How Plaid Built a Talent Vortex

by Index Ventures


Congrats to @Plaid, @zachperret and @williamhockey on merging forces with @Visa! So proud to have been part of the journey along with @arampell, Mary Meeker, @rickyang, @santopoliti.

Zach and William got many things right along the way, but more crucially they understood the importance of talent. They created a powerful #TalentVortex which helped them execute superbly.

Here are 5 lessons learned from Plaid, universally applicable:

Lesson 1: Build a talent brand. I first learned about Plaid in 2015, when I asked the smartest people in my network (mostly early @Dropbox crew) which companies they were seeing attract and recruit the best people. Soon, many folks in my network started joining - notably, Pouya Fatemi who went to run finance and @sarahniyogi, who was early legal. When a talent bar is held high, people notice and pay attention.

Lesson 2: Nail engineering talent early. Great people beget great people, and shortly thereafter @jgreze joined to run engineering. One of the reasons they managed this early coup was that @william had already established a strong technical culture with A+ players early on. Once the snowball was in motion, it grew and grew.

Lesson 3: Hire people with a range of expertise. Given the intersection of tech & finance, creating a diversity of thinking and skillsets was crucial. Plaid cross-pollinated people from mgmt consulting (lots and lots of excellent alums from @bain), banking (e.g. @charleyma from @JPM) and tech hubs (@dropbox, @cruise, etc.). Net result was a melting pot of top tier players from different backgrounds that created a unique culture best positioned to go after the mission.

Lesson 4: Give your all-stars room to step up. Plaid made some excellent outside hires like Eric Sager, their COO, but so many talented, early employees (@bashogry is a great example) stayed in leadership roles as the company rapidly scaled. Tremendously motivating for everyone when great people are recognized and have uncapped upside.

Lesson 5: Finally, use data to check your talent pulse. Plaid maintained sky-high offer acceptance rates while expanding (and never dropping bar) as well as exceptional pulse scores. I know more than a few people who turned down 2-3x offers to join. Powerful mission + talent = winning strategy.

Curious what other signs you think to look for that indicate a #TalentVortex? And congrats to @plaid on building one of the best teams and businesses around!

Note: This is a slightly edited version of @Mark_Goldberg_'s original post on Twitter.

In this post: Plaid

Published — Jan. 13, 2020