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Under the Lid: Ryan Thompson on “Why I Joined TaxJar”

by Ryan Thompson

Earlier this month TaxJar welcomed eCommerce SMB expert Ryan Thompson as our new head of Sales, Marketing and Business Development. Ryan is a perfect fit for the TaxJar team, and so we asked him to introduce himself and tell all of our customers more about where he comes from and the expertise he brings to TaxJar!

Ryan Thompson TaxJarOver the last few weeks, I’ve had several friends and colleagues ask why I chose to leave an executive level job at Magento, the most highly adopted shopping cart platform in the world, and join TaxJar, a company most have never heard of (yet). Let me share why I chose the course I did.

First, I did not choose to leave because of Magento’s path, or because of my singing ability. Let me explain.

As you likely have heard, Magento is soon to be acquired by a private equity deal that will spin them out of eBay, where Magento has lived since being acquired in June of 2011.

I’ve heard every possible point of view on what this means to the future of Magento. My simple opinion is that this will allow Magento to focus on being it’s own business rather than solving for the goals of a larger organization that once included marketplaces and payments. I see the spinoff as a good thing for Magento, and I’ll continue to expect great things from a company made up of great people.

And for the singing… TaxJar has an absolutely amazing culture (more on that later). When TaxJar hired it’s first employee, a few jokes led to the employee singing Das Deutschlandlied, his German national anthem. This evolved into a tradition of all new employees singing a song for the team. Like I said, I didn’t choose TaxJar for my singing (or guitar playing) abilities. Don’t believe me? Here’s my performance:

Ok, so why did I join TaxJar?

I love eCommerce. In 2001, I started selling on eBay and quickly became a PowerSeller, as a reseller of men’s Kenneth Cole shoes. This is before anyone talked much about Amazon or Zappos, and when most viewed eBay as a place for collectibles and one-off items. Being my own boss, on my own hours, working out of my garage, and making real money was an eye-opening experience for me. And so was the day that I realized this was a real business, which meant dealing with things like refunds, taxes, tracking inventory, streamlining shipping, etc.

In 2005, I had the opportunity to join Intuit (the makers of QuickBooks and TurboTax), and quickly realized I wasn’t the only small business who struggled; in fact I was one of 30 millions small businesses in the US, of which 85% or more would fail in the first 2 years. Millions of those businesses were selling products, and sales tax compliance was one of the biggest pain points among those sellers. In fact, it was so painful and confusing that not even Intuit was ready to attack the problem.

Through all of this experience, I developed a deep passion for and expertise in helping merchants grow, particularly focused on the back-end compliance pains that I struggled with as an eBay seller.  And if you talk to a handful of merchants today about the challenges of being an online seller, sales tax compliance is always near the top of the list, especially for merchants selling in multiple channels. Sales tax laws are created at a state level, which has resulted in 45 governing states (5 don’t have sales tax), and over 12,000 sales tax jurisdictions.

TaxJar is the one company in this space that really understands the needs of eCommerce sellers, and has the technology chops to back that up and really solve this problem. With thousands of paying customers, TaxJar is an early stage startup that has already proven itself in a huge market. It’s incredibly satisfying to talk to everyone from the smallest online seller just starting out to the developers behind a huge brand and realize that TaxJar has made their sales tax compliance headaches go away.

If you know me, you know that above all else, working with, and leading incredible teams is why I do what I do, and I’ve been fortunate to work with amazing people along my journey. The TaxJar team is simply second to none. While most of us Jarheads don’t claim to be good singers (and are proving that along the way), we are a very passionate, customer focused group of unique individuals with that I feel extremely privileged to be a part of… and that’s why I chose to join TaxJar.

TaxJar Group Photo

(Most of) The TaxJar Team

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