Back to Venmo.Com

A marketing analytics summer internship at Venmo

· by Tom Vladeck, MBA Intern


Hi, my name is Thomas Vladeck. I’m in the middle of getting my MBA from Wharton and this summer I had a marketing analytics summer internship at Venmo. Prior to Wharton I did a variety of things related to climate policy, so although I majored in math a long time ago, this is a bit of a new thing for me. I loved the three classes I took in marketing and market research I took in my first year, and since Wharton is heavily quantitative, I felt ready to take on a new challenge.

Picking my project

My first step was to pick my project. I was hired with the understanding that (a) I’d do some sort of technical market research project and (b) I’d mostly manage myself. During my interview process I put together a process I’d follow for defining the project, performing the analysis, and distributing my findings. My first task was to get acquainted with the team and figure out what everyone wanted to know - and what would be the highest-value projects I could work on.

Eventually we settled on trying to understand what types of people were not getting value out of Venmo and churning out. This would happen in two stages: first, I’d figure out which users were no longer using Venmo, and second, I’d correlate that with other things we could observe about those users to come up with a general finding.

A diversion into product survey data

But first! I got sidetracked. While getting acquainted with the data we stored in various places, I started looking into the surveys we send our users. Like most companies, we keep track of our Net Promoter Score. We also ask a bunch of follow-up questions about how our product is performing, such as “Do you find it easy to find the right person to pay on Venmo?”. I noticed that we were sending three different versions of the survey out, with different sets of questions. Our PMs had a lot of questions, and no good way to sort out which they should be asking.

Ta Da!! I had just learned a tool to do this, and wasn’t going to let the opportunity go to waste. A tool called factor analysis can help marketers interpret the information they are getting from their surveys, and redesign them to ask fewer questions.

Factor analysis works on the following principle: we can observe only how our users answer the questions we ask them, but we can’t directly observe the “factors” that are important to them. The process uses fancy math to infer what factors are driving different answers to questions.

As it turned out, we were asking a lot of redundant questions; for example, we were asking five questions that began “I feel that it is easy…”. The graphs below are one output of the factor analysis (called a scree plot), and show how much variation in survey responses is accounted for by each factor - and clearly some factors are far more important than others. This meant that we could reduce the number of questions we ask and get the same amount of information.

Based on the factor analysis, we were able to reduce the number of questions we ask from 23 to just 8, and combine our three regular product feedback surveys into just one.

Back to customer analytics

With that little mini-project out of the way, I turned back to the task of thinking about retention and churn at Venmo.  Apps like Venmo have a much tougher time calculating churn than do subscription services like Dropbox or cable TV. In “contractual” settings, you can observe churn directly when people cancel their subscription; by contrast, if someone doesn’t use Venmo for a while, there’s a chance they just haven’t been in the right place or mood and will come back.

I had planned to dive right into this sexy stochastic model that would put a probability on each user being “alive” but I was urged by our GM, Mike Vaughan, to start simpler. The sexy stochastic model would come later.

The first thing he suggested doing was creating a “transition matrix.” Like most every other tech company, we measure our “monthly actives” - the number of users that show up in a given month. But we weren’t measuring how much “turnover” there was in our active user base. Were active users staying active? Were inactive users becoming active and vice versa? There was no way to tell.

 A transition matrix has every user fitting into one of these cells:

This can give more detail on what our retention looks like. Given a monthly active number, more turnover is better, as it means that more users overall are still using Venmo.

With Mike Cohen - my strategy mentor - I wrote some R code that combed through our database to track individual users to fill out this matrix. Sure enough, in addition to high retention, we also had high turnover. Since it was worth keeping track of, I worked with JT Glaze - data engineer impresario - to sketch out the Python code that will ultimately feed into a Looker dashboard for the company to keep track of. 

The sexy stochastic model

With our transition matrix presented to the team, I turned my attention back to the modeling our user base. It turns out that many of the good folks back at Wharton have spent a lot of time thinking about churn rates in a non-contractual setting, and have developed some models and R code to work it out.

The model that seemed to apply best is called the Pareto/NBD model. Roughly speaking, it assumes that every Venmo user, while they’re alive, has a constant probability of using the app on any given day - but those probabilities are different for every user, and they vary according to a prior distribution. Similarly, the model assumes that users have a constant probability of churning out each day, and again, these probabilities are different for each user, and vary according to a prior distribution.

The beauty of this model is that it only needs a few pieces of information for each user (how long they’ve used Venmo, when they last used it, and how frequently they use it), and there is a really useful R package that will do most of the heavy lifting (although we did have to patch some functions).

With tons of data and a state-of-the-art model at our disposal, we plugged and chugged, and… bummer:

As you can see here, the model is substantially underpredicting our holdout data. We scratched our heads, and we ended up finding the culprit: clumpiness! (No, really, that’s the term). It basically means that our users don’t have a constant probability of using the app every day. Some weeks you’re with friends sharing payments left and right, other weeks you’re heads down at the library studying for finals and barely going out.

Can we measure clumpiness? Of course we can! Some more good folks at Wharton have come up with a measure based on the familiar notion of entropy. When we calculated it for our users, we found that a huge number of our users were “clumpy.”

So, basically, our users are binge-users of Venmo. This jibed well with the data that our user base was turning over significantly. It also meant that a critical assumption of the Pareto/NBD model was violated. On the bright side, we learned something new about our users.


With the stochastic modeling route closed off until someone (or we) make inroads into extending customer lifetime value calculations to customers with hidden states (in a way that’s computationally feasible), we turned to segmenting our user base, including clumpiness as a segmenting variable.

You may be wondering, “what is segmentation”? Basically, it’s an attempt to classify your users into different types. You may know of “soccer moms” and “nascar dads” from the political arena. Same thing. For example, some people on Venmo are in college and use it when they go out with their friends; others are older and use it only for rent. We found these archetypal users by using a technique called model-based clustering.


In addition to working in R, I really enjoyed a few other things about this summer. The first is pairing. Venmo has a ton of pairing rooms where you can sit next to a teammate and work off the same computer. My mentor Mike and I spent countless hours working together on problems - sometimes as simple as going through an academic paper or writing an email - and we were at least five times as productive as we would have been individually.

The other thing I really enjoyed about Venmo are demo days. Every other Friday the various Product, Engineering, and Design teams will demo what they’ve been working on. Over the summer I demoed a few times. At first I was a bit hesitant that people would be interested in this quant-heavy marketing stuff, but was very pleasantly surprised to find people really enjoyed it.

Finally, Venmo was just a plain fun place to work at. I mean, I was so into playing dodgeball that I basically threw my arm out:

I had such a great summer that I even wrangled my way into continuing to work on projects during the school year! Although I’ll miss being in the office everyday, I’m excited that I’ll get the opportunity to continue scratching my statistical-modeling itches. 


Group accounts on Venmo launched in beta

· by Lili Jiang, Product Manager

Venmo’s mission has always been to connect the world and empower people through payments. And today, we’re excited to announce that we are taking another step towards reaching that goal. We’re launching the beta for groups, a new feature that lets Venmo users create an account for their group or club.

No more lost checks, complicated spreadsheets, or delayed transactions. We’re bringing the magic of Venmo to group payments.

You can now easily make an account for your group to use for anything from paying dues, to issuing reimbursements, to collecting money for an event. Group accounts offer all the Venmo features you know and love, plus the ability to add managers to help administer the group.

If you’re interested in opening an account for your group, sign up at!

Feel free to share the news! And if you’re interested in being involved in a focus group or have ideas for the product, please email


Expanding Venmo Support

· by Tim Bakeris, Head of Support

Here at Venmo we have heard you loud and clear - we know you've been looking for a faster response from our support team, and we are excited to share that we’ve been hard at work building a team worthy of our incredible community.

Today, we are thrilled to announce three new support upgrades that will help get you the support you need, when you need it.

Live Chat

With the launch of in-app live chat you can now have a conversation with us right in the app. If you happen to leave the app while chatting with us, we’ll send you a push notification once we’ve responded (for this to work, make sure you have enabled Push Notifications on your phone). Our goal with live chat is to provide you with timely, effective support. The support team is really looking forward to being able to communicate with you in real time.

If you have questions and want to chat with us now, here’s how:

Step 1: Open the drawer by swiping right or tapping the three horizontal lines in the upper lefthand corner, then choose ‘Help Center’".

Step 2: Select the topic that most closely resembles your problem.

Step 3: Select the Help article that is most closely related to your problem. If it doesn’t help, just tap “Contact Us."

Step 4: Our support agents will be with you as quickly as we can. Chatting with us feels like texting a friend! Just make sure you have Push Notifications enabled on your device.

Upgraded In-App Search

Our in-app Help Center has been upgraded with native, searchable FAQs and help articles. Now you can find relevant help articles just by searching with a few words. For example, looking for information on how to move money to your bank? Type “transfer” and you’ll be shown all of the relevant information. Still can’t find what you’re looking for? Just start a conversation with one of our agents right from the article you’re reading.

24/7 Support Coverage

Over the past few months we’ve tripled the size of our support team and have expanded our hours of coverage to 24 hours a day, Monday through Friday. On the weekends we have people available from 9:00AM - 5:00PM (CDT). We anticipate full 24/7 availability by the end of 2015.

There is still a lot of work to do and we are very excited to continue improving upon the foundation we’ve built. We are fully committed to building the support team that you deserve. Thank you for being patient with us as we grow our team quickly to keep up with our fast-growing community!


Hack Week at Venmo

· by Katie Mulligan, People Team

A company-wide hackathon is a great opportunity for folks to team up with people from different departments and tackle a project that isn’t currently on the roadmap. And, working with new team members on interesting projects cultivates creativity and innovation. At Venmo, Hack Week also means bringing remote employees to our NYC headquarters, peppering the week with activities that encourage cross-team socialization, and making sure to end on a high note– our annual summer party. The result was an incredibly fun week that left us reeling with Venmo pride.

Since everyone was diligently hacking away on ambitious projects, we made sure to sneak in a couple breaks. One afternoon, we pushed our cafeteria tables aside for a fun and re-energizing Michael Jackson dance class. We also offered relaxing meditation sessions every day and a chance for individual teams to go out to dinner together. The most popular activity was Venmo’s first ever “Lunch Roulette.” We split everyone into groups varied by team and office location, and sent them out to lunch together. Lunch Roulette successfully got folks out of the office and sharing a meal with people they don’t necessarily interact with day to day.

At the end of the week, the entire company got together to watch the presentations from our fourteen different Hack Week teams. Among the winners, a group who designed an internal Bot that allows our team to give each other positive feedback via Venmo payments, and a proposed feature that would send your friends a musical greeting through Venmo on their birthdays. The coveted People’s Choice prize went to a group that choreographed a lip dub video around the Venmo office.

The best part of Hack Week was that we got to take all that positivity and inspiration with us to a huge Venmo summer celebration at the end of the week. We boarded a boat for a dinner cruise on the Hudson River, followed by a full evening of dancing and karaoke. Venmo parties are always a blast, but we were celebrating so much more this time around– the amazingly talented group of people that we’re so lucky to come to work with everyday.

Interested in being part of the Venmo crew? Check out our jobs page.


Two Cents: Episode Two

· by Terri Burns, Developer Evangelist Intern

Welcome to the second episode of Two Cents: NYC... Minus the Smell.

Listen in to hear about what projects Venmo interns are working on, hackathon prep, and Terri and Cassidy's two cents on imposter syndrome. We hope you enjoy!

And if you're just tuning in, Two Cents is a podcast series which follows the intership of Terri Burns, a Venmo developer evangelist intern, and Cassidy Williams, a full-time Venmo software engineer and developer evangelist. If you missed the first episode, Get Gif-y With It, listen here.


New Blog Updates!

· by Terri Burns, Developer Evangelist Intern

We're excited to announce some fantastic updates to our blog!

We’ve made it easier to get around the blog with updates to the navigation bar. Now you can view posts by topic: Engineering, Feature Announcements, and Life at Venmo.

Additionally, our subscribe feature will allow you to sign up to receive email updates (which will come at most once a week) letting you know about new blog posts. And, you can also enjoy our archive of posts over the years, or search for a specific post you read in the past.

As always, feel free to leave a comment here on the blog or via some of our social channels to tell us more about what you'd like to read about in future posts!


Two Cents: A Venmo Podcast

· by Terri Burns, Developer Evangelist Intern

Welcome to Two Cents.

This summer podcast series will be following the internship of Terri Burns, a developer evangelist intern, and Cassidy Williams, a full-time software engineer and developer evangelist here at Venmo. Stay tuned to hear more about what it's like to work at Venmo, the current state of NYC's technology scene, and hear Terri and Cassidy's two cents on on a given topic in tech and in life each episode. It's a beautiful marriage of payments and podcasts. Catch the first episode, Get Gif-y With It, below:


Venmo Paints the Town

· by Katie Mulligan, People Team

A few weeks ago, we sent some Venmo volunteers to help local artist Ellie Balk and the students at Brooklyn’s Green School finish up their annual mural. This isn’t just any old neighborhood beautification project: every year Ellie works together with the staff and students to design a mural based on the school’s math curriculum. This year’s project, Visualize Pi: Perspective, uses blocks of varying height and color to represent Pi.

Visualize Pi is an extraordinary program for Green School. It allows students to understand complex math concepts through design and feel ownership over a project that adds value to their neighborhood.

The Venmo volunteers jumped in towards the end of the painting week to help with some straight lines, ladder climbing, and detail work. We had a blast rolling up our sleeves, getting paint on our faces, and spending time outside in the sun. When we were painting with Ellie and the students, we really felt like we were making a direct impact in the community. People kept walking by to chat with us and thank us for adding a colorful flair to the neighborhood. It was an incredible feeling to step back at the end of the day and check out the beautiful result of everyone’s hard work.


Introducing Emoji Autocomplete

· by Dasmer Singh, iOS Engineer

Venmo payment notes are more than just a memo for transaction history. They provide a social way to make and request payments in the news feed, and users often write clever and witty messages to express their reason for payment.

With close to a quarter of all Venmo notes using an emoji, we wanted to take a look at how we could make using an emoji easier and more fun for our users. That's why today, we are releasing the Emoji Autocomplete feature in the Venmo iOS app! Simply tap on the emoji button, type the name of the emoji you’re looking for, and select it from the list. Emoji are also suggested as you type a payment note.

For example if you type “pizza”, you will be given the option to use a:

instead, or if you type “rent”, you will be given the option to use the emoji combination:

Of course, if you ever want to turn emoji suggestions off, you can always flip the switch in Settings.

Emoji Autocomplete is available today in the App Store. We hope that you love the feature as much as we do. As always we love getting user feedback — whether good or bad, so let us know what you think!


Keep the fight in the ring this weekend with Venmo

· by Matthew Hamilton, Product Manager

Put away your boxing gloves -- there's no need to fight your friends to get your money back when you order the Mayweather vs. Pacquiao fight on Pay-Per-View this Saturday, May 2nd.

HBO and Showtime, along with Mayweather Promotions and Top Rank, have launched an innovative mobile ad experience with agencies PHD New York and Undertone. All you have to do is tap the ad to open the Venmo app where you can easily add your friends to pay for the event. Check out the mobile ad on Thrillist as well as mobile sites for College Spun and Men’s Fitness.

Instead of getting knocked out with the cost of covering the event for all of your friends, you can easily get paid back with Venmo.


Love Pizza? Love Venmo? Papa John’s brings them both together.

· by Matthew Hamilton, Product Manager

People love to use Venmo to split pizza. In fact, the pizza slice is the most often used emoji on Venmo.

That’s why we’re excited to share that Papa John’s has integrated the Venmo API into their online and mobile checkout experience. So now, instead of chasing down your friends for their slice of the pie, it's easy to quickly request money from your friends for their share, as seen in the recent spot with NBA All Star Paul George. Here are the three easy steps:


                                                            Gotta get buffalo chicken.

                                      Yeah, I want it ASAP.

2. Allow Papa John's access to your Venmo account, so you can request payments from your friends. 

3. Select your friends you want to share the pizza with.

Boom! The payment requests are out. Now you can enjoy your pizza without having to pester your friends to pay you back.

Go give it a shot and tell us what you think!


Updates to Venmo Security

· by Aditya Pasumarty, Product Manager

We’re pleased to announce that multifactor authentication (MFA) is now available for all Venmo users on the web or the latest iOS and Android apps.

Our version of MFA requires an additional verification step when accessing Venmo from a new device. The feature is automatically turned on for all users in the latest version of the app. This is how it works:

  • Anytime we detect a sign-in attempt from a phone or browser you haven’t previously used to access Venmo, we will alert you via email and text a 6-digit code to your mobile phone. Entering this code correctly will let you successfully sign in to your Venmo account. So if someone knows your password, but doesn’t have access to your mobile phone, they won’t be able to get in.
  • After signing in, you may grant Venmo permission to remember that the device belongs to you. You won’t need a verification code when signing in from this device in the future. You will still need to enter your password correctly every time.

This feature is designed to maximize security while continuing to provide a quick and easy sign-in experience on devices you regularly use. As always, if you have questions please reach out to us at or visit our help center for more information on multifactor authentication.


Can Venmo Users Predict the March Madness Winner?

· by Venmo Data Team

March Madness is a time when people share their love for their alma mater or favorite team, and Venmo users are no different.

JT Glaze, one of our Data Scientists, looked at payment notes in the Venmo feed from Selection Sunday to the first game tip off for this year's NCAA tournament to build a Venmo user crowd-sourced bracket. Our methodology to determine the winner of each round looked at the number of times a school name, abbreviation or team mascot was mentioned in the Venmo feed.

Check our Venmo bracket out below - how does yours compare?

So: will our users predict the March Madness winner? Can a crowd-sourced bracket be a slam dunk?

Get out the popcorn and pizza, it's game time!


Updates to Venmo Account Notifications

· by Michael Vaughan, Venmo GM

Today, we wanted to share a few updates we’ve made to Venmo account notifications, as well as make you aware of some additional product updates we’ll be releasing soon.

To enhance the security of your Venmo account, any time there is a change to your primary email address, password or phone number, we will send you an email notification.

Here is how it works:

  • If the primary email on your account is changed, you will receive a notification to the old primary email in addition to a verification for the new primary email.
  • If your password is changed, you will receive an email notification.
  • If the phone number on your account is changed, you will receive an email notification in addition to verification of the new phone number.

If we notify you of a change that you didn’t request, please immediately reset your password and contact us at so we can confirm your account is secure.

Additionally, we're working to be more responsive to your support inquiries. We’ve made significant progress and will continue to improve in this area. We’ll also be rolling out multifactor authentication (MFA) in the coming weeks, among other product features, to further enhance user security and experience.

As always, please reach out to us at with any questions and check back here for updates.


A Note to Our Venmo Community

· by Michael Vaughan, Venmo GM

Recently, there’s been some commentary about the security of Venmo’s service and our responsiveness to our customers. It’s really important to everyone at Venmo that we address this with you directly. Our most important job at Venmo is to protect your money and provide you with a secure and easy way to make and share payments. This involves building an amazing product experience, but it also includes the teams of people behind the scenes who work tirelessly and are dedicated to protecting and supporting you - our fraud prevention, customer support and operations teams. We are all part of the community and we are grateful for those of you who have posed questions and provided feedback.

First things first, I want you to know a lot of what we do to protect you is happening behind the scenes. We focus on your safety and overall experience as a whole. We don’t build for features just for features’ sake. We’re processing billions of dollars of your payments every year and we maintain fraud rates favorable to industry standards and that is why we are comfortable guaranteeing your money if you are the victim of unauthorized transactions.

So….. here are the things we do to help keep you secure:

• We have fraud protection algorithms and systems that are always on. As much as I’d love to share more here, I don’t want to tip our hand to would-be fraudsters, but we back it up by guaranteeing your money from unauthorized transactions.

• We encrypt your sensitive financial information, including your bank account details. That data is never stored on your device. It’s not even visible to you. Ha. Take that. So, even if your crazy uncle got your password and logged into your account without you knowing, your bank account information is not visible. Unfortunately, I can’t say the same about all those checks you’re writing that have your full routing number and account number at the bottom. But that’s a story for another day.

• We are PCI-compliant and your debit/credit card info is encrypted and secure. You’re probably wondering “What is PCI-compliant?” Answer: it’s a credit card industry standard to make sure we’re doing our job to protect you. It’s kind of like putting on suspenders after you have a belt on, and then having your mom check your belt and snap your suspenders to make sure they’re both working.

• We set payment limits to protect against unauthorized transactions and only verified accounts have higher limits.

• We log you out of a web session after a certain period of inactivity.

And if that’s not enough, here are some things you can do for yourself to make you feel more comfortable when using Venmo:

• Set a passcode lock on the Venmo app (in addition to your phone lock) that’s required each time you open it. If you have an iPhone, you can use TouchID instead of a four-digit PIN to use fingerprint authentication for your Venmo lock.

• Disable any device and remotely log out of a session from your web settings if you have any concerns to prevent unauthorized transactions.

• Set options to receive text messages, push notifications or emails for payment transactions and a wide range of app activities so that you can monitor your account.

And, as with any online service: use a password that is strong and unique to your Venmo account. Venmo can’t guarantee the security of your other apps and services and sharing a password across many services can make your account vulnerable - as with any online service.

I want to assure you we are continuously improving product and security measures. We have a bunch of things we’ve been working on and we’ll share more of those with you soon. While we know that we measure up favorably against the industry standards for fraud prevention, we aren’t sitting back.

Another concern we’ve heard is some frustration in delays in getting help from us when you need it. We never want you to be disappointed and we’re sorry if that’s been the case. Our support team is the lifeblood of Venmo and we aim to be the biggest advocates for you. As we grow rapidly, we are working diligently to keep the level of service you should expect, and we’re hiring more people to work in support (if you are interested in joining us). We’re also looking at other areas where we can offer additional help more quickly including chat support and taking a new approach to support that will enable us to better interact with our users.

Venmo doesn’t exist without you, our users, and our job is to do right by you. We work to earn your trust every day. We take that responsibility seriously and we will do our best to be as transparent as possible with you as we continue on this journey. As part of that relationship, we value your feedback and we welcome it continuously to help make Venmo better. We’re all standing by to listen to your comments – please email us at and we will answer every single question you have as quickly as we can.

Thanks for being a part of the Venmo family.


Venmo Developer Spotlight: Joel Bixby

· by Cassidy Williams

By Cassidy Williams and Joel Bixby

This is the third in a series of Venmo Developer Spotlights, where you can get insights on what life at Venmo is really like. If these posts tickle your fancy, head over to our job board and join us!

Joel is a solid backend engineer at Venmo. Joel grew up in Iowa believing his dream job was on the West Coast. After graduating at Iowa State University with a degree in Computer Science, he went the East Coast. In his free time, he enjoys testing new web frameworks and going outside for some fresh air!

How long have you been with Venmo? What do you work on?

I have worked at Venmo for seven months. I am currently on the Scaling team, which helps Venmo’s code keep working as we grow with our user base. I have worked on projects that setup Celery for queue processing, migrated data from MySQL to Redis for extremely fast reads and writes, and also work in Puppet, our infastructure manager for deploying and managing our services.

What is your favorite programming language?

I enjoy many programming languages, but I can’t seem to pick just one. Python and Javascript would definitely be in my favorite programming languages. Both are very informal and have many ways of doing the same thing. I believe this freedom gives them a personality. A personality made of common practices, clever tricks, and some ugly stuff too.

What do you like to do outside of work?

I try to stay active and go to the gym as much as I can. In the Fall, a group of coworkers and I participated in ZogSports dodgeball, which was extremely fun! I definitely plan to join another season of it soon! When I’m at home, I like to investigate new programming languages, frameworks, and software for my own projects.

Are you working on any side projects right now?

I am currently working on a mobile app for skydivers. Skydivers are required to do a lot of jump logging in order to become licensed and it requires a lot of manual labors. With new technology in cell phones, almost all data can be collected automatically.

What is a fun fact about you that you don’t usually get to talk about?

When I was little I took dance classes with my sisters. I took lead roles in many nursery rhymes as a cowboy, a mouse, and a spider.

What advice do you have for aspiring developers?

Learn as much as you can! There are unlimited applications of software development and you can decide how you want to apply it. Pick something that interests you and learn that front to back. The more you know, the more experience you will have to make an educated decision.

Got more questions? Email us at!


Venmo Developer Spotlight: Edmund Yan

· by Cassidy Williams

By Cassidy Williams and Edmund Yan

This is the second in a series of Venmo Developer Spotlights, where you can get insights on what life at Venmo is really like. If these posts tickle your fancy, head over to our job board and join us!

Edmund is a great backend engineer at Venmo. A recent Computer Science graduate from UC Davis, he is very excited to put his years of studying to use at Venmo. His life revolves around food, so expect to catch him trying out a new restaurant or cooking his ol' classic of steak and potatoes at home.

How long have you been with Venmo? What do you work on?

Venmo is my first job out of college, and I've been here a little over four months. I'm a platform engineer on the Money team, which owns the systems that deal with handling, you guessed it, money! This includes things like adding and verifying your bank account and the delicate process of actually moving money around Venmo.

What is your favorite programming language?

I'm a big Python fan these days, but I still have a huge place in my heart for C/C++. I did a lot of CUDA in school and although immensely frustrating, I loved the hours spent in the computer lab trying to squeeze out extra FLOPs out of my GPU.

What do you like to do outside of work?

I probably have an unhealthy obsession with Esports, where I log many more hours watching other people play video games than playing the game myself. While some people spend the weekend marathoning Netflix, I'm spending it marathoning a weekend LoL, CS:GO, or SC2 tournament.

Are you working on any side projects right now?

Now that I finally have my own apartment, I've been spending the past month "pimping" it out to be my little tech-oasis I call home. Organizing the miles of wires throughout the room, setting up the HTPC, automatically downloading the latest TV shows/magazines, wirelessly syncing all of it to my phone/tablet, etc. It's been a ton of fun incrementally building the system out and finding places I can write scripts to automate the process.

What is a fun fact about you that you don’t usually get to talk about?

In the 8th grade, I wrote a 70-page report on Jedi in the Stars Wars universe. This went into detail about their history, bios of influential Jedi, descriptions of force powers, lightsaber designs, and even an interview with a random guy I found on a Star Wars forum. I'm cringing but also laughing hysterically remembering it now.

What advice do you have for aspiring developers?

If you're having trouble finding inspiration to do programming on the side, find things in your life (no matter how small) and optimize it! My very first program was an auto-clicking script that pressed two keys over and over again so that I could get a high score in a Flash game on Neopets.
Looking back, some of the most fun and rewarding coding I've done were just small scripts I made to automate and make my mundane life a little easier. Things like auto-clicking video game bots, Excel macros, and web page parsers were just me thinking "hey, a computer can do this way better!"

Got more questions? Email us at!


Making Venmo easier, more secure, and more fun

· by Jesse Bentert

We’re excited to share with you a few new features we’ve been working on to continue to make Venmo an easy, secure, and fun way to pay people.

Easy: Link your bank without your checkbook

We’ve now made it even simpler to link a bank account to Venmo if you use Chase, Wells Fargo, Bank of America, or Citibank. Instead of digging up your bank account and routing information, you can now link your bank using the username and password you use when logging into your bank’s website. As always, we use data encryption to protect your information (learn more about Venmo security).

You can now add a bank anytime, anywhere, without having to first go home to find a check.

Secure: Keep your account secure with Touch ID

Security has always been a top priority for us, which is why we enable you to password protect your Venmo app with a PIN. We’re also now taking advantage of the Touch ID technology for iOS. If you have an Apple device with Touch ID, you can now use your fingerprint instead of a PIN to access the Venmo app.

Fun: Get more people involved in your payments with Mentions

Venmo payments aren’t just monetary transactions - they’re stories that can be commented on, liked, and shared. And we know your story can involve more than just the person you’re paying. With today’s release, you can now mention other people in your payments to get them involved. Go out to dinner with a group of friends? Send a payment on behalf of more than one person? Make them a part of your story by mentioning them in a payment or comment. To get started, tap the @ sign or start typing in a friend’s name.

We’re very excited to roll out these new features. Follow us on Twitter to get more awesome updates.


Venmo Developer Spotlight: Amanda Li

· by Cassidy Williams

By Cassidy Williams and Amanda Li

This is the first in a series of Venmo Developer Spotlights, where you can get insights on what life at Venmo is really like. If these posts tickle your fancy, head over to our job board and join us!

Amanda is an awesome backend engineer at Venmo. She has worked in a wide range of places, including government, investment banks, and startups. She graduated from Cornell University with a degree in Information Science. In her spare time, she loves to dragonboat (ask her what that is), cook, eat, and drink wine - preferably in that order.

How long have you been with Venmo? What do you work on?

I've been at Venmo for over a year and have spent that time working on the Data & Internal Tools team. They're like my family, but just the incredibly funny ones. At Venmo, I develop applications used by our internal teams to help them do great things like detect fraud and assist our users.

What is your favorite programming language?

My current favorite programming language is Python. Ruby is a close second.

What do you like to do outside of work?

Outside of work, I like to stay active. Whether it be paddling on the water, playing dodgeball with coworkers, or hitting the gym, it feels good to work up a sweat.

Are you working on any side projects right now?

My side projects include building websites for non-profit organizations, one of which is a Breast Cancer Survivor Dragonboat Team. They're all written in Ruby on Rails, using Bootstrap themes, and hosted on Heroku. Nothing flashy, just simple and straightforward.

What is a fun fact about you that you don’t usually get to talk about?

I recently made the preliminary roster for the 2015 USDBF Team USA Premier Women's Dragonboat Team. It's the equivalent of qualifying for the US Olympic Team, if Dragonboating was an Olympic sport.

What advice do you have for aspiring developers?

My advice to aspiring developers is to prepare yourself on how to deal with failure. There will be many times where you will hit a proverbial wall in your learning process. Maybe it's a concept you just can't figure out, or your code won't compile. Life. Will. Suck. You have to be stubborn and believe that you can figure it out - it's just a matter of time. Step back, look at the bigger picture, reach out to others for advice, or try a completely new approach. You've got this.

Got more questions? Email us at!


Meet Our Partner, Waves for Water

· by Shira Brettman

This past New Year's, Venmo resolved to double down on our mission to connect the world and empower people through payments. A half-year later, we might have dropped the ball on our gym memberships and gluten-free paleo diets, but we are still very much committed to this resolution.

This month, our partner, non-profit Waves for Water, in conjunction with our friends at PayPal, launched an international giving contest between nations. Waves for Water helps provide communities around the world with access to clean drinking water. Donations from this particular challenge will be used to purchase clean water filters for communities in Brazilian cities hosting the soccer games. Every $50 donated provides one million gallons of clean water—that means each dollar you donate will provide two people with clean water for up to five years.

Make waves through Venmo: donate here.