I should mention up front I’ve never worked for Carta. They didn’t pay me to write this. In fact, they don’t even know I’m doing it. (Hi, Carta! If you like this, send me a t-shirt!) I’m simply sharing an example of the kind of thing I look for when I recommend companies to young people.
This article is part of a feature series on the best startups to launch your career this year.
There are a handful of products so good they make you want to work at the company. Carta is one. I’ve always been impressed with the way they do business, the problems they’re solving, and the culture they seem to have as an outsider looking in.
Here are five reasons I think Carta is an example of just the kind of company you want to look at when it comes to starting your career.
Cap tables? Valuations, investments, and equity plans?
Those things might sound boring, even to those who know what they mean.
But it often turns out that the most boring sounding stuff has the biggest impact. Archimedes said, “Give me a lever long enough and a fulcrum on which to place it, and I can move the world.” Carta is at one of those leverage points.
Lots of companies—especially startups—give shares to employees, investors, and founders. This allows all the parties involved in the success of a business to have an ownership stake. The problem is, tracking and managing all these pieces of equity and the various ways they are awarded is messy and difficult. This leads a lot of companies to give less equity away, or to people not sure how much equity they own or how to access it.
In short, having lots of people with ownership in a company is hard. Carta makes it easy.
They have software that helps all the parties involved easily view and track and allocate ownership shares of all different kinds. It’s simple, beautiful, and really empowering to see it all in one place.
Their mission is “creating more owners.” And that’s exactly what they help facilitate.
A world where many more people have ownership stakes in companies is a massive improvement. It aligns incentives, creates more win-wins, and allows capital to be allocated more efficiently, which means more time is freed up from unproductive paperwork so you can go do cool stuff. That’s a leverage point that can move the world.
So yeah, “cap tables” sound boring. But behind that boring-sounding stuff is a sneaky-exciting mission to help more people capture more value through ownership. That’s pretty awesome.
You don’t find it often and it doesn’t last forever, but hypergrowth—Drift explains this as the rapid growth of a company, usually meaning that company is maintaining an average growth rate of 40%+ for more than one year—is something you want to be a part of if you get the chance!
Carta is one of those companies on a growth rampage. They created a new category for equity management software, and they dominate it. And it’s a really big category that’s growing fast. The cool thing is, the more the world of startups in general grows, the more Carta grows. They’re right where the action is.
A hypergrowth company isn’t normal. You can find stories of Paypal, LinkedIn, Facebook, Netflix, Airbnb, and others that went through hypergrowth phases. It’s pretty wild. You can move up in your career fast because opportunity exceeds the ability to fill it with talent. That’s a great thing for you early in your career.
Culture of ownership
Carta helps other companies create more ownership through their product, but they practice it internally as well. All employees get equity in Carta, and unlike pretty much every other company on the planet, you can actually sell it before an exit event. Usually, employee equity can only be sold if a big event—like a public stock offering or a sale—occurs. Carta adds a whole new level to employee ownership by letting team members sell while the company is still private.
That may sound like a purely financial incentive, but I suspect it speaks to something deeper in the culture at Carta. That kind of policy doesn’t rise from nowhere. It’s in Carta’s DNA to foster ownership, which means independence and individual responsibility. I would be shocked if that didn’t permeate the way they do business and the kind of experience you could have as a team member.
Techies and fuzzies meet
I’m not a tech guy (as in, I don’t write code), but I love tech and tech startups. I think we’re just at the beginning of the revolution in tech. And I think this is a great thing. (Check out the essay series Breaking Smart if you want to know why I’m so bullish).
I get excited about companies at the intersection of tech skills and non-tech skills. Carta is a software company, so they definitely hire their share of techies. But they make financial software that involves a lot of accounting, data analytics, and design elements. Plus, their customers are people, not computers. So they need a lot of people who are good at helping other people set up their cap tables and more.
As a customer, I’ve talked with various reps at Carta. I always ask them about their background. It’s a pretty interesting mix. Some are just great people. Some are heavily into finance or economics. Some are kinda techie, some aren’t.
But this is a great mix. Bridging the gap between tech and non-tech is a fun and valuable thing. Carta helps make confusing financial and legal stuff (a different kind of technical) simple with software (technical) so that it can be used by non-tech people with ease. Not only would you work with an interesting mix of tech and non-tech people on the Carta team, but customers would also likely run the gamut from nerdy techie founder to fuzzy salesperson CEO.
Location, location, location(s)
When you’re getting started, move to a new city. Really.
I’m a big believer that young people should move away from their hometown, at least for a few years.
There are exciting advantages to places buzzing with energy like New York and San Francisco. But there are downsides to those places as well, and good arguments for smaller, lower-cost markets without all the traffic and tiny apartments.
The cool thing about Carta is they have multiple locations. New York and San Francisco, yes. But they also have Seattle, Salt Lake City, Canada, Brazil, and even remote opportunities.
Not only does this mean there are some cool options to start with, but it probably means there’s opportunity as you grow with the company to move to one of their other locations.
Early in life is the time to try a few new places, and Carta covers a handful of the very best cities to start in.
But how to get a job at a place like this?
This isn’t officially-sanctioned Carta advice. But I think you’ve got a chance of doing something much better than a resume and application, and you’d greatly increase your odds of success.
If I were you and I wanted to land a job at Carta, I’d research the company, read up on the openings, and build a great profile to showcase skills and tools relevant to the role.
Then I’d find the hiring manager’s email address and send them a one-of-a-kind pitch on your three favorite things about the company, the three main things you could do for them, a little project you created to demonstrate it, and how they can follow up if interested.
(Fortunately, we can help with that! )
Looking for opportunities at other cool startups? Check out this collection of the best startups to launch your career this year.