Are we there yet?
I’m Alvin, VP of Engineering at TenX. Our community team recently asked if I might respond to one or two posts on our forums, and after browsing the comments I thought it best if I give an update on our Engineering blog.
I’m very grateful for your feedback and continued support. The community has done everything from defending us to calling us scammers; from sending us fan-made swag to making a meme of me (that was rather embarrassing tbh). Whether you’re hopeful for our impending card launch, upset about delays or are downright negative about our prospects, I am humbled that you’ve come online to tell us and share your views with the community. The TenX team is driven by our mission to deliver to you, our customers, and it is your continued encouragement that pushes us to our best.
People have asked what the employees of TenX are doing. I imagine this is borne out of frustration and a long wait to get a card to spend your crypto. I share your frustration; especially when there are situations not within my control, but I’ll share what I can from the teams I work with.
First, executives. Running a business and in fact being a leader of any sort is about managing risks, building partnerships and inspiring others (including our customers!) to see the future that we collectively can bring.
This is what myself and others on the executive team do on a daily basis under Toby’s leadership. We also group frequently to strategise, but I won’t elaborate on that as I gather from feedback that you probably want insight on our progress.
Outside of the executive team, most of our employees are currently focussed on delivering the cards. In addition to leading an excellent Engineering team that mostly runs itself (you can find out more about what the team has been doing through our blog posts), I’ve had the pleasure of gathering people from various teams to scope out and prepare for our launch.
This is not all we’ve been doing for the year of course, and you will find some insight on the various teams’ work in our transparency report and video updates by Julian. I’m sure he will touch on this further, though I imagine that unless you’re intrigued by the nuances of identifying false IDs, tax accounting of blockchain assets, reworking FAQs to read simply, negotiating partnership contracts, drafting policies, reorganising repos or a whole lot of other things that we do to make it all work, you’d probably rather we just skip the talk and get it done. Let us know either way!
Back to preparing for launch: Team members from Finance, Operations, Compliance, Customer Support, Design, Engineering and Product have been gathering for weekly roll-out meetings. Some have described these as “war-room” sessions but I hesitate to label them as such; we are not at war and there is no crisis at hand. Instead it is a process that we follow deliberately to bring about a planned outcome. During these sessions we identify open items, uncertainties and potential roadblocks as a team, look to resolve or de-risk these, and help each other to clear roadblocks.
I’ll elaborate on each of these:
- Open Items — are tasks, issues or problems that need to be addressed and have already been acknowledged. I ask for an update on the progress and the expected resolution date, looking out for anything that might cause this to be moved into one of the other categories below.
- Uncertainties — get the most attention. These are often partner dependent. While we occasionally have uncertainties with internal deliverables, participants typically come prepared with information and a recommendation for us to transition the uncertainty into an Open Item (with a solution and timeline) or into a roadblock. Outstanding uncertainties are then systematically broken down into smaller tasks or issues that can be categorised as Open and actioned upon.
- Roadblocks — take the highest priority in resolution. As our teams already hold themselves accountable to delivery, most items end up either as a roadblock or are Open Items with a timeline. Roadblocks typically require some coordination or reassignment of priority across teams, and occasionally escalation to a partner.
These are not high-level senior executive sessions where action points are taken to be passed on — team representatives who are accountable for the work that needs to be done are the ones actually in the room. Because of this ownership, the session usually takes just half an hour despite involving 6–7 people giving updates.
The concept of gathering people into a room to align on a common delivery is not unique to launching our cards. Our Product Team, which Paul and I lead, regularly hold them prior to external app releases. (We have internal products too, but these follow a different process.) As with the rollout meetings the teams are empowered to run the sessions themselves with the desired outcome of getting our apps released.
You’re probably aware of our plans to go with React Native. As I’ve been conducting broader operations planning across the company the Product team has shifted their rollout meetings towards preparing for our React Native app launch. At the same time they keep the current native apps updated, and indeed during the transition we have had to manage some complexity and restrictions around supporting a legacy app while building a new one.
The community has also asked why we chose React Native, a topic that I’d touched on briefly in the past. The answer warrants a post on it’s own which I expect we’ll get to eventually (write code first; blog later), but you can expect we’ll share our considerations and why we feel it is the right choice for us now, rather than why it is right for facebook but not airbnb.
Regardless I ask that you see for yourself and judge us by the outcome, not the technology. In the words of Sean, who worked tirelessly on the port: “It’s gonna be f***ing awesome!”
Aswe get closer to delivery I have found myself being more anxious, stressed and eager to get things done at all costs. Kip, my friend and mentor, has helped me reframe this as excitement but more importantly helped me to realise that I am likely not the only one feeling the pressure. So in each of these rollout meetings I like to remind everyone that It’s Going To Be Great! and that the tasks are all on the board; we only need to focus on clearing them.
Tyler, Platform Engineering Lead has a similar message for our teams.
We know we’re good at what we do and we’ve worked hard to put this together. We’re going to have a great product, a great launch, and when things break, as they inevitably do, we’re well prepared to fix them.
It’s incredibly tempting to see this goal as a final one, one that our customers see from their perspective of getting cards in hand to spend crypto. But although I look forward to a break after we deliver, I constantly remind myself that
This is not a finish line we’re rushing to cross; it is just the beginning of great things!
I hope you agree.