Three insiders shared how they’ll preserve company culture in the midst of explosive growth.
If Paxos was a game of Wordle, that might be the five-letter word that best describes where the company is at.
That’s because the blockchain fintech company is about to experience a surge in growth this year, adding 400-plus Paxonians to its 206-person headcount — and a swath of competition to its buzzing #wordle Slack channel.
“It has become a Paxonian ritual to start the day with playing Wordle and sharing scores and debating strategies to find the five-letter word in the shortest guesses,” Johnna Mackey, a talent attraction manager at Paxos, said. “One strategy is we always search for ‘TRUTH,’ which is a company core value.”
Routines like this are a perfect example of Paxos’ company culture — a fun and collaborative one that strives to find ways to stay connected in a remote world.
Why is the company experiencing a growth surge in 2022, and how will it preserve its unique culture throughout it? Built In NYC sat down with three Paxonians to find out.
Speak to Paxos’ growth plans in 2022.
Yasmeen Olafsson, TA Manager: In the last 18 months, we have had our biggest funding round ever and began delivering great service to partners like PayPal, Bank of America and Mastercard all because of the people we hired. The momentum really comes from our people.
Bri Lechner, Talent Sourcer: We’re enabling the mainstream adoption of crypto and other digital assets and doing it in a trusted, regulatory way that’s unmatched in the industry. We have also brought on some fantastic senior leaders and exceptional talent that are leading us into a bright future that requires more of the world’s greatest minds.
Justin Courtney, Senior Technical Recruiter: I believe Paxos is going to explode in growth over the next year. We’ve been successful in onboarding some pretty large companies, and I think you see a domino effect from here as companies are realizing they can’t be left behind. We take a partnership approach to our client engagements. We give them the trust to take the leap into digital assets by offering a fully regulated solution. Blockchain adoption is well on its way and we’re here to help bridge the gap between web2 and web3. Who wouldn’t be excited about being a part of this?
Describe the company culture.
Olafsson: When I first started pre-Covid, I joined because of the people. We had happy hours every Thursday. We had frequent lunch-and-learns and a big bagel breakfast every Friday. We did events like “Paxos’ Got Talent.” Throughout the pandemic, we’ve been able to maintain this culture. We do an annual Wall Street Rides bike event to raise money for autism research. We do “ladies at Paxos” events with virtual dance classes and workout classes. We’ve done cooking classes via Google Hangouts.
And there are the little things, too. When you’re sick, Paxos sends you a care package. When you have an anniversary, you get little presents. There are so many thoughtful gifts that remind you that you’re valued here. We’re also very active on Slack, and try to celebrate the many different people we have at the company.
Lechner: Just the other day, we had the option to join a HIIT workout and it was 30 minutes. My day was busy, but I figured, why not take 30 minutes to step out and join this virtual class? It was so much fun. There was a small group, maybe 10 of us, that chose to join. We were all working out to Christmas music. I walked away thinking, “I feel so much better,” and a lot more connected to the people who joined than before. There were some people in the class that I hadn’t even met.
Also, our “ladies at Paxos” Slack channel is great. A few weeks ago, we organized a speaker to come in and talk about how to present yourself as a woman in tech. Another fun thing we do is a companywide weekly Paxos photo challenge. For example, maybe the challenge is to post a picture of your Halloween costume or what you did for Thanksgiving. Most of the company participates. It’s a great way to see people’s personal lives outside of work and gets everyone feeling more connected.
Courtney: Speaking of the Paxos photo challenge, we also have a meme contest along with that. There will be a blank spot along with the photos, and everyone responds with their best meme. Aside from everything else that’s been said, I feel very involved. Our leaders always ask for our input, and plans change in regards to that feedback. It feels good to not only provide input, but actually have that input heard.
We also do a great job of helping people get up to speed with the buzzwords and topics within the blockchain and crypto space. We have product demos every week where our tech teams go through what we’re building. We have lounge-and-learn sessions every other week. Last week we went through how to use DeFi (decentralized finance). A couple weeks before, we went through non-fungible tokens (NFTs). Not everyone’s going to know all of these things, and we take the extra step to teach everybody who wants to learn.
What are some of the challenges that come with growth?
Courtney: This entire industry is about to experience exponential growth, so one challenge is differentiating yourself. I think we’re in a position where we’re not competing with retail crypto apps that focus on a direct-to-consumer model. We’re coming from a position where we want to be the infrastructure layer serving global enterprises. We want to be used by all these established companies, and make it easy for them to plug in. We’re in a really good position to achieve that.
Olafsson: One challenge is just maintaining our culture with explosive growth. The benefit is, the more people we hire, the more people with different experiences, different viewpoints and opinions we’ll have. To aid us in maintaining our culture, we’ve hired an employee engagement manager, who does an amazing job at preserving and growing our culture, whether that’s through workout classes or a hangout, virtual meetups or actual meetups. We doubled in size in 2021, and a big concern a lot of people had was how that growth would affect culture. It really hasn’t. Our culture has only gotten better.
How are you preparing for 400-plus people to join the team?
Lechner: I always try to remind myself that 2022 is going to be busy, but just treat the coming year for what it is: an exciting time at Paxos. As an employee, it’s so cool to see a company double or triple in size. This isn’t something we have to do. It’s something we get to do, that we get to be a part of.
Courtney: I think we have a good plan. I’ve been at a startup that went from 200 people to 800, and one of the things that we never really focused on was scaling the people team at the same rate as we were scaling the rest of the company. That is absolutely not the case at Paxos. Our people team is as important as hiring our engineers. And that is bought into from the top down. Our CEO and Yasmeen are making sure that we’ve had the support in place where we won’t be stretched thin and have the proper support around us.
What are you most excited for in the next year?
Courtney: To be a part of what we’re doing. Thinking ahead to 10 years from now, when payments are settled on a blockchain, and thinking about how we’re building the underlying plumbing that will bring that vision to life, it’s really exciting. Think about how cool it would be if you were one of the first employees at Microsoft? That’s the point we’re at now. It’s hard for some people who maybe aren’t as connected to the blockchain and crypto industry to see. But I think it’s inevitable. I’m just excited to be a part of building the future of the next phase of the internet, and the next phase of finance.
Lechner: I was actually on a candidate call two days ago, and someone said, “I could possibly see Paxos being the next Amazon.” I think Paxos is strongly positioned to have that explosive growth. We’re already experiencing it. How could you not be excited about that?