1Password_Hero
CEO Jeff Shiner with founders Dave Teare, Sara Teare, Roustem Karimov, & Natalia Karimov
1Password_Hero
CEO Jeff Shiner with founders Dave Teare, Sara Teare, Roustem Karimov, & Natalia Karimov

How 1Password grew to a $6.8B valuation without VC funding, managers, or titles.

·

Mar 01, 2022, 5 min read

Mar 01, 2022

·

5 min read

When it comes to tech startups, there’s a great deal of unique origin and growth stories out there, but one of the most interesting stories we’ve heard probably belongs to 1Password.

Despite being the world’s leading password manager, 1Password didn’t accept any venture capital funding until 14 years after its inception. When they did accept funding, they became Accel’s largest ever single investment in the firm’s 35-year history, raising a $200 million Series A in 2019.

Team members at 1Password also didn’t have formal titles until a few years ago, even though the company had grown to around 150 employees. There were team leads, but no formal managers. There was no marketing department, no sales department, and no human resources department. The entire org, instead, consisted mostly of developers and customer support reps—about a 50/50 split.

Though their success was a team effort that revolved around a deeply ingrained culture of customer centricity, a large part of their growth also had to do with CEO Jeff Shiner’s unique approach to hiring and scaling.

Joining the company in 2012, Shiner has doubled the team at 1Password year-over-year.

This week, to celebrate Brex’s recent product integration with 1Password, we caught up with Shiner to share the key takeaways of what made 1Password so successful early on.

1Password_Inline
1Password_Inline

Hiring by ‘Doubling’

In 2012, 1Password had a thriving customer base that was rapidly growing by word of mouth, but it had grown so quickly that it needed more than its then 20-person team to support it.

Shiner’s solution was fairly simple. He looked at team members who were particularly busy, and, after taking into account business goals and metrics, hired a duplicate for each of their roles. (To date, Shiner has scaled 1Password’s team from 20 to 570 employees by using this strategy.)

“I always look at doubling,” he told us. “Because [in its most simplistic form] I can look at every single person, at what ‘Chris’ is doing, and say, ‘Wouldn’t it be awesome if we had another Chris?”

“Whether Chris is on customer support and we can support our customers better by having a second Chris, or any role we have, almost without exception, I can look at it and I can say another person's going to be valuable where that person is quite busy.”

“Then the second side of it is, ‘Okay, now what can we accomplish when we're doubled that we can't accomplish now? When we double the size of our customer support team, can we take our response times down significantly? It can work at nearly every growth stage.”

“We didn’t have recruiters in-house. But because we were quite a popular brand, we would go into the forums and see which of our customers were just answering other customer’s questions. Then we’d reach out to them and say, ‘Hey, would you like a job in customer support?”

—Jeff Shiner, CEO, 1Password

Leveraging Customer Love

Founded in 2005 by Dave Teare, Sara Teare, Roustem Karimov, and Natalia Karimov, 1Password is renowned for being super focused on product iteration and customer satisfaction. For a long time, the entire company spent one day each week answering support tickets to better understand user needs, while developers also reserved a day just for fixing bugs.

The customer love they nurtured helped make them profitable from day 1, but it also gave 1Password the unique opportunity to leverage their customers to scale their team.

“We didn’t have recruiters in-house. But because we were quite a popular brand, we would go into the forums and see which of our customers were just answering other customer’s questions. Then we’d reach out to them and say, ‘Hey, would you like a job in customer support?”

“Then the second side of it is, ‘Okay, now what can we accomplish when we're doubled that we can't accomplish now? When we double the size of our customer support team, can we take our response times down significantly? It can work at nearly every growth stage.”

—Jeff Shiner, CEO, 1Password

Hiring for Culture Fit

The advantage of hiring from their customer base not only meant new hires were closer to 1Password’s product—it also helped preserve the company’s culture.

“The attitude and aptitude is extremely important,” said Shiner. “Because you're not going to change the person. You're not going to sit there, hire a person and then shape them into the culture you want to have. Your culture is going to be defined by who you hire.”

“So we really tried hard to hire people with the right ‘attitude and aptitude’ as I like to call it. And a lot of times you can find that from your existing customers.”

“Hiring for culture fit is also really important at the C-Suite level,” said Shiner. “Especially now that I've been hiring the C-suite over the last 18 months, there's been a number of people where I’ve said, ‘Yes, that person is going to be awesome at their job, but I'm not going to hire them, because as a person, they’re not going to direct us in a way we want our company to be.’”

“The attitude and aptitude is extremely important. Because you're not going to change the person. You're not going to sit there, hire a person and then shape them into the culture you want to have. Your culture is going to be defined by who you hire.”

—Jeff Shiner, CEO, 1Password

Losing Your Ego

When Shiner joined the team in 2012, he wasn’t really given the title of CEO until after six months of being there. He had known founder Dave Teare since their days at IBM, but so important was 1Password’s culture to Dave, Roustem, Sara, and Natalia, that Shiner, too, had to prove that he was a fit.

When he did become CEO, he was known simply as ‘Shiner’ by interns and execs alike.

“I lost my first name a long time ago,” he laughed.

It was this pride in inclusivity, equality, and in building a company to be a true family that helped make 1Password great.

1Password_1
1Password_2
1Password_3

The Customer as the ‘North Star’

Today, at 570 employees and a recent $620 million Series C that brings its valuation to $6.8 billion, 1Password has expanded into nearly every customer segment as a must-have security and trust service, being used by individuals, families, schools, universities, and businesses alike. 

Throughout its incredible journey, one thing hasn’t changed.

“For us, we know that the customer is our north star,” said Shiner. “The speed of our growth was largely based on what our customers find valuable and really adapting to their needs. And that’s still where we’re headed.”


Lockup_Logo_Black

About Brex

Brex is an innovative financial stack designed for fast-growing companies. By integrating corporate cards, business accounts, and expense software into one solution, we help companies spend smarter and manage their money effortlessly from anywhere — increasing productivity and accelerating growth.

Brex proudly helps tens of thousands of companies scale faster, from ambitious startups to many of America’s favorite public brands.

Learn more

Related Articles

cs-scale

Scale AI case study

See how Scale AI has grown from a few employees to 700 and enabled their teams to spend smart and move fast worldwide with Brex Empower.