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Prelude Ventures
Prelude Ventures

Head of Software Engineering



Software Engineering
Oakland, CA, USA
Posted on Wednesday, September 27, 2023

We are looking for a software leader who is motivated by making a meaningful, positive impact on society through the technology they create. Large scale commercial aviation is automating and electrifying as we speak, and Pyka is at the forefront. The Head of Software Engineering will take the reins on the software stack behind the world’s most rapidly scaling fleet of autonomous electric aircraft and transform an early stage product into a massively scalable platform. This role is an opportunity to lead a high performing team with a proven track record and see your mission, and Pyka’s, through to exceptional growth and positive impact. If this is what you’re craving — read on!

First a note from Kyle:

Hello! My name is Kyle Moore. I am one of the four co-founders of Pyka and have led the software team over the past seven years -- from early styrofoam prototype aircraft to two certified products deployed in four countries. In that time we’ve gone from a Python script that did basic PID control on a remote control plane, to a full custom flight controller running bare metal on an ARM-FPGA SoC capable of flying a 1,400 lb plane on some of the most complex commercial aviation missions.

Leading the software team at Pyka has been by far the most interesting, rewarding, and challenging undertaking of my career. Working on a product like this with a company that has as strong and as positive of a culture as Pyka’s is a once-in-a-career opportunity. I’m at the point in my career where I’d like to hand over the reins on leading the software team to an exceptional leader and engineer who is ready to guide the team through our next phase of growth. I’ll continue to be deeply involved with the team, but will focus primarily on technical work (low level systems work in particular) as well as technical mentorship. I’m looking forward to meeting you!

What You’ll Do

In this role, you will lead Pyka’s Software Engineering team to develop the custom software running on our autonomous flight controller, ground control station, and embedded systems. You will report directly to the company’s CEO.

Some examples of projects the software team is currently working on:

  • Integrating an LTE/SATCOM-based command and control link for beyond line of sight aircraft operations.
  • Real-time sense and avoid of other aircraft based on fusing (e.g.,) ADS-B and sensor readings.
  • Life-long mapping of operation areas using LIDAR (e.g., detecting out-of-date maps, partial re-mapping, etc.)
  • High-power custom BLDC motor controller firmware.
  • End-to-end automated testing/simulation (including hardware-in-the-loop) of our full flight controller.
  • Optimizing path planning for minimum energy consumption and flight time in complex environments.

About Pyka

Pyka’s goal is to provide society with a new form of fast, environmentally friendly, and accessible transportation enabled by autonomous electric aviation.

To get there, we’re taking a different approach than most. We're applying our technologies to every industry where electric aircraft can be useful, starting with the highest value and most dangerous jobs. In doing so, we're building useful, game-changing products manufactured at scale, while perfecting the safety, reliability, and capabilities of our autonomy engine and electric propulsion systems.

Today, we supply our aircraft to agricultural service providers and farmers as an autonomous tool that makes aerial crop protection safer, more targeted and less harmful to surrounding environments. Our vehicles are highly economical to operate and easy to deploy. What you work on at Pyka makes people’s lives better now and brings the future of electric aviation one-step closer each day.

We design, develop and manufacture an ecosystem of technologies including proprietary flight control software, avionics, high power density motors, motor controllers, batteries, and custom carbon-fiber composite airframes.

We foster a welcoming community within our company that promotes experimentation, asking questions, making simple solutions to complex problems, and expressing different views and opinions. We are a transparent company both internally and externally and do not believe in operating in “stealth mode.” Lastly, we don’t work 60 hour weeks, and don’t expect you to either. In this role you will have a great deal of responsibility, earn a competitive salary and benefits, and contribute to the development of groundbreaking technology.


  • Manage a team of Software Engineers (currently 7 people), including their career growth and professional development.

  • Manage the day-to-day priorities of software team members.

  • Develop and implement processes to ensure the overall quality and safety of our software (especially safety-critical software) remains exceptionally high.

  • Manage incoming bugs and feature requests and ensure they are efficiently prioritized, resolved/implemented, tested, and deployed.

  • Work closely with the flight testing team to identify, prioritize, and solve problems from the field.

  • Work closely with other teams to ensure the software team goals are properly aligned with the rest of the company.

  • Hire new Software Engineers and grow the team.

  • Proactively identify roadblocks for the software team and work to remove them.

Preferred Qualifications

  • 5+ years of experience managing a software team

  • Experience writing software for physical or robotic systems, especially safety critical software

  • Experience managing complex projects with competing priorities

  • Strong technical and problem solving skills and the ability to mentor junior engineers

  • Strong working knowledge of modern C++

  • Degree in Software Engineering or related field

Company Perks

  • $170,000–$240,000 per year base salary + equity. Compensation will vary depending on location, job-related knowledge, skills, and experience. Salary ranges are subject to change.

  • Employer-sponsored health, dental and vision insurance, FSA with employer matching, and 401(k)

  • Paid time off, company holidays, and parental leave

  • Free catered lunch and plenty of snacks

Export Control Requirements

This position requires access to technology, software and other information that is subject to governmental access control restrictions, due to export controls. Employment in this position is conditioned on the continued availability of government authorization to authorize release of such items, to the extent required, including without limitation an export license, or other documentation required to establish authorization to receive access to such items.

Company may delay commencement of employment, rescind an offer of employment, terminate employment, and/or may modify job responsibilities, compensation, benefits, and/or access to Company facilities and information systems, as Company deems appropriate, in order to ensure compliance with applicable government access control restrictions.