What innovation looks like at ExpressVPN

Digital privacy is an ever-changing landscape. New threats and technologies regularly emerge, spurring us to think bigger and bolder. At ExpressVPN, innovation isn’t just about uncovering something new. We innovate with the intention of doing better, whether it’s developing new products to meet the evolving needs of our customers or improving processes for our teams.

To us, innovation is everyone’s job—it’s not a responsibility exclusive to engineers, devs, or researchers. Innovation is a way of working that’s hardwired into our culture, and because we work in cross-functional teams, we regularly tap into our collective brainpower to hit breakthroughs together.

Learn about some of the principles that inspire our teams to innovate and bring their best ideas to the table.

Putting the user first

Our users are at the core of everything we do at ExpressVPN, and we make sure we use data and real-life examples, not opinions, to drive our innovations. That’s why we formed our Voice of the Customer Team, dedicated to understanding what delights and frustrates our users. Whether it’s analyzing support tickets to identify active user issues or seeking user feedback through monthly customer satisfaction surveys, the team has established multiple feedback loops to ensure we’re always listening.

Because we love drawing on each other’s strengths and perspectives, you’ll often find UX researchers, designers, data analysts, and marketers in the same room, picking apart user insights and workshopping solutions for a better user experience.

ExpressVPN employees working on bean bags

For instance, when a user voiced her confusion with setting up our app on her TV, we came up with articles and GIFs to better illustrate the process. And when a pattern emerged around the desire for faster connection times, our engineers worked to dramatically reduce the time it takes for our customers to connect to ExpressVPN (often to less than a second!).

Thomas Edison once said, “The value of an idea lies in the using of it.” For us, there's no greater value than improving our users’ lives with our innovations, big or small.

Start with the solution

When ExpressVPN’s chief architect, Pete Membrey, created our pioneering VPN protocol Lightway, he saw an opportunity to take the everyday VPN experience to the next level. Why? Because we’ve learned a ton about what makes a first-rate VPN and where other VPN protocols fall short.

We innovate to address problems and challenges that our customers haven't even faced yet because it's our duty to stay one step ahead to protect them. What started off as a simple sketch on a piece of paper is now changing how millions of people protect themselves online.

Innovations like Lightway exemplify the spirit of creation at ExpressVPN. We cultivate an environment where anyone has the freedom and support to bring ideas to life; not just the next big thing in tech, but innovations that truly move the needle on digital privacy.

Employees chatting over coffee

Keep it fun

Innovation should be fun. And when we make time for it, we're most likely to be intentional about it. Rami Levi, ExpressVPN’s director of quality assurance, encourages his team to set aside 20% of their time each week to work on skill gaps and brainstorm creative ideas.

“Innovation is everywhere. It doesn’t have to be super complicated or sophisticated. It should improve your work and help you achieve better results.”

– Rami, Director of QA

ExpressVPN Operations team having a whiteboard discussion

Security by design, defense in depth

ExpressVPN is built on our users' trust that we will keep their connections and data private and secure. Security is something we take very seriously.

Take TrustedServer, our industry-leading VPN server technology. Its entire system design needed to account for a huge threat landscape because our servers are run in data centers around the world, on hardware that we don’t control, and by staff we don’t know. To counter this, we design our innovations around the concept of defense in depth, where we ensure multiple layers of protection for every feature such that if one fails, another picks it up. This makes any attack too expensive to launch, or the results not worthy of the effort required.

Employees walking and chatting

Fail fast, fail safely

The “fail fast, fail often” principle is strongly linked to the Agile methodology, encouraging rapid prototypes, data-driven experimentation, and most importantly, iteration instead of perfection.

At ExpressVPN, we’ve swapped “often” for “safely” because we think it’s more important to build a culture where our employees can fail safely without the fear of being punished for it. The last thing we want is to become so preoccupied with failing that we rush towards the next checkpoint at the expense of exercising critical thinking and good judgment.

Our no-blame culture enables our employees to innovate freely, fail safely, and learn fast from each failure—this undoubtedly helps us succeed even faster the next time.

One application of the “fail fast, fail safely” principle is our approach to postmortems. We keep them constructive and blameless, even going so far as to normalize it as something every employee is bound to have to write at some point. By decoupling blame from the process, we encourage employees to embrace postmortems as a chance to identify opportunities for improving processes and systems, not a time to point fingers.

Ping zhu illustration for changing locations.

Like how we innovate?

We hope you enjoyed these insights into how we innovate at ExpressVPN. If this sounds like the type of place where you’d like to work, get in touch!

We’re hiring across all functions for all levels of experience, across Europe and Asia as well as some remote positions.

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