The CEO Who Pays Employees to De-Locate From the Bay | Transcription
Transcription for the video titled "The CEO Who Pays Employees to De-Locate From the Bay".
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I haven't started with questions from Twitter before, but I feel like they kind of covered some of the initial ones I wanted to go off with. So maybe we should just go with those. So the first one was from Ben Thompson, and he asked for more detail on the pay to leave San Francisco. I think you guys call the D location. Yeah. How's it going? Well, we introduced this D location package. I think it was in March. And the concept for those of you who aren't familiar was if you're in the Bay Area and you take a job with Zapier, we'll pay $10,000 to help you relocate to anywhere. Or so we call it D locate. This was this was an idea that one of our engineers came up with because we'd seen in interviews with folks from the Bay Area. They would come to Zapier because we're 100% remote and say like, well, I'm interested in you all in part because I like the product, but also because, you know, this remote thing helps me. Get away from San Francisco because I'm either disenfranchised with, you know, housing costs here or like I have family somewhere else that I'd rather be living with. Or I just want to be somewhere else. Some, you know, a whole bunch of reasons, right? And so what this the engineer on our team kind of hypothesize was like, well, maybe there's this nascent demand here in the Bay Area where folks who are like kind of just putting up with it because that's this is where the jobs are. And he's like, there's probably some folks who are kind of on the fence that like if a good opportunity came along, they might be willing to jump on that. But maybe they just need like a little bit of a nudge to go do this sort of thing. And so that's where like the whole idea of this de-location package came. It's not that crazy like plenty of companies here on the Bay Area even like, we'll pay relocation costs to help you move here. So like, well, let's just turn it on its head and say, well, I hope you move anywhere, right? So we launched that, I think it was a march and the funny thing was since then we've seen probably about roughly about a 30% increase in applicants to Zapier. Wow. So pretty significant. Yeah, we have had like our roles routinely get 100, 200 applicants. Some roles we've even had I think our record is like 1500 applicants for one open position. And it's a signal like those are there 30% increase in like quality candidates. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Okay. Just across the board. And one of the interesting things we noticed was the applicants weren't actually from San Francisco. A lot of them were just from wherever the heck they were. And so it was clear that the like offering this thing, you know, got it got some buzz and like mainstream media. And so it kind of just elevated the profiles app here. And so folks were like, even who weren't in the Bay Area were like, this just seems like a cool company. Like they have the same types of values that I have. They are working on an interesting product. And so we got a lot of great applicants from outside the Bay Area again. So we've actually hired about 15 folks since then and only one person from the Bay Area. She's in the process like mowing over whether she wants to take it or not. But so we actually haven't offered any because we haven't hired any folks. That's great. Yeah. Have you located anyone to the Bay Area through it? No one's. Yeah, no one's moved here. So or way up. That's really funny. And do you guys ever do relocations other than the this? No, not generally. Like most folks are where they want to be or like they're hidden that way anyway. So like that's, I mean, that's kind of the beauty of remote work is that you don't have to live in a place just because that's where the jobs are. You can live in the place that you want to be because that's just where you want to be. You know, you've got family there. You've got friends there. You've got life there. You've got a hobby there.
Zapier Team And Related Discussion
The Zapier team (03:34)
You've got, you just want to explore the area because you've heard cool things like it doesn't matter what the reason is. Right? Like you can do that. And so how often are you actually interacting with how many employees are you guys? We're at about 95. OK. How often are you interacting with, you know, a significant percentage of them in person? Well, in person, we do. So we do this thing called Airbnb and onboarding, which when we hire folks within the first month, we actually do like to have them spend a week in person out here in the Bay Area. So we'll we're in an Airbnb. We'll bring their manager out here, them out here. And then spend a week working alongside them. So generally it ends up being like anywhere from like a half dozen to a dozen folks out here at a time. And it works really nicely because the founders are all here. So we get to sit down next to them and even, you know, the 95th person in the company, we get to know really well. Like we'll spend the night, like take them out to dinner. We'll play games with them. Like we'll talk to them about why the role is important at the company. Like why we're happy that they're here. And they get like a full week with us, which is like pretty rare at, you know, once you pass like a certain amount of employees, like maybe you'll do like a lunch with the founders, like right out the gate. But it's not that much time. So we actually like really spend a lot of time with them, you know, within that first month for the for those first folks. So, you know, we do get to spend like a fair amount of time with a subset of folks every month. So basically a week every month, I'm spending some time in person with a few people on the team. OK. And so do you think that your success as a remote team is a function of you starting remote? Or do you think you could have shaped into that? I think it definitely helped a lot to have started that way. I think it would be pretty tough to transition any sizable team to like a remote or partial remote setup. Because there's just like little cultural habits that you get into that are that make remote kind of successful. So we started Zapier as a side project, side projects naturally. You don't have offices, you just work on them when you can, which is not necessarily in person. It's at a coffee shop or your house or whatever, right? And so we got used to working through like pull requests and on trailer cards and in chat and things like that. And so that built up kind of our organizational muscle for like documenting things, writing down like processes and stuff like that. So then when you hire folks on, they're able to like adopt that stuff. When you're in an office, you up to a certain point you can kind of ignore that stuff. Because you have the option of tapping someone on the shoulder and being like, "Hey, what's the command that I need to do for this again?" Or like, "Why is this not working?" "You need help me?" "Yeah, whatever it is that you need help with, you can just pull folks into." But for us, like if you're working with a teammate halfway across the world, like, that's not an option. So you kind of have to get good at like, "Hey, here's like the read me for this stuff." And make sure that's all up the date and working pretty well. So I think had we have like started, you know, 10 people in an office and then added remote folks, like we sure certainly could have gotten there. I know companies that have done that. But I think it's just, you know, you have to unlearn some stuff and then relearn it in a different way. Whereas we just learned it that way from the get-go. And was there a point at which like you guys were scaling up and you were like, "Oh, we've entered like a different class of like remote team size and we have to handle things differently?" Yeah, definitely. They're not, and it's not too different, I think, from even in like co-located companies, have like those inflection points too where you're like, "We need to change some stuff up because it's not working." So for us, like there's about three of them where we've kind of had to really not reinvent ourself, we're starting to rethink a few things. So the first one was around like 20 people, which was up until that point, like I was the sole manager, but like not really management. Like when it's less than 20, everything kind of self happens. Like me and Brian and Mike, my co-founders were just kind of making sure things had happened. But once we got to about 20 or so, it's like, actually there's starting to be some coordination overhead. We need to like think about like maybe what a little bit of a management structure starts to look like.
Management in the remote team (07:51)
And so Brian, Mike, and I started really sharing those roles around there in a little more formal manner. Then at about 40, it got 40 to 50 or so, it got even more complex. And we added more managers. And then that was like the first time where I was solely managing other managers. So that was like an interesting transition as well. You know, the folks that were like primarily hiring people and onboarding folks were not necessarily me anymore. And a lot of times it wasn't. So that was kind of a shift. And so like how does that work then? As a remote manager of managers, what are your like pro tips having you've done it for several years now? Yeah, I think you've got to set like a, you really need to set like the values of what your company is going to look like. So, you know, just the high level things that you care about. You know, for us, it's like we like folks who are like default action gets stuff done because, you know, there's not someone sitting beside you to help you out. That's like a big thing. We like folks who are good writers and can be transparent because that's really important in your remote team. We like folks who have a lot of empathy and are like really good, just helpful people because you're working in slack and in text all day. So it's like you need to be able to empathize when maybe like a sentence doesn't come off quite right or like whatever. Like you can be like, I know I trust that they like they had good intentions here. This wasn't like meant to be, you know, harsh to me or whatever. So those are like important values that we had that lend themselves well to remote environments. And once you have that stuff set in place, you kind of have you have to adopt some sort of like management paradigm. Like how you approach management. I think a lot of companies, at least in startups, like they try to reinvent the wheel here. I think it's not probably a great idea, especially if you're growing really fast. It's there's like a lot of good like scientific back to research on like how to be a good manager. Like go find the good stuff and learn that and just just kind of just cargo pull adopt that in your organization because it's going to be way, you're going to have like way less problems than if you tried to like come up with your own. You try to like come up with your new inventive management structure alongside this other like new inventive product market, the thing that you're trying to bring to market.
Team size inflection points (10:18)
So like we there's this podcast called manager tools and they have like a paradigm and we basically just said like we're just going to use their philosophy on how they go about stuff because we were like, like 95% of it jived with us. So we were like, we're going to just use what they have. And that helps get out of all the managers that I was working with. I knew that they were following a similar process that I would be following with folks. So that kind of raised like the organizational like baseline for like your experience as a zapper is going to be at least this good. You might get a manager that's like above and beyond and way better, but like hopefully we don't have any like managers that are just like bad, like really, really bad.
Goes from 0 Employees to 100 (10:59)
We wanted folks to be at that baseline. So we make sure like they go through like the training that they need to have and kind of understand the values and how we apply them and all that sort of stuff. And then that helps for me who's not, you know, managing managers, I kind of know that they're doing following our guidelines and stuff like that. Okay. And so now that like you're, you know, approaching 100 people, do you feel that there's another inflection point coming? Definitely around like definitely so like we started hiring probably our default is to like we like to promote folks from within. So historically, almost all of our folks who have moved into like management positions have been working as a career for, you know, six, 12 months, like a good chunk of time, which helps them like learn the culture, but they also know the product and the role and everything like really, really well. Downside is, you know, they're new managers, so they have to learn some of that stuff, but that's not unteachable stuff. Now we're at a point where occasionally we don't have someone ready to like promote up and we have to hire in a new manager. So like that's a new challenge for us now because you're bringing in someone who's going to like guide a function or a set of people who, you know, primary experiences at other orgs, which is not necessarily a bad thing. They bring in great outside perspectives that have been helpful, but you also have to like teach them the org while they're also trying to teach other like train and coach other people in the organization as well. So that's like an interesting inflection point as well. Okay. And you're going through that right now. Yeah, like we brought on a few, you know, outside management folks now and you know, it's going pretty well, but like there's like anything like there's, you know, things that you got to keep working on. All right. So Ben asked like a multi part question. He and like many of these questions were common across Twitter. So they want to ask you about raising money. So you guys are like famous or infamous for doing my see, raising some money and then never raising money again. Like I'm going to combine a couple of questions here. So another person, Matt Sherman, who actually wanted you to come on the podcast from from the outcome. He basically said, why did you guys choose to go into YC if you weren't planning to raise a lot of capital after? And maybe you were planning to and like you didn't decide. Yeah. Well, the primary reason we did YC wasn't for the capital. Primary reason we did YC was because we were from Missouri relatively unknown and not well connected into the broader tech ecosystem, particularly for our product, which is integrations with other SaaS companies.
Why did you not raise in the end? (13:53)
We were building a lot of those relationships from scratch and YC kind of helped us. Well, we're just able to plug into an existing network basically. So for us, the network was really valuable because, you know, then when we went into partners, at least there was like some thread, somebody who said like, oh, yeah, we know this team, this company, like they're pretty good folks. Like you should you should chat with them. Even when you're really, really small, like we were at the time and no one really had any sort of reason outside validation reason to believe in us other than like, hey, they seem like they're building a cool product. Right. So for us, like that was the primary reason for doing YC. The money sure like, okay, it was nice. Right. But, you know, I don't think that was the primary reason for us doing it. And then, you know, afterwards we did take a little bit of money because when you're just going to started like things cost money and like, if you don't have anything and you haven't figured out like a business model yet, like, you know, and if you're going to be living in the Bay Area, which we felt we wanted to like try and stick around a little bit because to help build up those relationships, it's just really freaking expensive to live here. So a little bit of money helped us kind of get past those early days when, you know, we just weren't pulling in that much revenue. And you guys were priced a little bit differently, right? Like you started out charging people and then you went freemium, right? Yeah. And so that was a function of the money as well. Yeah, that allowed us to do, yeah, at least try freemium and see if that was a model that would work, which if you weren't like, I mean, if you aren't doing, like freemium is a bad idea generally for bootstrap companies because like, you're going to have a ton of support for free users who don't pay you anything. And if you're not getting any money from them, it's going to be really hard to bootstrap. So yeah, like allowed us to experiment with the business model a little bit. Okay. And so why did you choose to not continue to raise money? I mean, we never needed to. Is the pragmatic answer. And I think we've always taken a very like pragmatic approach to fundraising. You know, a lot of people have this, you know, it's like, well, it's either bootstrap or, you know, or it's like VC and there's like some identity involved in it, which I think when you like start to put your own identity and like, well, I'm a bootstrap or I'm a VC thing like that starts to affect your decision making in ways that are probably not healthy for your company. And it's just better to look at money and fundraising generally as, as like a tool. It's a tool in your tool belt that you can use if you need it. If you don't need it, you don't need it. You shouldn't have to use it. And so that's how our approach to fundraising always was was it's just a tool to help you if you need it. If you don't need it, then why take on the dilution? And so for us was we were able to figure out the business model and our growth rates were working just fine. And we've never been hindered by our ability to spend capital.
Bootrapping Vs venture (16:49)
We've always felt like we're spending at a rate that was comfortable for us. So bringing in more capital wasn't going to change, fundamentally change like our ability to grow the company. So we always just said, well, we'll just keep growing it, how we're doing it. And so then I imagine you get a lot of questions from people who are like, should I raise money? Should I not raise money? What should I do?
Fundraising For market share (17:09)
What do you, do you have like a mental model to advise people on that? Well, you know, I think it's a pretty personal decision.
Fundraising Should Improve Your Business Headroom (17:17)
To me, the answer is generally like, what is the business market you're tackling, right? There's some products that, yeah, probably is going to lend itself more towards that. Like, you know, pure enterprise plays sometimes take a little while to develop and you're going to need more capital off the gate. Things that require like inventory or infrastructure, things like that are going to be capital intensive. So sometimes fundraising is really just a function of the market that you decide to go after. So that plays into it. But then also it does depend on like how you want to go about things. Like you can be a successful bootstrap company and be the winner of your market. You look at something like MailChimp, which I'm going to raise a single dime. They have dozens of well-funded, super well-funded public companies that are direct competitors and still MailChimp takes the takes at home as the winner of that market. So there's a lot of these phrases that people say like, "Oh, winner, take all money. Mark, you better raise a bunch of money." They're just kind of untrue. You really need to like look at your market and just understand it really well. And you know, fundraising can help you create a moat, but usually it's not why you created a moat. Having more money doesn't necessarily make the moat. It is a tool to help you figure out what is the moat that's going to help you build your company. And if money isn't the thing that's going to help you do it, you need to figure out what is going to help you kind of build your moat and help you grow your company. So then how do you better, I mean, define like a winner, take all market versus not. Like why was MailChimp possible? Well, so like MailChimp isn't in a winner, take all market, right? Exactly.
Winner take all markets in EF not (18:58)
Like there's not a network effect that MailChimp doesn't get better because there's more MailChimp customers, right? Winner, take all markets tend to exist where the product gets better because there's more customers. And this often happens in like B2C markets. So, you know, like Google gets better because more people use Google. Facebook gets better because all your friends use Facebook. Those are like classic examples of network effects really helping the product get better. And the business model doesn't really work unless everybody is kind of using it. Whereas in B2B, like it's pretty rare to have like true winner, take all markets. You know, if you're making yet another CRM company, you know, there's dozens of CRM companies that are very good CRM companies that compete with each other head to head and are all successful. And they're going to continue to grow and be successful. And that's pretty much how it exists in B2B because it's very tough to build like true network effects in B2B. So, if you can find a way to like have a B2B company that has true network effects, that's probably going to be a pretty special thing. And it's worth trying to figure one out, but it's not a necessity to build a good company. And so looking back on kind of like using YC as a vehicle into the bay, was that helpful for you? Yeah, definitely.
The Benefits of Getting Into YC Do About The Track Entreprenure (20:18)
You know, I remember early on we had a relatively big company that we were trying to build a partnership with. And there was a bit more like bureaucracy and hoops to jump through to build a partnership with versus a lot of the companies we were working with at the time. And, you know, we just kind of tried to go through like their typical front, you know, they had an email or a contact form on their website, like we filled it out. And we were just like not making any headway at all that way. It was just, you know, I think we got in touch with one of their like front line people and they just didn't understand what we were doing or why it even mattered. And, you know, kind of just set us to the side and then we tried another angle and it just, just things weren't happening. And then when we got in YC, one of the first things I did was, you know, emailed the folks and PG was like, oh yeah, we can help with that and found a, you know, like a company that acquired like their CEO and like I had an intro to like a high level VP like in two days. And, you know, that week it was like, oh yeah, this is great. We should definitely be doing something with this. So, you know, those relationships clearly matter in business and YC had already tapped in and kind of set up its own and it had connections into the broader tech ecosystem. You know, helped us plug in and be successful because those exist in. And so then what do you advise founders who are starting companies, you know, in Missouri, in Florida, you know, in other countries? Yeah, what do you tell them? What are your tips? Well, I think, you know, the biggest thing is similar to what you all preach all day every day, which is, you know, make something that people want, right? So figure out, you know, what it is that people want, figure out what they're going to pay for and just make them incredibly happy. You don't necessarily, well, there's nowhere does it, like, there's so many companies that are successful that are outside the Bay Area that I think if you're getting caught up and, you know, if people are telling you you have to be in the Bay Area to be successful, like, you should probably be a little more critical of that advice because there's so many examples that are just, like, of that not being true. Pay attention to the fundamental things that make companies really good, which is good products, happy customers, and, like, working really hard and getting a little lucky. Like, those are generally like the four things. If you do those pretty well, like, you're going to have some level of success. You may not be like a breakaway success because a lot of that stuff depends on, like, timing and more luck and market factors and things like that. But generally, if you do those four things, you'll be successful. Some companies may be more successful in the Bay Area because of unique factors for that company, but I think those are fewer and far between than most companies. It seems to be more of a psychological thing, right?
The psychologyers of success in tech (22:59)
Because, like, people have this somewhat of an imposter syndrome where they're like, "Oh, we can't be that." But in reality, most companies aren't venture-backed anyway. Yeah. Well, I think one of the things that, you know, perpetuates this myth a little bit is just kind of the way the media cycle works is, you know, the media tends to write about companies that they think are doing great. It's very difficult for the media to get access to real factual data, like revenue numbers, to know which companies are doing great. And so they end up having to rely on proxies for that. And a good proxy often is, you know, where's the venture-funded companies happening? And venture-funded companies tend to happen closest to where VCs happen to live because they don't like to travel that much to go fund companies. And so that tends to be Bay Area companies. And so the media ends up perpetuating kind of this myth that the great companies are in the valley. That's obviously, you know, there's a lot of stereotypes involved there. That's not universally true. But on the whole, that happens quite a bit.
Has being here changed your product? (24:06)
And, you know, an early, a young founder, someone who's a first-time founder, you know, for them, they don't have that filter to understand sometimes, like, what is good advice versus what someone perpetuating kind of a myth. And has being here changed your product all that much? Because you guys started out basically consulting for other people. You were doing these integrations by hand. And then you're like, "Oh, what if we just made it easier for everyone to do all these integrations?" From a product standpoint, no, it's not changed. Okay. And so what has changed since being here? I mean, those relationships, right? You know, we mentioned, you know, the YC connection, you know, for getting in with that partnership with a big company. That was nice. You know, we've been able to build relationships with, you know, founders of our partner companies a lot easier. And that was more valuable early on. But as we kind of built a brand and got to a place where we had a bit of success, like, that stuff came to us naturally. So at this point in time, like, you know, I could be in the Bay Area, it could be somewhere else, and it just really wouldn't matter too much. And then how do you guys think about competitors? As like you've said, you know, you could have built this company without necessarily raising any money. That means other people might be able to jump on and do the same thing. Yeah. Yeah. What do you guys look out for? Well, I think the biggest thing is like, figure out what your, like, competitive advantage is and find ways to lock them out. So for us, you know, we have the most integrations of anyone, and most of our partners are building the integrations for us. And so that kind of builds a bit of a moat for us in that, you know, if you want to, you know, build a head to head, you know, competitor to us, you need to find a way to build as many integrations as we have. You know, there, or you need to find a different way to attack us. Like coming head to head wouldn't be the way to do it. So like it, for most people, it's figuring out what it is that makes you, like, makes your, you're the reason why people choose your product. Like what is it the reason that they choose your product and like use that to help lock out other folks and make sure that you are indeed the best product and value on the market for your, your customers that you want to serve? Right. And so where do you see your product evolving?
Enterprise Needs And Employee Management
What are the needs you have to address? (26:24)
So it continues to have a wider moat. Well, for us, like, you know, we've historically nailed our, like, our best customers have been in S&B. Yeah. And so we've done a really good job there. Now we're working a lot harder on, you know, we launched a team's product in March. And so we're starting to figure out, like, what are the things that we need to do to help expand our adoption inside of, like, enterprise companies and things like that. Because the needs are, the core product works for them, but there's extra needs that are important in enterprise products and stuff like that. So, you know, those are things that we start to think about. And how do you explain it? Like, as a small business, you know, if you have someone, like, sort of technical on the team, it's pretty easy to get like, "Oh, okay. This is what Deppier does." Yeah. Right. If you're selling to a giant company, how do you have to explain it to them? And who do you explain it to? Yeah.
Getting in to these enterprises (27:15)
To get them to buy it. Well, that's tough. This is where, like, you know, having a product that solves, like, a very specific problem helps. And this is where the free me in business model helps a lot. Yeah. Because people can self-serve, try out your product, figure out what they like about it. And then you can use the person who's already adopted it as a way into your organization. And they can be like your champion for you. And that way you don't have to be, like, cold selling into orgs. Instead, you have a warm person on the inside that's basically saying, "No, no. This is great. We should adopt this. This is exactly what we need." So I think that's where, you know, free me in really does excel. If you can make pull it off, it will help you get that early adoption into organizations that can then pull you across the organization as well. And conversely, what's been difficult about getting into these enterprises? Well, I mean, there's just like a lot of bureaucracy around it, right? So, like, same old stuff. It's the same old stuff. You know, they have purchasing departments, and they have process that you have to go through. And there's just, you know, boxes, a lot of boxes to check, more or less, is what it boils down to. Right. So Matt had another question. There's another location question, actually. So what advice do you have for a founder who's building a billion dollar company in a city where no one has done it before? I mean, the biggest challenge, I mean, this is tough for me because I haven't built a buying dollar company yet either.
Building a billion dollar company in a city (28:37)
But my instinct is that the thing that you're going to struggle with maybe is you're scaling past that mark, is does that city have enough talent to support your organization? Mm-hmm. And that can be a real challenge in smaller cities across the United States is like, "Do you have the, like, is there enough technical talent? Is there enough sales talent? Can you try, if not, do you have effective training programs in your organization that can take, you know, ambitious folks and get them trained up on your product and turn them into people who can be effective in your organization?" Because when you just, like, look at the unit economics of a town that's maybe, you know, 100,000, 200,000 people, like, that's just not that many people.
And a lot of them are maybe not necessarily going to be in the industry that you're in. So as you get to a billion dollar organization, you're going to need a lot of people to help you. And is there enough there? So I think that's probably the biggest scaling challenge that you might actually just run into if you're the first in a city of a billion dollars or a billion dollar company is just, is there the talent there? And how do you manage, I mean, really, how do you manage training people up remotely? Because, like, are you, because you have kind of a pick across the whole world, do you instead focus on hiring more experienced people? Or do you grab younger people and, like, bring them up? Our preference has definitely been historically to just work with senior folks. Like, we just hire the best that we can for different roles. But you're going to find, like, even still, you're going to hire ambitious folks who want to get better and want to take on new challenges. And so you're going to want to find ways to handle that. So, like, for example, you know, we hire ambitious folks into our support team who often have an experience and are senior for that role. Yeah. But oftentimes they still have even bigger ambitions still. So, you know, one of our guys who just recently joined our platform engineering team started in support. And, you know, he had ambitions to do that. And so we made sure that, you know, his manager knew that, and then we made sure an engineering manager knew that. And we kind of had a plan, like, okay, well, here's the tactical skills you're going to need to learn. Here's the things inside the org that you can, when you see these opportunities, go make sure that you're the first person, you know, trying to tackle these things and helping out with these things. Here's the things external that you can learn on your own time. It's going to make this stuff a little easier for you. And, you know, these are the benchmarks that will let you know like you're ready to make that jump. So, basically, we just, like, worked with them to figure out, like, here's the plan that you need to set up. And, you know, from there, it's kind of on the person to, you know, go make it happen. And he was able to make it happen and join our platform engineering team earlier this year. And I think that's like just a discussion you need to have with every person that's on your team is just to understand, like, hey, what are your career goals? What do you want to achieve while you're here? Are there skills that you want to pick up? Are there, you know, areas of the organization that you want to have an impact on? And then as a manager, like, figuring out, like, okay, how can we make sure that this person has an opportunity to tackle that stuff in a way that aligns with the projects that we need to make the organizational successful? And is that, like, public in any way within the organization?
Employee Retention (32:02)
Is, like, you know, these are your objectives and goals for this year? We haven't gotten, like, super rigid about, like, you know, OKRs or KPIs or things like that. We do have them, but, you know, each manager talks with their, you know, person on their team, and they, you know, directly and sets them up kind of for them. And so, they're a little bit fluid, and we're working on, like, solidifying, like, a process for that, because, like, do you think it's a good idea? Well, because you guys, yeah, yeah, everything seems to have to be clearly communicated and logged, right? So it doesn't, like, slip between the cracks, because, you know, say, I'm going for one thing, and you don't know it, and maybe my manager's cool with it, but you're like, why is Craig doing this stuff? Yeah, he's walking around the corner, right? Like, what is this guy doing? Yeah, yeah, OK. So, yeah, still working on that. And then how does that all affect, like, retention? Do you guys have, how does your retention, like, benchmarked to, you know, like, a tech company out here? Our retention is, like, incredibly high, so we actually just ran the numbers last week, like, 97% retention over the last 12 months. OK. All right, we did, we started doing, like, an employee net promoter score, and came in at, like, 72, which is, like, pretty world-class, so... I think, you know, working on your organization is, like, a really, really important thing to do, because, at past a certain point, like, you aren't going to be the person that's the building the product and getting things done. You sure you'll provide some certain amount of vision and direction to make some of that happen, but a lot of the actual work is being done by other folks in your organization. So you really do need to make sure to invest in them, and, you know, put them up in an environment where they can be successful. And so that's, like, primarily a lot of what I try and work on, is make sure that they have the right people in the org, that they're working on the right things, and that they have the right plans in place for them to be successful, just as people, too.
So, yeah. Then how do you keep track of, like, the happiness of people on, like, a day-to-day or week-to-week, month-to-month basis? Yeah. I mean, the survey is, like, kind of the formal way that we've started doing it, but a lot of it just comes down a relationship between, like, the manager and the person. So, you know, they do, like, a weekly one-on-one with them, just digging in, and, like, how's things going? Like, you feel like you're getting to work on the things that you want to work on, you feel like you're advancing, and it has some of those types of questions. And then, if we do other things to just, like, encourage, like, you know, good cross-company communication, camaraderie, stuff like that. So, we have, we do this thing called "pairbuddy." So, every week you randomly get paired up with someone across the organization. You know, just jump on, like, a video conference call and just talk to them. Like, you're kind of like, you know, like a coffee outing, I guess, it might do it in another org. You know, just talk about whatever, right? It doesn't have to be work-specific. It's super informal. You talk about family, hobbies, whatever, right? That helps folks get to know each other. And then, we're, like, not very restrictive about, like, off-topic stuff in Slack. We're kind of okay with that, because in normal organizations, like, people are going to have, like, watercooler talk, and, like, talk at lunch and all that sort of stuff. And so, like, that's fine. That stuff should, people should have a place for that inside of a remote organization. So, we have, like, a series of Slack channels that are pre-fixed with fun that tend to just be, like, off-topic channels where people do whatever. And then, every now and then, like, people come up with, like, random things. So, like, I think a couple weeks ago, someone on our support team wanted to do, like, it was the end of Friday afternoon on, like, Pacific Time Zones. Like, everybody in the company is basically, it's, like, soon to be or almost weekend time. And they're like, "Let's do, like, a random gift dance party." And so, they, like, picked a random song from Spotify somehow, and then we're like, "Alright, here's the song now, like, make a GIF of yourself, like, dancing to this thing." It's like about a dozen people, like, uploaded random GIFs, or the Slack that were just, you know, for this song. So, it's just, like, stuff like that. We try not, like, we don't want to take ourselves too seriously. It's like, this is, like, a place where you can enjoy yourself too a little bit.
Company Growth And Remote Work Culture
Thoughts on remote work/de-location (36:20)
Like, let's get our stuff done and enjoy our time here, right? Totally. And so, I guess, slightly going off-topic, like, almost every interview I've listened to or seen with you, it's, like, a remote work. It's, like, not raising money. It's a de-location. It's all that stuff. What's something that you don't often talk about that you're, like, passionate about, maybe it's within Zapier, maybe it's not? I think that there's probably, like, one thing I don't often talk about is, like, like, learning a lot, and really, like, speed as a way to learn things, like, really going deep on a topic. So, everything I do, I try and do, like, really, really well, to give you an example. So, I started playing racquetball, like, probably about two and a half years ago now. I was playing in college a little, but just, like, for fun. And then I realized about, you know, two or three years into Zapier, I, like, had stopped exercising. I was starting to put on some way, like, you know, founder 15, though, in my case, it might have been 20 or 25. And I was like, all right, I just need to get this under control. So, I started playing racquetball. I actually was like, yeah, I was like, oh, I actually enjoyed doing this. It's like, okay, now, how can I, once you start getting into it, like, this is good exercise, but I actually want to be good at this. So, like, how can I be, get to where I'm as good as I possibly can be, as quickly as I can? And I think a lot of folks spend a lot of time when they're first learning something, trying to be, like, perfect at it. They're like, I want to figure out all the things that I could possibly need to know about this, instead of just getting in and trying to, like, what are the few things that I can get better on each day? And so, you know, this, for me, with racquetballs, like, all right, I need to just play a lot. That's, like, the biggest thing. So, I started playing, like, three or four times a week. I found a coach that, like, was teaching me a few things, and, like, every time I would get out, once a week, he would teach me one new thing. And it was like, all right, I'm just going to practice that one new thing when I'm out playing with folks. It didn't even matter. So, it was like, this is the shot I'm going to take. Even if that wasn't the right shot to take in that moment, it was like, I'm going to make that shot anyway, because I'm just going to keep working on it. And I think this kind of, like, approach to learning really helps in all sorts, like, for whatever you're trying to learn. So, like, this is something I help talk to, like, for everyone who's joining our support team. I'm like, look, you know, out the gate, you're going to know, like, next to now, like, what's the best thing to do? You're going to know, like, next to nothing about what you need to do. The biggest way you can get better is not by writing a perfect answer to this one ticket, but it's trying to do as many tickets as you possibly can in a given day, because if you're able, you know, out the gate to answer 20 emails a day for the first week, well, at the end of the week, you've done 100 emails versus the person who only does, you know, five a day, they've only done 25. So now you have, you know, 75 more interactions of learning than the person who only did five. So it's like, if you can get, you know, enough, like, reps in, basically, that's going to really accelerate your learning. So I think a lot of folks spend too much time on, like, being perfectionist about things, and they forget, like, a lot of times, if you just do it enough times, you're just going to get better at it, because you've done it a lot.
Trying new things (39:34)
So that's like a one thing that I think is like, a lot of founders could really learn from. It's just like, don't worry about trying to be perfect. Just try a bunch of stuff. Like, just do a lot of things and you're going to get better at it. That's great advice. And there's often such little downside, like, especially in software, like, maybe you're shooting up rockets and that's one thing. But like, you know, if you miss a line of form or something, it doesn't matter. And early on, right? You have barely any customers, like, whatever, right? Like, you know, you'll figure it out, right? Like, it's not going to be the end of the world and you'll have another opportunity to do something else. Are you trying to learn anything else right now? Oh, I'm still trying to get better at a ball, but that's a big one. And then, I mean, I'm always trying to like be a better CEO, right? Like, I think that's been like a big transition for like the last year is like, it's a certain point where you stop being like a founder and a part of the team and you're like, actually, now I need to start thinking about like me as a CEO and like a leader of the organization and making sure that like we're setting ourselves up for a good future. And so that's something like I'm always like learning and trying to get better at. In fact, one of the things that I always like I like to do is about every six months, I'll go seek out founders who are basically a year ahead of me.
Painting the future (40:39)
And just ask like, what did you do in your last year? Like, what was the smartest thing you did in last year? What was the dumbest thing you did in the last year? Like, what are the things that you're really happy about? What are the things you regret? And that kind of helps paint a picture of what's to come for me. And so that way I can, sometimes you can preempt some of it. And sometimes you can't. Sometimes it's just like, you know, it's like you just know like it's coming, right? Well, like, okay, so yeah, share some wisdom. What do you expect? What's coming down the pike?
Growth, scaling, and culture (41:24)
Well, you know, I think, you know, one of the interesting things that I've heard from other folks is, you know, as you scale your organization, you know, you get past 100 people, you're going to realize like the folks that got you there might not get you to the next level. And that's not anything inherently good or bad in the people that you worked with. That's just something that I think a lot of folks have realized. Like, some people thrive in smaller organizations. Some people are better, bigger organizations. And there are, there is a Venn diagram overlap where people are successful in both and can scale go the distance, but that's not always the case. And so that's a thing that, you know, we've been lucky to have really good retention rate, but it will be interesting to see like how far out we can push that. You know, given that this kind of phenomenon exists where like people, you know, end up going out to other, like decide like I just like being in smaller organizations. So like that's one thing that I've kind of got like in the back of my head where I'm like, how are you going to like handle some of this stuff?
Racquetball tips (42:25)
That's great. I guess my, well, yeah, I guess my last question is on like, what are your pro racquetball tips? I don't know anything about racquetball. So, find like, find like the old guy at the gym. Like he's like 60 or 70. You're going to think he's like not very good. And then get on the court with him and then he'll smoke you and then ask him like, how did you beat me so bad? And the reality is like the guy is probably played for like, you know, two, three, four decades and knows exactly what he needs to do to like, even if you're young and fast and athletic. Like, it doesn't matter. Like you're not going to beat them because racquetball actually there is like quite a bit of strategy in it. You can't just like, if you're a first time or you're not going to like out athlete like a guy who's played for a while, even if they do have like bad knees and like a replacement. They don't really move around. Yeah. It's like they don't have to because they just know where to hit the ball that you're not going to get to it. Man, that's life. I know. And I, you know, I think that applies to a lot of things like, especially, you know, in startups, if things are moving fast and growing fast, like find someone that just can help you, right? Like, and has been there and done that. Like they're going to know, they just like know where all the trap doors are and like where all the hidden things that are going to trip you up are. And so, you know, they may not know 100% of the things that you're going to run into. But they can be a good resource for you and just accelerate your learning a little bit. So, you know, once you have an opportunity to like get that kind of mentorship or help or whatever, like find a person that can be that for you. Great. All right. Thanks for coming in. Yeah. Awesome. Thanks.