Slowly at first, then all at once. That's what X-Team's growth has felt like over the last few years. While it took well over a decade to get to a hundred software engineers, now we easily introduce a hundred new engineers into our community every year. ย 

On the one hand, you cannot stay the same company when you grow so rapidly. You have to formalize your processes, modernize your technologies, and streamline everything as much as possible. Otherwise, you simply wouldn't be able to keep up with your growth.

On the other hand, you cannot change too much. You should understand what made you successful in the first place and protect those elements at all costs. Our annual X-Mas event is one of those elements. And we didn't just protect it. This year, we doubled down on it.

Here's a summary of X-Mas 2023: Stronger Together.

Santa So Generous

Santa was involved in two parts of X-Mas. First, we organized a Secret Santa where X-Teamers from all around the world sent each other the best possible gifts they could think of. Those who correctly guessed who their Secret Santa was earned a coin to buy X-Team collectibles in the Vault. Gifts included music, books, electronics, comics, and more.

Second, in good tradition, we organized our annual appreciation bomb, except this year with a twist. We wrote Letters to Santa where we told the bearded man which X-Teamers made this year special and why. The X-Team Santa would reward those who wrote him letters with coins for the Vault.

For weeks, X-Teamers posted their letters in our #appreciation Slack channel. It was easily our busiest channel of the month (as it usually is in December). X-Teamers went out of their way to write letters that were often several hundred words long where they thanked dozens of X-Teamers. It was heartwarming to see how tightly knit our community remains despite how large it has now grown.

The Pre-Show

Then on December 14 we had both the X-Mas Pre-Show and the actual Show. The Pre-Show was a hilarious and mildly chaotic livestream where the hosts discussed their favorite events of the year and interviewed X-Teamer extraordinaire Henrique Paula about the X-Summit and X-Outposts he organizes.

We also played Guess the Christmas Movie Emoji. For example, ๐Ÿ‘ฆ๐Ÿ ๐ŸŽ„๐Ÿ˜ฑ was Home Alone. ๐Ÿข๐Ÿ”ซ๐Ÿ‘ฎ๐Ÿ’ฃ๐ŸŽ„ was Die Hard. The first X-Teamer who guessed the correct movie was put on a spinning wheel full of great prizes. It was a wonderful livestream that went by all too quickly, and that was just the Pre-Show.

The Actual Show

The actual X-Mas Show began with X-Team's Party Planning Committee trying to figure out what to do for this year's X-Mas. They dialed in Meredith, Kevin, and David Wallace from the US Office to ask for ideas. Kevin suggested we could potentially do a chili cook-off.

We ended up not doing the cook-off. Sorry, Kevin

Next came an epic cinematic about ShadowCorp and the Watchmen Initiative. X-Team has an internal storyline that drives many of our events, and both ShadowCorp and the Watchmen play an important role in it. In the cinematic, the Watchmen finally managed to seal away ShadowCorp. They're safe, for now, and finally have the opportunity to build a prosperous, equal society.

Lotsa Goodies

Would it be X-Mas without lots of incredible goodies? It wouldn't. This year was particularly special, because Santa had created an X-Mas Mystery Bag with old and new collectibles at a heavily discounted price. Even though the contents of the bag were a mystery, they sold out immediately, because who doesn't love a little bit of mystery and potentially some of the best collectibles we ever made?

But there was more. The X-Teamers who wrote a Letter to Santa were entered into a draw that would place them in one of two categories: Regular Fire or PremiumFire. Those in the Regular Fire category could choose one of the following prizes:

  • An Amazon Kindle
  • The Airfly Pro Deluxe
  • The Instax Mini 40 camera
  • A Backbone One game controller
  • The Art of Mondo hardcover book
  • A large gaming to roll some dice on
  • The Venom Go for a heated massage
  • The current Hot Ones hot sauce lineup
  • The iFi ZEN Air DAC for the audiophiles
  • An NES Endings Compendium hardcover

Those in the Premium Fire category had the option to choose one of the following:

  • A PS5 Slim
  • A Meta Quest 3
  • A luxury luggage set
  • The Oura Ring Gen 3
  • A ย Bambino Plus espresso machine
  • A Criterion Designs hardcover book
  • The Apple AirPods Max headphones
  • A sealed and graded vintage videogame
  • A luxury camera bag filled with camera goodies

If those aren't awesome prizes, then we don't know what is.

The Hero Drops

Every year, we give X-Teamers the opportunity to support projects close to their hearts, and this year was no different. For our first hero drop, we traveled to Cambodia, where we learned that many children are sent to the rubbish tip to find food for their families. Not only is this dangerous, but it also means the children and their families stay poor, because they have little time for education.

X-Teamer Will Barnard wants to break this cycle. Through X-Team, he supported a charity that gives children in Cambodia nutritious food, deworms them, and teaches them English. He also supported a Cambodian school that had recently been built but still lacked resources. We donated books, sports equipment, musical instruments, and more. ย 

If more companies would do this, the world would be a better place.
- Will Barnard, X-Teamer

Our second hero drop was in Brazil. X-Teamer Fernando Maransatto supported an NGO that takes care of refugees who struggle with language, documentation, housing, et cetera. Fernando gave them a whole bunch of laptops as well as air-conditioning so the laptops wouldn't break down in the hot and humid climate.

That wasn't all. The couple that runs the NGO has a daughter who is paralyzed, blind, and mute. Fernando gave her a new wheelchair, because her old one was inadequate and caused her pain. With her new wheelchair, she will now be much more comfortable.

Stronger Together

To end this year's X-Mas Show, our founder Dave Rosen spoke about the why behind X-Team. More specifically, the why behind the X. Why that specific letter?

Because it's a simple two lines. One line descends. That's the line of servitude. We bow down to the earth and recognize that everyone could use a hand sometimes. This line asks the question, what can I do to help someone else?

The other line ascends. This is the line of gratitude. The line of high-fives. Even in the darkest of times, there is joy. Something to be thankful for. The extraordinary lies in the ordinary, and the ascending line of the X reminds us of this.

Together, there is a line of servitude and gratitude in the X. And so, at the end of 2023, we both serve and are grateful for the engineers of our community and our clients who make everything possible. Merry Christmas, Happy New Year, and let's make 2024 an incredible year.