14 years of growth: the 1Password story
I’m incredibly proud to announce that 1Password has partnered with Accel to help us continue the amazing growth and success we’ve seen over the last 14 years. Along with their largest initial investment ever of USD$200 million, Accel brings the experience and expertise we need to grow our team.
As a completely bootstrapped company that has never taken a dime of outside investment, this announcement may come as a bit of a surprise. We’ve always followed a different playbook than other companies, one that enabled us to build the most loved password manager and a world class company, all while remaining profitable during our entire 14 year history.
None of that is about to change so why are we partnering with Accel and why would we choose to do so now? Those are great questions, but to answer them fully, we first need to see how the journey started. Let’s go visit our founding heroes, all the way back to 2005.
Two guys in a garage
It’s been over 14 years since Roustem and I founded 1Password. Or 1Passwd for those who’ve been with us for a while. 🤗
When we started out we had a dream to make passwords easy and to help automate web form entry. A few months after quitting our day jobs we had our first beta ready, and on May 19th, 2006 we uploaded our first version to MacUpdate and VersionTracker.
A virtuous cycle quickly formed as users like yourself gave us feedback and Roustem and I were thrilled to receive it! We’d push out new versions with additional features and bug fixes, resulting in more downloads and even more feedback, which in turn led to even more late nights and early morning coding sessions. 🥰
Since then we’ve been more successful than we ever dreamed of. It’s been humbling to watch as we crossed milestone after milestone, and I have to pinch myself sometimes to see if I’m dreaming.
There are now millions of people using 1Password every day, hundreds of thousands of families, and over 50,000 (fifty thousand!) paying businesses using 1Password, ranging from small startups all the way to the largest enterprises like IBM. Being able to type IBM in that sentence is especially meaningful to me as I started my career at IBM as an intern in 1998 and they helped me create some of the best memories of my life.
All of this started after Roustem and I quit our day jobs while Sara was on maternity leave with Abby, who turned 14 years old a few days ago. Over the years 1Password evolved from a cool Mac app for simplifying browsing the web into a must-have security and trust service for all platforms.
You can see why I need to pinch myself from time to time. 😀
Growing our team
There are few things constant in life but over the last 14 years there have been three things at 1Password that have never wavered: security, privacy, and growth.
I can write novels on all the things we do to secure your data and protect your privacy, but for this story I want to focus on the third one: growth. Particularly the growth of the amazing team behind 1Password.
Growing our team was scary as we wanted to ensure 1Password stayed true to the vision and values that Roustem and I had.
Somehow we found a way and every year since Roustem and I founded 1Password in 2005 we’ve grown our team. We did just fine managing things ourselves for a while, but when we got to 20 people we knew it was time to bring on a full-time CEO. I even gave a heart-felt Çingleton talk on why we just couldn’t grow anymore otherwise.
We needed a CEO that could help us grow while staying true to our vision and culture. Thankfully I had become close friends with Jeff Shiner during our time at IBM and knew he was exactly who we needed.
Growth: 2X, 4X, 8X. 🚀
When Jeff joined as CEO in 2012 he knew we had to grow to allow us to execute our vision. Since then Jeff has doubled our team size to 40, then again to 80, and yet again to 160. As of today there are now 174 people working passionately full-time on 1Password. It’s just mind-blowing.
With all these wonderful people on our team we’ve been able to support millions of users and businesses across all continents with client apps on 7 platforms, including Linux and a command-line tool!
And most importantly of all, we were able to do all this while preserving our culture and staying true to our values.
In fact, we continued those traditions and had enough breathing room to allow us to double down on what we value most: security and privacy. For example, without a growing security team we would have never been able to complete our SOC2 certifications, run the BugCrowd bug bounty programs, and complete multiple external security audits.
With all these cool things being added our TODO list has been growing, and the growth rate of our list has been accelerating. To keep up it’s clear it’s time for us to follow this same playbook and double our team size again. And quite frankly, given all the opportunities we see, we will likely need to double a few more times after that.
But just like in 2012 we again find ourselves needing additional support and guidance to grow any further.
Growth²: repeating the 2X, 4X, 8X playbook. 🚀🚀
We’ve grown a lot over the last 14 years and we could probably figure out how to grow even further by ourselves given enough time and sweat, but it sure would be nice to have folks on the team who have done it before. It could only work if we found the right people with an approach consistent with our vision.
Thankfully over the past 6 years we built a friendship with Arun Mathew from Accel. Accel has exactly the experience we need, having worked with profitable and bootstrapped companies like ours to help them grow while staying true to their founding roots.
What we liked about Accel since the beginning is they have a lot of experience growing sustainable, founder-led companies. And quite frankly they know a good thing when they see one and are smart enough to avoid getting in the way of what made those companies great. 🙂
As much as we wanted a partner with experience, frankly this is our company and we wanted to retain control. As such we brought Accel on board as a minority stakeholder, ensuring we could preserve our culture and stay true to our values.
Our friend Arun will be joining our Board of Directors along with Roustem, Sara, Jeff, and myself. For many years we’ve wanted to have input from someone with experience and an outside perspective and we’re thrilled to finally be getting it.
Accel and 1Password are both strong teams and we’re even stronger together. It’s the proverbial “one plus one equals three” partnership and I’m looking forward to being part of this amazing team as we fly to ever-higher heights.
Doubling down on what makes 1Password great
When I shared early drafts of this post with a few people they all thought I needed to add a section here to say something inspirational and forward-looking. A forward aspirational vision to stoke the fire and push us forward.
The thing is, that’s just not me. So I really struggled writing one. I knew they were right so I started by saying that everyone deserves to be safe online and privacy is a fundamental human right. I quickly deleted that draft. Even though these were true and absolutely guided us, writing about them here felt hollow and inauthentic as it made it seem like we had a clear vision from the very beginning.
So I’m not going to do that. Instead, I’m going to share with you how I think about business. Or rather, how I mostly don’t and instead focus on product development and taking care of customers.
When it comes to product development I am constantly focused on the here and now. The “problem du jour” if you will. What can we do to make 1Password easier to use? Easier to deploy? Easier to understand? How can we be even more fanatical about your privacy and security? How can we help our customers do more in less time? What pain are our customers feeling, how can we help, and how can we go even further to make them feel more loved?
These are the questions that I dream about and it’s where I focus the vast majority of my time and energy. I’ve always believed that if you make an awesome product and respect your customers then the business side will take care of itself.
I still believe that to be true and so that’s what we’ll continue to do. Being obsessively focused on user experience and customers has served us well for the last 14 years and we’re going to double down on both.
The next 14 years
As great as the last 14 years have been I believe our best times and fondest memories lay ahead of us.
There are so many opportunities we simply haven’t had a chance to explore yet and now that we have have the foundation we need to grow it’s going to be exciting to see what we can accomplish.
We couldn’t have done this without awesome users like you who supported us over the last 14 years. Thank you so much for making this possible. 😘🤗