Why I left Foursquare for a blockchain startup

Dorothy Jean Chang
Aug 16, 2018 · 4 min read

For the last three years, I had the great fortune to get to work with one of my favorite startups, Foursquare. I still remember seeing Dennis present on stage at New York Tech Meetup way back in 2009; I thought the idea of sharing your location was so crazy it gave me goosebumps. Soon enough, I was happily sharing my location with friends, following their travels and racking up mayorships.

In 2015, I got the chance to join the company as the head of comms. What a dream! This was a startup that I had gotten to know as a user, and now I’d have a chance to help shape its reputation and to share its vision with the world. It was at such an interesting inflection point too; the consumer apps, Foursquare City Guide and Swarm, were beloved, fun and buoying the growth of some incredibly powerful enterprise solutions that made sense of all the rich location data. Some of my favorite moments were showing off the power of the data — whether by predicting Apple iPhone sales, foretelling the effect of the E. coli scare on Chipotle, or showcasing the effect that Amazon’s acquisition of Whole Foods had on its foot traffic. While I was there, the company went from about 150 to over 300 people, opened offices around the world, changed and grew dramatically. My comms team of four people was amazing, and we went through a lot of personal changes together. Two became aunts/uncles for the first time; three of us had babies; three of us bought new homes. One of them became my food soulmate. It was three years but a lifetime of memories.

So why’d I leave Foursquare — such a great company, beloved brand, amazing people and fun culture?

Because I’m crazy enough to join a startup that expects to completely revolutionize the way money — and all other assets — move around the world.

This move wasn’t totally capricious; It’s actually a very measured leap of faith. Paxos is a company with a daring, ambitious vision, leadership who I know and trust, and a team that’s set up to win.

Let’s start at the core. Paxos is on a mission to modernize finance by making it possible to move any asset, anywhere, instantaneously. It’s been chipping away at this goal by building products for specific use cases and is utilizing blockchain technology to make it all happen. It will signify a sea change for how the world of finance currently works (slowly, only during business hours, etc.). It’s actually pretty crazy how far behind financial infrastructure is. In a world that operates at a breakneck pace, why does it take so long for financial institutions to settle transactions? Why should trillions of dollars be held up on lag times? These are problems that shouldn’t exist in the digital age and Paxos is bent on fixing it.

I’m also extremely lucky to have had the pleasure of working with many folks on this team before. I’ve worked closely with Charles Cascarilla, the CEO, and Andrew Chang, the COO, since we invested in startups together via Liberty City Ventures, and when I represented Paxos (then itBit) a few years ago while running my own PR shop. They’re searingly brilliant, visionary and laser-focused on impact and execution. I’m also in love with Andrew and have been lucky to be married to him for five years. I feel lucky that my work husband and home husband are the same guy! (By the way, the title of this post is a play on what Andrew wrote when he joined four years ago.)

Finally, I believe this is a team that is set up to win. The company is well-funded and on a clear mission. But of even greater significance, it’s extremely values-focused. The company values are reinforced in how the company hires, assesses performance and operates; it underscores the culture of the company and guides it in the right direction. This resonates with me on such a core level, even my Chinese name translates to “thinking about values.” For a company to be successful, I believe it’s really important to function under the same guiding principles and have a shared perspective on how we operate.

Using blockchain to fix the antiquated pipes of our behemoth financial system is a far cry from Foursquare’s exploration of tastes and behavior in the real world, but it’s a really fresh, new challenge that I’m excited to tackle.

Ping me if you’d like to join us! I’m building a whole marketing and comms team from scratch and we need driven, smart, humble people who are ready to work on some really hard and rewarding problems.

And please follow along with us on Medium. We’ll keep you entertained and have some very exciting developments we’ll be announcing soon!

Dorothy Jean Chang

Written by

VP of marketing & comms at @Paxos. Formerly Foursquare, dorothyPR, BrewPR, Edelman, Yale.

Welcome to a place where words matter. On Medium, smart voices and original ideas take center stage - with no ads in sight. Watch
Follow all the topics you care about, and we’ll deliver the best stories for you to your homepage and inbox. Explore
Get unlimited access to the best stories on Medium — and support writers while you’re at it. Just $5/month. Upgrade