Why work on billing?

It’s the end of 2023, and it’s an exciting time to be in Silicon Valley. After decades of neural networks and machine learning research, artificial intelligence has captured the everyday consumer’s imagination. 

And yet, we're working on Orb: enterprise billing software. The natural question is: why?

I've been reflecting on this question a lot over the last few months. In short, the answer is what it says on our home page today: it’s so that you don’t have to.

A bunch of teams out in the world, ranging from OpenAI to Snowflake, build tremendous products and yet spend double-digit percentage points of their time on *extracting value* instead of *generating value*.  It’s easy for aspiring founders to forget the former, and honestly it sucks. If you build it, it doesn’t mean they will come. It certainly doesn’t mean they will pay you anything meaningful. Orb’s mission is to fix this disconnect. We believe that great innovation deserves to be supercharged, not held back by decades old software. 

Orb has the full lineage from actions in your product all the way to dollars into your business. It powers in-product dashboards, invoice emails, and journal entries.  Products that do billing, invoicing, or reporting have always conjured up images of stasis. They’ve always been about implementation, not evolution. This is one of the key insights behind how Orb is built: monetization is an evolving journey of understanding your customer, not about punching in the right price points.

Orb isn’t a billing company. At Orb, we sell growth — Orb helps launch new product lines, gives you the flexibility to meet customers where they are, and fuels your company with revenue. 

Working at Orb isn’t flashy — we never want to be up on stage. We are, however, backstage and in the front-row all at the same time. Some people join startups because they want to understand how product market fit feels, and how a company is being built from the ground up. At Orb, we get to see that time and time again with each of our customers. It’s rare to be in an environment where you get to examine the guts of a growing business, and even rarer when you can see hundreds. We get to see industries — like generative AI today — accelerate, and guide the boots-on-the-ground operators through that step by step.

Orb is an incredibly ambitious technical product. Unlike other software, we don’t have the luxury of defining our own domain or neat abstractions. Financial reporting may be regulated, but there are real shenanigans that happen before revenue makes it on the P&L. Orb’s job is to generalize real-world business motions, not be prescriptive and standard. This comes with the mandate of building true extensibility, giving customers the tools to treat pricing like a product they build, not a set of rules that constrain them.

We call Orb revenue infrastructure because it’s a data product at its core. All the value derives from usage data we ingest, at the rate of millions of events a second. This isn’t just a vanity metric; it’s really why the product makes sense at all. Historically, finance data has been some of the most accurate (“source of truth”) data in the org, but it’s been very coarse. This has led to the creation of entire categories of high volume analytics products, but they simply don’t have the whole business story and exist as silos of superficial insight. Data scale and fidelity at Orb is incredibly high stakes — every cent and every minute matters — but it’s always worthwhile to take a business problem and translate it to a technical one. Just a small matter of programming.

We’re working on Orb because businesses are built on revenue, and that’s not changing anytime soon. Today, growth at any given company is largely fueled by building better product. On the product side, we have the luxury of tools that make iteration fast: continuous deployments, fast rollbacks, statistically sound A/B testing. Orb unlocks that velocity for the modern business.