Interesting Data Gigs # 15: Software Engineer (Infrastructure) at Column
The most interesting Banking-As-A-Service Company of the Decade
If you are not a subscriber of Interesting Data Gigs, join 1700+ Data geeks (between LinkedIn and this newsletter) that receive it directly in their inbox each week — it’s free.
Are you looking for a new Data Analytics role?
It’s the perfect time to be part of The Interesting Data Gigs Talent Network, where you will find excellent Data Analytics jobs from companies like Netflix, Apple, Calendly, and many more.
Let’s change the game together: Instead of people applying to companies, companies will pitch to you, so don’t wait any other moment and join today.
And if your company is looking for a very selected pool of candidates focused on Data Engineering, you can join as well to the Talent Collective.
Are you looking for amazing Data Analytics people?
Apply here as a company using the “DATAGIGTALENT“ code to get a 10% discount for the first month, or if you prefer to “test the waters first”, you can post an open role here on our job board, using the “DATAGIGJOB“ code to get a 10% discount for your first role.
Hello Data people.
First, a quick note for you: I’m a little late for the edition of the week. This email should arrive to you on Saturday, but unfortunately, I couldn’t do it.
So, in order to be fair with you: I will analyze two more roles this week.
Enough of complaints and let’s get straight to the meat.
Today, I will be taking a new route with this edition: I will be talking about an infrastructure-focused role, but with a bunch of data behind as well.
I will be discussing a career-defining role in a company that from my perspective: it’s the Banking-As-A-Service organization of the decade, and let me use this article to help you to decide why you must apply to be part of this team.
Let’s tell you why I’m particularly excited about Column
But you should be wondering what the heck is Column, right?
There is a very good short description of it:
Column is a company building a simple, secure, and straightforward API to provide banking services to other companies.
If you have followed my work for a while, you should know that I love APIs companies.
From my perspective, this is the future of infrastructure, and Column is a perfect example of it.
Let me put it this way:
This means that many of the companies you see out there, building financial services like credit cards, debit cards, and online banking; actually, need a chartered bank behind them.
Chime and PayPal use The Bancorp Bank
Cross River Bank’s partners
So, you get the idea of the things that Column is building here, and of course the potential for making literally billions.
I will just share here some of the numbers behind these banks here:
The Green Dot generated $362.8 million in Total Revenues and net income was $15.0 million
Cross River Bank is even more interesting, according to this article:
Of course, Cross River Bank and Column are direct competitors in this space.
But, I see Column very differently here.
It’s being built on a great foundation
Let me tell you why:
Column is co-founded by William Hockey and Annie Robertson Hockey, a husband/wife team that is perfect for this. William was the Chief Technology Officer for Plaid until 2019, building side by side with Zach Perret into the global company, they are today, and Annie is an ex-Bain and Company consultant with an MBA from Stanford
Column is built from the ground up with a strong foundation: William and Annie bought the Northern California National Bank, a 15 years old bank with $300 Million in deposits for $50 Million. Why does this matter? Because this bank is a member of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) which means that it’s a nationally chartered bank. So, right now, a company building a financial product doesn’t need any “middleman organization” to build it (companies like Modern Treasury & FiServ). Instead, they can use Column for everything: both as a bank for FDIC-insured checking and savings accounts and the set of APIs to build services like bank accounts management, ACH processing, debt financing, and the newest kid in town: the ability to reveal incoming wire transfers received in error
So: this probes they are building the right things for the right customers.
Column is bootstrapped
One of the favorite characteristics of Column is that it’s a fully bootstrapped operation and it’s owned 100% by the team.
You should know that the team is very small and is in that way by design:
All this tells you to know one thing: if you join this team, you will be challenged, but I truly believe this is a career-defining move here if you have the chance to be part of this scrappy crew.
Column has direct access to the Federal Reserve
You should be wondering what this means, right? This means that the company has a direct connection to the Federal Reserve’s payments rails known as FedWire:
Column, through its Wire API, has access to FedWire, 22 hours a day, 6 days a week.
Here’s an example:
curl 'https://api.column.com/counterparties' \ -XPOST \ -u : \ -d routing_number="121144269" \ -d account_number="1234567890" \ -d "wire[beneficiary_name]"="John Smith" \ -d "wire[beneficiary_address][line_1]"="101 Market St" \ -d "wire[beneficiary_address][city]"="San Francisco" \ -d "wire[beneficiary_address][state]"="CA" \ -d "wire[beneficiary_address][postal_code]"="94105" \ -d "wire[beneficiary_address][country_code]"="USA"
This provides instant access to companies to this system. This is one of the reasons why companies Brex and Plaid are using Column for their services.
Brex and Plaid are two of the most prominent Column’s clients, which speaks itself for one thing: Scalability
You can read this in Brex’s website footer:
And Plaid’s Zach Perret shared about Column:
So, this is a true statement of what a company could accomplish with Column.
Let’s talk about the position
The description of the position is very simple and straightforward:
Let’s dissect it in pieces:
Yes, it’s true: the members of this team are very, very experienced in the financial industry.
William helped to build Plaid from scratch
Lukasz Strzalkowski worked seven 7 years at Square before coming to Column
Henry You worked at Blend (building infra for banking), Facebook, and Goldman Sachs
Brian Wang worked at Facebook (inside the Merchant Payment Platform) and Affirm (inside the Banking backend)
Praful Mathur worked at Affirm (Banking APIs
Matthew Halpern worked at Google (Tech Lead for the Google Payments Platform) and ConsenSys (Tech Lead development of the Ethereum client)
Mitchell Fierro worked at Google ( as part of the Technical Infrastructure Business Operations team), CloudKitchen (Core infrastructure engineer), and Amazon
and many more
You get the idea: these folks are playing here, they are literally building the bank infrastructure from scratch
I love this choice here: Golang is perfect for this kind of API-driven products.
Again: A+ team in the house.
Doing my own research, I found 2 interesting things:
It seems that Column is using a combination of bare metal servers and Amazon Web Services. Just see the SSL check for api.column.com
They deeply care about the security of the system
Let’s discuss simple 3 ideas on how to approach this job application (THE REAL MEAT)
Idea # 1: Get familiar with the API
You will be working in an API-driven company, so it’s a must-have to play with the API. The documentation is very good, so feel free to pick one particular topic and test it.
Idea # 2: Read this document called “Fundamentals of the Funds Transfer Process”
This document is a must-read for anything working in something related to banking and electronic transfers in the U.S.
It’s a short but necessary read, at least from my perspective.
Idea # 3: Improve your Golang and DevOps skills
If you are already a Golang developer, good: practice, practice, practice.
If you have never developed anything in Golang, just pick some resources and work with them.
The same with DevOps. The team is very small, so they should rely a lot on the automation of things, especially anything related to Infrastructure.
These are some of my favorite Golang/DevOps resources:
Don’t take this lightly.
Good luck with the application, my friend.
Interesting reads of the week
If you’re finding this newsletter valuable, consider sharing it with friends, or subscribing if you haven’t already.
Thanks a lot for reading and I would love to hear your feedback about it. If you prefer faster comms, just send me a Tweet or a DM there → @marcosluis2186