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Life at a Silicon Valley Startup: PBwiki

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Warning: Jobs at my startup are available below.

I write a lot about entrepreneurship on iwillteachyoutoberich, but I haven’t written much about my day job, a startup in Silicon Valley called PBwiki that I co-founded. Since we’re hiring, it’s a perfect time to write about life at a startup as a thinly veiled excuse to get you to apply to work here. Done and done!

Last time I wrote a job post for PBwiki here, we ended up hiring Paul Singh, who moved to the Bay Area from Virginia with his wife. He’s now our Director of Support and manages a staff of 6. So I’m hoping that there may be a couple of you who’ll be interested in PBwiki and send me your resumes.

What does PBwiki do?
Wikis are collaborative websites that lots of people can edit (Wikipedia is an example of a wiki-as-encyclopedia). You might use a wiki to plan a project or create an online classroom. Instead of sending 50 emails to coordinate something, you put files and pages in one secure place and let your team collaborate online. Try it out: You can create a PBwiki as easily as a peanut butter sandwich (yeah, I said it) at As for me, I’m the VP of Community Marketing, meaning I manage the messaging and parts of the product that our millions of users see.

Here’s a great demo of how wikis work:

And wikis are getting more popular: In 2007, “wiki” was searched for more than “blog.”


We started PBwiki in 2005 and have become the world’s largest host of business and educational wikis. The United Nations has used PBwiki. So do over 1/3 of the Fortune 500. Collaboration is a huge market where companies and regular people are willing to invest to solve their communication challenges. And we’ve tried to build a drop-dead simple approach to using it. Just like iwillteachyoutoberich, the most important part is getting started.

How are we doing?
Here are some key PBwiki stats:

  • 400% annualized revenue growth since inception
  • Over 350% growth in the # of wikis hosted since last year
  • We’ve doubled our staff (engineering, marketing, sales, admin) in the last 3 months. Between our Bay Area headquarters and New Hampshire sales office, we now have a small team of 18.
  • Raised just over $2 million in venture capital

And we’re looking for a few key people to join us. But first, what’s it like working here?

Working at PBwiki

Kristine and I are doing a hot-sauce eating competition:


Things are getting hot — Paul has the defibrillator handy:


Paintballing on our Colorado retreat. I am the one with a lot of paint on me:

A real-time display of millions of PBwiki users and how they’re using our service:

Realtime view of PBwiki usage

Dress is casual, we have free lunches/espresso, gym memberships, and stock options for each employee.

But more importantly, working here gives you the chance to make changes that millions of users will see that very same week. Whenever people ask me how they can get started doing something entrepreneurial, I always suggest working at a startup. You learn the ropes and get mentored by experienced people, and you get the freedom to experiment and try to make huge changes very quickly.

How we think about hiring
Straight from our official hiring page…

We value intelligence over workplace experience, and clever independent projects over GPA. We’d much rather talk to someone who started a non-profit in college or led a group of a Presidential campaign interns than someone who got a 1600 on their SATs and a 4.0 in college but never ventured off the beaten path. Tell us that crazy thing that kept you up all weekend.

Hmm…sounds suspiciously like an article I wrote a while back: Your college is not a technical school.

What can you learn here?
Here are some of the things I’ve learned…

  • How to raise venture capital and what happens in a board meeting
  • How to set up systems so that, if you get hit by a bus tomorrow, the company will still go on
  • What key-man insurance is
  • How to work with marketing and engineering teams to make quick changes to a product and not get bogged down by process
  • How to nurture a community of millions of users and grow a web service without spending any money on advertising

If you have any questions about working at a startup, post a comment here and I’ll respond in the comments. And I’ll post a list of our jobs soon!

[Update: Here’s a list of positions we’re hiring for.]

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  1. Need in-house or outside counsel?

  2. Nope, we’ve got our own — but thanks.

  3. I’m looking to take a semester or more off college and go work, and I love the idea of working at a startup. I’m basically the kind of person you describe – more interested in trying to set up an online business or blog than getting a 4.0 every semester – except that I’m only halfway through college. I’m not sure if startups are right for me, or if I should just go apply at Starbucks. Where are the best places to look for startups that are hiring? Any other advice for my situation? I’m starting out completely clueless, but extremely motivated to not be on campus next fall.. thanks.

  4. Some of the best places to look for startups are TechCrunch, Venturebeat, YCombinator, VCs portfolios, and all of the startup/tech/VC blogs. After you spend a few days reading these and crawling through, you’ll get a good feel for how startups work.

    Check out some of my links at,, and

    The best book on startups is Founders at Work.

  5. Hey Ramit, I’m about to graduate from Texas State University with a bachelors degree in Business Management with a concentration in Entrepreneurship. Its getting closer and closer to graduation (May 9th) and I’ve been looking for a “regular” job (mostly because thats what my parents expect of me) however I have also been looking for an opportunity of a lifetime (assisting a entrepreneur or working at a start-up.) If PBwiki needs a hardworking office manager or assistant that would be the opportunity I’ve been looking for!

  6. would love to apply for the job if not for the location!

  7. HI Ramit,

    What technologies are you using?

    I am a C/C++ developer working as a contractor with H1B visa status and looking for a full time job for long term career prospects.

    Do let me know if you have position which matches my skillset. Or I will check back for the job postings which you have promised.

    Thanks and regards,

  8. No luck for me.

    Your company does not like c++ geeks. 🙁

  9. RE: Key Man Insurance

    This touches on stuff I work with – was is something your VCs insisted on (pretty common), or something you and fellow founders acquired on your own to protect each others’ interests?

    Must be a surreal experience to run the whole gamut of blood tests and the like neh? 🙂