The Long and Winding Road
My journey at Carta is coming to an end. I’m thankful to have been part of the mission to Create More Owners:
Employees sit on the debt stack of a firm, while owners sit on the equity stack... But what if issuing equity were as easy as paying payroll? Could we make ownership as ubiquitous as salaries?
These were questions Carta co-founder & ceo Henry Ward asked—because he saw the world differently than most. At the end of 2018, I wasn’t sure if I agreed with him, but I couldn’t ignore him. He was challenging the status quo.
I was intrigued, and did more diligence on Carta before deciding to join.
The Road to Carta
In late 2017, Andrew Parker (formerly of Spark Capital) wrote about the company:
eShares is announcing a rebrand today. The company is now called Carta… And when I think of the mission of the company most broadly and concisely: we map asset ownership.
Carta was mapping a route through the financial services industry, with Wall Street as its final destination. Its aim was to rebuild the infrastructure of Capital Markets. And the company was making progress at breakneck speed—like a Tesla in “Ludicrous Mode”.
This sounded like a worthwhile journey, with exhilarating twists and turns. Carta would definitely not be on cruise control, and I wanted to help steer.
My on-ramp with Carta started with 2 days in Salt Lake City, onboarding and volunteering with my new hire cohort. We took our seats and strapped ourselves in for the ride.
My first week wrapped up with a “Company Day” walk from our SF office to South Park — the birthplace of Twitter and currently a focal point for many prominent VC firms. Given Carta’s ambitions, it was fitting that our SF office was steps away from the biggest names in Venture Capital.
If Carta outgrew our SF office, we would need to find a new location of equal significance. That would happen just a few months down the road.
Carta has amazing team members in Rio de Janeiro spanning Engineering, Support, and Implementations. The team members in Rio are a crucial part of Carta’s operations, and are the most enthusiastic participants in company-wide Hackathons.
As in other parts of South America, the culture in Rio is warm & welcoming. And despite the distance, Rio’s timezone aligns well for collaboration with SF & NYC.
We drive on the same side of the road.
Moving Up in SF
Carta outgrew the SF office in SoMa and moved to the Financial District in June 2019.
The new Carta HQ is across the street from the former SF Curb Exchange, and is literally looking down on a stock exchange built for a prior era. The location was appropriate for a company with long-term aspirations to replace stock markets.
Through a common investor, Carta was introduced to a talented team that was seeking to be acqui-hired. We moved quickly on the opportunity.
On October 15th we hired 51 former Kik employees to open our first office in Canada.
I traveled to Waterloo five times in four months to support the deal, both pre- and post-close. In that time, I became familiar with the 60 mile (100km) car ride from Toronto Pearson Airport—the most arduous part of the journey.
Within 12 months, the team at Carta doubled in size to nearly 1000 employees. It has been a pleasure to work with team members across: SF, Palo Alto, Seattle, Salt Lake City, NYC, New Jersey, Waterloo, and Rio.
Many Office Cultures. One Team. One Dream.
We began 2020 in Salt Lake City with the Sales & Marketing team. This kick-off coincided with our broader alignment into Business Units, each led by a top-level “trifecta” of Business, Product, and Engineering.
In Q1, our Product & Engineering team continued improving Carta’s flagship product with updates to drafting & issuing securities, enhancements to the exercise ledger, and better control of capitalization table (“Cap Table”) access.
I’m proud of what the team delivered from our roadmap.
Carta was born in Silicon Valley, but will grow up in NYC. In February 2020, we moved into the 81st floor of One World Trade Center. Our team enjoyed these views for about a month. By March, the Coronavirus pandemic dictated the need for social distancing.
I planned to visit NYC the week of March 16 to interview candidates, but decided to cancel my trip. That same week, Mayor Bill de Blasio ordered restrictions on restaurants, cafes, bars, and other establishments where citizens normally congregate on NYC streets.
The Coronavirus pandemic is affecting businesses from Wall Street to Main Street. In response, the U.S. Federal Government has passed legislation to assist struggling businesses, including the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. It is one of many actions the government is taking to keep stability and liquidity in the financial system.
We hosted tech-focused events at our offices in Waterloo, San Francisco, Palo Alto, and Rio. Some of the groups we’ve hosted at Carta: SF Python Meetup, Silicon Valley Python Meetup, Waterloo Data Science & Data Engineering Meetup, WomenHack
Gatherings like these are now on pause because of the Coronavirus pandemic, but I know these events will resume in time (when it’s safe to meet in-person).
My Next Chapter
Due to the Coronavirus-induced downturn, Carta is separating with 161 of its team members. I am among them.
Last year, Andrew Parker announced he was leaving Spark Capital in his blog “Next Chapter”. When I chatted with him, Andrew said he planned to keep a wide aperture for identifying his next endeavor. I intend to do the same.
Carta was my first exposure to working in Financial Services. I’ve learned about finance, equity, and capital markets. I’ll bring this experience with me — even after Carta has faded from my rearview mirror.
And I’m proud to be on the Cap Table.