Gamers and Techies Will Find Happiness Here

by Jobbatical July 18, 2017

Playtech created a global gaming empire from a small university town in Estonia.

The small university town of Tartu is Estonia’s intellectual heart. The town’s official motto — “City of good thoughts” — is a nod to the youthful and creative atmosphere it’s known for. Set along the beautiful Emajõgi River, the city is a thriving hub for artists and students giving it a uniquely creative vibe. Not to be outdone by the more well-known capital of Estonia, Tallinn, Tartu is also home to a thriving and supported startup scene with many key tech players beginning there.

Tartu City Center

Rising like the country of its birth, Playtech burst onto the scene in 1999, not long after Estonia had established itself as a newly independent country and the internet was still in dial-up mode. And while Estonia has made itself into a 24/7 digital economy, Playtech developed an IMS (Information Management System) allowing an integrated gaming network via the internet.

As the world’s biggest player in online gaming software, these pioneers of the entertainment industry allow gamers to play anywhere, anytime, with one wallet on any kind of devices through a unique interface with the internet and live gaming sites.

This globally recognized platform hails from the small university town of Tartu, Estonia, population 97,000. Two students had a dream of developing games online and owning their own company. From a founding team of 3, they’ve grown to 5,000 people with offices in 17 different locations worldwide.

Playtech offices

What’s their secret sauce? Diversity. Not only diversity in hiring and global scale but also in a broad spectrum of technologies, client platforms, content development and cutting-edge embedded systems. While they’ve grown they’ve also maintained a sustainable growth structure with over 100 employees who’ve worked at the company for over ten years (and they work in Estonia). This core is what makes the company stable yet nimble enough to try new technologies and branch out into new opportunities.

Playtech Estonia’s offices, together with offices in Bulgaria and Ukraine, are the main development centers. In Estonia, Playtech has 650 employees, with 150 in the Tallinn office and 500 in Tartu. This makes them probably the biggest software development company in the country. Their software supports hundreds of millions of online transactions daily and has won numerous industry awards.

As an engineer, you’ll have the opportunity to work on a broad spectrum of technologies used in their solutions and products, including server and cloud technologies, client platforms (iOS, Android, HTML5, JS, PHP, etc.), content development, cutting-edge embedded systems, and much more. You’ll also have the opportunity to work on an award-winning global platform with room to grow.

If you’re considering Tartu for your next career move, we have some insider information for you from the folks at Playtech.

Want to explore the town? Here’s what to do first. Take a selfie in front of the Kissing Students fountain.

The “Kissing Students” in Tartu

Next, walk around the center to view the beautifully preserved historic town and its classically designed 18th-century buildings. St John’s church, unique in Europe due to its almost 1,000 terracotta figures, is among the highlights.

Other sites to see in town include the Main Building of the University of Tartu, an outstanding example of classicist architecture in Estonia. On Toome Hill nearby, you’ll find the historical ruins of Tartu Cathedral, which houses the University of Tartu Museum, as well as the Old Observatory and the Devil’s and Angel’s Bridges. These are all part of the rich history of one of the oldest universities in the Nordic region, founded in 1632. This unique architectural ensemble has also earned the European Heritage label.

Visit the most modern museum in Scandinavia — the Estonian National Museum which opened its doors in October 2016. The 34,000-square-metre museum is the largest in the Baltic States.

Estonian National Museum

Or just stroll down the streets of Supilinn (‘Soup town’) and Karlova that take us back to another time, with all the cozy backyards, greenery and picket fences reminiscent of life in the previous century.

Tips on the best of Tartu:

Best cakes in town: One MUST visit Cafe Werner (or it’s smaller brother Cafe Gastro Gustav) to enjoy the best cakes in town! The choice and taste will blow your mind.

Best expat bar: Head to Möku or Naiiv. These hipster bars are packed when the university is in session (especially in September-October).

Best locals bar: Head to Möku, Aparaat or Naiiv, Barlova. These hipster-like bars are almost always full. The first two offer also great food with a great price!

Best places to go for a long weekend trip: Tartu is located in beautiful Southern Estonia, offering endless opportunities for weekend getaways. Some options: Otepää and Pühajärve (especially in the winter, with many skiing options, saunas, snowboarding in Kuutsemäe, etc.), visit different manors and castles nearby (e.g. Alatskivi Castle), go to the nature reserve, on a canoe trip or visit nearby beautiful towns (Viljandi, Võru, Elva). Even the capital of Estonia, Tallinn, is not far from Tartu for a weekend getaway — only a 2–2.5 hour drive by train, bus or car.

Alatskivi Castle

Best event in Tartu: Twice a year (Spring and Fall) Student Days organizes different competitions and events.

In the summertime, festivals like the Hanseatic Days (a Renaissance fair-like event celebrating the city’s illustrious past) and Tartuff (an outdoor love film festival that turns the Town Hall Square into the largest outdoor cinema in the Baltics) fill the city.

Tartu is a river town

Favorite lunch spots close to Playtech: The office is situated in the heart of the city center and there are numerous restaurants and lunch places to pick from. Many places offer lunch specials on workdays and prices vary from 3–5 EUR per course.

Best nightclubs: Vabank, Maasikas, Illusion. Great place for cocktails: Meat Market.

Another great thing about Tartu: You can walk almost everywhere within 15 minutes and Tartu also has an airport with a direct flight to Helsinki, another great place to visit in Scandinavia. There’s plenty to explore in this beautiful part of the world!

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