Ray may be one of Atoms’ most popular team members outside of Waqas and Sidra. If you’ve bought our shoes, you’ll recognize his name from the message that pops up asking, “Hi there, Anything we can assist with?” Despite being the first line of communication between our customers and Atoms, Ray wants to stay relatively anonymous on the internet, so if you’re wondering why the photo is of his back, it’s because he refused to have his face featured in this post. Born and raised in California’s South Bay, aka the heart of Silicon Valley, Ray currently calls Brooklyn home. As Atoms’ resident Bitcoin maximalist, he’s also the guy at Atoms who convinced 90 percent of the team to put their money into Bitcoin. Thank you Ray! Read on to learn all about Ray:
How did you discover Atoms?
I remember seeing Markhor in YC (Y Combinator) and thinking it was a weird company and ignored it. Years later I saw Niv and a few others tweeting about Atoms and later realized it was the same founders. I saw Pomp tweet about it and that was the final tweet that pushed me over the edge.
How did you get a job at Atoms?
I wasn’t getting what I was looking for from my previous employer and was starting to think about the next steps. I thought about companies that were reaching product-market fit and about to go into hyper-growth, but instead decided to go for an earlier stage company and was thinking of products that few people have heard of, but you would constantly talk about. Atoms was on the list because I bought a beta pair when the site was an invite-only page on Product Hunt, so I DMd Waqas on Twitter.
What is your position?
Leading our CX efforts.
Describe a normal day working at Atoms:
Exploring rabbit holes. I walk into the office expecting to talk to our customers but within an hour I have spotted something that seems off and or someone will say something that is interesting and off I go.
What are typical customer comments?
Read our reviews: these shoes are comfortable. The fit is perfect. The laces are a nice touch.
What is the strangest thing a customer has asked?
Are these true to fit? It is a very simple question but impossible to answer because I don’t think anyone who asks that question actually understands what they are asking. We are familiar with units of measurement such as a mile or a pound. However, when it comes to measuring feet, it was originally based on bundles of barleycorn. It isn’t a weird question on the surface but I still think it is weird every time I hear it given they are asking me if our shoes are parity with a handful of freshly harvested grains.
What do you do when you’re not working?
I am a nerd at heart and love playing with things. I read a lot, mostly business, history, sociology, and a few other subjects. I am also tinkering with new things a lot. For example, I think I am running eight Bitcoin and Lightning nodes at the moment. There is no rational reason to run all eight since it validates the same blockchain but as long as there are teams making new products I’ll be downloading it.
What are you passionate about?
It’s a cliche but making the world a better place. One of the things that really bothers me is that as a species, we have never actually completely solved a problem. We have been to the moon, created decentralized money, and nearly proved the existence of a multiverse where a deity doesn’t exist. Despite all of the trophy accomplishments, we have not ended world hunger, actually eradicated diseases, etc. At the core, I think it is too much of an emphasis on narratives and we need to be intellectually curious and open to being wrong. I want to know the craziest ideas on how to actually solve the world's problems where nothing is off-limits.
How many days in a row have you worn your Atoms? Are they actually the best everyday shoe?
I am not sure but definitely at least a year. One of the perks of working at Atoms is getting free shoes but I am still wearing the beta pair I bought in the Spring of 2018. I refer to this as the New Release Paradox: The midsole of a pair of Atoms is designed to form to your feet over time so it has a personalized level of comfort. Despite having the new pairs of shoes we have released, I actually don’t wear them because they aren’t as comfortable. I need to spend a few weeks in a second pair of Atoms to get those ready for when I am ready to retire these.
What’s your favorite thing about Atoms the company?
I don’t have one. That may sound weird given I was the second employee but I actually think that is what makes it more exciting. I don’t think we have reached a point where we are known for a certain thing. Iconic brands like Google may be known for the perks or Pixar with allowing you to expand your imagination but it is still early enough in Atoms that I don’t have a favorite thing which means any day, anyone in the company can make a lasting impact on the brand and culture.
What is the most important lesson you’ve learned while working at Atoms?
The first thing that comes to mind is more so confirmation of a belief which is that credentials such as your résumé or background don’t matter as much as the people do. I don’t look at résumés when interviewing people because I have never thought they mattered. I am a high school dropout with zero experience in regards to the shoe industry as is the case with most of our team. What we do have is a team that is super creative and able to solve problems quickly. Being a group of outsiders also removes the traditional framework that imposes mental limitations on what can and cannot be done. That should continue to play out as Atoms grows.