My Welcome Letter for New Axosoft Team Members

Pleasantries are awesome. For social settings. WE are trying to do something great. Build something amazing. Make a dent in the universe. Forgive me if I skip the pleasantries.

You are here amongst a group of A-players. What is an A player? They’re the ones who get picked first. Not in sports, but in intelligence. You are among the stars of our community. You are smart and you are talented and you probably have a pretty awesome attitude. That’s the reason you’re here. If you think we’ve made a mistake, you should leave. In fact, we’ll give you a $2,500 bonus for leaving in the first 30 days if you’re not the right fit.

Alright, now that that is out of the way, lets get to the meat of the matter: You don’t have a boss. Why? Because you’re too smart to have a boss. You do as you please, but it turns out you want to make a difference. That’s why you actually try. You are always looking to improve, not just yourself, but your team. You’re always looking for better ways to do the things that make a difference and there’s always a better way. That’s why you’re hungry for knowledge. That’s why you’re at Axosoft.

While you don’t have a boss, you do have a role. You were hired for a reason: to kick ass! Maybe as a developer (to build amazing products) or to help spread the word (as a marketer) or to close that deal (in sales), but irrespective of the role, the goal should always be clear: we’re here to do something amazing and yeh, if we do a great job, we’ll pay the bills and then some. But you could pay the bills anywhere. The fact that you work at Axosoft means that you could work at any number of companies and probably make more money – at least in the short term. If short term financial gain is your motivation, we can refer you to a few companies and give you a nice severance. But if making a dent in the universe is your motivation, then you’re in the right place.

To be sure, working at Axosoft is not easy. It’s challenging and demanding. You’re going to get into arguments and heated discussions and sometimes you’ll feel alone. You might be a lone voice of reason without authority. That’s the way things work when you are amongst peers. Not everyone is on the same wavelength and it’s your job to speak up, to convey the essence of your expertise. Everyone wants to be lead by you and everyone is waiting for you to speak up and lead. If you know the subject, it’s your call and you need to step up. 

It turns out that leading is exhausting work. You actually need to know what you’re doing and you have to be willing to take risk and you have to accept the probability of being wrong. Leading is stressful. So sometimes, you want others to lead and you’re perfectly fine with that. That’s what makes you a perfect fit at Axosoft. You know when to lead and when to follow.

We are not trying to build just another company. Axosoft is different. You knew it in the interview. You knew it when you accepted the position. There’s something special about a place where you are the boss. We’re not trying to do the same things in the same way as everyone else. We want to make a difference and that’s why we added you to the team. You are different and that’s awesome!

So there is this thing that every successful company needs: strategy. Now imagine trying to build a strategy in a company of 30, 50, 100 or 500 peers. How do you do it? The answer is that you need representation from each part of the business and the ideal representation is those with the most knowledge of the business who also have the willingness and history of stepping up. A sampling of the company’s most knowledgeable and most experienced, selected by peers help shape Axosoft’s strategy.

Being a part of the strategy team does not make you any more special or give you any more privilige than anyone else in the company. There are no corner offices or reserved parking spots at Axosoft. It simply gives you the responsibility of helping direct the company’s future by representing your department and team’s concerns. It forces you to step outside the day to day activities and think about the future…the future we want to build.

As the company grows and faces new challenges, things will change. You were picked to be a part of Axosoft because of your intelligence and your ability to quickly adapt to change. Change is how we survive. Change is how we continually get better. Change is how we crush our competition.

Lets get one thing straight: we are a competitive bunch! In business, like sports, there are winners and there are losers. Survival is dependent on winning. And we are competing in a worldwide arena. That means our competitors can come from anywhere with bigger budgets, larger staff, lower costs and in some cases, all of the above. But there’s always a way to win, and our collective survival as a company is dependent on finding a way to win.

Historically, we have won by innovating. Axosoft’s product line is like no other. We don’t copy the competition. We don’t outsource our key competencies. We do embrace good ideas, no matter where they come from, and we look for different ways to mary a collection of good ideas to solve problems in new ways.

But innovation is not limited to product development. Innovation can be in any part of the company, from the way we attract new talent, to the way each workstation is designed and even to the way we deliver happiness to our fellow team members. In a global market where our competitors can be bigger and better financed than us, we have to out-innovate them in ways they are not even thinking about.

Welcome to Axosoft. There, we got the pleasantaries out of the way too. Now lets do something amazing together! Go. Seriously. Get to work!

Hamid Shojaee

Some Lessons Are Worth More Than $1 – Axosoft Bug Tracker is Now Free!

A few months ago, we wanted to take our Axosoft Bug Tracker, a product that we normally sold for $70 Per User Per Month, and make it Free to all software development teams around the world.

After much internal debate, and concerns that we would open the floodgates to trolls and users who have no idea what they are signing up for, we decided to put a $1 per year price tag on it. This wasn’t $1 per user, but rather $1 for the entire team – even a team of 50 or 100 people (previously such teams would pay $3,500 or $7,000 per year).

We figured the $1 per year barrier, requiring a credit card, was just the right balance to deter the wrong people from signing up for a product that wasn’t meant for them. Additionally, based on expectations of having tens of thousands of signups per year, we decided to create the Axosoft Startup Grant program where we would take the money from the $1 signups and give them in $10,000 grants to software startups.

Boy were we wrong about the $1 barrier to entry. Instead of getting customers excited, customers were super skeptical – people questioned whether the deal was real or if we were trying to steal their credit card information. Sometimes, a good deal can be too good of a deal.

So in the past 6 months, we have had just short of 1,000 companies signing up for Axosoft Bug Tracker at $1 per year! That is an insanely low number! At this rate, we wouldn’t have enough for a $10,000 Startup Grant for nearly 5 years! So we decided to do away with the $1 Barrier. Axosoft Bug Tracker is now 100% Free! The skeptics can just signup and start enjoying the product.

Since we didn’t quite hit our signup goals to start giving away $10,000 grants, we decided to donate $1,000 to UNICEF (Paul Allen is currently matching donations to help stop the spread of Ebola).

Why are we making Axosoft Bug Tracker Free anyway?

Well, there are 2 reasons. As you might have guessed, the reasons are selfish: First, we want our products to be used by millions of developers (we’re in the hundreds of thousands right now). We know lots of dev teams are price sensitive, so we want to take away the financial barrier of choosing Axosoft. The second is that we want our brand to be better known to developers because we have other products (which cost money) that can help them ship great software, faster. That’s it.

Epic Email from our IT Guys

This past Saturday, our IT guys (who prefer to be unnamed because at least one of them probably works as a CIA agent in his spare time) came in to make some network modifications at the office and sent this email to all Axosoft employees:

Hey Kids,

Over the weekend Alex and I changed the IP address scheme for the office.  The previous setup (when the domain was created years ago) limited us to only 254 network devices total, including all servers, laptops, desktops, virtual machines, wireless access points, desk phones, cell phones, tablets, blah, blah, blah.  As you may have put together, that’s not a whole lot.  So, we changed that this weekend, and we now have address space for a total of 65,534 devices.  So, that should buy us a few weeks before you guys flood our network with more VMs, tablets, and whatever else you crazy kids are buying these days.  Enjoy your new-found device freedom, and network your ass off until you pass out from excitement and/or booze.

So, long story short, you really have nothing you need to do (except praise the IT department for their IT acumen and devilishly handsome good looks), unless you think something is broken or not working properly.  You’re probably wrong, of course, as we, the IT Department make exactly zero mistakes, but feel free to come over and tell us your sob story, and we will lovingly show you just how many ways in which you are wrong.  We’re very nice people, and we’re always happy to show you how to live your lives and be better, more productive members of society.

For the more nerdy of us in the audience:  If you are a developer and you have IIS sites bound to static IP addresses on your work laptop, you will need to update those.  I don’t think any of you do, except maybe the PureChat people, but lets face it, they need help with a lot more than just their laptops, so let’s just take it one step at a time with them.

For the rest of you, just remember the golden rule:  when in doubt, reboot.  It’s what has gotten me this far in my “professional career” (relative term), so I pass on this sage advice to you as well.

If you need anything else, ask Alex.  He cares a lot more than I do.

If you have any questions, keep them to yourself.  No one likes nosy people.

Buckets of love,

The IT Department

I thought it was too good not to share.

I’m going to start writing again. Sorry world. I know you were perfectly happy without me doing any writing, but you’re going to have to put up with it.

Arizona’s Tech Motto: You Can Do that!

As a software entrepreneur in Arizona, I’ve been frustrated for some time with the perception both within Arizona and outside of Arizona about whether or not you can build an awesome software company in Arizona. Even more frustrating (and quite frankly, demeaning) is when I hear people say that the “talent doesn’t exist in Arizona.” What a bunch of bullshit!

I have traveled a lot in my life and I’ve lived and worked in San Jose California as well as Raleigh/Durham North Carolina (area known as Research Triangle Park) and I can tell you that I work with some of the most talented people I have met anywhere in the world. And I work with them right here in Scottsdale Arizona.

Moreover, there are some amazing software companies in Arizona. So many that it surprises even the Arizona residents when they see a slide like this:

image

Yesterday, I had the pleasure of introducing a panel of truly accomplished software entrepreneurs at a local meetup and I wanted to highlight the fact that Arizona is actually home to some real software companies, not just VC backed, forever bleeding startups that help you share your food pictures on 3,895 social networks at the same time, but rather sustainable, profitable and fast-growing software companies that have revenues from their first year and are truly making a difference in the world.

Here is the intro that I did for that panel: