Now contrast that to Stripe who's actually expending cycles and real labor to solve what they've deemed a real problem or at least a tangible goal for their org.
Stripe is an awesome company, I can only hope the rest of the industry will take notice of their culture and process. But even if the rest of the industry doesn't take notice Stripe will continue to attract better talent and get higher quality output from their people because of this type of care and consideration.
Disclosure: I am a founder of https://slab.com that is also addressing this as a scalable SaaS solution.
There's also ops and support. Building something meant for a dedicated team to keep running is way different from something a team will do ops for as one of many things. A complex architecture (even if contained in a single VM) requires a lot more support from more capable support people on the developer's side as well.
You have to think through a lot there. It's not something to take on without careful deliberation but if you're sure you'll eventually need to do both you should strongly consider it. If nothing else make it part of every design decision and pay attention to operational overhead by your own teams because those problems might end up being customer problems.
Building Saas-first or on-premise-first leads your product toward distinct attractors (features, behaviours, compliance, etc.).
I see a lot of startups creating internal software themselves (e.g., CRM's, email marketing systems, etc.) with a similar rationale based on "values and principles", where an off-the-shelf solution would be a much better use of resources.
Ironically, Stripe's core product is one of those off-the-shelf solutions that seems to be a good fit for a lot of startups, yet some still choose to do things the hard way.
Stripe landing pages almost always get tons of support on Hacker News. This isn't because they're just a good payment processor -- it's because their landing pages are unlike anything else in the industry. They could have slapped together a static site in Jekyll with custom styling and called it a day. Instead, they labored over a landing page that feels well designed with immaculate attention to detail.
Did they have to do any of this? Not really. But it shows on the outside -- and it works. Given that the world is filled with design that just copies Apple and Google, supporting creative R&D is a huge plus for them.
Internal tools are the best way to do that -- they let people experiment and learn without fear of consequences on the outside.
I don't want to be too cynical but it can function as a kind of elaborate PR and recruiting tool, as well as generally support the impression of the company being the Next Big Thing. As Square had to open up their finances and work on profitability, they got more focused on core product. I wonder if Stripe will follow.
I also wonder if there's something particular about payment processors.. maybe overcompensating? Is it part of the business model to kind of puff up a company around what should otherwise be a commodity-priced core service?
And most of that should be fairly autonomous. The fat will eventually be trimmed. Just like at Etsy.
Whether or not this is intentional, it's working that way. I've heard more guests on techy podcasts that work for stripe than google, maybe just because they're so enthusiastic about the culture that they always seem to bring it up.
Maybe it depends on the size/stage of the company to some degree. In the startups I've been involved with (< 10 people), developers have little - if any - time to experiment with things that fall outside the core product.
Company hackathons (as mentioned in Stripe's case) can be a good outlet for that kind of creativity, but the kind of quality you mention ("immaculate attention to detail") doesn't come out of hackathons. The company's leadership still has to make those things a priority (which, by definition, deprioritizes other things).
It's not at all surprising to us that both Stripe and Square have spent a lot of time and money on this problem to support their quick growth past 1,000 people.
“Reinventing” implies this has been done right for Stripe (or any such company) elsewhere.
better use of resources
Effectiveness in complex environments is not necessarily efficient.
I've also seen companies drown themselves in custom ERP systems to the extent that it actually impacts their bottom line.
Point is - if these types of projects can produce an ROI and improve the bottom line, then by all means do them. But know what you're good at - and better, know what you're not good at.
Possibly OT, but heck, they do it with AWS bills that coincidentally often track pretty well what it would cost to colocate bare metal and employ sysadmins.
Why can't Stripe do the same thing? It's got this gigantic customer base of fledgling businesses; why not start building internal tools and then, once they're mature and battle-tested internally, offer them publicly to the growing businesses they already work with? It's an ingenious move.
"Wright continued to develop the editor for [Raid On Bungeling Bay] as a personal toy because he enjoyed it so much. He researched urban planning and realised that others might enjoy constructing and building cities themselves. The result was a more advanced simulation that eventually became SimCity."
- the Wikipedia page on RoBB, which also notes that it selling about a mullion units in Japan was a large part of what gave Wright the financial freedom to build Sim City
I don't know if you would find a good off the shelf product that meshed with Stripe's vision. Some of the discrete pieces, document sharing and search, maybe.
My hypothesis is that these companies are overly obsessed with defining a “mold” of the type of person that belongs at the company, and if you slightly deviate from that mold then you’re disproportionately punished for it.
What breaks a company out of commoditization is often culture and so companies will go to great length to demonstrate their differentiator.
(as a former founder and hiring manager at a bigger company who has spent a lot of time doing this in both settings)
Only certain companies though are able to execute and maintain this type of stuff, and even then it’s still questionable whether it’s worth it or not. I would love to see where Home is in 2 and 5 years.
I worked at a company that used its own homegrown timekeeping and HR tool. Over the years it became poorly maintained as people came and gone and the company (and its needs) grew. Eventually it was decided to jump ship to an "off-the-shelf" product and everyone loved it because it actually did what it was supposed to do.
I highly doubt employees are going to feel more loved because the company decided to build their own wiki and address book.
If it's helpful context, Home has been around for two years and People (its precursor) was made in 2014. We now have a team helping shepherd it along -- you're right that an staple is curating so it doesn't become bloated. We intend to continue to share updates as we learn more, so hopefully others can learn from what works (and doesn't!) as well.
Is the thing nice? Sure it's nice. But I think it's a mistake to extrapolate too heavily from that to other areas of a company's operations. Every tech company I've ever been at has had "dirt floors" in some form or another- a really shitty area that was paid little or no attention so the adjacent cathedral could have another layer of gilding added.
Even "awesome" companies have areas you would not want a job working in. If you were in such a situation, would you want your lot to be improved, or would you want to watch cutesy videos of people who work at your company you will likely never meet? Imagine being in such a position, raising the issues you are struggling with every day to whoever will listen, and being ignored in favor of resources getting devoted to a cool UI for editing out-of-office days. That would probably be, you know, a bummer.
"Used by 99% of Stripes in the last month, Home is the source of truth for who we are, what we’re doing, and why—and a platform for enabling individuals and helping them get to know one another."
If it's the intranet/homepage/directory, of course everyone at Stripe uses it. If this is something worth talking about, let's dig into the real metrics around engagement and usage. It's strange to me to see a YC company so distracted by something this far outside of their core competency, especially to the point they would announce publicly all of the time and effort they put into it. This seems like a pure vanity project at best, and at worst evidence that Stripe is misdeploying resources as they scale, which happens and is often unavoidable.
Telling people Stripe care about their employees, that the Stripes built together a platform at one of their Stripe hackathon
You see the picture. It's not about the platform, it's about interesting people to work for Stripe.
> It's strange to me to see a YC company so distracted by something this far outside of their core competency, especially to the point they would announce publicly all of the time and effort they put into it.
They made this during an internal hackathon. This is not a distraction, it's just something that a few employees wanted to improve and they did it during a time that was allocated specifically to improve what employees wanted.
You may argue that hackathon is mismanaging resources, but that's a whole other story.
On a related note, my co-founder, Nelson, saw Michael's original tweet about Home a few weeks ago and reached out to speak with him. Super nice person. Reportedly Home's really transformed Stripe's already-transparent internal communication culture.
As a founder, I've always admired Stripes email transparency policy. Not sure if it's still being used, but anyone at the company could see anyone else's email from the start. Home seems like a more modern way to share, and this type of transparency really helps eliminate a lot of problems that organizations experience when scaling up.
The book Team of Teams by General Stanley McChrystal is essentially all about how the US military transformed itself from a top-down organization a team of teams that can operate effectively in a connected, digital world. Knowledge sharing systems between groups of people that are usually siloed was at the core of that transformation. Tools like Home and Tettra really help with that. On a personal note, it's also validating for me as Tettra's founder to see Stripe investing resources into the same problem we solve. They have a culture I really admire and we're hoping to make it easier for other organizations to operate transparently too.
Anyone else using knowledge sharing tools internally? Communication is a proverbial problem for most growing organizations. Would love to hear what's working, what's not, and get a discussion going here.
I know you're trying to drive people to "sign up for free", but I guess I wasn't compelled enough by the text descriptions to do that in the absence of a concrete feature list.
Also, having pricing before features makes me click on pricing first, which seemed premature in my mind before I was even decided I was interested in the product.
Hope this helps!
It's PR-ified, but as someone at a much larger company, I 100% understand and appreciate this product. Here's a few use cases:
- I'm working on something that integrates with another product we offer, X, which I don't work on. I notice something strange about X - perhaps the internal docs are inconsistent with the external docs, perhaps something about X is unclear, whatever. I need a way to figure out who I should talk to about fixing this. An internal directory helps me find this person, or at the very least find someone who will know who to talk to. Without it, I don't even know where to start.
- I'm ramping up on product X, which will be launched in two quarters. My job is to prepare feature Y for the launch, but I realize there are some implications about how we handle user data that may involve GDPR issues. An internal directory helps me figure out who on our legal team is responsible for GDPR compliance and can help me understand the precise obligations I have under GDPR.
- I'm building internal support tooling for product X, but realize that it might also be useful for products Y and Z, which we also offer. Although I might not be able to add features for Y and Z immediately, I'd like to make sure I know what use cases our support teams for Y and Z actually have. An internal directory helps me identify people I can get user feedback from and consequently build an all-around better tool.
In general at a certain size it becomes impossible to know or be introduced to everyone you need to work with to do your job properly. Internal directories solve this problem.
Personally, I like to work with people I like. I've had many great relationships come from meeting people at work, finding common interests and sharing them. From simple things like talking about our favourite shows, to board game nights, to going out for drinks and meeting up to take pictures. I can see the value in this.
However, if you are looking for something in the order of Home but much simpler, check out https://github.com/artsy/team-navigator/
We regularly discuss this :) I'm not sure yet how valuable open sourcing it will be in the long run. Part of what makes Home work well for us is how tied it is to how we actually work day-to-day -- that regularly changes as we grow and learn. As an open source project, we'd feel a commitment to keep it working for the existing user base, which might perversely hold back progress on Home and be a net negative for the community as Stripe itself tries new ways to operate.
For now, we intend to continue sharing the lessons we learn from Home and similar tools so that others can benefit from that, and to keep open sourcing it in the back of our head as we design the underlying APIs and infrastructure so we have optionality if it makes sense down the line.
They didn't open source it for other people to use, they open sources it for other people to learn.
However you have to remember that your scale, we will follow you (and fix your bugs) rather than demand you serve us.
Who knows we both might learn off each other !
You are the project owner after all, and if someone doesn't like the way you are going they can just fork it and continue on their own.
You're right tho that they could do everything you describe, i.e. publish the source code and not actually participate in any 'open source' community projects that might spring up around the code. I'm guessing that's not really that attractive to Stripe, or lots of other people. It's work just to remember to push commits to the public repo, even if you're otherwise ignoring all public communications about the project. (And ignoring all the public communications, e.g. blog posts complaining about the company not collaborating with the community, is work too.)
Still, if they are upfront about it, I don't see how it's an issue. If one of the first lines of the readme is something along the lines of "Because we believe in open source, we are making the source code publicly available for this product. We hope you may learn from it as much as we have, and perhaps adapt and use it in your own organization. However, there are currently no resources allocated towards making this a plug 'n play product for others (we are not your software development team) and therefore we will not accept pull requests or issues."
Perhaps that sounds a bit harsh in its current form, but this is just a draft of what it could say. I think the vast majority of people would understand that it is indeed unreasonable to expect them to spend money on your whims and wishes for no good reason.
I would much rather it is provided as it is. I mean No one should ever think of Open Sourcing it as a responsibility.
> Under the hood, Home is built on the same technology as our user-facing products (such as the Dashboard)...
Anyone know what technology that is?
When startups start to grow, they face this problem of not knowing your teammates well, and there is an even bigger problem of all this scattered information that becomes a big bottleneck in daily work.
With Tipi were are focused on the latter problem, yet we also have people profiles, private messages, etc. It's good to see more startups working on these kinds of problems!
As software engineers that have worked in large orgs on very complex projects, we know the pain of "app sprawl" and the scattering of information that comes with everyone using different apps. That's why we began building Nifty and our mission is to solve this problem for software teams so that engineers and all creators can reduce the "work about work" and focus more on their valuable, fulfilling work!
Let us know what you think! We'd love some feedback from the HN community!
Wish you the best of luck in your product!
We'll be expanding our branding and identity and this, as you suggest, will include evolving our creative so we hope to shine more in that area very soon!
Thanks again for taking the time @dewski!
At first glance you could make a case this may be a product from Stripe. When I am evaluating a product and it doesn't showcase a lot of creativity I have a hard time taking it serious or recommending it to colleagues. I'd also imagine most of the audience they are marketing to _has_ heard of Stripe.
For more constructive criticism, the landing page is full of skeleton UI and it's hard to imagine what I will get out of the integrations. I realize it's a mockup, but I'd imagine you already know what would be in those boxes. Instead of the 3 gray boxes, show me as a user what I will see. Is it a summary of the integration? Is it an individual issue or pull request? Is it the most recent activity for that integration?
I'm also not a huge fan of the letter spacing site wide, I think removing it looks like an immediate vast improvement when removed.
Once again I really appreciate your honest feedback! I find it very valuable! I agree the letter-spacing was too much (sometimes Sketch specs do not translate well into CSS and I think this was a casualty of that!)
I also agree that the screenshots are not sufficient and more context and real-world use cases need to be included, we're working on that!
I hope in the very near future you'll be able to see these additions and maybe even take part in the private beta in which it definitely sounds like you'd give us great feedback!
If you haven't signed up for the beta waiting list please feel free to email me at james [at] getnifty.io and I'll be sure to reach out to you as soon as we're ready for our first, early users!
Thanks again dewski!
This isn't constructive criticism. "Showcase a lot of creativity" is vague. Do you take products like Dropbox seriously? Their front-end looks like default Bootstrap.
I had a hard time imagining the answers to these, so maybe you could start with today's default solution - Slack plus integrations to every other tool - and point out the problems with that that you solve.
The primary problem we're addressing is that of "too many apps" causing scattered information and often redundant workflows. Slack does a good job of allowing very specific "hooks" to be created, i.e. a bot which updates a channel of specific activity in a specific app. Likewise, Zapier allows users to configure "one-to-one" type automation.
We designed Nifty to continuously scour all your teams' data across all of their apps and then automatically predict relevant actions or information as user's are using their existing apps.
In short, Nifty is designed not just to allow the configuration of one-off, "one-to-one" integrations but to continuously suggest any number of helpful actions or data across all of your apps without any manual configuration of the integrations themselves.
I know it's a wordy description and, again, we're working on that but I wanted to make sure I communicated to you the difference between our product and some of the existing solutions out there.
Thanks again for taking the time to leave your feedback, it's greatly appreciated!
We don't think of Home that way, but there is an element of helping people know each other. We intentionally haven't built any liking, following, or even posts on Home. Home excels at taking information Stripes produce elsewhere -- in code, documents, and so on -- and surfacing that up through common interfaces to improve access for all; on the people side, Home excels at helping folks learn about others they might not have otherwise met (we're a distributed company and so it's not as easy as seeing someone in the hall). This part of the post attempts to speak to that:
> Home can’t paint the complete picture of the person behind the page, but it helps break the ice. Outside Home, we encourage people to meet in person—one of our more structured approaches involves a chat bot that helps schedule lunches among Stripes who are least likely to know each other (more than 5,000 lunches have been facilitated since it was set up!).
In my experience, getting employees to collaborate is harder part with such tools. Second road block is with access rights.
Curious to know what design decisions did you make to ease collaboration. Please share if you can.
At the most basic level, knowing who works for what team, who is the team manager, who reports to who, etc can be a challenge. Having a single source of truth company directory is key. We had several HR systems and their data was not in sync and rarely correct.
Next, knowing who to talk to in an organization comes down to your ability to network. As a dev, you could ask your manager, who hopefully has a clue about the org structure, but a tool like this can directly link people based on role, skill set, or area of function.
At company social events, I'd interact and chat with people on other teams, sales, bizdev, marketing, and let them know what we (engineering) was working on, and those conversations would open up several opportunities for my teams.
It's easy to dismiss this as something like "facebook.internal" but if I understand this tool correctly, it's far far more valuable to an organization than a place to put up selfies.
I immediately contemplated creating it myself open source, but I know how that impulse decision will end...
It's not exactly the same as Stripe Home, which looks amazing for an internal project, but Carrot is available to everyone, it's all open source, and we're committed to solving this problem for every company that wants to be the Stripe of their industry some day.
Since I was seeing dozens of large companies, like Stripe, building their own versions of this, we created a version of ours for other companies to use: https://pingboard.com
Pingboard centers around org charts, and underneath there are rich employee profiles & cross-functional teams. And now we are expanding into hiring planning -- another area that lacks optimal collaboration and transparency inside most companies.
Does anyone have a sense of whether they intend to ship this as a product? It's incredibly validating for what I'm building right now.
The moment Facebook creates the employee apartments, the serfdom will be complete.
Anyone know if this chat bot is available for Slack? I kinda want to install it for our team
Check out https://www.donut.ai/ -- the company behind it is up to some neat stuff.
It literally just DMs two random people suggesting they should get coffee.
Besides, despite what the name will tell you, this isn’t some sort of powerful, all controlling AI enforcing coffee dates on everyone. It would be set up by a company that would want to use and and would either talk about it and/or have faced the “issues” with introverts.
It’s just a Slack bot. It takes humans to use it.
1/ Of course Google has something very similar (actually, much larger in scale, since their team is much larger)
2/ Unlike Stripe, Google has products (AKA GSuite, Google+, etc) in the space. So, they do a lot of dogfooding of their own products for their internal directory. Many companies run on Google's version of what Stripe made.
Full disclosure: I’m the co-founder of Tettra.
I'm most curious if Stripe will productize this. That would be massive.
I wouldn't go so far as to say it's a pet peeve, but naming things definitely appears to be a challenge.
And looking beyond the current example, there are multiple things called home known by millions of people (the English word and the Google product, and I'm sure there must be more).
How are you even supposed to talk to someone if you don't know who they are or that you should?
> Outside Home, we encourage people to meet in person—one of our more structured approaches involves a chat bot that helps schedule lunches among Stripes who are least likely to know each other (more than 5,000 lunches have been facilitated since it was set up!).