What Happens When an Altruistic Company Rapidly Grows?
Anna Moergeli was on vacation when a serious illness struck her down. Bedridden, out of state and in need of antibiotics, Moergeli focused her hope on the most unlikely of places: a recent job offer.
Just before the vacation, Moergeli — who was looking for a career change — was told by her mentor about GoodRx, a platform designed to help millions of Americans save on prescription drug and medical costs. “I explained to my mentor that I wanted to work for a company whose mission was focused on social change versus profit, and he let me know about GoodRx,” Moergeli said. “I interviewed shortly after.”
Moergeli received job offers from both GoodRx and another tech company while on her vacation. As she was trying to make a decision about the future, however, she was leveled by her sudden illness. Reeling from the physical symptoms and struggling to find a cost-effective solution, she soon saw that her job offer held the key.
“I Googled ‘How to visit a doctor remotely’ and I was connected with a doctor from GoodRx Care,” Moergeli said. “The doctor had antibiotics sent to the nearest pharmacy within 30 minutes.” In no time, Moergeli was healed. Just as importantly, her eyes were opened.
“Seeing the impact this company had on my life, and how it can help so many other people, it was a no-brainer to join GoodRx,” Moergeli said. “It has been the best decision of my life.”
Moergeli isn’t the only one who’s noticed GoodRx’s mission to promote social change and help Americans in need of healthcare solutions: the company, increasingly staffed with employees who deeply connect with GoodRx’s values, is growing at a tremendous rate.
Built In LA sat down with Moergeli — now a recruiting manager at GoodRx — as well as Workplace Experience Manager Evan Gemeiner and VP of Engineering Brandon Vallade. We learned about how GoodRx’s rapid growth and powerful mission have led directly to a host of new diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives, a stunning new office space and an engineering team that’s doubled in size — all while it’s employees never lose sight of why their work matters.
Anna, thank you for that powerful story of what led you to GoodRx. In addition, you mentioned that there are some new DEI partnerships that have bloomed along with GoodRx’s rapid growth. What’s happening on that front?
Moergeli: We have the DE&I Accelerator. This initiative continues to push for products and initiatives that promote health equity. There’s also allyship training, American Sign Language classes and StoryCorps. In terms of recruiting through DEI, there’s Jopwell, Climb Hire, ADA, Out In Tech, NextChapter and Code2040.
Why were these initiatives and partnerships put in place?
Moergeli: Each program has a different focus for underrepresented groups. Jopwell is a sourcing platform for Latinx, Black and Native American Candidates. ADA and Code2040 are early career programs, where ADA is focused on women transitioning their careers to tech and Code2040 offers engineering fellowships to BIPOC students all over the country. Out In Tech offers a partnership and a community for our LGBTQ employees. Next Chapter teaches previously incarcerated people to code and partners them with tech companies. Lastly, Climb Hire is a non-profit organization that helps non-technical individuals get into the tech industry.
Early in my career, a recruiting manager took a leap of faith in hiring me without any background or knowledge in tech. That one interview changed the entire course of my life.”
Which initiative is your favorite?
Moergeli: Honestly, it is really hard to pick one, but I would say Climb Hire and Next Chapter are the two partnerships that resonate with me the most. For Climb Hire, a lot of candidates think you have to be an engineer to work in tech, and there are so many more opportunities outside engineering. Tech recruiting is an example of that. Climb Hire helps create opportunities for non-technical candidates, and partners with tech companies to place these talented individuals. Early in my career, a recruiting manager took a leap of faith in hiring me without any background or knowledge in tech. That one interview changed the entire course of my life, not just financially but my entire perspective and shaped the person I am today. Climb Hire creates opportunities like this every day.
The allyship training has brought GoodRx employees together on a level I have never experienced at a company. In this training, employees have shared personal stories and examples of times where they experienced microaggressions, prejudice and racism throughout their lives. Through these stories, employees from different backgrounds can understand a variety of perspectives and have grown to be better allies to each other.
What else excites you about GoodRx and its growth?
Moergeli: The new office is incredible with a library, fully stocked kitchens, a game room and a speakeasy. After working almost a year and a half completely remote, it’s wonderful to return back to an office setting, especially one with so many amenities. I’m so blown away that GoodRx has a department dedicated to employee experience.
Speaking of employee experience, Evan, you’re the workplace experience manager. Talk about your journey to this point and what this job entails.
Evan Gemeiner: I started off as the office manager at GoodRx, and I’ve been here for almost four years now. I’ve been in a fortunate position where my role has grown and expanded along with the company.
As a workplace experience manager, I do a variety of things and no two days are the same. Part of my job is understanding the needs of the employees — listening to them and leveraging what they say to understand what we really need at the workplace to create the best experience possible for everyone.
How did your job and the workplace experience team affect the new office?
Gemeiner: This project has been at least two years in the making. We realized in early 2019 that we needed more space — we were growing rapidly and our previous office size was not conducive to a collaborative work environment. We needed to expand.
There was a campus located in Santa Monica that was an old pen factory — a Paper Mate pen factory with 76,000 square feet. Over the course of 2019, we started doing the design and process planning. We did a lot of surveys with employees about what they wanted to see in the space. We also had employee focus groups because we really wanted their voice involved in this process — it’s their home, too.
We started building in 2020 — during the pandemic — and we moved in at Thanksgiving. We had our official grand opening party and called it a homecoming party. We had a pep rally hosted by our co-CEO, Doug Hirsch, and we had a fake prom in the evening. We even had a grand marshal for this parade we did through the office. We went all-out to celebrate.
We did a lot of surveys with employees about what they wanted to see in the space. We also had employee focus groups because we really wanted their voice involved in this process — it’s their home, too.”
The new GoodRx office has a famous speakeasy — what’s the story behind it?
Gemeiner: The bar our speakeasy is based around was built in 1904, and it used to belong in this pub in Scotland called St. Mungo’s.
In the 1970s, our co-CEO, Doug, had a family friend who visited the bar and fell in love with it. He started talking to the bartender and told him how great the place was, and the bartender, surprised, said St. Mungo’s was actually closing forever the very next day — the whole place was going to be demolished.
The family friend said, “Not on my watch.” He purchased the bar and had it physically shipped to California, where it sat in a warehouse in Encino for almost 50 years.
Last year when we were planning the new office design, we were like, “We need something to create that ‘wow’ factor. What about a hidden speakeasy?” The location of the pen factory — unlike the old location — is away from a lot of business and restaurants. So we decided to build that type of entertainment here. Doug said, “Oh, I know of a 120-year-old Scottish bar that's been sitting in a warehouse that belongs to my family friend — we should buy it.” So we did, and it’s installed in our office as a speakeasy.
Nice to meet you, Brandon. The new office space is probably great for the engineering team, which has doubled in size due to GoodRx’s rapid growth. How did the company’s veteran engineers collaborate with this influx of new talent?
Brandon Vallade, VP of Engineering: As a mission-driven company, helpfulness is part of our DNA, and helping others succeed comes naturally.
When it comes to training the new engineering talent, we do a lot of pairing. There’s an ever-growing amount of documentation. We’ve found that the best way to learn is by doing. Our veterans and engineering leaders have been great at introducing increasingly complex “real world” tasks to new hires, helping them accumulate wins and build momentum.
Our veterans and engineering leaders have been great at introducing increasingly complex ‘real world’ tasks to new hires, helping them accumulate wins and build momentum.”
What has been the overall effect of the engineering team’s extensive growth?
Vallade: Our extensive growth has helped “raise all boats.” With additional engineers on board, our customers benefit from our ability to address more opportunities to make healthcare accessible and affordable — which we are doing for millions of Americans each month. Furthermore, hiring with diversity as a principal objective has created a team with a rich set of perspectives and backgrounds.
How do you think GoodRx’s tech stack might grow or change with the company in the future?
Vallade: Last year, we put a lot of thought into developing guiding architecture principles. One of these principles is “Architecture is evolutionary.” Build for today, think for tomorrow, design for and expect change in course.
While we believe there is value in having stability in our technology selection to allow us to become experts, we recognize that the tech stack must evolve. What our tech stack looks like today — Swift, Kotlin, React, NextJS, Golang, Python, Serverless, GraphQL, event-driven architecture and SQL/NoSQL — is a lot different than it was a year ago and I expect it to continue to evolve.
As architecture is evolutionary a GoodRx, some of the challenges must be, also. What are some new and interesting projects you’ve taken on during the global pandemic?
Vallade: A couple examples jump to mind during Covid-19. Last year, we were able to launch prescription home delivery to address a growing population who have not felt safe going outside their home to pick up their prescriptions. Later we launched Vaccine Finder, a tool to connect people with vaccines in their area. There are many other exciting projects also underway.
Overall, we love what we do and who we work with. We are given the resources and opportunity to produce our best work and have a positive impact on millions of lives.