Moving to Singapore
Looking back at four years at Stripe 🥳
I'm currently sitting on this tiny Dutch Island called Schiermonnikoog (don't try to pronounce it, you'll have a sore throat for days!), looking out at the raindrops dancing in front of the window. It's a blissful, bike-only island on which I've spent my childhood summers. The perfect place to reflect on the past couple of years at Stripe and spend some quality time with my family before moving to Singapore 🇸🇬
Early Dublin Days ☘️
I joined Stripe in late 2015 in our Dublin office to kickstart the German language support team. Back then we were a small team of only fifteen Stripes in a little co-working space next to the Guinnes Store House. A space were we would soon run out of oxygen, so in March 2016 we moved into the One Building on Grand Canal Street Lower, a six story building originally built in the 70ies. Now 25 Stripes strong, we were able to fill roughly half of the top floor, the other half we used as storage and a secret make-shift ping pong table, while the remaining five floors were still being renovated. Now, less than for years later, we've almost outgrown that space 🤯
Earlier this summer, I spent two weeks in Dublin, to wrap things up before the move. With now more than 200 Stripes in that building, it's quite surreal to think back to the early days when we first moved in. I've been lucky enough to experience many firsts at Stripe: the first German support, the first Field Engineer in Europe, and now soon the first Developer Advocate in APAC. But also many smaller things, I set up the first ever WIFI connection in our Dublin office, a story I vividly remember. I had to cycle all the way across Dublin to the One Building, back then pretty much still a construction site, as it was being fully renovated on the inside. On a VC with our IT team in San Francisco they would tell me which cables to plug into which switches. As someone more at home on the software side of things, a very satisfying moment.
Additionally, I used to be the head of BINs! Not card BINs, as you might think at a payments company, no, rather garbage bins 😂. Back then we were too small for commercial waste disposal, so twice a week I would roll out the bins to the curb in the evening and back in in the morning. I fondly remember those days. Once the lower floors were fully done, I even had my own floor, known as the Thor floor. Now it's simply the fourth floor.
One of the things I really love about Stripe is that there is so much room and opportunity to grow. The "do whatever's necessary" mindset was especially important in the early days. Thinking back to my first two years at Stripe, my role would change quite significantly roughly every three months, depending on the need of the organisation and my interests. Starting in a support and operations role and lateron doing a good amount of sales across Northern Europe was a fantastic way to really get to know our products and users very deeply. Never before had I been able to acquire so much knowledge, and encounter so many talented teachers -- my colleagues at Stripe. Something I struggled to find in academia.
Customer Engineering and moving to Amsterdam 🚲🇳🇱
As we kept going more and more upmarket, I naturally moved into a customer facing engineering role, working with some of our largest customers and partners across continental Europe, and also globally. Companies like Booking.com, Catawiki, Shopify, and many more of different shapes, sizes, and stages. Being able to deeply understand various different organisations, their cultures and tech-stacks, has been another invaluable learning experience.
As much as I love Dublin, the Irish, and the culture in our Dublin office, working with customers across continental Europe meant a lot of travel. While I was hoping Elon would build a hyperloop train underneath the UK to the continent, the easier option seemed to be for me to move closer to the continent. Working with many of our customers in Amsterdam at that time, the decision was easily made, and so I got myself a nice apartment on the Nieuwe Prinsengracht, a stylish Vanmoof bike, and fell in love with the Dutch, their entrepreneurial mindset and fantastic infrastructure and engineering.
At the same time, during the past 1.5 years, we've started building out our European engineering hub. It's been great seeing the team grow and partnering on events and conferences to get the word out that we're hiring in the region. Engaging with the broader developer community is something I've been enjoying more and more. So it's been fantastic to see the team ship access to Stripe for developers and businesses in eight additional European countries, empowering even more developers across Europe 🎉
Simultaneously, the European commission came out with the Strong Customer Authentication regulation (short SCA), a regulation that would significantly change the checkout and payment experience for customers across Europe, especially for card payments. I won't go into the specific details here (feel free to visit https://stripe.com/sca if that's a topic of interest for you, and you want to shine at your next dinner party) but for roughly the last year, preparing European businesses and developers for this upcoming regulation has been my main focus. With the Customer Engineering team now many folks stronger, it allowed me to focus on more scalable inititives for the broader developer community, like this video series.
However, it also reminded me that I wanted to look beyond Europe and its fun regulations, and that Southeast Asia is an exciting market with lots of things happening in payments, and a very different payment culture (QR codes anyone? 😉)!
Why Singapore, why now?
I first visited our Singapore office in early 2017 to help with a project at GrabTaxi, one of Southeast Asia's largest ride-hailing apps. While I struggled with the climate, I instantly fell in love with the energy of the city and the office, back then a small team of less than ten, which reminded me of the early Dublin days.
Back then the lucky timing gods allowed me to join the team for an offsite in Indonesia, which was quite the experience (if you don't know the story, I'm happy to trade it for a coffee). From this trip on I was hooked, and I knew I wanted to spend some time learning more about this exciting region, however the timing was never quite right, until now.
I'm immensely grateful that Stripe supports and even encurages these types of rotations, not just in the sense of physical location, but also in terms of working on different teams, it is seen as an important knowledge sharing mechanism.
If this story makes you interested in joining our mission of empowering developers and entrepreneurs to grow the GDP of the internet, please don't hesitate to reach out to me. My Twitter DMs are open 🙃