Operating Principles

The Replit Team

replit robot artwork
replit robot artwork

Mission first

Computers are the most powerful tools to exist in the history of humanity. Sadly most people are mere consumers of these machines. Only a relative few–the professional software developer–can use this superpower to its fullest extent. It’s creating an unbalanced world where there are programmers, and then there are those who are programmed. The situation is analogous to literacy before the printing press, where only the powerful had access to books and written communication. The invention of the printing press led to democratic, scientific, and industrial revolutions, but it took about a century from creation to revolution, which meant that an entire generation of people had to grow up with new skills, outlooks, and ways of learning and communicating.

Replit exists to bring the next billion software creators online. Our bet is that if more people can get coding easily, more people will code. If more people code, more people will be able to independently create and generate wealth on the internet, regardless of their personal circumstances. We’re excited about what that would mean for not only Replit’s future (good for business!) but also the impact we expect it will have on humankind (good for people’s happiness!).

We don’t know exactly what we will have to build to help us get there—it’s still very early days for Replit—but everything we do, every day, should push us closer and closer towards that future. If we advance our mission, then the world will be a much better place. Anything that distracts us from our mission will be ruthlessly cut.

Think radical

When we first put coding in the browser, people said it was stupid, and that nobody wanted what we were building. When we first gave away cloud computing for free, they said we’ll go broke, and that there was no way we could secure it. When we said we wanted to blur the distinction between learning and building, no one wanted to fund us, they said it’s two different things. Every step of the way, we’ve questioned norms, we’ve taken contrarian technology bets that paid off years in the future, and we’ve hired people no one wanted to hire who are now industry leaders. We’re going to keep doing it even when maybe especially when people tell us it sounds crazy.

How do we do that? Run towards the thing that’s lighting you up inside. Do something for no other reason than it seems like a fun or cool or weird way to advance our mission. Have a perspective. Make things with style. Give it swag. Turn it into a meme. Give it zing. Add a burp sound at the end of the video. Be snarky. Make someone laugh. When you feel strongly about something, don’t take no for an answer. Build it anyway and see what happens after a few users give it a try. Don’t just work on it. Play with it. Don’t wait for someone to tell you what they want. No one asked us to remove the save button on the code editor, but it seemed like a totally unnecessary extra step. And when we removed it, it made things just a little bit smoother.

We need to help each other keep that spirit up, too. Growing our team can’t mean slowing down or making it hard for what’s weird or wacky to win. If you see someone get a twinkle in their eye about something, tell them to drop what they’re doing and follow it for a day. If you see a freak flag at half-mast, hoist it up where it can really fly. If someone shares an idea they’re passionate about, and you think it sounds totally wrong, tell them to prove you wrong. When someone suggests something absolutely bonkers, call them a weirdo and mean it in a good way. When someone asks you for feedback, don’t give them all the small ways it won’t work, give them all the big ways it could. Our users–current and future–depend on it.

Move with urgency and focus

We've been able to achieve so much with so little because everyone at Replit takes ownership over their work. While we don’t consider collaboration a burden, we do think people can move fastest by working on their own. This is a lot of responsibility and requires a lot of intrinsic motivation, but we find it infinitely more satisfying to work this way. We also believe this is the kind of organization the best people want to work in.

Be reliable. Follow through. Take extreme ownership. Hold your work to a high standard. Find solutions to problems. Don’t make excuses. Bias towards action. Refuse to be blocked. Be decisive. Build the prototype. Schedule the demo. Work hard. Break it down into smaller pieces and ship it. Do it today, not tomorrow. If that seems hard, as U.S. Navy Seal, Jocko Willink puts it, “Relax. Look around. Make a call.” Remember, you have everything you need to get things done. And if you feel like you don’t, your bright and talented colleagues can help.

We’re all here to ship great things in pursuit of our mission. There will always be an infinite number of things to do, fix, tweak, or experiment with. Let’s be an organization full of people that get shit done without being asked or told.

Read-Eval-Print loop (how we build)

We get our name from "REPL", the Read Eval Print Loop, a magical tool that turns the computer up from a static machine into a conversational being. It’s one of the first tools in the history of computing that put humans first. Coders love REPLs because it gets them up close and personal with their program every step of the way.

This is how we aspire to build everything at Replit:

  • Read: Be inquisitive, talk to users, look at data, dogfood—do everything you need to do to immerse yourself in the world we’re building. Also, research and read. See how others do things and why. Engage with your colleagues in intellectual conversations about the future and read about the history of computing.
  • Evaluate: You can collect all the data in the world and not understand any of it. Even worse, you can confuse yourself. We turn data into knowledge by thinking and evaluating deeply. We seek truth over validation.
  • Print: You can think forever and not have any effect on the world. You need to act. A bias towards action generates better results in aggregate. Polish when it matters.
  • Loop: The faster everything happens, the faster you learn, the faster you improve, and the sooner our users get to take advantage of our work. Shipping incrementally, and evaluating how things are going every step of the way. And then, doing it all over again. And again, and again, and again!

We use this process because it’s how we’ll ship the best stuff. We don’t just get it done at Replit. We get it done right. Our users deserve to have that. You deserve to build it. Plus, it’s more fun that way.

Seek pain

People in our industry love to say “find what works and pour gas on it.” It’s easy advice to take–people like being in the zone of what’s working where they feel safe and cozy. At Replit, we run towards the tough stuff. We know how much there is to learn there.

When something seems off, start asking questions. When something is painful, get curious about why. When something’s uncomfortable, dive in. Don’t ignore it. Don’t get defensive. Get inquisitive. Look at the data with clear eyes. Accept nuance. Ask for feedback constantly. It’ll make all of our work and relationships better.

Be willing to polish to a painstaking extent. Most people are satisfied with getting something 80% of the way there. We’d rather take it to 110%. Get excited about working really, really hard to make something great. Take pride in your work. Obsess about things. Ruminate on them. Love the feeling of working on your toes. Get comfortable making sharp turns. We’ve had a lot of them already (cough, enterprise), and we’re going to have more. Expect to change. Enjoy the evolution.

Going where others are scared to go is our competitive advantage.

Replit is for people

Millions of people are already using Replit to explore their own curiosities, realize their own goals, make things that matter, and have fun. We hope that’ll be true for millions, tens of millions, maybe even billions more. That’s a whole lot of people!

Replit will always be a place that anyone who wants to build can, so long as they are operating within the laws of their jurisdiction and productive members of our community. It’s true for our user base and it’s true for our company. We shouldn’t expect to agree with the values or objectives of every customer. We shouldn’t make alignment with our beliefs a requirement to use our product. Our company was started by Palestinians. Many of our first customers were Israeli. We’re proud of that.

If we’re going to realize our mission, we need to be a place where all kinds of people, with all kinds of backgrounds, experiences, ideologies, and values are warmly welcomed. We are inclusive because we work hard to see and understand the talent in each other. We focus on what brings us together, never on what divides us.

Our goal is to build the most talented team in the world. We work hard to recruit the best, including those from underrepresented backgrounds who don't have equal access to opportunities. We will always be open-minded, and strive to widen (but never lower!) the bar to usher in new ideas, new perspectives, and new ways of working that help us advance our mission.

We are diverse, and that's because we focus on talent and hard work. We are not impressed by fancy college degrees or padded resumes. If someone is a Replit team member, it's because we're excited about them, their work, and their contributions to the ecosystem. There is no door that isn’t the front door. No one gets special access or rules or treatment on the basis of anything other than their contributions to the company and our mission. No one ever has to guess whether there are any other motivations or criteria at play. We’ve found this way of working is better for everyone involved, because it helps us start all of our work together with a default foundation of trust and confidence in each other.

We must always be kind, caring, and thoughtful with each other, our users, and our broader community. We must be open-minded listeners, empathetic collaborators, and excellent communicators. We should all be people other people love to work with. We should all be building a product people love using, no matter who they are.

replit robot artwork
replit robot artwork

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