Thoughts from Chen Wang


May 12

Y2023 AI versus Devs | Part I: Friend or Foe

There’re in general two schools of thought in terms of AI/LLMs’ influence this time around on software developers and their work practice. The “doomsday” or “end-of-programming” view argues that there’s less and less need for human involvement in software development, given how capable recent AI models perform. Where we go from there, among other derived scenarios, is perhaps the one where AI …



Dec 16

Sweat Equity Convertible Contract | SECC

You can jump straight to the calculator, or read on to understand the mechanism behind it. When you are just starting out in your exciting startup journey, you either have other co-founders who work with you to bring out the product or pay contractors to help you build it (or both). In return, co-founders get equity (sometimes cash salary too) while contractors get cash. There is another way, …


Aug 26

Reflections on 3 years of (Transfer) Wise

I joined a company, at the time called TransferWise on the last day of April 2018. It was relatively unknown if you had no need of sending money cross-border, and its brand was overshadowed by other prominent fintech companies such as Monzo and Revolut then. (For the sake of clarity, I will use Wise instead of TransferWise for the company; it is the same company after all. All the people mentioned …


Aug 24

Reflections on 3 years of (Transfer) Wise | Part VII: Closing Thoughts

(^ Always loved those cute illustrations! ^) On Wise This part is intentionally subjective, summing it up for the parts in the series. The views are all mine. Firstly, a startup with a true mission and a clear vision to get there is rare. Most didn’t want to bother; some, such as WeWork, overdid it. I saw how a true mission-driven company connected like-minded people. As a group with a shared …


Aug 21

Reflections on 3 years of (Transfer) Wise | Part VI: Not just about Work

(^ Bird’s-eye view of Tallinn on a summer day, 2018 ^) This part is a fun read about my personal experience working at Wise at the time. Travelling I joined Wise way before Covid, which meant there were a lot of travels between the offices. Mostly between London and Tallinn, with Budapest occasionally, and once to Singapore. It may be an environmentally unfriendly thing to say in 2022, but I …


Aug 17

Reflections on 3 years of (Transfer) Wise | Part V: Other Strategic Topics

(^ Mission Zero - How? ^) Let’s talk about strategies. Jesse, one of the VCs who invested in Wise explained why he thought Wise was built to last. I am equally bullish and agree with the reasons listed, a lot of which have been covered in earlier parts of this series. Here I look at a few other topics. Fiscally responsible and disciplined Anybody working at Wise would have remembered Matt’s …


Aug 14

Reflections on 3 years of (Transfer) Wise | Part IV: The Engineering Organisation

(^ Hackathon 2018 | Conversion Team in action among others - Daniel, Karl, Urgo & Michael ^) It would have been a waste of opportunity NOT to talk specifically about the engineering organisation at Wise, as this is a topic close to my heart. I could not have had a better learning experience living and breathing the changes in those years when the organisation reacted to the growing demand.


Aug 11

Reflections on 3 years of (Transfer) Wise | Part III: All about People

(^ TransferWise Summer Days 2019 ^) I care deeply about people, equally so when I was at Wise, surrounded by a group of kind and motivated human beings. Culture shapes people who in turn make culture I spend Part I and II covering many cultural aspects at Wise. I was curious about the early culture and its evolvement because I was not there in the beginning. The common response, when I asked this …


Aug 9

Reflections on 3 years of (Transfer) Wise | Part II: Autonomy in the DNA

(^ Autonomous team growth, 2012 - 2021 ^) To me, the culture of Wise was anchored on two foundations: feedback and autonomy. Jessica had a good writeup on the former already. I’d like to single out autonomy which had a profound impact on how Wise operated. I am a big fan of autonomy and its application at Wise. Towards the latter part, I look at the areas where autonomy may fall short and offer my …


Aug 7

Reflections on 3 years of (Transfer) Wise | Part I: Mission and Values

(^ Kristo & Taavet, 2014 ^) I used to think of mission as corporate-speak, before joining Wise. I was sceptical about Wise’s mission and values in the beginning too. Later on, seeing how concrete strategies were put in place to achieve the mission, I was convinced. I may be full of praise in this part which is unlike myself, but that is my true reflection. A true mission attracts and motivates …


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