(Senior) Machine Learning Engineer, Recommendation Algorithm

  • Tokyo
  • Partial Remote
  • Full-time
  • June 25, 2024
Apply from Anywhere 👍
Relocation to Japan 👍
(Overseas visa sponsorship supported)
Language Requirements
Japanese: Not Required 👍
English: Business Level
Minimum Experience
Senior or above

About SmartNews

SmartNews is a global leader in redefining information and news discovery, committed to providing users with accurate, timely information and supporting quality journalism. We combine the power of our unique machine-learning technology with the expertise of our first-rate editorial team to bring news that matters to millions of users from our over 3,000 global publishing partners.

Founded in 2012 in Tokyo, Japan, SmartNews has offices in Tokyo, San Francisco, Palo Alto, New York, and Singapore.


The Team

The Ranking Team serves as the architect behind the cutting-edge algorithms and systems that power the SmartNews Product. Our scope encompasses a range of surfaces, most notably For You, Push Notifications, Follow Recommendations, Search, ads and so on.

At the core of our mission is the commitment to provide SmartNews users with an unparalleled experience in discovering quality information. Through our intricate algorithms, we curate and present content in a manner that resonates with personalization, fostering engagement and, in turn, bolstering critical business metrics including DAU, revenue, and user engagement.

Our team thrives on the challenge of transforming vast data into actionable insights. We continuously refine and innovate upon our algorithms to ensure that the information presented is not only relevant but also delivered with precision, enriching the user journey and driving SmartNews' competitive edge.

In collaboration with cross-functional teams, we contribute to the seamless integration of our algorithms into various product facets, each designed to enhance user interactions and overall satisfaction. By blending data science, engineering prowess, and a passion for innovation, our team is committed to shaping SmartNews into a trusted and indispensable source of personalized content for millions of users worldwide.



  • Champion machine learning initiatives that drive business growth, conceptualizing and implementing comprehensive end-to-end machine learning frameworks and solutions to elevate our key performance indicators and metrics.
  • Innovate and implement machine learning algorithms, seamlessly integrating rule-based optimization strategies, resulting in tangible enhancements across product metrics for our diverse array of offerings such as ads, feed, push notifications, and follow recommendations.
  • Design, develop, and iterate recommendation and ranking algorithms on predictive models for candidate generation and ranking, including but not limited to building real-time data pipelines, feature engineering, model optimization and innovation.
  • Write robust and efficient server-side production code, contributing to applications that meet the highest standards of reliability and performance.
  • Spearhead the development of tools that empower our machine learning engineers, amplifying their productivity and effectiveness in bringing our solutions to fruition.
  • Lead medium/large sized projects to improve ranking



Minimum requirements

  • 3+ years of experience in designing and implementing machine learning algorithms, and applying them to real world problems
  • Solid Machine Learning background and deep understanding of certain domain of machine learning techniques, especially in recommendation systems, natural language processing
  • Strong software development skills with proven record of shipping changes to production that improved product metrics with machine learning technologies
  • Able to have deep end-to-end understanding of sophisticated ranking systems and can proactively detect problems and make improvement suggestions
  • Good written and spoken communication skills, can work across functional teams
  • Expert coding abilities in multiple programming languages (e.g. Java, C++, Python, Scala)
  • MS or BS in computer science, mathematics, physics or other quantitative fields


Nice to have 

  • Experience relevant to Search/Recommendation/Ads Ranking
  • Experience with cloud based architecture (e.g. Amazon Web Services)
  • Strong interest in news media and our mission



Benefits available at the SmartNews Tokyo Office

  • Lunch and snacks prepared daily in our on-site kitchen facility
  • In-office coffee stand offering single-origin coffees, espresso-based beverages, teas, and other seasonal drinks
  • SmartSelect, our support program for employee self-development, well-being, and productivity
  • All healthcare and social insurance required by the Japanese labor law


Visa Sponsorship and Relocation Support

  • Work visa sponsorship is available for candidates who meet eligibility requirements
  • To support a smooth transition for candidates who are moving to Japan from overseas, SmartNews partners with a travel service provider

Recently crowned Japan's latest tech unicorn, this company runs a wildly successful news service that’s powered by machine learning. It's an engineering-focused company (One of co-founders is an engineer) and they have offices in San Francisco, Palo Alto, Shanghai, Beijing that are apparently doing quite well too.

The mission of SmartNews is to discover and deliver quality stories to the world. Since its inception in 2012, the SmartNews app has been downloaded over 50 million downloads and maintained a monthly active user count of over 20 million.

In addition to being one of the most popular smartphone apps in Japan, SmartNews has worked hard on building their business in the US. They now have partnerships with over 300 major news publications in the US like CBS, Entertainment Weekly, Business Insider, National Geographic and more. They’ve had a great deal of success due to their ML-based sorting and recommendation systems.

SmartNews has a highly diverse development team with many world-class engineers and others working from their offices in Japan,China and the US. They maintain a very strict hiring bar for technical hires and an engineering-driven culture that makes them one of the strongest tech companies in Japan when it comes to technical skill level.

SmartNews is looking to hire the best people regardless of background, so they’re willing to hire people that don’t speak Japanese and (under normal circumstances) bring them to Japan from overseas if necessary. Everyone works together as one team regardless of location, and SmartNews provides everything their employees need to do their best work and maintains a Silicon Valley-inspired culture for engineers in Tokyo.

SmartNews's policies during COVID-19 are as follows:

  • All interviews are being conducted remotely
  • Employees are working remotely following the government’s instructions
  • They've given everyone some monetary incentive to support working from home
View SmartNews's company page

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