It is with a heavy heart we share news of the passing of our co-founder, Chief Technology Officer, and friend — Shay Litvak. After an intense battle with cancer, Shay passed away in his home, surrounded by his family and loved ones.
All of us here at Hourly are deeply saddened by this news, and we are keeping Shay's wife and children in our hearts.
As a founding member of Hourly, Shay's contributions to our company's success cannot be overstated. His passion for technology and helping others was evident in everything he did, and his leadership was an inspiration to us all.
We will remember Shay for his immense brilliance, sharp wit, and his unwavering dedication to our team members.
I first met Shay 10 years ago, shortly after Shay and his family moved to the U.S. We have a mutual friend who happens to be a professional chef and hosts elaborate and delicious dinners for our families. From the second I met Shay, I was both in awe of his achievements and amused by his sharp sense of humor.
Through our conversations, I learned that Shay could build extremely complicated systems and manage multiple high-impact projects at once.
After earning his B.A. with honors in Computer Science from the Technion–Israel Institute of Technology, Shay joined an elite military program in the Israeli Air Force. There he developed a large-scale multi-tier enterprise application, serving all operational users in the Israeli Air Force. During his military service (and even when he was in college too), Shay worked at IBM Research Labs.
After completing his military service, Shay joined Panaya as a founding engineer and led their algorithms group.
That may seem like enough to fill anyone's plate. Well, not for Shay. During his time at Panaya, Shay also attended graduate school in Computer Science at Tel Aviv University and graduated with honors! What's more, Panaya was acquired for more than $200 million.
Shay then decided to move with his family to Silicon Valley, where he established himself as the Director of Software Engineering at Shutterfly, until he joined Hourly.
From Friend to Co-Founder and CTO
When I first met Shay at those dinners at our friend's house, he seemed content in his career. It never occurred to me to ask Shay to leave his position at Shutterfly and help me start a new company.
At the time, I was running a family-owned real estate development business and had been trying to find ways to improve workforce management. After years of trying to find better solutions, I decided to create a technology that would fix the challenges I was facing as a business owner — not only for me, but for all small business owners. My first challenge was to find a capable co-founder who could lead product and engineering.
It was my brother who actually thought to ask Shay if he'd be interested in working with me. And, to my delight, Shay was intrigued.
Too often he had seen companies invest millions of dollars and hours into building a product — only to realize they didn't know who actually needed it. He loved that we were doing things differently. We were going to solve a real-life problem that businesses needed fixed right away. Shay was in.
Shortly after, Hourly was born, and Shay became our co-founder and CTO.
Hourly and Shay: The Early Days
In the beginning, Shay and I spent countless hours moonlighting. His wife Nitsan, who he met when they were both 14, often joined us. We huddled around his dining room table, trying to figure out how to launch a product that would fix workforce management for small businesses. Many nights, we stayed up past midnight.
When I would bring up dozens of ideas, Shay reminded me that we needed to stay focused. "We have to walk before we run," Shay would say. And he was right.
Fast forward five years, and now we have an amazing technology platform, world-class investors and strategic partners, over a thousand customers, and an incredible team of 100 people — 70 of whom are on the engineering side. None of this would have happened without Shay.
An Incredible Leader
One of Shay's biggest strengths was that he was an amazing leader to our product and engineering teams.
He always kept the door open to collaborate on a new idea or talk through an issue with anyone on his team. He encouraged our engineers to take risks and try things they are passionate about. He sought out junior engineers and mentored them as they grew in their careers.
Once, in a meeting with a group of CEOs, someone asked about the ratio between product managers and engineers. They all had a ratio of around one to ten. We had Shay and one great senior product manager, and the team was delivering like clockwork. They couldn't believe it.
Ask anyone in the company who worked with Shay, and they'll tell you he could take really complicated tasks that would normally take years to accomplish, and find a faster, easier way to accomplish them.
He was fantastic at slicing and dicing things into easier, doable steps, which is why our various engineering teams have so many concrete accomplishments to point to.
I'll miss the long days I spent with Shay in the office, talking through any issues, dreaming up new features and goals, and brainstorming our growth strategy. But, I'll also miss all the jokes he'd tell. I don't know how he did it, but on any given day, I'd find myself laughing so hard at something Shay said.
We both loved coffee, and we spent many of our breaks walking to downtown Palo Alto to recharge our caffeine levels while discussing work, kids, sports, and, once in a while, his ski trips to Tahoe with his family.
A Beacon for Our Future
Though Shay is gone, his impact will continue to be felt by all those who knew him. My younger daughter is a very close friend of Shay's daughter. It warms my heart to think about another generation of friendship being fostered between them. I also can't believe Shay's son is almost taller than me!
I'll be forever grateful for what Shay brought to my life — a company that is thriving with 100 amazing people, a friendship that has spanned 10 years, a close family connection, and friendship for our children.
I know the lives of others at Hourly have been indelibly changed by Shay. The success they'll see throughout their careers will be in part due to the opportunities Shay gave them to think outside the box and follow their instincts.
We will miss Shay endlessly, and his memory will be a beacon for our future as we build upon his vision for Hourly.