You’ve heard about Expensify’s culture, right?  Well if you have, you surely know about our legendary, annual “Offshore” trips. In short, Expensify works abroad for an entire month together, because why not?!  The purpose and goal being not only an opportunity to see another part of this beautiful world, but also come together as a team and focus on what we are doing, where we are going and most importantly, why.  Last year we went to Croatia and this is what work looked like for a month:

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As you can imagine, we’ve missed it terribly and cooked up an incredible idea to ease the longing. Why not take Offshore, onshore?  We live in arguably one of the most beautiful cities in the US, and San Francisco has a plethora of colorful neighborhoods that we could really settle into and enjoy for a day of work outside the office.  Offshore/ Onshore would take place in the North Beach neighborhood (fondly referred to as “Little Italy” and closely associated with the Beat Generation celebs like Kerourac and Ginsberg).

It happened to be a rainy day, but that didn’t stop us!  We explored the best cafes, had the fanciest of caffeinated beverages, and got to know North Beach a tiny bit better than we did before.

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It wouldn’t be a proper “Offshore” without a proper hoppy brew.  Following a sales meeting, a few of us decided to finish off our workday at the world-renowned, historic Vesuvio Cafe (across the alleyway from the infamous “City Lights Bookstore” and home to the aforementioned Beat celebs).  Nothing tastes better than a frosty beer amongst your coworkers and heroes (beat poets), except perhaps the beer in Croatia!

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The night officially ended with a beautiful Team/Family Dinner.

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As we brought the day to a close with a round of limoncello shots, we declared Onshore a success and an instant tradition.

Want to get in on our excellent and original traditions? Apply on our Jobs page.

DefibrillatorYou’ve likely already heard about the “Heartbleed” security vulnerability affecting thousands of websites and millions of servers worldwide.  I just wanted to share some quick notes here to address any questions you might have about how this affects Expensify:

  • All data is secure.  We’ve had no indication that this vulnerability has affected any users in any way.
  • All public servers are secure.  We’ve done a complete audit of all public webservers and confirmed that they do not have this vulnerability.
  • All private servers have been secured.  We did find one private monitoring server experiencing this vulnerability, but it does not host any customer data, nor is it accessed by customers.  Regardless, it has been shut down and will be secured before being restarted.
  • The https://www.expensify.com certificate has been renewed.  Even though there was no indication of any wrongdoing by anybody, just to eliminate even the possibility of security risk we’ve replaced our primary HTTPS certificate.

In summary, all is well, and will remain so.  Incidentally, while on the topic of security, let me remind you what we do and share some new details:

  1. PCI-DSS.  Everything we do complies with the Payment Card Industry, Data Security Standard.  This is the “gold standard” for security, created by Visa and MasterCard, and the official security standard used by banks and financial services worldwide.
  2. SSAE 16 SOC 1 Type II.  It’s a mouthful, but we’re undergoing a comprehensive audit of all internal systems and controls.  Most companies won’t care about this, but it’s important to our larger and publicly-traded customers.
  3. External security audit.  Even before this went down, we’ve engaged an outside security firm to do a “deep dive” on our internal security design, as well as do “white hat” analysis and scanning of our systems to verify that they’re implemented correctly.

Security is at the very heart of everything we do.  We think of it continuously, so you won’t need to.

This is where I live.

This is where I live.

I work for the best Silicon Valley Start-up, Expensify.  I also live right off the shore of the largest body of fresh water, Lake Superior.  Most importantly though, I’m helping to bring Silicon Valley to the area I love and much-needed jobs along with it.

In January of 2013, I was approached by another employee of Expensify that lived in the same area as I did.  He wanted to bring jobs to Northern Wisconsin and Upper Michigan.  He had been experimenting with three people for a couple of weeks to see if it was a viable option to staff a midwest workforce alongside our international team we already had in place and still stay cost-effective. These jobs could be seen as basic data entry positions easily trained to anyone with minor computer knowledge, but there is a growing amount of complexity as Expensify moves more into the global market and receives data from around the world to process for our clients.  The best part, the agents could work from home!  He was also looking into the possibility of bringing entry-level developer jobs to the area.  Where did I fit into all that?  He needed someone to help get it all started, maintain, and manage it.

At the time I was running my own computer repair business full-time out of my home and did contracted computer IT for local businesses.  After hearing his initial pitch about Expensify and what his vision was for the area, I was sold.  When you live in a town with a population of under 6,000 people, and don’t want to move out to Silicon Valley, you never really think you would get a chance to work for a San Francisco based tech start-up.  So, I started working for Expensify as an independent contractor, slowing building a data entry workforce, training them on the work in person and then allowing them to work from home after that.

Fast forward a year.  I’m now a full-time member of the Expensify team and Expensify has brought over 30 jobs to the area and is still expanding!  Exploring more than just data entry jobs too.  How about some Help/Support Email Agents and some more entry-level developer jobs?  We’re looking to utilize an area and its population that most companies never think about.  Even better: we’re still staying cost-effective despite previously relying on a solely international-based workforce as our local employees have shown to be extremely accurate and efficient. This in turn pushes our international team to higher standards increasing performance across the board.

It’s extremely exciting to be a part of a company that is willing to bring Silicon Valley to an area that only hears about it from the news.  But the best part is to see the expression on people’s faces when I tell them that I live in Northern Wisconsin, but I work for a San Francisco based company.  It always leads to awesome conversations.

In a few weeks, Expensify will be releasing a brand new version of our QuickBooks Online integration. This complete overhaul was built to be faster, more stable, and so much easier to use.

Here’s a brief overview of the new features that will be part of this integration:

  • Vastly simplified connection setup: configure the policy once and export your reports to QBO without having to specify which accounts to export to, or export type, etc.
  • Billable flags are now passed from Expensify to QBO
  • Classes and locations now import as report fields in Expensify
  • Export preferences can be configured based on expense type (reimbursable vs. non-reimbursable)
  • Employee and vendor records automatically match to the Expensify report submitter.
  • Connect your Expensify policy to QBO in two clicks.

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The QBO connection configuration dialog

 

Additional features, like tax support and export date configuration, are already planned and will be added in the future.

This new integration is currently in a closed beta test. If you would like to take part in this beta, simply email jason@expensify.com and specify that you would like to be able to test the new QuickBooks Online integration.

Thanks, we can’t wait for this to go live!

Now that you have Expensify, those Sundays spent crafting crude paper expense reports (with receipts taped to the back) are a thing of the past, and perhaps you’re on the lookout for additional timesavers. I forward my emailed receipts to receipts@expensify.com to get them into my account, which is super convenient. But what if I could take it a step further, and didn’t even have to forward them in the first place? Here’s how to do that using Expensify & IFTTT (If This Then That). First, login to your free IFTTT account and select “Create a Recipe”.

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I used an old family recipe, passed down through many generations

Click “this” and define the first statement (IF I receive an email from auto-confirm@amazon.com).

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Since I use Gmail, I selected it as the channel for the triggering action. Then I entered the email address that’s been emailing me all these receipts. Now it’s time to create the triggered action.

Again, select Gmail from the list of triggers but this time enter the forwarding address and you’re done!

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This recipe sends receipts from Amazon to your Expensify account. With automatic SmartScanning enabled, Expensify will automatically match the receipt to its better half (the corresponding credit card expense). To illustrate, let’s say I make a reimbursable purchase from Amazon using my phone while at lunch. When I log into Expensify later and click on the Amazon expense I’ll see the image above. Receipt already attached and ready to add to a report! Even better, you can use this for any emailed receipt (airlines, rental cars, department stores etc.). If you’d like to use this recipe, here it is. You just saved yourself even more time – now go do something great with it!

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Already matched! SmartScan’s matching magic

At the Expensify World Headquarters, you’ll often hear some employees talking about curling and it’s not always referring to the bash command.  Sometimes, we’re talking about the ice sport.  And to clarify, when I say “some employees” I mean me.  I started curling about a year ago and I’ve been annoying my coworkers about it ever since.  I recently took some Expensifiers curling to show them how awesome it is.

Old school curling Our story begins in the 1500s, in a faraway land called Scotland, where the same quarry has been used to create the 42 lb stones.

Nowadays we play indoors (mostly) on pebbled ice, so it’s not the ice skating ice you’re used to. To give you an idea of what pebbled ice is like, imagine the once smooth ice has the topographic profile of an orange rind.  This helps to reduce friction between the ice and rock, making it easier for the rock (and player), to slide along the ice. This also makes it surprisingly easier to move on the ice.

The heroes of our story, Mike and Matt, had to first learn how to throw the stone, then sweep, and lastly compete in a curling match to the death (not really).

They couldn’t play alone – a curling team requires four people.  Each teammate throws two stones in a row, alternating each stone with the opposing team.

Our brave skip, Mike, is the team’s mastermind behind this “end” – an end is curling’s version of an inning.  He decides where Matt should aim the rock and how hard it should be thrown.
He also tells the sweepers when to sweep to ensure that it reaches its destination.

delivery

The play is up to Mike.  Will he call it so the rock glides into the house? Does he want to put up a guard stone to protect the stones that are in play? Or will the rock be thrown with such power that it eliminates an opponent’s rock from play?

Mike sets his broom on the ice, giving Matt a target at which to aim.  Matt fearlessly eases into the hack, ensuring his shoulders are square to the broom.  He slides out, lunging forwards on the ice, staring intently at his target. The moment before he releases the rock he applies a gentle turn to the handle, imparting the signature “curl”.

The sweepers walk alongside the rock, judging the speed of the rock and calling out to the skip whether they think it looks fast or slow. Mike drops to one knee, eyeing the rock’s trajectory, ready to urge the sweepers into action if needed. “SWEEP, SWEEP, SWEEEEEP” Mike yells.  The sweepers begin vigorously sweeping.  The sweeping generates heat, reducing the friction and preventing the rock from losing its momentum.

They pick up their speed to keep up with rock.  While sweeping they must ensure that they don’t hit the stone with their broom. The sweepers also need to avoid colliding with any of the other stones that are scattered on the ice.

sweeping

“Whoa, Whoa, OFF, Whoa” Mike yells, the stone’s current trajectory is exactly what he wants. The sweepers look up and take their brooms off the ice.  They continue to walk besides the stone, ready to start sweeping again if Mike calls for it.

The stone slows down, coming to its resting place in the the blue circle in the house (the concentric circles on the ice).

The end is over and there are four stones in the house.  Three yellow ones, and one blue one.

Only one team can score an end.  So how did our heroes do?

They rocked it! (See what I did there?)

The team with the rock closest to the button (the center of the house) gets a point for each stone that’s in the house and closer to the button than their opponent’s nearest stone. Mike and Matt’s yellow stones are lying two.  This means that the two yellow stones are between the button and the closest opponent’s stone, the blue stone.  The third yellow stone lies beyond the blue stone and does not count.

Our heroes score two points this end.  They maintain this lead for the other 7 ends in the match and leave the ice champions.

Like after any proper curling match, they walk off the ice and into the bar.  Winning the game means they owe their opponents a round of drinks.

Here at Expensify, our team is as diverse as they come. One thing we have in common is that we absolutely love what we do. So much so that we oftentimes find ourselves practicing our passion for building even when not using our powers to make users happy.

You know that phenomenon- the spillover of creative energies that is manifest in the form of side projects: those small unexpected products that arise from weekends of pleasurable hacking and challenge seeking.

The benefits of having such side projects are well established. The plethora of blog posts out there usually have these oft-repeated, but sound points:

  1. Staying on Top of New Ideas in the Industry, a.k.a Employability
  2. Refreshing old skills
  3. Participating in a community – Open Source, Non-profits
  4. ???
  5. Profit!

Indeed, given the rate of ideas coming forth in our fast paced industry, we should not find ourselves taking sledgehammers to our helpless workstations, like these Luddites:

Hammertime!

Let’s switch the perspective a bit: Sure, personal, professional development is great, but what does all this mean for a team?

With those previous benefits in mind, I contend that the collective health and culture of a group can be accurately judged by the side projects of its members.

From the perspective of a prospective candidate, these projects provide windows through which they can evaluate the nature of the team that they are seeking to join, for they usually have the following questions:

  1. Do members of the team take the initiative to explore new ideas and better themselves?
  2. Do they play with and familiarize themselves to new ideas so that they are never disrupted by new technologies?
  3. Do they provide opportunities for one to learn from the team, and for one to be introduce to new ideas and networks?
  4. Are they fun? Do they express creativity and their personality through their work outside of work?
  5. Are they individuals who are passionate in what they do, and seek to solve problems outside of their main focus?

These are crucial questions that are answered in the affirmative by the team’s side projects. Evaluating those works help a candidate decide if the team is a cultural and professional fit. A group, with a vibrant culture that could hardly contain itself, shows its character through such avenues.

Below you’ll find a selection of side projects from our own awesome team.  Some coworkers are a bit shy, and many of us have unfinished projects hanging around, but the collection reveals a candid cross-section. Without further ado, here are a few things we’ve done:

Whenopedia

http://www.whenopedia.org/ by Philip Sharp

This well-polished tool allows you to pull up snapshots of Wikipedia articles for a specific date and time. Now, you can read up on your shows without fear of spoilers!

Whenopedia

Samples

http://appstore.com/giorgiocalderolla/samples by Giorgio Calderolla

An audio sampler for your iOS device…

Add sound effects, loops, mix samples into your music, and much, much more!

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BPM Lover

http://bpmlover.com/ by Lois Di Qual

Tempo extraction technology right in your browser. The future is here!

bpmlover

CJK Typesetting

http://type.fernjager.net/ by Robert J Chen

Here’s a one-weekend experiment with Go and SQlite for a pastebin-type editor for East Asian characters.

CJK Typesetter

Fun with R

David Barrett, our CEO, has been tinkering with R with data from our massive dataset.
RViz

From this limited selection, one can see that we’re quite the motley crew of hackers, with diverse interests in music, media, and foreign languages! If you liked what you’ve seen here, come join our eclectic team: http://we.are.expensify.com/why-work-here