My Farewell Letter on What Working at Quip Meant to Me

by Edmond Lau

Photo credit: Elijah O'Donell

Last Friday was my last day working at Quip.

I joined Quip as the 13th employee over three and half years ago, and today the team has grown to over 100 employees. I’ve never grown more or felt more supported working at any other company.

Before I left, I wrote a personal letter to the company that I’m sharing publicly, below. It captures the behind-the-scenes qualities of Quip that made it an exceptional and rewarding place for people to work and that I hope to see in teams everywhere. The letter also captures what I’m excited to focus on in my next adventure.

On my last day, the team shared a stack of little personalized cards with me, about the impact that I’ve had on them. I left that day with a feeling of “I know I’m doing something right if this is the impact I’ve had.”

Here’s the letter.

Tuesday, December 19th, 2017

Dear Quip,

I’m both sad and excited to share that shortly after the new year, I’ll be leaving Quip. My last day will be Friday, January 12th.

Quip holds a special place in my heart. I joined three and half years ago as the 13th employee, and I’ve never felt more supported at any other company than my time here. I’m leaving not because I’m unhappy but because there’s something bigger that I feel called to do — to take what I’ve learned here and create the best leadership development brand for engineers.

I still remember the fateful one-on-one I had with Kevin back on the roof of the old office. I had been feeling unmotivated about my work and asked to spend 20% of my time on leadership coaching. I’d rehearsed the conversation multiple times with my wife, but I was really nervous about how Kevin would respond. And so it blew my mind when, without any hesitation, he fully supported me in what I wanted to do.

I left that conversation feeling completely re-inspired and re-energized.

I’ve thought back to that conversation often. For a long time, I wondered what it was that made Kevin’s decision so easy. There had been zero hesitation. What was the Jedi move that shifted me from unmotivated to re-inspired in under an hour?

It’s taken me a while, but I’ve realized that what made the decision obvious for Kevin was a deep care for employees as people. And when that’s true, many hard decisions become easy.

For me, that conversation really defined what made it so special to work here: a people-first approach to leadership.

And it’s taken me much of the past year for me to really learn what it takes to embody that approach.

A year of going through the coach training and leadership development programs with the Coaches Training Institute — an opportunity I’m incredibly grateful to Kevin for championing and to Diana for being a partner throughout.

A year of powerful and sometimes hard conversations with Kevin, Jon, Patrick, Logan, Diana, Sophia, and so many others that have challenged and grown me as a leader.

A year of confronting my own limiting beliefs and facing them head on so that I could lead from vulnerability and show up more authentically at work.

And the impact of that learning has not only been more fulfilling relationships at work, but also a much stronger relationship with my wife, my friends, and all the other important people in my life.

Coming out of 2017, it’s clear that this learning is both non-obvious and very much needed in the rest of the tech industry. For every story that’s told about how employees are mistreated in the world, there are many more untold stories of people who feel disconnected with their teams, with their work, or with the impact they want to create.

And given what I now know is possible from my experience at Quip, it’s unacceptable for disconnection to remain the default in the tech industry.

That’s particularly true because as technology leaders today, we all have so much leverage and influence over the world — we build products that grow exponentially and that radically transform people’s lives. And if we can’t even connect with the people around us, how can we be aware of our impact and take responsibility for the lives we touch?

And so, next year and beyond, I’ll be embarking on a quest with my good friend Jean Hsu — an engineering-manager-turned-coach who shares a passion in a people-first approach to leadership — to raise the bar for engineering leadership in the tech industry.

This isn’t the end of my relationship with Quip.

I’m explicitly designing with Kevin and Alon how I might continue to play a role in co-leading workshops, engineering circles, and coaching people at Quip. I also have every intention of bringing a lot of the work that I do back here — because why wouldn’t I share what’s important to me with the people important to me?

And I’ll also need your help, because this is a big quest that I can’t do on my own.

As we all know from bringing our own product to the world, cultural transformation is hard. But as I’ve seen at Quip, it’s magical when it happens, and that makes it worth fighting for.

Forever grateful,

P.S. Follow along on my quest on — we’ll be sharing everything we’re learning with you.


“A comprehensive tour of our industry's collective wisdom written with clarity.”

— Jack Heart, Engineering Manager at Asana

“Edmond managed to distill his decade of engineering experience into crystal-clear best practices.”

— Daniel Peng, Senior Staff Engineer at Google

“A comprehensive tour of our industry's collective wisdom written with clarity.”

— Jack Heart, Engineering Manager at Asana

“Edmond managed to distill his decade of engineering experience into crystal-clear best practices.”

— Daniel Peng, Senior Staff Engineer at Google

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