A farewell to PayFast
This is a combination of my thoughts on quitting and the letter I sent to my colleagues announcing my resignation. I don’t want this site to really be about my personal life, but so much of what has become my personal life is intertwined with what is my professional life.
It is with a heavy heart –and an industry-appropriate sad emoticon– that I’m announcing my resignation from PayFast :-(
I returned to South Africa (and more to the point: ended in Cape Town) in September 2011, after a seven year stint abroad. I wasn’t quite sure which exact direction to head into and thought a year in Cape Town would help me clear my head. I was seriously considering the MBA programme at the University of Cape Town and even started studying for the dreaded GMAT, when I rather fortuitously, met Jonathan Smit (PayFast’s founder) on Twitter.
After I suggested we go for a coffee or beer he said that an “after-hours beer is a great idea since people look at me weird when I drink beer in the morning”. Long story short, a few beers in, he suggested that I apply for a position at PayFast. Some call it luck, some call it networking, some call it fortune (some call it three pints of lager!), but a week later I started my incredibly fun and meaningful journey with PayFast.
@jonathansmit Hey Jonathan,I'm doing pre-MBA research on SA e-pay companies. Any chance we can meet for a coffee/beer/chat/hike?
— Werner van Rooyen (@werneravr) September 5, 2011
Now, after nearly four years in this amazing city and office, things have changed, improved and grown up considerably. What started as a penny-pinching startup has evolved into a brilliant high-growth scale-up. When I started I always had to explain to industry peers what exactly it is that we do, now we’ve become a known and trusted South African industry name. I was the fourth employee on the company’s payroll, now it’s not uncommon to that amount of new faces sign up in a two-month period (we’ve added six in the past two months, actually). We’ve built some amazing things; I’m particularly proud of the time when we became one of the first payment gateways (in the world, in fact) to facilitate Bitcoin payments (nod from the Founding Director of the Bitcoin Foundation below).
— Jon Matonis (@jonmatonis) July 17, 2014
Scrap that: I’m proud of all of the things that went into growing the PayFast brand into what it is today. Hundreds of fun hackathons, meetups and workshops were held, heaps of meaningful partnerships and friendships fostered. It has been absolutely amazing.
It is then for very personal reasons —all external to my work– that I decided to draw this chapter to a close (and one where, flatteringly enough, Jonathan and the company fought hard to keep me around). It unfortunately boiled down to me needing to pursue some opportunities with a more international footprint to help me realise my near-future goals and aspirations.
That said, I don’t see myself leaving Cape Town permanently just yet. I am taking a short trip to the US and Bulgaria (the former to attend SXSW and a friend’s wedding, both while working remotely, the latter for some much-needed time off in Bulgaria with my girlfriend).
It has been a very difficult and emotionally complex decision, but I’m feeling very positive about the future (mine, sure, but mostly PayFast’s) and hopefully I’ll see you at one of the many awesome Cape Town tech events!
It’s been a blast.