There’s no textbook-approved technique for building a startup engineering team: in the early days, everyone wears several hats.
But when a company enters its growth phase, the recruiting process is systematized, new hires are sorted into discrete units, and a thin layer of management is applied to keep everything on track.
When Jean-Denis Greze accepted the CTO role at Plaid in 2017, the fintech company was still financing its Series A had “about 20 engineers who were still trying to feel their way to product-market fit,” writes enterprise reporter Ron Miller.
Today, Plaid’s engineering team numbers 350 people.
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In an interview, Greze explained how Plaid moved away from an all-hands-on-deck ethos to a system where contributors had clearly defined roles they weren’t locked into.
I asked Ron what surprised him the most while reporting this story, and he said it was the fact that Visa’s failed attempt to purchase Plaid last year made it easier for them to hire new technical talent.
Suddenly, “people who didn’t want to be part of a startup and wanted to solve bigger problems around scale and security were willing to talk to them,” says Ron.
“Whereas before, they felt Plaid was a little too small for their ambitions.”
Today and tomorrow, we’ll have team coverage of Y Combinator’s Winter 2022 Demo Day, including a selection of staff favorites, so be sure to check the site each afternoon.
Thanks very much for reading TechCrunch+ this week!
Senior Editor, TechCrunch+
2 reasons why demo days are dead
Demo days are a showcase for tech media, but does this performative Silicon Valley tradition still benefit founders and investors?
In a guest post for TC+, 22 Ventures co-founder and chair Michael Redd shares two factors that make demo days less relevant: many startups sign funding deals before the big show, and founders are more interested in working with value-add investors.
“Simply getting rid of demo day won’t help founders find, or let investors offer, that value,” Reed writes. “What we need is to better understand why demo day falls short and how to source deals on a much more intimate level.”
Crypto mining is approaching a key inflection point
The Ethereum community is bracing for a sea change.
A long-anticipated decision to move from a proof-of-work consensus protocol to one that favors proof of stake will force many to mine other cryptocurrencies, writes Warren Rogers, CFO at Blockware Solutions.
“Ethereum miners have a very high risk that their machines become obsolete overnight,” as PoS requires specialized hardware, which could leave Bitcoin as the major cryptocurrency of choice.
“While it is possible that this could be true in the short term, in the long run, this transition sets the precedent for being able to materially change the underlying protocol,” says Rogers.
Use RevOps to develop a customer-led approach to B2B sales
Employees are hired to do one specific job, which is why even early-stage startups can become siloed.
Companies that find ways to integrate their sales flow and customer success operations have an advantage, writes Erol Toker, founder and CEO of Truly.co.
“Optimizing your unique path to better connect with customers requires having a cross-discipline team that’s focused solely on that objective and sees the client as their guiding star,” Toker says.
“We call that RevOps.”
Improving discovery for NFTs will amplify digital creators and marketplaces
It’s easy to build a recommendation algorithm for a business that sells jackets online, but when selling NFTs, optimizing for limitless inventory, anonymous customers, and opaque consumer behavior becomes magnitudes harder.
These may be just growing pains for NFT marketplaces, but the current state of play harms digital creators, as their art becomes another drop in the ocean, writes Alexandre Robicquet, co-founder and CEO of Crossing Minds.
The key to solving this problem, says Robicquet, is to build a system that promotes discovery of NFTs:
“If a recommendation algorithm can ensure that buyers can meaningfully discover NFTs they love, or think there’s investment potential in, or both, and if it can keep buyers coming back for more, then artists will reap the benefits for years down the line.”
IT can play a major role in driving sustainability
Data centers consume approximately one percent of the world’s electricity each year, but considering the fact a recent heat wave in Antarctica just cost us another ice shelf, every little bit counts.
In an in-depth post, Cloudbolt CEO Jeff Kukowski shares multiple strategies that reduce IT energy consumption by employing intelligent automation, increasing visibility, reducing shadow IT, and optimizing CI/CD pipelines.
“The sum of many small changes will lead to the transformative improvements that must be made,” he says.