Stripe is on a hiring spree. But it's also rescinding job offers and angering engineers.

The revoked offers are supposedly a result of "shifting business priorities" and staff reorganization.

Stripe building.

Several Stripe job applicants told Protocol that they had been offered jobs either verbally or in writing and then had them rescinded with little explanation.

Photo: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The prevailing narrative about tech workers assumes that they have more power than ever before. This even has a term — the Great Resignation.

But at the booming, much-revered payments company Stripe, some applicants have found themselves accepting job offers only to learn they have been rescinded without warning.

Protocol spoke with two Stripe candidates who received either verbal or written offers from the company and then had those offers revoked because of “shifting business priorities.” (We reviewed their communications with Stripe recruiters, including the offer letter, to confirm the candidates’ stories). Protocol also spoke with a former Stripe recruiter who described the company as embracing a “hire and fire” mentality and constantly shifting priorities and reorganizing staff. All three of these sources were granted anonymity for fear of repercussions by their current and potential future employers. Protocol also reviewed multiple online complaints detailing similar rescinded offers; the most prominent of these complaints was posted on Hacker News and received a rousing defense of Stripe from Coinbase CEO Brian Armstrong.

“We want everyone who interacts with Stripe during a recruiting process to be treated professionally and with respect. We value feedback and are always looking for ways to improve our recruiting experience,” a Stripe spokesperson wrote to Protocol.

Stripe, which has the highest valuation of any private, venture-backed tech company in the U.S., has grown so rapidly over the last few years that many engineers and other tech workers see it as one of the most desirable, successful places to work. The former recruiter interviewed by Protocol said that she chose the job over offers at Google and two other tech companies, in part because of the extremely positive and enthusiastic way the company was sold to her and because of Stripe’s reputation in the industry.

Stripe is also not the only tech company to face problems with recruitment and hiring processes in the last year. The coronavirus pandemic has wreaked havoc on how people interview for jobs, made workers more empowered during the application process and helped many VC-backed tech companies grow so wealthy that they are all competing bitterly for the same pool of talent. Facebook spent the first quarter of 2021 battling one of its worst hiring crises in years, as engineers turned down job offers at unusually high rates and negative Glassdoor reviews spiked. Google’s interview process has a long-held reputation as unnecessarily difficult and complex.

The Stripe applicants interviewed by Protocol and those who have shared their stories online have said that the experience of interviewing with Stripe was generally positive, and that they had no problem with the recruiters themselves. Those who faced rescinded offers also said that losing the offer itself was less frustrating than the company’s refusal to give a personal explanation.

One technical manager — now employed elsewhere — described being approached by a Stripe recruiter when she took some time off of working. She agreed to go through the interview process and found herself meeting with “tons” of people, preparing an elaborate presentation and going through several role-playing exercises. “It was very complex and very hard,” she said.

And the feedback Stripe gave her was entirely positive. In the first half of 2021, she received a verbal offer, then a written one. She signed the offer. And then she tweeted that she would be joining the company.

“A few days after that, I got a call from an executive recruiter who I had never heard from before, and she said, 'There is no easy way to say this. We have to rescind our offer due to changing company priorities.' She said she was sorry,” she said. “After that, I emailed the recruiter and the hiring manager, and I didn’t hear back from either of them ever.”

Another engineer recently described a similar process. Though he did not receive a written offer, he was offered a job verbally by the recruiter who led him through the process. After communicating his intent to accept the job, the recruiter later told him that he would not be given an offer letter because of a “business decision” and “change of direction,” and declined to provide more information or answer further questions.

On Tuesday, Armstrong defended Stripe in a post on Hacker News in response to an anonymous person who alleged a similar experience. “Any time you have thousand of interviews going on, you are bound to get some bad candidate experiences, I know for instance these happen in Coinbase periodically, and we try to minimize it for sure, but you will not get it to zero (especially when growing quickly),” he wrote. He also said that often, lukewarm or bad reference checks can cause delays in the process, and recruiters may not be willing to explain this to candidates in order to protect the people who gave references.

According to the former Stripe recruiter (who has years of experience at other top tech companies and has remained employed as a recruiter elsewhere), Stripe recruiting teams and the company in general often lacked the formal processes that lead to a smooth recruiting and hiring process. “It was an organization that seemed to shift priorities a lot. I feel like every two weeks there was a reorg. When you have that going on, to recruit for that, makes it difficult,” she said. “I just don’t think they have any idea of process — when I was trying to hire, … some of our interviewers met with something like 17 people over two days.”

This recruiter Protocol spoke to was let go from the company after about four months on the job without explanation, within weeks of another recruiter who also spent a correspondingly short time at Stripe. “I know a lot of people have felt that the organization has moved much more to the hire and fire mentality. I felt like that happened to my role. I know other people felt like they were brought in and then left out as sheep for slaughter,” she said.

The technical manager who signed the offer before it was rescinded feels more frustrated about the lack of recourse than the actual loss of the job. “It’s OK to break agreements when things happen. I don’t want to go to a company if there’s no place for me, but if companies are requiring transparency and honesty from me, they should do the same,” she said. “I got a lot of DMs from people who had hiring issues with Stripe after. You lift the veneer a bit, and they have just as many problems as anybody.”


Judge Zia Faruqui is trying to teach you crypto, one ‘SNL’ reference at a time

His decisions on major cryptocurrency cases have quoted "The Big Lebowski," "SNL," and "Dr. Strangelove." That’s because he wants you — yes, you — to read them.

The ways Zia Faruqui (right) has weighed on cases that have come before him can give lawyers clues as to what legal frameworks will pass muster.

Photo: Carolyn Van Houten/The Washington Post via Getty Images

“Cryptocurrency and related software analytics tools are ‘The wave of the future, Dude. One hundred percent electronic.’”

That’s not a quote from "The Big Lebowski" — at least, not directly. It’s a quote from a Washington, D.C., district court memorandum opinion on the role cryptocurrency analytics tools can play in government investigations. The author is Magistrate Judge Zia Faruqui.

Keep ReadingShow less
Veronica Irwin

Veronica Irwin (@vronirwin) is a San Francisco-based reporter at Protocol covering fintech. Previously she was at the San Francisco Examiner, covering tech from a hyper-local angle. Before that, her byline was featured in SF Weekly, The Nation, Techworker, Ms. Magazine and The Frisc.

The financial technology transformation is driving competition, creating consumer choice, and shaping the future of finance. Hear from seven fintech leaders who are reshaping the future of finance, and join the inaugural Financial Technology Association Fintech Summit to learn more.

Keep ReadingShow less
The Financial Technology Association (FTA) represents industry leaders shaping the future of finance. We champion the power of technology-centered financial services and advocate for the modernization of financial regulation to support inclusion and responsible innovation.

AWS CEO: The cloud isn’t just about technology

As AWS preps for its annual re:Invent conference, Adam Selipsky talks product strategy, support for hybrid environments, and the value of the cloud in uncertain economic times.

Photo: Noah Berger/Getty Images for Amazon Web Services

AWS is gearing up for re:Invent, its annual cloud computing conference where announcements this year are expected to focus on its end-to-end data strategy and delivering new industry-specific services.

It will be the second re:Invent with CEO Adam Selipsky as leader of the industry’s largest cloud provider after his return last year to AWS from data visualization company Tableau Software.

Keep ReadingShow less
Donna Goodison

Donna Goodison (@dgoodison) is Protocol's senior reporter focusing on enterprise infrastructure technology, from the 'Big 3' cloud computing providers to data centers. She previously covered the public cloud at CRN after 15 years as a business reporter for the Boston Herald. Based in Massachusetts, she also has worked as a Boston Globe freelancer, business reporter at the Boston Business Journal and real estate reporter at Banker & Tradesman after toiling at weekly newspapers.

Image: Protocol

We launched Protocol in February 2020 to cover the evolving power center of tech. It is with deep sadness that just under three years later, we are winding down the publication.

As of today, we will not publish any more stories. All of our newsletters, apart from our flagship, Source Code, will no longer be sent. Source Code will be published and sent for the next few weeks, but it will also close down in December.

Keep ReadingShow less
Bennett Richardson

Bennett Richardson ( @bennettrich) is the president of Protocol. Prior to joining Protocol in 2019, Bennett was executive director of global strategic partnerships at POLITICO, where he led strategic growth efforts including POLITICO's European expansion in Brussels and POLITICO's creative agency POLITICO Focus during his six years with the company. Prior to POLITICO, Bennett was co-founder and CMO of Hinge, the mobile dating company recently acquired by Match Group. Bennett began his career in digital and social brand marketing working with major brands across tech, energy, and health care at leading marketing and communications agencies including Edelman and GMMB. Bennett is originally from Portland, Maine, and received his bachelor's degree from Colgate University.


Why large enterprises struggle to find suitable platforms for MLops

As companies expand their use of AI beyond running just a few machine learning models, and as larger enterprises go from deploying hundreds of models to thousands and even millions of models, ML practitioners say that they have yet to find what they need from prepackaged MLops systems.

As companies expand their use of AI beyond running just a few machine learning models, ML practitioners say that they have yet to find what they need from prepackaged MLops systems.

Photo: artpartner-images via Getty Images

On any given day, Lily AI runs hundreds of machine learning models using computer vision and natural language processing that are customized for its retail and ecommerce clients to make website product recommendations, forecast demand, and plan merchandising. But this spring when the company was in the market for a machine learning operations platform to manage its expanding model roster, it wasn’t easy to find a suitable off-the-shelf system that could handle such a large number of models in deployment while also meeting other criteria.

Some MLops platforms are not well-suited for maintaining even more than 10 machine learning models when it comes to keeping track of data, navigating their user interfaces, or reporting capabilities, Matthew Nokleby, machine learning manager for Lily AI’s product intelligence team, told Protocol earlier this year. “The duct tape starts to show,” he said.

Keep ReadingShow less
Kate Kaye

Kate Kaye is an award-winning multimedia reporter digging deep and telling print, digital and audio stories. She covers AI and data for Protocol. Her reporting on AI and tech ethics issues has been published in OneZero, Fast Company, MIT Technology Review, CityLab, Ad Age and Digiday and heard on NPR. Kate is the creator of and is the author of "Campaign '08: A Turning Point for Digital Media," a book about how the 2008 presidential campaigns used digital media and data.

Latest Stories