Archives For November 30, 1999

Screen Shot 2012-12-18 at 7.26.09 PM


Owen Thomas, West Coast Editor at Business Insider, put together a lovely article on our annual offsite, complete with some great photos. I highly recommend you check it out! Link here. Thanks Business Insider and Owen!

Thanks to¬†Joshua Topolsky, editor-in-chief of the Verge, for naming Expensify as his favorite self-proclaiming nerd app! Maybe claiming an expense reporting app as your favorite isn’t the hippest thing, but then again maybe it’s just THAT useful (and nerdy). Brian, let us know when you want to get serious about nerding out at

Update: This post has been superseded by a newer, better job post here.¬† Basically, we realized this post was way too general and brand oriented — we’re numbers people and we want to quantify the ROI on everything, marketing included.

A bit about us:
We’re a 4-person startup working like mad to disrupt a multi-billion dollar financial industry from the bottom up. The company is named Expensify, and we do “expense reports that don’t suck.” We do that by importing your expenses *and your receipts* straight from your credit card, submitting PDF expense reports by email, and by reimbursing entirely online — now with QuickBooks support. Basically, we’re the expense report system you always wish existed.

That might or might not sound exciting to you, and that’s okay. Most of the *really* exciting things can’t be shared openly. But needless to say, it’s a real problem that affects millions of people — people who spend a lot of money — and there are already billion dollar companies who focus on this problem alone.

We have users, investors, partners, awards, and a crapload of good technology (not the least of which is an iPhone application, with BlackBerry, Palm, and Android on the way). We pay pretty decent salaries, are very generous with equity, and provide solid benefits.

We’re really happy where the product is at overall, but we also realize our limits: we don’t have the DNA to make the product really “pop” in that super-polished way. So we need more new DNA in the team. Which is why we’re talking to you.

A bit about you:
The most important thing is that you are awesome. You work incredibly hard on a huge diversity of tasks. You can do pretty much anything you set your mind to, often better than people who have spent their whole lives doing it. You have more ideas than you’ll be able to accomplish in a lifetime. Does this sound familiar? If it doesn’t that’s fine. But it means I’m probably not talking to you.

Next, you’re cool to be with. We work really hard, sometimes from really distant locations. (Every year we go overseas to work from a remote beach: we just got back from Istanbul, but previous years — in a previous startup — we’ve gone to Thailand, Mexico, and India.) You’ve got to be extremely passionate about your work, but also respectful that sometimes things don’t go your way, and that that’s okay: everyone will return the favor, so in the long run, if you’re right more than you’re wrong, you’ll end up getting your way regardless.

(Incidentally, we work 3 days a week together — M/W/F; the rest your on your own. We don’t currently have an office, we’ve been doing the coffeeshop thing for the past year, but we’re considering getting a space downtown SF now that the team is growing)

If all those are taken care of, then ideally you would also be a whiz at product marketing. You’ll never, ever be pigeonholed, and you’ll be involved across the board in decisions big and small. But we are specifically looking for someone to pick up and run with the following responsibilities:

– Engage with a professional designer to create the “Expensify Look”
– Refine our tone and messaging to create the “Voice of Expensify”
– Rewrite every frickin’ word on the entire site to be awesome
– Gather conversion data and iterate upon the data to find what works
– Spend a bunch of money on a marketing campaign, in a cost-effective manner
– Manage blog outreach and PR
– Keep abreast of the competition’s features and messaging
– Propose and execute an unending series of ridiculously crazy promotion ideas

Basically, your job is to sign up users in every way possible, and then keep them coming back for more. Every tool will be at your disposal. Is this interesting to you?

Next steps:
We’ve got a process worked out. It involves you answering a bunch of the standard interview questions up front, in your first email to us. This saves everyone time (if you’re willing to spend hours with us interviewing on the phone or in person, why not spend half that time in email?), lets us talk with more candidates than we could feasibly do otherwise, and we find the best candidates actually enjoy the process. If you don’t enjoy it or don’t have time for it, it’s probably a sign that this job isn’t right for you and that’s great! We’ve saved you the time applying, and us the time turning you down! For everyone else, here are the questions without further ado:

1) What’s your story, in a nutshell? What have you been up to with your life, and ultimately, what do you want to do?

2) What about the above job post most appealed to you? Why do you want to work with Expensify?

3) What about the above job post causes you concern? There’s got to be at least one thing about it that rubbed you wrong. What was is it?

4) Take a look at — create yourself an account (it’s free) and play around. You can import a test “citibank” card with username “expensifydemo” and password “demo”. Tell me honestly: what do you think? If you were hired with the general mandate to “make this website kick ass”, what would you do?

5) Off the top of your head, without doing a lot of research or anything, who do you feel are our competitors and how do you think we are differentiated from them? It’s cool if you don’t know them, don’t worry. They all suck anyway. (Just kidding. Sorta…)

6) We’ve heard “Expense reports that don’t suck!” is a problematic slogan because it’s somewhat negative. What would you suggest as a better slogan? Or would you suggest we keep the current one?

7) Please answer as many of these as you can, without doing any research: (Incidentally, it’s *totally ok* to not know an answer. Don’t cheat; it just wastes everyone’s time.)

7.1) Do you know SQL? If so, imagine there are two tables, defined as:

CREATE TABLE accounts ( accountID INTEGER, email TEXT );
CREATE TABLE reports ( reportID INTEGER, accountID INTEGER, amount INTEGER );

The former is a series of accounts, the latter is a series of reports — each of which is owned by a given account. Can you write a query to select a list of distinct email addresses that own reports for over $100?

7.2) Do you know PHP? If so, what’s wrong with the following code?

The square root of 2 is <? sqrt(2) >

7.3) Do you know JavaScript? If so, what’s the difference between encodeURI() and encodeURIComponent()?

7.4) Do you have a preference between lighttpd and Apache? What is it?

7.5) Do you have a preference between Ubuntu and Red Hat? What is it?

7.6) What is the difference between colocation and dedicated servers?

7.7) Do you know how to use Photoshop? If so, describe in words how you would create from scratch a transparent PNG containing an orange outline of the words “Hello world!”, in Arial font.

7.8) Are you skilled in SEO? If so, what’s the #1 recommendation you’d make for how to change our homepage to improve our Google rank for the term “expense report”?

7.9) Have you ever used Subversion?

7.10) What are the kinds of tasks that you would directly implement yourself, versus handing off to other contractors and subordinates?

8) Please illustrate an example of when you were torn between the following, which ultimately won out, and why:

8.1) Going with what felt right, versus going with what the data said?

8.2) Going with what the data said, versus going with what the user said they wanted?

8.3) Going with what the user said they wanted, versus going with what felt right?

8.4) Adding new users, versus increasing engagement with existing users?

8.5) Improving the product for customers, versus making money for the company?

9) Please give a bit more detail about your background and methodology, including:

9.1) Have you done marketing for a consumer or small-business website before? How does it differ from other types of marketing?

9.2) How have you measured the success of your marketing efforts in the past, and based on that measurement, how did you do?

9.3) What’s the difference (if any) between you and a salesperson?

9.4) What’s the difference (if any) between you and a designer?

9.5) What’s the difference (if any) between you and a community evangelist?

9.6) What’s the difference (if any) between you and “the typical marketing person”?

9.7) Do you have any experience working with affiliate and lead-generation programs?

9.8) What else should we know about you that hasn’t been covered here?

10) What do you think of these questions? How can we improve them?

11) And most importantly: how did you file your last expense report, and did it suck?

Please send your answers to whenever convenient, along with a resume (if you have it, but don’t fret if you don’t). I guarantee I’ll reply to you if you actually fill out the questions. Thanks, I look forward to hearing from you soon!

Founder, CEO of Expensify
You should follow us at