hurricane. Prior to Uber, I worked as a Backend and Mobile Application Developer at Yahoo!, where I supported mapping and then led development for the Android Yahoo! flagship app.”
You’ve been at Uber for nearly 6 years. How has your role evolved?
“When I first joined I worked on our Ridesharing application, experimenting with how to start incorporating Uber Eats menu items. That led to the decision to develop an independent Android application, and our small Android team then spent a busy few months building it from scratch. We worked diligently to meet aggressive timelines and officially launched on January 6, 2015.
After, the Uber Eats organization began to grow and we were split across product teams, which have now grown to several dozen. From then our main goal was to expand features and user growth. Unlike in Ridesharing, we weren’t yet well known in many cities at the time, so we added new features as fast as we could.
Hypergrowth comes with growing pains. On the mobile side, code was becoming harder to maintain, bugs were becoming more frequent and their impact was greater. Having more Engineers distributed across sites led to inconsistent development practices. I turned my focus to solving some of these larger issues like reducing our crashes and bugs, building a consensus on coding standards, and guiding us to a consistent development process to match those of the Ridesharing and Driver applications.
There was a need to build the right processes to keep our quality high, while also scaling for new users—all while moving quickly. I took over the Uber Eats mobile release process in 2016 and founded our mobile engineering design committee, which emphasized awareness of work across teams, leading to increased participation and higher quality feedback.
Over time, this work would require longer timelines and more support across teams, resulting in the creation of the Uber Eats Mobile Platform team that I am a part of today. Our initial focus was on migrating our applications to the same architecture style used by other Uber mobile apps. Today, the focus is on finishing that migration and setting the foundation to better support more lines of business, including Grocery and Pharmacy.”
What has been one of your proudest moments?
“The birth of my child. I’m much prouder of my family members’ accomplishments than any of my own.
Workwise, however, I am very proud of helping build the original Uber Eats application. At that time, I had to work quickly and put in many hours to make it happen. Of course, it couldn’t have happened without such an amazing set of teammates. Watching that first order be placed on the Uber Eats application we wrote was exciting and frightening. It’s not often an Engineer gets to work on something from the beginning and get to watch it grow to this level.”
What are you focused on today?
“Today, I’m focused on supporting updates to the Postmates application based on learnings from Uber Eats. I work to ensure the marketing channels, push notifications, deep linking, and all text strings work across Uber Eats and Postmates.
Once this is finished, I will continue supporting our long-term vision of unifying the architecture of both iOS and Android to make our applications more consistent with the rest of Uber’s mobile architecture. The goal is to make it easier to support adding new lines of business to the application.
This year I became a co-chair of the Los Ubers ERG. In this role, I’ve been focused on the Racial Equality Leadership Council (RELC), collaborating on implementing Uber’s racial diversity commitments. My role, along with other ERG leads, is to represent members of our groups to oversee the implementation of these efforts. And since 2016, I have also contributed to and led recruitment efforts to hire and mentor Latinx Engineering Interns, many of whom have transitioned to full-time employees.
I also participate in the Mobile Ark group, a collection of senior Engineers whose mission is to drive the evolution of Uber’s Engineering culture, processes, practices and systems to be more cohesive, effective, efficient, reliable, stable and sustainable while staying nimble. It’s a great venue to pollinate ideas across the company and receive feedback from a group of knowledgeable and experienced individuals.”
What excites you about the work you do?
“I have never worked with a more impressive team than I have at Uber. I am impressed with the background, knowledge and vision my colleagues demonstrate every day.
I am also fortunate to work under great leadership. They genuinely care about the wellbeing of the team while setting a high standard and taking ownership and responsibility of the business. I am grateful for these individuals guiding and sponsoring me over the years, as they have done for many others.”
What are the most interesting challenges you need to solve?
“Making the Uber Eats application easily adaptable to support new lines of businesses. The application must be built from configurable components—think of them as Legos—that can be reused by any new vertical to support areas we never initially intended to build for. This not only comes with several technical challenges to solve but collaborative ones as well. Getting an Engineering organization with hundreds of Engineers to agree on a path forward while other product work is prioritized is a complex but fun challenge.”
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