There are no shortage of challenges and problems running a startup, but by far the most difficult of all is hiring. Attracting, retaining, and inspiring truly excellent people is the lifeblood of any startup, and Expensify is no exception. But what I think is exceptional about Expensify is our commitment to maintaining and even raising the bar on hiring as the company grows.
That might not sound exceptional. Indeed, it might even sound cliché. But make no mistake: despite how easy it is to make this claim, it’s very difficult to actually put it into practice. It’s so difficult that I’ve never actually seen it done before. Every previous company I’ve ever worked at (and all those I know anything about) take a different turn:
- Start out as an amazing startup full of incredible people
- Achieve a meaningful scale
- Raise a ton of money
- Hire an outside management team
- They hire a bunch of not incredible people
- The company gets acquired or goes public
- The product stagnates
- The best people quit
- Goto 1
The only company I know decently well that might buck that trend is Atlassian: that company seems full of amazing people who just keep getting more amazing. But otherwise, it seems nearly every company follows the above rulebook with varying levels of success — with “success” ultimately equating to “becoming the thing you despise”.
And at all stages in that path, the company still says “We hire the best! We are the best!” so much that every company — regardless of the quality of their team — looks largely the same from the outside. This means candidates don’t really have much information to go on, and apply the same level of trust (or really, distrust) to anything a company says about themselves in a recruiting context.
This noisy environment where the best and worst companies make largely the same unsubstantiated claims complicates things, as you might expect, for the companies and candidates alike. I’d love to just say “we’re great” and have people trust us, but it doesn’t work that way. Accordingly, we’re trying something new to break through that noise.
Starting today, in Muni and Bart stations around the city, we’re trying an advertising/recruiting campaign (aka “adverecruiting”) that talks about some of the subtle, more important, but less cheerful aspects of scaling a business — and how at Expensify, we make hard choices and tough calls to maintain a great place to work.
Each week, I’m going to dive into one of the posters in more detail to provide context on what it means, why it’s important, and how it’s helped shape Expensify to be what it is today. Whether or not you decide to explore Expensify as a career option, I’d encourage you to apply some of these ideas to your own company to create positive change from within.
Like most great ideas, this could turn out to be a terrible idea. It could be that people see us talking about compensation process, management hiring, and — yes — even firing practices as boring, tone deaf, or offensive. These are the unfortunate truths of running a business that are typically left unsaid.
But we think how you handle these tough calls matter, and we’re betting that the best people out there agree. If you agree, please visit http://we.are.expensify.com, or drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org. We’d love a chance to convince you to give Expensify a deeper look.