Goodbye Node and SugarCRM, Hello Stripe

Node got acquired by SugarCRM! What's next for me? Stripe :)

3 min read

Over the last year, I worked at Node, an AutoML AI platform startup. I woke up everyday excited to work. I was inspired by my colleagues. And I was motivated by our mission to democratize AI. A few month ago, SugarCRM acquired Node. I am lucky to have witnessed the acquisition process from due diligence to product integration early in my career. While I’m happy that Node successfully exited, it wasn’t the happy ending I wanted. We had been building a general-purpose AutoML AI platform, one that doesn’t exist yet and will exist one day. After the acquisition, our scope was narrowed to concentrate on sales-specific solutions. Ultimately, sales software doesn’t get me out of bed in the morning, which is why I made the tough decision to leave my friends at Node and search for a new job.

I’m grateful for the opportunity to work at Node. I will miss my colleagues and wish them success.

When evaluating opportunities, I considered the people, impact, technology, and compensation in that order of importance.

1. People

The people category includes my manager, the entire reporting chain up to the CEO, my teammates, random people I know at the company, diversity, and my family/friends/mentors.

I always met with my potential managers twice outside of the interview process. First impressions are important, but the first meeting is almost always full of pleasantries. The second meeting is when you can get to know each other better. Next, I also meet with a teammate, who ideally reports to the same manager, and my skip-level manager, meaning my manager’s manager. This gives me a 360 degree perspective of my manager. This is important because your relationship with your manager has the most impact on your happiness at work. I like to take advantage of the fact that people are most willing to talk to you when they want to get you to join the team and ask to speak with my skip-level manager’s manager too. If there are people in my network that work at the company, that’s a positive because I know I’ll find like-minded people. I look for diversity of gender, race, sexual orientation, and thought too. Last, I ask my inner circle of family, friends, and mentors what they think of the company because I trust them and they know me best.

I had good vibes about the people at Stripe at every step of the process. During the interviews, I felt like they didn’t care about Leetcode and cared about me as a person. They were the only non-startup company that offered to set up initial conversations and follow-ups with my manager, skip-level manager, and skip-level manager’s manager without even asking. There were 5 people from my network currently working that I knew from the OxyLabs advisory board, Ondeck Fellows, and Insight Fellows. I spoke with all of them including 1 person who previously worked at Stripe before making my decision too. My family, friends, and mentors all voted Stripe giving me 100% confidence in my decision.

2. Impact

Business impact is important to me. The viral WSJ article titled “Where Are All the Women CEOs?” states owning profit and loss (P&L) is an important stepping stone to higher level positions. This hard to find as a machine learning engineer because artificial intelligence is still in the early phases at most companies. The unique thing about fintech and the Stripe opportunity is that the machine learning platform directly relates to profit and loss.

3. Technology

New technologies are what wake me up in the morning because I’m excited to figure out how they work. Because of this, I only considered companies with AI/ML. I’ve previously had experience building products from scratch thrice in my career. This time I wanted to work on a more mature product and learn to scale from experts at a hyper-growth company. Stripe fit the bill. The company also operates Stripe Press, books about economic and technological advancement. My love for technology equivalent to my love of reading and writing, so I felt that this was a good fit.

4. Compensation

Everyone’s relationship with money is shaped by personal experiences and changes over time. Stripe offered generous compensation from their initial offer, which made me feel valued. It was a difficult decision because I love creating new things. I have no doubt the start ups I received offers from will all be successful and that I’ll think back to today when they IPO.

This was a big decision for me because my first few jobs were shorter stints. Repeatedly, recruiters asked me why I stayed for only a year at my first 3 companies, and I answered the first one in finance was a mistake that I learned from, the second one was a fixed fellowship, and the third one was acquired. I’m happy I was able to make a thoughtful decision this time using my previous experience and look forward to working at Stripe for the foreseeable future.


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