Especially in the EU, working and hiring people internationally is extremely important. That does mean that you have to work with a lot of different HR platforms. People becoming more flexible to remote work has created a new customer base that we’re excited to embrace, too.

Shensi Ding

About Shensi & Gil

Shensi Ding and Gil Feig are the co-founders of Merge. After graduating Columbia University, both went on to careers in Silicon Valley where they discovered the same issue: headache inducing integrations. Leaving her job as Chief of Staff at Expanse and his as Head of Engineering at Canvas, Shensi and Gil founded Merge in June 2020 to create a Unified API that enables developers to integrate once to add all HRIS, ATS, and accounting integrations. The Merge team is now hard at work in New York City and San Francisco.

Building the HR toolkit of the future: The story behind Merge

At their weekly catchup lunches, lifelong friends Shensi Ding and Gil Teig discovered they were facing similar integration problems across their respective industries. Combining their various experiences (via Expanse & Jumpstart/Canvas), they joined forces in 2020 to create a developer-friendly integrations platform that utilizes one API to integrate with all HR, payroll, recruitment, and accounting platforms. 

With 2020 providing them the opportunity to “focus and to do nothing but work”, Merge was born. In May 2021, they raised $4.5 million in seed funding.

As an integrations platform for product development, developers can with the Merge API to offer a full category of integrations to their customers, allowing Merge to handle the full integrations lifecycle – from an easy initial build, to hand-held end-user onboarding, to fully managed maintenance.

Joining Maddie on The State Of Work today to discuss their founder journey and how API integrations are helping their customers with their HRIS, ATS and accounting integrations, we welcome co-founders Shensi Ding and Gil Teig.

Shownotes

  • Merge
  • Careers at Merge
  • HRIS: Human Resources Management System
  • ATS: Applicant Tracking System
  • API: Application Programming Interface

 

View the entire transcript

 

Building the HR toolkit of the future: The story behind Merge

with Shensi Ding & Gil Feig, co-founders of Merge 

 

Maddie Duke  00:06

You’re listening to The State Of Work, the podcast by Lano. The State Of Work is about finding your place in the changing world of work as an individual or an organization. In each episode, we dive into some of the benefits and limitations we face when it comes to remote and flexible work. We talked about how we work, how we hire and manage people, and how we live in this increasingly global workplace. I’m your host, Maddie Duke. And for this episode, I spoke to Shensi Ding and Gil Feig, co-founders of Merge. Merge provides a developer-friendly unified API that allows B2B companies to integrate with all HR payroll, recruitment and accounting platforms. Having recently raised $4.5 million in seed funding, Shensi and Gil are busier than ever managing the rapid growth of Merge. They took some time out of their day to talk with me about their journey so far as co-founders and how Merge’s unified API is helping to solve integration issues for their customers, allowing them to spend less time developing integrations and more time on their own products, while also giving them better access to new markets. 

Welcome Shensi and Gil, so great to have you here with me on The State Of Work today. How are you doing? 

Shensi Ding  01:26

Good, how are you doing? 

Maddie Duke  01:28

I’m great. I’m really glad that we’ve got you here on the podcast with us. Now I know you just opened a new office in New York. Where are you joining us from today? 

Shensi Ding  01:39

Yeah, so we’re both in San Francisco today. 

Maddie Duke  01:42

Okay, cool. And it must be early morning for you…ish, right?

Gil Feig  01:45

Yeah, it’s 9:00.

Maddie Duke  01:46

Cool. So as the founding team of Merge, I’d really love to get from, from your point of view, the story of Merge and how you’ve gotten to where you are today. 

Shensi Ding  02:00

Yeah, well, so Gil, and I have known each other for around 10 years or so. So we’ve known each other for quite a while. We actually met freshman year of college. Way back in the day in New York City. We were all in the same classes, group projects, social group, we were both studying computer science. And we actually were engineering student council class president and vice president our senior year. 

Maddie Duke  02:22

Wow.

Shensi Ding  02:24

Yeah, so we’ve worked together before…. 

Maddie Duke  02:28

The dream team! 

Shensi Ding  02:32

Yeah, exactly. So very transitive to API. And we obviously kept in touch ever since. After school, I ended up wanting to focus a little bit more on the business side. So I did investment banking in New York and then moved to San Francisco to join the SilverLake investment team. After that joined a company called Expanse as the Chief of Staff to the CEO. There I was working directly with the executive team, so I got to see a lot of what the company priorities were, what everyone was, like worried about what everyone was focused about, focused on what really excited about, and one of the things that kept coming up was integrations. So because we’re in the cybersecurity space, every time an issue popped up in our platform, our customers wanted to be able to export those issues into whatever ticketing service that they use, whether it was ServiceNow, JIRA, you name it. And we didn’t have any integrations. So we were really struggling on the sales side, it was really frustrating for our executive team. And so we hired a full team of engineers just to focus on integrations. And it was also really expensive, it took a really long time.

Gil Feig  03:23

Yeah. And then at the same time, I, you know, after school, went straight into tech, so worked at LinkedIn for a few years, and then a robo bank – Wealthfront – a robo investor. And then finally, after that I decided I wanted, you know, a true, really small startup so I decided to join as the first engineer (founding engineer) at a company called Jumpstart (now Canvas) which is a diversity recruiting platform. And while I was there, you know, I saw a lot of things as head of engineering, I was managing, at some point, a team of 15 engineers. And despite having such a big team, we also faced this huge problem with integrations, in our case, having to build applicant tracking system integration. So that’s Lever, Greenhouse, Jobvite, iCIMS, Taleo, all of those. And every time we had to build, when we started seeing issues come up with the previous one, we were seeking partnerships and it just involved the whole org – sales, post sales, product design. And we were spending so much time on these integrations, it got to the point where we felt like we were more of an integration business than a diversity recruiting platform, and it was stopping us from really achieving our mission. And one night, you know, me and Shenshi had been doing our weekly Sweet Green dinners since college. And at one of those, she noticed that I looked pretty worn out and was like: what’s going on? I told her the story and told her the problem we were facing. And we realized in that moment that despite working in very different industries, you know, with very different integration needs, we were facing a very, very, very similar problem. And so we did a bunch of research nights/weekends and found that this was a problem that spanned many B2B verticals, and decided to tackle the integration problem.

Maddie Duke  04:55

Yeah, that’s amazing. One thing that really stood out to me at the start is like I don’t know, that I’ve ever met. People that have met in college and done group work together and actually, like, seamlessly worked together and maintained friendships and, and business relationships even like what a story – super inspiring and, you know, makes a lot of sense that you know, you’ve combined your skills and backgrounds to, to, to, to work on Merge together. When did you say you founded Merge, sorry? 

Shensi Ding  05:28

At one year ago, we just had our one year anniversary.

Maddie Duke  05:31

Wow. And what, like, huge growth you’ve had in the last year? That’s, that’s epic. Congratulations. 

Gil Feig  05:40

Thank you!  It’s been very exciting. 

Maddie Duke  05:43

How do you think things would have been…. How do you think things would have been different? If you had started Merge, like, say, five years ago instead of in the last year? Like, what sorts of challenges are you or your customers experiencing now that you think would have been different, you know, pre-COVID world? 

Shensi Ding  06:00

Yeah. So I think one thing that really helped us was focus to be honest, during COVID, there wasn’t a ton to do but work. And so our team, we got really close, because we got to spend a lot of time together really talking about the company, thinking about the company, we obviously put in a lot of hard work, but really wasn’t accelerated during that time. Um, I think it would have been a little bit harder to have people focus as much in the past few years before COVID, just because there’s so much going on and so many things to do. 

Gil Feig  06:25

Yeah, and another thing about COVID, is we saw a big rise of remote work companies and other types of, you know, companies, even just just many, many more small startups that you know, really need our services. And so not only have we been able to, you know, sell to more companies, but also we have more and more growing companies to talk to you, research, understand the problem and, you know, build for them.

Shensi Ding  06:46

Totally. 

Maddie Duke  06:47

Absolutely. I mean, you know, one thing that I really kind of want to focus in on today is how Merge is helping businesses all around the world find solutions to global HR challenges through the products that Merge offers. I want to talk about like, what, what are the biggest global verticals or HR challenges that that you’re seeing from the point that you’re in where you’re kind of like this marketplace almost, for HRIS and applicant tracking systems and also businesses like Lano.

Shensi Ding  07:20

Yeah, so one thing that we didn’t really expect when we got started was we were planning on just focusing on the United States. So we did some opinionated things in the beginning with our API, like state versus region and the like zip code. And then over time, without realizing it, we expanded internationally super quickly. And it did start with Lano. So we got linked with Lano, and it was really interesting, because it showed us how, especially in the EU, working and hiring people internationally is extremely important and that does mean that you have to work with a lot of different HR platforms. And especially since companies in that area do have to sell to a lot of different companies, not only in the EU, but also in other regions. It requires the number of integrations that you have to have in order to sell to be extraordinarily high in comparison to other… in comparison to the United States. And so we found like a really great customer base over there. And it’s been really interesting seeing a lot of companies emerge trying to support all these different companies. Yeah, so it’s been really interesting. For us, it was definitely a plus that we didn’t really expect. And I think COVID is adding people becoming more flexible to remote work and has definitely also created a new customer base that we’re excited to embrace, too. 

Maddie Duke  08:33

Yeah, and I mean, from the Lano side, being able to utilize and integrate, well, the integrations with merge with with other HR tools, you know, allows Londo to kind of really improve the offer that they’re providing to their clients and customers, and just opens up that network so much wider. And I’m sure you’ve seen some examples of that with some of your other clients as well.  

Shensi Ding  08:57

Yeah, so we’ve been working with a lot of European companies, and also Middle Eastern companies that are trying to expand to America. And through using our integrations, they’re able to really sell to this customer base that they previously weren’t able to get access to. So it’s been really exciting, helping all these companies grow really quickly, also learning a lot about them as well. I’ve learned a lot about Croatia, Berlin, just through these sales meeting. So it’s been really, really fun for us. 

Maddie Duke  09:21

That must be really interesting, like learning all these different ways. Like it’s something also in my kind of little journey with Lano I’m also learning a lot about like, in different countries and the way they’re hiring, especially how like employment law works around the world, particularly with Lano, because it’s it’s so much to do with like hiring globally, but then paying locally and and how that all works and also as someone who’s from one country and living in another. The idea of a mini job in Germany was also news to me a few years ago when I first moved here. Are there any other really exciting or pivotal use cases that you’ve had, companies that you’ve worked with that you could share?

Gil Feig  10:03

Oh, yeah, yeah, so we actually, so we really support, I would say, two main use cases. And so one of those is this classic use case that we’ve talked about where, you know, we basically provide what’s called a unified API, integrate one time with us and get access to 20/30 platforms for your customers. But we’ve also seen interestingly enough, another use case, which is an internal clean API wrapper, some platforms can be pretty difficult to get API access to, or you know, they built their API’s 10/15 years ago, and it’s not a small feat, you know, at a big company to have to go around and rework that rebuild it. And so a lot of these things are built in legacy code. And it can be quite difficult to integrate with. So we’ve seen various companies, you know, even a church uses us for an internal use case where essentially, they want to connect their internal HR system to other internal platforms, and using our SDKs, because it’s so easy to get it embedded, they found that they actually can just use us to wrap around their HR system and extract and push data to other systems that they use, again, internally within their own company. So it’s a secondary use case to you know, what we’re truly built for, which is an integration platform for product development. But you know, we’ve been really excited to see people using it for all sorts of unexpected use cases. 

Maddie Duke  11:20

That’s really exciting. That’s really cool to hear. There is one thing, I just want to make sure that anyone who’s listening who’s like: What’s an API or like, What’s an SDK? Could we have a quick like plain, plain English, and it may be just in general, like a non-tech person’s introduction to what Merge does. 

Gil Feig  11:40

So yeah, an API is an application programming interface. And what that really boils down to is it’s a way for systems to exchange information. So you know, an API that a lot of people I’ve seen is, when you go to a website, you click login with Facebook, and it jumps you to Facebook. And then it says: Do you give access and jump back? So really simple, you know, you can semi consider that an API. But then you start to see more advanced APIs probably in a lot of business tools you use where you push export on one system, and you see them up here and another system. Let’s say, you know, someone signs up for Workday to get on payroll, and then you’re seeing that same person appear in other systems that you’re using. That’s an example of an integration. So it really is a way for, you know, different platforms and different systems to exchange data, whether that’s user data, or usage data, or anything really. And then an SDK is that’s more of a programmer term. It’s not as public but it’s basically a really simple way to build out a connection to an API. 

Maddie Duke  12:43

Lano has everything you need to grow your global team. Companies of any size can hire and pay employees compliantly in more than 150 countries, taking care of compliant contracts, local tax law and international payments, Lano is a must have for the HR toolkit of the future. To find out more or to book a demo, head to lano.io 

What have been some of your biggest integrations or partners, like, were there any that made you really reach a point where you could go? Okay, this is really taking off. Like what’s your biggest kind of early stage integration and partnership?  

Shensi Ding  13:25

Yeah, so I think what we realized that this was a good idea was when we talked to around 100 companies, when we were at our previous jobs, we really wanted to validate that this was something that people would use and find really valuable. And then we actually solve the problem. And the earliest partnership, I think we did like a lot of free demos, just trying to test them out. But I think the first official partnership was with Hibob, they were really great head of partnerships there. And he was just super supportive. We didn’t even have any funding yet. It was just the two of us. And he kind of saw what the long term vision was. And so he was really supportive and gave us a partnership when we had nothing, so it was probably our earliest and that helps us a lot with future partnerships, too.

Gil Feig  14:04

Yeah. And what’s been really interesting for us has been, you know, when someone really gets the problem, whether they’re a head of product at a company that needs ATS integrations, or HR, integrations, whatever it is, when someone gets us, they, they get it, and they understand the value right away. And it’s quite visceral for them. You know, it’s almost like it’s almost like you, it’s like you’re solving this pain that they felt for so long, and they can’t get around, because they just don’t have the resources to build out those 20 integrations.

Maddie Duke  14:30

Absolutely. It, you know, I mean, like, it makes so much sense to use an integration rather than building your own systems internally. And I imagine also making not just a huge difference to like head of product type people, but also those people that are working in HR and actually kind of using that data/day-to-day people working in payroll and applicant, applicant, candidate management, HR management, like, have you have you had any golden bits of feedback from those people that are kind of the day to day users?

Gil Feig  15:06

Yeah, so we really, here’s a lot of indirect feedback again, because you know, it’s kind of like our customers that offer the integrations. But from our customers, we’ve heard just really, really good feedback from their customers who, you know, either previously didn’t have the integration, I would say, one that’s been really exciting is one of our customers traditionally uses CSV uploads. And they would just ask their customers to send over a CSV every week or two, and they would upload it wrong. And you know, they had, they had a bunch of issues with it. And it was just so manual. And if their customer forgot to send over the CSV, then the downstream effects of that on the platform can be really, really bad. And so switching over to our integrations, everything became automated, they still have a few people left on CSVs that they’re trying to convert. And they said that the whole transition has been, like, magical for them. And so hearing that feedback, sharing that with our team, was really inspiring.

Maddie Duke  15:57

Yeah, those bits of feedback are always super important to remember and take into account when you’re, especially when you’re having a hard day or like going through a tough period. What, like what have been some of your biggest challenges along the way? 

Shensi Ding  16:14

There’s a lot to do. We’re pretty busy. And I definitely work a lot. And our team is really, really awesome. They also work a lot as well. Yeah, there’s just a lot to do. And it’s nice having a lot of customers, but it’s definitely very busy. 

Maddie Duke  16:29

How do you like maybe on a personal level, like how do you, kind of, keep yourself motivated and keep yourself feeling okay, when you’re when you are when you when there is just like an endless pile of things to do? 

Gil Feig  16:42

Yeah, I mean, from my perspective, this company is self motivating, because me, this was just a dream for me in Shensoi. You know, two years ago, we started talking about this. And, you know, we didn’t know like, we assume people needed it, we but we didn’t know for sure we started doing research. And every day, it’s just become more and more clear. And that’s all the motivation that I need personally, like, it’s, it’s crazy to see people using our platform, millions of API requests a day, you know, we have, we have hundreds of companies, and it’s just been, you know, beyond our wildest dreams. And so the validation of people using it is really it for me.  

Shensi Ding  17:15

Yeah, I would agree with that, too. It’s been really awesome seeing how quickly things have been rolling, especially since we launched and came out of stealth. But I think one thing that also really helps us go and I call each other really aggressively, it just helps to have someone like always available, like whenever you need to talk, Merge is kind of like our child. And so it’s nice to have someone that cares just as much like at all times 24/7, about the company too. 

Maddie Duke  17:41

Oh, that’s really, really great to hear. It does sound like you’ve got a really special like, you’re not just kind of like a random co-founding team, you’re like actually friends, and you actually really know each other. And both bring different strengths to the team. So it’s super, it’s really great to hear. And to see that, like, I can kind of see the special bond that you guys have together as well. So it’s really cool to see. Um, Gil, you mentioned earlier that you were a founding engineer for Canvas previously named Jumpstart, which was where you were working when you and Shensi first had the idea for Merge. Being in the HR and recruitment space as well, is Canvas a Merge partner? 

Gil Feig  18:21

Yeah, so the CEO of Jumpstart/Canvas is an investor and they have us in the roadmap to use us. 

Maddie Duke  18:30

Great, that’s awesome. So you like your past employees have been supportive of your of Merge, which is like super cool.

Shensi Ding  18:39

Super supportive so all four co founders, so, so co founders of his previous company and co founders, my previous company also invested and have been like our biggest cheerleaders, it’s been really awesome. 

Maddie Duke  18:49

How great to have such strong support and belief in what you’re doing from past employers, as a founding team that represents some underrepresented communities of people I know, you know, what it’s like to fight for your place at the table and to fight to be heard. You’ve mentioned to me in a previous conversation that diversity and inclusive hiring is important to you. I’d love to hear what that looks like, at Merge, and also, maybe how, like the role of tech, I guess, in diverse hiring and what that looks like, but for Merge, and then also like, what your opinion is on that in the future? 

Gil Feig  19:28

Yeah, so I mean, coming from Canvas, I, you know, probably my biggest learning was that, you know, you’re not just gonna end up with a diverse team by doing nothing. You have to be on top of it, and you have to actively seek it out. And it’s been really amazing to see some tech platforms like Canvas, really focus on that double down. They’ve now you know, fully gone hadn’t been like we are a diversity recruiting platform, which wasn’t what they did at first. Maybe, maybe, you know, it wasn’t an accepted term back in the day, and I’m actually quite proud and I think that the whole team is that they’re able to do that these days and really be clear about what their mission is. And so I yes, I love what these platforms are doing. And I think it’s imperative to use them. And you know, we’re both – Shensi and I – are huge fans of their blog where they talk about, you know, all the strategies that you have to employ to build a diverse team. I mean, I think that also comes with, you know, understanding and embracing the idea that a diverse team is important, which is something that, you know, both of us bring, but we don’t bring all diversity by any means not even close to that, like, I’m still a white male, and I still came from, you know, a middle class family. So there’s a lot that both of us don’t understand and where we, you know, we know that we accept that. And we’re doing our best every day to make sure that we bring people onto our team who are able to bring those other perspectives.

Maddie Duke  20:47

Yeah, I think it’s super important to like backup, a claim or even a plan to kind of move towards a more diverse workforce. Because I know there’s a lot of businesses that kind of say it, and then maybe don’t back it up. And it’s like, it’s like the equivalent of greenwashing. You know, it’s, it’s, you have to be backing it up. And you’re right, like, yeah, there’s so much, there’s so much more than just kind of ticking one box, you have to kind of be thinking beyond that, and like bringing diversity of thought as well. I think it’s a super interesting and relevant topic. 

Gil Feig  21:21

Yeah. Another thing that we do, which has been really exciting is also, you know, companies that that focus on diversity and social good use our APIs, especially the ATS API for diversity recruiting, and that the HR API for social good are platforms that are enabling, you know, volunteer work, and all of that within companies. And so it’s been really exciting for us to work with those companies. And you know, though, we don’t think this means much. We do offer a discount to any company like that. So if any, if any company that’s really, you know, doing good work around the world for for any cause, but especially because of diversity in the workplace. We’re always happy to offer a discount there and work with those companies to make sure that you know, they’re able to accomplish what they need. 

Maddie Duke  22:04

That’s awesome. And what about at Merge? Do you have like, a strategy or kind of quota? Or, like, how do you approach this as a leading team?

Shensi Ding  22:15

We’re pretty proactive about sourcing, I would say we’re a heavy sourcing house. And I think one thing that we really try to do whenever we’re sourcing candidates is making sure that we are sourcing diverse candidates. 

Gil Feig  22:27

Yeah, and we’ve started to embrace the Rooney Rule more and more, and we want that to be part of our process, always. Moving forward, where, you know, we are always required to consider someone from, you know, a diverse group before making a final decision on a candidate, especially for upper level roles. 

Maddie Duke  22:46

Yep. 

Shensi Ding  22:47

Totally. And for reference, right now, we are a developer tool with 11 full time people. And four are women – we’re like 40% women, which is pretty interesting, especially in the B2B SaaS world. 

Maddie Duke  22:58

Yeah. Absolutely. And good for you. And thank you, because, you know, it takes companies like Merge and Canvas to lead the way and encourage others to take similar steps. And you are currently in a hiring phase, right? 

Gil Feig  23:16

We are… aggressively

Shensi Ding  23:17

…aggressively across the team! Yeah, so we’re hiring, just for background, in San Francisco, New York, and Miami. So if you are like interested, you want to join a high growth startup, definitely reach out to us at hello@merge.dev, we also have a careers page, you can find us on Twitter, LinkedIn, anywhere… we’re down. 

Gil Feig  23:40

Oh, and we do pay a referral bonus. So if you’re listening, and you know, someone who might be interested. 

Maddie Duke  23:45

Great. Can you tell me what are some of the key tools and products in the HR and recruitment space that are like vital for any kind of company at the moment in an HR stack?

Gil Feig  23:57

Yeah, so some of the tools we’ve been seeing more and more would be, notably, a lot of assessment tools, we’re seeing a big rise in assessment. And personally, I’m a big fan of that, because it’s kind of a blind way of testing skills. So I think back to the diversity piece, it really, you know, it removes that first step of bias out of the data of the interview process, which is really important. I think another one in that piece, are these, what do you call that, like, the platforms where you go to leave peer reviews, like Lattice and all of those. Those are, those are another really great way of getting sort of like maybe maybe, you know, it’s a little more bias in that but another good way of using a platform where you add a bunch of experts that got together and came up with with a way to you know, evaluate the performance of your employees, again, without you know, trying to take other things in mind, like some some softer skills or some some softer things that tend to lead to biases.

Maddie Duke  24:52

Yeah, that’s a really good point. And yeah, I guess particularly for remote or distributed teams as well. Having just recently opened your second office, what has that been like with a distributed team between two cities for you guys so far? 

Shensi Ding  25:08

So, yes, we’re super, super proactive about making sure that everyone is getting to know each other. So we really encourage people to fly to the other office, post COVID of course, and also do a lot of Zoom meetings with each other as well. Our each individual offices really, really close, the New York office is obviously a little bit newer, but we really like talking, telling stories about this San Francisco office and also like reminiscing about different things that happened just so that they feel like they were there and that they know these people were also we do standup every morning with webcam we yeah, as you’re able to see what everyone looks like. You’re able to like chat with each other. We do like peaks and pits after each weekends, just like here a little anecdote about like everyone’s like personal life. It’s a really actually great wait to hear more about what everyone’s like up to, like on the weekends, make fun of them. Yeah, like super fun. So we do really try to make everyone really close. So it actually hasn’t been that difficult making like the New York and San Francisco office feel like it’s one. I think, obviously, it’ll get a little bit harder as we start hiring more people that haven’t met each other. But well, we’re planning on doing like an offsite in October so that everyone who hasn’t met each other will be able to meet in person. 

Maddie Duke  26:19

Cool. Well, I mean, I think personally, that making the culture work across different time zones in different locations, depends so much on leaders showing and demonstrating the behavior and culture that they want to say by example. So I think it’s awesome that you’re kind of integrating yourselves into this and not just distancing yourself and really taking part. What else is in store for Merge, like you’re obviously in a hyper growth phase right now? What does the near and far future look like for Merge? 

Shensi Ding  26:53

Well, we have a lot of features on the roadmap, and some are launching out in the next few weeks or so – we move really quickly. So we’re pretty excited to make these announcements. And we also are planning to launch a few new categories over the next few months. We just launched accounting. That was really exciting, always adding more integrations. So yeah, if you’re interested in you know, dipping your toes and a lot of different features; integrations, categories, learning more about APIs definitely reach out to us. 

Maddie Duke  27:21

Exciting stuff. And yeah, sounds like another really busy year ahead for you. I’d also really love to hear if you have any advice for other new founders or leaders at the moment, like, obviously, you’ve kind of had this whirlwind year or a couple of years. And you’re still in this hyper growth phase where you’ve got a billion things to do. And I’m so grateful you’ve taken the time to speak to me today. What if you could give advice to someone who was maybe in your position a year ago? What would that be 

Gil Feig  27:53

Yeah, I think, you know, when we talk about the future of work, and the new remote norm, one thing, you know, when you’re really early, there is power in collaboration. And so I think finding a good hybrid at the beginning is important. You know, obviously, that’s not possible for everyone to be in the same room. Ideally, you know, when you’re still three, four people you can meet, but if you can’t, at least having maybe an open Zoom all day, just some sort of way to be able to bounce ideas, you know, I can’t express enough the value that me and Shensi found in being able to just at the beginning, when we were making 1-2-300 decisions a day about our product, and, you know, fundraising and how we wanted our culture to be having that open line of communication was really important. And I think now that we’ve grown, you know, you see a bit more asynchronous work. And it’s been okay to not have that constant open line of communication, but again, at the beginning, highly recommended. 

Shensi Ding  28:45

Yeah, I would really echo everything that Gil said. But one thing I would also add is I’ve hiring a really good team early on, really compounds over time. We really, really love our team, every single person is a 10X contributor. And I think that’s really hard to find. They’re also pretty rare in a lot of company cultures. And that’s brought us really, really far. Every single team member not only makes decisions that Gil and I fully support, but they do it much better than how Gil and I would have done if we had had the time. And that’s something that we really appreciate every day. 

Maddie Duke  29:15

That’s awesome. And I’m sure that they appreciate you, acknowledging the appreciation that you have for them. Do you think that Merge is going to open a European office at some point in the future? 

Shensi Ding  29:26

Honestly, I was really probably it was – it’s an ever growing there. We’re probably 50-60% Europe now, which we did not expect at all, and is not great for the San Francisco sales team. So we’ll see. I think I think it’s probably a little bit further down the line, but definitely something. 

Maddie Duke  29:46

Well, it sounds like Merge has an exciting future ahead. Definitely want to watch and what an inspiring co founding team. Thanks so much for your time today. Thank you. The State Of Work is available wherever you listen to podcasts. You can also find us on Instagram or Twitter by searching for the state of work. For more information on anything we talked about in this episode and links to further reading, check out our shownotes at podcast.lano.io Thanks for listening and see you next time on The State Of Work.