Every Startup Needs Its Historian Tim Falls February 12, 2014 Company // SUMMARIES ?> A great band once said, “Every Rose Has Its Thorn”…And now, a not-so-great, self-proclaimed startup guy is saying — well, you get the point. [this blast from the past, brought to you by a true 80’s baby] And “To: All” a Good Day… Each of us has received it—the email to: email@example.com. It’s oftentimes an unwelcomed one. Sometimes it’s an outage report, sometimes it’s a new hire, and sometimes its relevance to the entire company is absurdly questionable. In some cases, it sets off a flurry of reply-all‘s, each of which begs the same question around mass relevance. However, every so often, that “email-to-all” is as welcome as pressing the snooze button (sorry, I’m writing this in the wee hours of the morning, so that’s the most desirable thing top of mind.) Last Friday, February 7, it happened—I saw it unfold right there in my very own inbox. What was contained within said email, you say? *clings to edge of desk* It was a simple link to web.archive.org, which showed a snapshot of SendGrid.com four years ago to the day. Startup Scrapbooking Like clockwork, the initial email was followed by a few reply-all messages, with commentary and other additions to the story. Luckily, this was one of those special email threads, in which (I think) everyone enjoyed the brief, nostalgic distraction. Yes, I was one of the guilty parties to reply-all. I had done some archiving of my own back in the year of twenty-ten, just before we decided to update our website and logo design to SendGrid.com 2.0. So, I shared the little treasure trove of screenshots with the company. See them all in the slideshow below, to discover just how bad three engineers can be at designing a website. 😉 Upon further reflection, I realized the true value of the experience was to remind everyone where the ‘Grid began. At some point, one must face the hard truth that companies grow up. SendGrid is no longer a startup; we’re a scaling company (Jim’s words, not mine!). In 2014, we find ourselves approaching our fifth anniversary. Half a decade ago, Jose, Tim, and Isaac were constructing a little dinghy named SendGrid. Little did they know, before they knew it, they’d be steering a cruise ship full of 200 people, hellbent on changing (for the better) the way the world uses email and the way developers get stuff done. In May, it will have been five years since I started working with the three co-founders and four years since I joined the company full time. I’ve always felt an obligation to play the role of company historian—as do many early employees. I believe it’s imperative for employees up and down the line to fully understand and appreciate the roots of the company to which they devote so many hours of their life—it’s critical for the strength and evolution of the company’s culture. Make History So, who is/are your historian(s)? If you’re a fledgling startup, anyone (or everyone) on the team could do it. As they say, time flies by, and memories are just one aspect of the startup journey that make it all worth the hustle. If you’re a more mature company, take a moment to check in and see if someone is maintaining your startup scrapbook. If they have been keeping tabs, then take a moment to reminisce —you’ll feel rejuvenated and that much more ready to overcome the next challenge. If you haven’t been keeping tabs on the good ol’ days, then start now—it’s never too late! Even if you haven’t been diligent in saving things, the internet might be able to help. Slideshare might be holding on to your original investor pitch deck. Your Demo Day presentation may be still showing on YouTube. The Internet Archive Wayback Machine is pretty nifty. TimeHop is an easy way to track your company’s social media activity. Have Fun With It Now that we’ve embarked upon this journey down “the lane,” we might just keep going and see what we find. After all, there’s a lot more material where this came from. I have an entire folder on my MacBook called “Company History” and several folders in iPhoto filed under “Company Fun.” Oh the places we’ve gone…and have yet to go! Have some fun times that you’d like to share? Throw a link or two in our comments below, and tell us your story! We’d love to bask in the glory alongside you.