Archives For November 30, 1999

Hello!  To celebrate the arrival of a new fall season (or, for our new friends down under, a sunny spring!) I wanted to introduce you to our newest creation: “Concierge”, the product of many months of effort, and possibly your new best friend.

In short, Concierge is our artificially intelligent virtual assistant, built right into Expensify.  That means Concierge knows everything Expensify knows — which, given the billions of dollars in expenses we process, is a lot — and is eager to use that knowledge to make your life easy.  Continue Reading…


Nobody likes to talk about firing.  It’s not something to celebrate: if you need to fire someone it means you screwed up.  Either you hired the wrong person, or — more common — you hired the right person, but failed to enable their success.  Either way, the blame falls on the company (not the individual), so it’s no surprise that companies tend to avoid talking about their failures.

But despite that discomfort, firing is an important topic because in the long run, careful application of firing is actually more important than hiring.  To understand why, consider this simple chart:

image (3).png

Continue Reading…


There’s an old adage in Silicon Valley:

A people hire other A people, while B people hire C people.

Said another way, great people want to work with other great people, but not-so-great people prefer to work with people worse than themselves.  This is because great people love to be challenged by their peers, while not-so-great people prefer not to be challenged at all.

The Vicious Cycle of Mediocrity

It’s easy to agree with the above in theory.  But building a company that adheres to this in practice is very, very hard.  So hard that extremely few companies actually do it, despite the best of intentions along the way.  You can tell if your company is doing it by seeing if it’s followed this path:  Continue Reading…


Compensation is really, really hard to get right.  Very little directly-comparable data exists to make a truly objective decision, and what data is available, is easily sliced in such a fashion to support whatever conclusion you want to draw.  This intersection of “high importance” and “high ambiguity” makes the whole topic stressful, where even if you feel great about your personal compensation, you can’t help but be suspicious that others are being paid more for doing less.  This stress and suspicion erodes the trust necessary to maintain an open and collaborative environment: you can’t pull your oar the hardest if you’re looking back over your shoulder.

How It’s Typically Done

There are a variety of ways to solve (or at least manage) this problem.  The most common of those is to create a series of formal titles, and then create “compensation bands” around each, where every role has a range of possible salaries and equity grants.  Then when you are hired, whoever is hiring you assigns you to one of those — and then picks a place in that band for you. Continue Reading…


One of the greatest perks of working at Expensify is that you are surrounded by passionate, mature people naturally motivated to do the right thing.  This works because we hire people who have three key characteristics:

  • Extreme natural talent
  • Long term ambition
  • Deep humility

All three matter in different ways, but the third is particularly relevant here because it’s what ensures everybody has an appreciation for the limits of their knowledge — which translates into a low-drama, super collaborative environment.

Now, when people hear “collaborative environment”, they typically think about the various off-the-shelf management techniques, like Scrum, Agile, Holacracy, or whatever the pop-business gurus are selling these days.  We don’t use any of those.  Rather, we try to live by two main principles:  Continue Reading…

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.   Continue Reading…

Last week Expensify hosted its very first conference, eponymously named ExpensiCon.  We are still stunned and humbled by its tremendous success, and I need a bit more distance before I can really talk about it in a broad way.  (Read “Expensify is the Slack of Accounting” if you want a taste.)  But I wanted to quickly share a chart that was created at the very last moment, and which became the central focus of the entire conference:



There’s a lot in that graphic, so let me unpack it:  Continue Reading…

This is a huge announcement.  After more than *a year* in active development, we’re finally turning on RTER (Realtime Expense Reports) as the default for all new policies.  This is a big, big feature, touching every single aspect of the product.  Most of the changes are too subtle for you to even notice, but the sum of it all is that now Expensify works like this:

  1. Just take a picture of your receipt
  2. It’ll be put into your accounting package of choice
  3. And you’ll be paid the very next day

When properly configured (which starting today is the new default configuration), you literally just take a picture of the receipt and we take care of *everything else*.  Click below to start your free trial, or upgrade your existing account (at no additional cost): Continue Reading…

Just a quick head’s up to formally announce that our lawsuit against Nexonia has been amicably settled! Nexonia has stopped using our SmartScan trademark, and has licensed our growing portfolio of SmartScan patents so as to ensure we don’t end up in another avoidable lawsuit. Just a quick head’s up to formally announce that our lawsuit against Nexonia has been amicably settled! Nexonia has stopped using our SmartScan trademark, and has licensed our growing portfolio of SmartScan patents so as to ensure we don’t end up in another avoidable lawsuit. The full text of the press release follows:

Continue Reading...

no cockroach signI won’t lie: it’s flattering and vindicating for the low-burn, efficient-growth strategies we’ve been championing for years to come into vogue.  For years we’ve watched quietly on the sidelines as low-interest rates and market doldrums have fueled massive investments into “Unicorn” startups, operating unsustainable business models at a massive loss.  And I can’t deny we’ve envied their shocking valuations.  So I’ll admit satisfaction that the mythical creature’s shine is wearing off, and that there’s enough appreciation of our sustainable, profitable models that startups of our class have finally earned a name of our own.

But “cockroach”?  Seriously?! Continue Reading…