Working at Passthrough

Tim Flannery
Tim Flannery
January 2, 2023

As I write this, Passthrough is less than 30 people. It’s fun and rewarding but stressful. If you’ve never done it, joining a team this size is different from working at big, established companies (or late stage startups). We’re in the trenches.

When we meet candidates during the recruiting process, the team asks:

  1. Do you have the skills and experience to succeed?
  2. Have you demonstrated that you lived our values before meeting us?
  3. Would Passthrough actually be good for you?

What if you’re a perfect fit for skills and are a cultural fit, but this doesn’t line up with where you need to go? We’ll start fine, but it won’t last. Passthrough needs to help you grow in your career and your time here needs to be personally meaningful. 

So before you accept an offer, spend time evaluating us. Besides asking yourself the three questions above, here are some other questions that should help you decide whether we’re the right fit. 

Does our mission excite you?

Passthrough’s mission is to power investor identities for the entire alternative investment ecosystem.

Practically, what does that mean? It starts with making investing into a venture or private equity fund as simple as buying a public stock using an app like Robinhood but expands to transactions across the private markets. If we succeed, then that means we can expand access to an asset class that was previously restricted to the few.

Companies always hit rough patches. If you don’t find this compelling, it’ll be hard to persevere.

Are you aligned with our values?

Alex, Ben, and I wrote Things We Think Matter before anyone joined the team. We knew how we make decisions but wrote it to communicate that to the team. It’s how we want the team to treat each other and how they should act as individuals. We embed it into our daily lives: screening you for it during interviews, identifying which you’re excelling at during performance reviews (or we want to see more of), and even mentioning it in passing conversation. We care about outcomes and culture. Both need to be there. 

Do you value equity? 

Everyone on the team is an owner of Passthrough. Besides paying employees market-rate salaries that they deserve, we issue full-time employees equity. We make no promise to its future value and recommend that you treat it as something great that could happen (but that you shouldn’t plan your life around it). 

Startups have binary outcomes, which can mean asymmetric upside through your equity grant. If you invest time in a company, you should be able to share in its good fortunes.

Would you invest in Passthrough? 

We know compensation is important, which is why we offer competitive salary and option grants. But something that’s equally as important as your comp package? Your time. There’s a real opportunity cost in your career. If you spend time with us, you’re not spending it somewhere else. 

So would you invest in Passthrough? After all, you’ll be an equity owner. You don’t need to be a professional investor to make this decision. If you’re wavering, take your time and find something that you know you’d invest into.

Are the problems that you’d solve interesting to you?

Our job descriptions are written as problems to solve instead of tasks to perform. How do you feel about the challenges we described in your job description? When a new challenge pops up and you bear responsibility for its outcome, will that excite you?

Do you like ambiguity? 

Sure, there are problems that we know you’ll tackle. But we’re a startup. Our needs change as the business dictates it. I guarantee that you work on projects that are different than you expected. But that also comes with surprising growth opportunities. You’ll accomplish more at Passthrough in two years then you would in five years at most companies.

If you join us as a manager, ambiguity forces you to get creative. Your team will likely be lean (or you build it from scratch), so you get to solve the problem once and then scale the solution.

Do you like getting your hands dirty? 

Whether it’s putting together furniture, organizing an event, ordering food for the office, folding sweatshirts, or mailing letters, no problem is too small for the team’s attention. Everyone, including the founders, pitches in. Would you rather focus on high-level, abstract problems or dive into the details directly?

Are you looking for a traditional 9-5? 

We care about work-life balance, and we practice what we preach. I don’t book meetings in the evening so I can hang out with my kids and put them to sleep every night. So please, block time off for your family and friends. Take uninterrupted vacation. Unplug. Practice self care. It’s important.

That said, we’re also going to ask a lot from you. Customer problems pop up and need to be solved. You’ll have firm deadlines that require late nights periodically, and even weekends once in a while. It’s hard in the moment. But as we reflect back on our time at Passthrough and elsewhere, those times were the most rewarding parts of our careers.

Are you comfortable working 50 hours or so a week? And sometimes 60?

How important is your title? 

Inspired by this essay, we don’t do titles or leveling like you’re used to experiencing. At some point you’ll likely have a similar title to someone who has less experience than you. At Passthrough, titles describe what you do. Are you comfortable that you’ll be rewarded based on your performance, but that the name of your position isn’t necessarily changing?

Do you like to build stuff from (near) scratch? 

Whether it’s a new business, process, or product, we’re working together to do something very hard: build a generational company. You’ll form life- and career-long relationships with your teammates while we try to do the impossible. Are you comfortable with the uncertainty that comes with it?

Do you like autonomy? 

Then you’re in the right place. Having ownership is great, but it means that you aren’t responsible for a set of tasks. You own an outcome. You can’t just check-the-box and pass a problem to someone else. Instead, you develop a reputation as someone who gets stuff done. 

But while you’ll drive the project, you won’t be alone. Always be helpful is core to the team. The first priority of everyone at Passthrough is to help one another. The second priority is everything else. I want Passthrough to be the most helpful place you ever work at.

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