While thinking of fun, creative projects that would also WOW our customers, software engineer Carlos had the AMAZING idea of integrating Expensify with Silicon Valley’s newest darling, Yo.

The 411:

To set it up, go to Settings > Connections.

Scroll down until you see the Yo integration, and enter your username before pressing ‘Connect’.

Expensify & YO! integration

Voila, you’re all set!

After connecting, you’ll get Yo’d as soon as you get reimbursed.

Why Integrate with Yo?

People want to be notified when they’re reimbursed. Yo is a simple communication system that works perfectly in context. Once Yo opened their API, an Expensify integration was a no-brainer.

Have a question? Email us at help@expensify.com or give us a shout-out on Twitter!
Cloud Computing

With ambient services, companies will be able to predict where you’re headed, before you get there.

This is a pretty popular topic, and since I’ve been asked this question a lot, I wanted to share my thoughts on paper.

The future of cloud computing is what I would call “ambient services.” What this looks like in real life: over time, cloud services will look less like Google Search, and more like Google Now.

The Cloud – Past, Present, Future

Stepping back, the evolution of computing can be summarized as an inexorable trend away from systems “reacting” to your input and more toward systems “proactively” anticipating your needs. The original mainframe systems were “time-sharing” and only had time to answer one question for one person at a time, in tiny slices. Desktop computers gave their full attention to a single user, but only so long as they were powered on and you were sitting in front of it. Cloud services gave rise to 24/7 services catering to your needs, and then mobile made these services accessible everywhere.

From these services, I believe the next step in that evolution are services so pervasive, so aware, and so reliable that you simply forget they’re there. They’re not some “cloud service” operating somewhere far away; they’re “ambient services” that surround and assist you continuously.

Apple vs. Google: The Past

In an ideal world, Siri would already know. Photo credits: Apple

In an ideal world, Siri would already know.
Photo credits: Apple

Siri was the first serious attempt at creating an ambient service; inspirational in its vision but falling short due to a lack of context. On the other hand, Google used its massive trove of information to create Google Now, the first truly ambient service. Google Now has so much latent awareness — of what you are doing, what you’ve done in the past, and what you’re likely to do in the future — that it doesn’t need to wait for you to ask it a question; it anticipates and resolves your needs before you know you have it.

Apple vs. Google: The Present

The problem with ambient services is that very, very few people can do them right. Google succeeded where Apple has failed (and continues to fail) because of data. Apple has by far the best user experience, making it fast, easy, and fun to find the correct button to press to accomplish what you want. In contrast, Google Now has no buttons, it’s just there. Google Now doesn’t need to ask you to press any buttons, because it already knows what button you would press — so why even show it?

Apple vs. Google: The Future

Pre-ambient systems like Apple will continuously get ever more complex, because more functionality means more and more buttons. However, ambient services like Google Now will get ever simpler: the more the service knows, the better it can anticipate your needs, and the fewer questions it will need to ask you to do *more* for you.

Who Will Lead the Charge?

So if “ambient services” are the next big thing, who will lead the charge? Google, obviously, but who else? I’d look to any service accumulating a trove of valuable data so massive and boring that nobody would pay attention to it otherwise.

Take search for example. Today we see search as “obviously” the most valuable real estate on the internet, but it wasn’t at all obvious when Google started. Recall that Google was the 25th search engine, launched when Yahoo dominated the skyline. Google didn’t even attempt to compete in the public search engine space and instead was focused on enterprise search appliances (a business model that failed spectacularly, by the way). They couldn’t raise money, and couldn’t sell the company, not for even $1M.

It was only in desperation that Google was forced to see what we now realize is obvious: an individual’s search history for tells us an enormous amount about their past preferences, their current concerns, and their future needs. This realization led not just to AdWords, but to a company built on data aggregation and normalization — a company that scours the internet (and the physical world) for anything it can possibly learn, indexing it for easy access, and offering it back to the user at a keystroke. That in itself is why Google would be the first to develop a true ambient service as they’re the only ones with enough data and awareness to pull it off.

What’s Next?

As for who does it next, clearly other search engines will follow suit. However, none of them currently know more than Google, so none can really hope to compete with Google Now. Rather, you need to find someone who is aggregating and normalizing vast sums of previously inaccessible data — data that Google isn’t indexing — and presenting it back to the user for action wherever they are: at home, at their desk, and on the road.

As you can imagine, I feel my own space is a pretty good candidate for ambient services. We’re working hard to make that future come true, but I’m sure we’re not alone. Regardless, somebody’s going to crack ambient services – probably several parties – and optimize it for different contexts based on the ambient awareness those parties have already obtained. Whether in a few months or a few years, who can say, but someday soon we’re going to look back on today’s cloud services in the quaint way we look at yesterday’s desktop applications.

Personally, I can’t wait.

Upper peninsula michigan waterfall

Can’t wait to explore places like these in person!

It’s finally happening!

After forming a small team almost 18 months ago in the Upper Peninsula (aka the UP, aka the yoop), the SF team will be flying up to Ironwood for a week to experience the beautiful Upper Peninsula with our other half. From August 18 – 22nd, Expensify will be shaking things up in Ironwood with both crews, meeting the local community, and enjoying the beautiful outdoors.

There’s no better time than now for the entire team to meet face-to-face; in July alone, we grew more than 26%, doubling our marketing (from 1 to 2!) and success (4 to 8!) teams, and adding lots of new people to the sales and engineering teams as well. As a result, this will be the first time for many on both teams to meet one another, so this trip couldn’t have been planned at a better time!

Among the many things we’ll be doing while we’re up there, we’re excited to be hosting a casual job fair/happy hour at Tacconelli’s on Tuesday, August 19th.

Expensify Job Fair Happy Hour UP Michigan

Swing by, bring a friend or two, and come hang out with us!

In previous Expensify blog posts you may have heard us refer to WOW Fridays. Every Friday at Expensify we allow our engineers the freedom to work on projects of their choosing, that aren’t necessarily part of our immediate product roadmap. We do this in order to allow them to exercise their creative freedom with the benefit that we end up with some really cool additions to the product. Well, the latest product of WOW Fridays is here: Report Comments! Major props to our engineer Florent for whipping this up.

Comment directly on expense reports

When you scroll to the bottom of an expense report in Expensify, you will now notice that the “Report History” section has been re-branded as “Report History & Comments”. In this section, anyone that can view the expense report can comment on it, without having to leave Expensify.

Report History and Comments

 

Email notifications

Whenever someone comments on a report, the people that are shared on the report will get an email notification along with the comment. This makes it easy and efficient for employees, approvers, and admins to communicate about expenses.

Report Comments Email

Hopefully, this helps make your expense reporting process suck even less. As always, let us know what you think!

As part of the Webucator Tips series, we’re excited to share this power tip to current QuickBooks students. Read, share, and drop some knowledge!

When we first meet a potential Expensify user, the first thing we typically ask is, “How do you do your expense reports?” and “What accounting software do you use?”

Okay, so that’s actually two questions, but it’s hard to ask the first question without following up with the second. If you’ve ever had a hand in either, it’s easy to guess that expense reporting and accounting are intricately linked.

Companies use QuickBooks or similar accounting software to track employee expenses and reimburse them, along with their salary, directly from QuickBooks. But with QuickBooks’ less-than-intuitive functionality, it takes time to set up an expense reporting system in the software, and users typically end up entering each expense in manually by typing them up one by one. Do yourself a solid and avoid all that nonsense by integrating Expensify into your QuickBooks accounting! With tons of customization options, bi-directional integration, and flexible policies, you’ll be glad you did.

Customize, Customize, Customize!

Customization

These jeans aren’t for everyone…

Every company has different needs, and that’s why we’re so big on customization. Once users finished compiling an expense report, they can also customize the way a report is exported. For example, reimbursable expenses can be exported automatically as a check and non-reimbursable expenses as a credit card bill. You can take it a step further by customizing the integration if you have needs outside our traditional export method.

Bi-Directional Integration

Bi-directional integration between QBO and Expensify means that you can pull and push all sorts of valuable information from QBO. Sync categories, tags, report fields, and more to make sure everyone is on the same page. Easy as 1, 2, 3!

Flexible Policies

With categories, tags, and other data fields, you have the flexibility to customize your expense report policies for different groups of employees. Create and set any number of rules to any one group and adjust exposure to each policy as needed.

Power Up Your Accounting Capabilities

QuickBooks can be a powerful tool if you know how to use it. In the name of saving time and to avoid any hair pulling, do yourself a favor by integrating your QuickBooks Online with Expensify today. Take it from this guy, it’s worth it.

Need some help with implementation? Feel free to email us at help@expensify.com with your questions!

ToDoList

You don’t need a functional tattoo to stay organized

With so many tools and apps that claim to increase organization or productivity, how do we find out which tools will actually help and not hinder our workflow? At Expensify, our approach is to keep it simple; forget the apps and stick to what’s tried and true. Here are a few core principles that help us stay productive; try them out and let us know what you think!

1) Avoid Complicated Tools.  

Nothing wastes time like “saving time” by adopting complex project management tools. Tools aren’t the problem: people are. Just create a shared to-do list that you re-prioritize continuously, and focus everybody on starting at the top and working their way down. Nobody will ever get to the bottom, but that’s just life.

What you need: Google Docs, whiteboard, IdeaPaint, something that can help you visualize, flexibly.

2) Prioritize, Don’t Schedule.  

Schedules assume stable priorities and accurate estimates, neither of which are ever true. Accordingly, the only way to reliably meet hard commitments is to wildly pad the schedule, which is wasteful and frustrating for everyone. Instead, just accept things will get done when they get done.

Helpful to your success: A company culture that minimizes commitments and focuses on raw productivity on ever-shifting priorities.

3) Trust You’ll Remember the Important Things

all you need to stay organized is a pen and paper

Say hi to your new best friend

Continuing from the last point, nothing is more stress inducing that an enormous list of incomplete tasks that will likely never be finished. Rather, start every day with a blank sheet of paper and write down the most important things you need to get done — only look back at previous days if you run out of ideas (which rarely happens).

What you need: pen and paper, or a marker if you’re feeling fancy.

4) The Productivity Myth

Companies everywhere have somehow bought into the idea that more hours means higher productivity when studies actually show the opposite. Instead, build time in your day, week, life to rest and relax. Decide how much of your life you want to devote to work, work that much, and then stop. Nothing makes your time off more enjoyable than confidence that you’ve done right by your entrepreneurial ambitions and truly earned the rest. This is also a fantastic way to set work/life expectations with your spouse, but even better for resisting the urge to work yourself to death.

What to do: Record how many hours you work a day in a spreadsheet, then add it up on a weekly basis to make sure you’re basically hitting your target.

Tried these out, or have productivity tips of your own? We’d love to hear from you!

Our team is like one big, happy family, so every new hire means welcoming another member to the Expensify family. In July alone, the Expensify team grew a crazy 26%, bringing the total number of full-time employees from 24 people in January to our current number at 45.

Expensify Hiring, Team Update, Announcements

The Breakdown

In the last few weeks, we grew our team by a total of 9 people: 4 in sales, 4 in engineering, and 1 in marketing. In August, we’ll be adding another 4 people who will be working remotely from the Upper Peninsula in Michigan.

Why the sudden ramp up?

Truth be told, we’re pretty picky about who we hire. We extend offers to candidates who can resonate with and thrive in our culture, but who can also get shit done. As a result, we sometimes extend an offer to those who can’t start immediately, and we work with them to figure out an ideal situation for both parties. In other cases, the right person came along at the right time, just as we were thinking about creating a new role. More than that however, we’re flooded with hundreds of inbound leads a day. As a result, we’ve purposefully grown the sales team to meet demand, well, because we need it!

Now, Onward!

Things are changing quickly now that we’re close to the big five-oh. More colleagues means expanding our space, even including a work space inspired by the window counter at Peet’s Coffee. We’ve implemented new software for on boarding new hires. We’re ramping up for our biggest offshore ever in September, but not before a trip up to the Upper Peninsula in Michigan to meet the other half of the team in mid-August.

Most of all, we’re excited to welcome everyone into the family and expose them to San Francisco. From Giants games to local hikes and then some, you can be sure that things will get real cozy, real fast here in the next few months.