Affirm Engineering with Libor Michalek

When I buy a mattress online, I pay for it with my credit card. Behind the scenes, a complex series of transactions occur between a payment gateway, the credit card company, and a few banks. There are problems with this process–it is slow, complex, and involves the synchronization of several different parties.

Some consumers will not want to purchase the mattress because they do not have cash, and the lending rates they get offered are higher than they are willing to spend. If these consumers were presented with more intelligent loan rates, the lender could still make money, the mattress company could still make money, and the consumer would get a new mattress. It’s a missed opportunity all around.

Affirm is a consumer financial services company. Their first product offers loans to consumers making purchases. In today’s episode, Affirm CTO Libor Michalek explains how Affirm decided to build this product, and what they have done to scale it.

The conversation took me by surprise. Affirm was started by Max Levchin, who was a co-founder of PayPal. I assumed that when Affirm was created, they already knew exactly what they were going to build–because Affirm is a payments company and Max has had knowledge of the payments industry going back two decades. In reality, Affirm started out with more vague ideas around what they were building.

They spent some time running small experiments as they looked for product/market fit–just like a bootstrapped startup would have. It was inspiring to know that even an experienced team is willing to go through the humble process of searching for a product within a space they are deeply familiar with.

We didn’t get to all the questions I was planning to explore, but I hope to do another show about Affirm in the future.

Show Notes

Affirm Careers Page


Transcript provided by We Edit Podcasts. Software Engineering Daily listeners can go to to get 20% off the first two months of audio editing and transcription services. Thanks to We Edit Podcasts for partnering with SE Daily. Please click here to view this show’s transcript.


There’s a new open source project called Dremio that is designed to simplify analytics. It’s also designed to handle some of the hard work, like scaling performance of analytical jobs. Dremio is the team behind Apache Arrow, a new standard for in-memory columnar data analytics. Arrow has been adopted across dozens of projects – like Pandas – to improve the performance of analytical workloads on CPUs and GPUs. It’s free and open source, designed for everyone, from your laptop, to clusters of over 1,000 nodes. At you can find all the necessary resources to get started with Dremio for free. If you like it, be sure to tweet @dremiohq and let them know you heard about it from Software Engineering Daily. Thanks again to Dremio, and check out to learn more.

Airtable is hiring creative engineers who believe in the importance of open-ended platforms that empower human creativity. Airtable is a uniquely challenging product to build, and they are looking for creative frontend and backend engineers to design systems on first principles— like a realtime sync layer, collaborative undo model, formulas engine, visual revision history, and more. Check out jobs at Airtable by going to

Failure is unpredictable. You don’t know when your system will break, but you know it will happen. Gremlin prepares for these outages. We provide resilience as a service, using chaos engineering techniques pioneered at Netflix and Amazon. Prepare your team for disaster by proactively testing failure scenarios. Max out CPU, blackhole or slow down network traffic to a dependency, terminate processes and hosts. Each of these show you how your system reacts, allowing you to harden things before a production incident. Check out Gremlin and get a free demo by going to

GoCD is a continuous delivery tool created by ThoughtWorks. GoCD agents use Kubernetes to scale as needed. Check out and learn about how you can get started. GoCD was built with the learnings of the ThoughtWorks engineering team, who have talked about building the product in previous episodes of Software Engineering Daily. It’s great to see the continued progress on GoCD with the new Kubernetes integrations–and you can check it out for yourself at



Software Weekly

Software Weekly

Subscribe to Software Weekly, a curated weekly newsletter featuring the best and newest from the software engineering community.