The CEO paying employees $10,000 to leave San Francisco explains how it's helping him build a $20 million business

Zapier foundersZapierZapier cofounders, right to left: Wade Foster, Bryan Helmig, and Mike Knoop, circa 2012.

Back in March, a company called Zapier made headlines when it announced it would pay $US10,000 in moving expenses for new employees to
leave the expensive San Francisco Bay Area — the opposite of how it usually works.

Now, Zapier CEO Foster tells Business Insider, this “de-location” offer garnered Zapier 1,167 job applications in 10 days, a 32% increase from their normal rate. (He also says that “Zapier” rhymes with “happier,” in case you were wondering.)

In general, Foster says, the de-location idea is just an extension of what makes Zapier so great: The company’s 85-person team all works remotely from their homes all across the globe. You don’t need to live in San Francisco to be a tech genius, or New York, or Austin, so why should you live anywhere if you don’t want to?

It helps with recruiting, Foster says, since candidates don’t have to be in any one city to be considered for a position, and it keeps employees happy and productive by letting them live where and how they’d like — especially since they can draw a Silicon Valley salary without having to live somewhere with sky-high rent.

Zapier world mapZapierA map showing where around the world Zapier employees live and work.

“For us, it’s more about letting [employees] set up the life they want,” says Foster. “There’s massive amounts of smart people all over the world.”

That philosophy has led Zapier, a tool for integrating business software together, to some success.

Foster tells Business Insider that Zapier is on a $US20 million annualized run rate, a measure of how much revenue it expects to generate in a year. Furthermore, he says, Zapier has been profitable since 2013, after taking a relatively meager $US1.3 million back in 2012. And today, Zapier is introducing a new product for businesses to keep it going.

Zapier rhymes with happier

Zapier started back in 2011 as a side hustle — Hammond and his cofounders Mike Knoop and Bryan Helmig worked on it nights and weekends. Knoop and Helmig met because, at the time, they were the only people on HackerNews from Columbus, Ohio; Helmig and Hammond met when they were in a Jazz quartet together.

A few months in, and the team had enough users and revenue to get accepted into Silicon Valley’s famed Y Combinator startup mentorship program, and moved to California.

Zapier 2017ZapierThe Zapier team meets in Texas for their 2017 team offsite.

While the three cofounders ended up settling in the San Francisco Bay Area, they decided not to open a formal office, but instead go the “all-remote” route. The idea was to streamline the business as much as possible in the early days, and the idea stuck.

Foster says that this philosophy has also helped keep the company focused: With only that $US1.3 million in funding under its belt, Zapier has never given up control to outside investors, which helps the company stay focused on what it does best.

“When you raise money, there’s a tendency to try to be everything to everybody,” says Foster.


What Zapier actually does is help connect one piece of software or a web service to another. For instance, to use a Zapier example, you could have every single email attachment from Gmail copied into your Dropbox, and then alert you in Slack that you have a new file to review.

It’s similar to the popular IFTTT service, but with more of a focus on work software, and Foster says that there are over 800 pieces of software that you can “zap” together from Zapier. That includes Facebook Pages, Microsoft Office 365, and GitHub.

The new Zapier for Teams makes it easier to use the service as, well, part of a team. If you come up with a killer workflow — say, to automatically email every new hire all their new paperwork, while simultaneously sending a welcome message in Slack — you can share it with your coworkers.

ZapierZapierExample Zapier ‘Zap’ integrations

Zapier is in the right place at the right time, Foster says, because the Silicon Valley tech boom has led to a whole range of startups making software that’s hyper-specialised for different departments and job functions. Zapier presents a way to manage the chaos and have all those disparate tools work with each other.

“The cost of starting companies is going down,” says Foster. “It’s easier than ever to target a specific vertical.”

And with so many apps, and so much software, coming to the workplace, Foster says that Zapier is a great way for products to find customers, and for customers to find products.

“It’s kind of a no-brainer for companies to hook into Zapier,” says Foster.

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