Fist-bumping on the Path to Victory

Being located on the same side of the Bay as the Golden State Warriors, we know a little bit about winning sports teams. And we’ve observed that great teams high-five each other, a lot. Since we already have some great athletes in the company (and we like to think of ourselves as the Warriors of legal tech), we wanted to translate that mutual form of support from the court to the office.

But we needed a more scaleable solution — walking up to your colleague’s desk and high-fiving every time they solve a tough bug may be fun but has its issues. Not only is it a tad distracting but practically nobody else would see it. All that appreciation for your homemade cinnamon buns would remain in the kitchen, solely between you and the eater.

So in the spirit of Silicon Valley, we took a face-to-face interaction and moved it into the cloud. We call it Fist Bump and it is essentially a mini social network for the office. Its main feature is a feed of “fist bumps” that colleagues have sent to each other, as well as the ability to send your own “bumps”. You can bump a single colleague, a set of them, or even an entire team! 

The site allows you to create your own bio with a profile picture and answers to a set of fun and informative questions. The goal is to create a fun space where people can appreciate each other, be goofy, and learn about what their colleagues are working on.

Overall it’s been a great success. We have sent over 5,500 bumps and people have commented over 700 times on those bumps! We’ve continued to improve it to try and encourage people to use the platform more, including gif support (400 gifs have been sent) and a visualization that maps connections between coworkers.

The site was developed fully in-house, and it’s built using the Django web framework. It’s hosted on an EC2 micro instance, so it costs pennies per month to maintain. A major benefit of in-house development is that we can fully customize it to match our company culture. For example, we have a set of culture tokens that get passed around to people who exemplify certain aspects of our company culture. Although we haven’t scrapped the physical tokens, we added a token feature to Fist Bump so that people can see who has each token at any given time.

We’ve also been growing quickly, and it was becoming difficult to keep up with all of our new hires! We used to use a Google Doc as a company directory, but it became unwieldy as we surpassed a head count of 70. So Fist Bump now has a company directory, where you can quickly peruse people’s pictures and a set of questions and answers. You can also view any bumps they’ve been a part of, which can hopefully give you a bit of insight into what they’ve been working on.

On top of adding features that we think promote good company culture, we avoid adding ones that detract from it. For example, we’ve avoided any kind of “Most Bumps Received” feature, or any way to sort people based on their stats on the site. We want to avoid creating any competition, the same way that NBA players shouldn’t be competing to get or give the most high fives in a game.

As we’ve expanded, approaching the magical Dunbar’s number, Fist Bump has helped preserve some of the best aspects of startup culture. For our newest employees, they can learn what people look like and what Harry Potter house they belong to before they’ve met everyone. People can match the appropriate gif to a successful sales call, and debate the pronunciation of GIF in the comments. And if anyone wants a quick update on what’s going on outside of their team’s bubble, all they have to do is browse the Fist Bump feed.

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