July 16, 2021

Three years of Salt Lake City

Kira Booth

I joined Plaid as the first remote employee based in Salt Lake City in May of 2018. During this time, Plaid was around 110 people, with about 20 engineers primarily based in San Francisco. Like many startups, we were scrappy and ambitious. 

Our mission is to unlock financial freedom for everyone. In order to enable our ecosystem of developers to connect to 11,000 financial institutions and to build amazing consumer financial experiences, we needed to hire a team focused specifically on integrations. After deciding that Salt Lake City was where Plaid would expand to next, our SLC office was born. We now had our very first office outside of Plaid’s headquarters in San Francisco. 

Shortly after our Series C announcement in early 2019, we officially announced the launch of our Salt Lake City office. Now on the heels of our Series D announcement, we’re celebrating the SLC office’s third birthday. Over the last three years, we have grown tremendously. All of these anniversaries and milestones have reminded me of how far we’ve come as a team and most importantly given me time to reflect on our SLC “glow up” through the years (ha). I am going to share some of the things we’ve shipped and key lessons learned along the way.

How It Started  

At the time of our official office launch in 2019…

SF team visiting our two person SLC team in 2019. This was at our first coworking space in SLC.

When the leadership team at Plaid first approached me with the opportunity to build a team and a new office from the ground up, it was both exciting and nerve wracking. Coming from a traditional engineering background, building a team and an office wasn’t something I had yet experienced, but I was determined to do it right. My first priority was diversity and inclusion. When building an office from scratch, you have a unique opportunity to establish a focus on diversity and inclusion from the start. Working with recruiting, and in my many self sourcing adventures, I ensured we built and maintained a healthy pipeline of diverse candidates to form the foundations of our team. 

I firmly believe that inclusive spaces can be created by simply spending time listening to one another. We regularly organized (and still do to this day) team dinners coined “women in engineering”. These dinners are open to Plaids who self-identify as a women. This time is carved aside for us to strengthen our personal relationships and to discuss areas where we can improve and grow together as a team.

I have also committed to building an inclusive community that extends beyond our physical office space. Over the last couple of years, we have hosted several women in tech and pride events to help underrepresented groups connect. We've also given tech talks, volunteered with coding bootcamps, and even acted as judges at local hackathons.

Plaid SLC Pride in 2019.

In 2019 our team had 10 engineers, and we had just hired our office manager to start the process of finding a place of our own to call home. We were in a small office in a coworking space at the time and little did we know, we would make three office moves in the next year as we continued to outgrow our temporary offices. 

At that time, our team’s mission was to evolve our platform to support reliable, high-quality data access to over 11,000 financial institutions, most of them in the personal banking space. As the team grew, we were able to start taking on more work, including preparing for our expansion into Europe. 

Fintech was still in its nascent stages and while we advocated for a future of open authentication standards, the reality is that as an industry, we were still far from that. That’s because people in the US bank with tens of thousands of large financial institutions, credit unions, and digital-native services, and it’s an extremely complex problem to solve. 

So we spent a lot of our engineering power working towards achieving reliable, high-quality data access with technical ingenuity and creativity. That’s the magic of aggregation; hiding all those guts behind a nice API. Our goal was to make it super easy and simple for developers to plug into the network and abstract technical work required to enable aggregation.

We operated as #oneteam (literally) and worked hard towards achieving our goals while also making time and space to have fun and connect as a team.

Plaid SLC team at an Escape room in early 2020.

As the industry grew, so did the SLC office and Plaid. By 2021, we had our eyes set on expanding the ways we can deliver on a vision of open finance. Our office is also looking a little different these days. 

How It’s Going

At the beginning of last year, we moved into our permanent office space in the Kearns Building, and it is beautiful. 

Our office located in the heart of SLC. 

Our office located in the heart of SLC. 

Our office located in the heart of SLC. 

Though, as you may have experienced yourself, 2020 didn’t go exactly according to plan. For the past year, we have been working from our home offices and trying to enjoy all the socially distant activities Utah has to offer. 

On the work side of things, it’s no secret that the adoption of fintech has grown significantly over the last year. A behavioral change that we thought would be in the cards in the next 3-5 years happened overnight as we all sheltered at home and had to manage our money digitally. We had to move quickly to support this rapid growth. 

What this also means is that we need to rethink data access and how best to partner with financial institutions to move towards open authentication standards and to make consumer-permissioned data a lot more accessible for everyone. Working closely with financial institutions and partners, we have committed to a company goal of sending 75% of our traffic through bank APIs, and adapting our internal systems to do that at scale has brought a bunch of new engineering challenges to SLC. 

Beyond our core aggregation business, this year, we also expanded our product offerings to include more types of data and insights, such as Verification of Income, Deposit Switch, and Investments. All of this only succeeds if we invest in a platform that will continue to support all these types of data access at scale as we continue to try to realize the dream of open finance by expanding coverage and increasing quality.

We grew from one team to seven teams. From ten people to over 40. We have also expanded outside of our engineering team to add a support and workplace experience team. To be part of this journey has been incredibly special. What was once just myself is now a dynamic (and growing!) team solving complex problems that will change the future of financial services for the better. And you know what the best part is? We’re just getting started. 

We have a number of open roles in SLC that we need to fill to continue to deliver on our mission of unlocking financial freedom for all by ensuring that we provide reliable, secure, high-quality data to help power innovators in the fintech ecosystem.