I joined Stripe one year ago to work on partnerships. We were about 30 people then and we’re about 75 now. Stripe certainly checked all of my boxes at the time, but more importantly, everyone was quietly, singularly focused on building the best product and company possible. That type of environment doesn’t necessarily suit everyone — it’s often stressful — but it tends to attract people who are ambitious and want to achieve a long-term vision. There are countless factors (systems, people, etc.) that have contributed to that, but these are a few that make me excited to work here:
A lot of companies define themselves as an “engineering company”, a “product company” or a “sales company”. Stripe is a user company. Everything we do at Stripe, from pricing to building new products hinges on creating the best user experience. We don’t look at a project and think, “How can we make this better than what’s out there?” or “How does the industry do this?”. Rather, we think, “How should this work ideally?”. Making that “ideal” case into a reality is the challenge, but we think it’s much more fun to think about problems in an entirely new way.
We’re working hard to solve problems many of us have dealt with before and even more that are novel to us. This is a much easier challenge to face if the people at Stripe are both your teammates and friends. We naturally spend a lot of time together — whether that’s in a Breaking Bad viewing party, going out for drinks at our favorite Mission hangouts, or running/cycling/climbing together.
As a result, we don’t look for hires who can simply fill a role, but rather we select people who make us even more excited to come to work every day. I’ll often run the thought experiment, “If this person had interviewed me, would I still be as excited about the chance to work with her?”. If the answer is “no”, that means we’re prioritizing our short-term needs over our long-term team quality. This can often result in us not hiring as fast as we’d like, but hiring great people means future recruits will continue to be blown away by the quality of our team.
If we hire great people, we should empower them to do good work on their own. Our philosophy on engineers managing products themselves holds true for other areas of Stripe as well. We spend a lot of time finding people who can both think strategically about their work and execute on their ideas. For those who have never worked in an environment like this before, it can be quite daunting: no one is going to tell you what to do. For people who enjoy this type of autonomy, we’ve seen that it helps them perform even better. We don’t restrict people to their role, team, or job description, and give them the tools and support they need to solve problems across the company.
Greg Brockman has written extensively about our views and the implementation of email lists throughout the company. Keeping our internal communication open by default is very indicative of our culture. At many companies, email can lead to silos when the flow of information is constricted within a group or team. This in turn can create politics around who has access to knowledge. At Stripe, you push all the information you can out to the company, and pull in all the information you want. Email is pretty ephemeral though, so we use Hackpad to document knowledge and make it easily accessible and maintainable for the long-term. The open access to information is one of my favorite parts about Stripe, and I can’t imagine operating any other way now.
Engineers and Non-Engineers
I’ve worked at companies in the past that have had a wall (literally) in between the engineering and non-engineering teams. At Stripe, there’s a mutual respect for what all of our teams do, because we know how crucial both engineering and non-engineering teams are to our long-term success. This respect has always been there, and I think it hinges on two areas:
1) Our hiring process: We won’t hire a salesperson that is more focused on hitting a quota than he is at helping potential customers of all sizes. Conversely, we don’t hire the engineer that isn’t willing to help a non-engineer figure out how to fix a typo in some site copy.
2) Mutual understanding: The openness around communication enables people working on sales to understand what our product team ships, and vice-versa, our product team is aware of what leads we’ve closed lately. We also encourage people to get to know other teams well. When our engineers spend time doing support, they can understand what the largest painpoints are in our product, and what needs to be done to best improve our product and the experience for our users.
We’re always looking for people who can help us do great work and build an amazing company. If you’re interested in joining our team, we’d love to talk to you.