This is a short note from my Roam Research second brain. Here’s a free guide where I introduce you to Roam & Building A Second Brain.
Metadata of Note
Type: Seed [Nomenclature present here.]
Tags: #startups #innovation
Date: November 12th, 2021
I learned recently that  has no FTE, no meetings, and no deadlines.
Gumroad in numbers
- If we include everyone who works on Gumroad, it’s 25.
- If we include full-time employees, it’s none. Not even me.
- We have no meetings, and no deadlines either.
- And it’s working: our creators earn over $175 million a year, and we generate $11 million in annualized revenue, growing 85% year over year
How the no-meetings rule works
- Instead of having meetings, people “talk” to each other via GitHub, Notion, and (occasionally) Slack, expecting responses within 24 hours.
- Because there are no standups or “syncs” and some projects can involve expensive feedback loops to collaborate, working this way requires clear and thoughtful communication.
- Everyone writes well and writes a lot.
How the no deadline rule works
- There are no deadlines either. We ship incrementally, and launch things whenever the stuff in development is better than what’s currently in production.
- The occasional exception does exist, such as a tax deadline, but as a rule, I try not to tell anyone what to do or how fast to do it. When someone new joins the company, they do what everyone else does: go into our Notion queue, pick a task, and get to work, asking for clarification when needed.
- Instead of setting quarterly goals or using OKRs, we move towards a single north star: maximizing how much money creators earn.
- Our public roadmap helps Gumroad’s creators hold us accountable.
How people get paid
- In practice, we pay everyone hourly based on their role. The range varies from $50 (customer support) to $250 (Head of Product) an hour.
- Recently I standardized our rates worldwide.
Prioritizing freedom and flexibility over scalability and growth
- Working on Gumroad isn’t a majority of anyone’s identity.
- People work at Gumroad as little as they need to sustain the other parts of their lives they prefer to spend their time and energy on a creative side-hustle, their family, or anything else.
- Gumroad engineer Nathan Chan says, “I produce more value for my time than at any other company in my career, and I’m able to fully participate in parenting and watching my kiddo grow up.”
- That includes me.
The future of work is not working
- Recently, I pitched to the whole company about going full-time, because it felt wrong to grow any larger without full-time staff.
- Nobody accepted.
- I realized then that I was trying to copy the status quo–to try and fix something that wasn’t broken–so that I could feel better about doing things the “normal” way.
- But the deal we already had in place was better for what our people prioritize: freedom overgrowth, sustainability over speed, life overwork.