Lawdan Shojaee

Lawdan Shojaee founded Axosoft with her husband nearly 20 years ago. It has become an asset to fellow developers and a place that encourages equality in the workforce.

Walk through the hallways of Airpark software developers Axosoft and guests are met with vibrant modern art from local artists and creative furniture.

“We’re all about the people here,” said Lawdan Shojaee, who cofounded the company with her husband, Hamid, 20 years ago. 

“When running a business, you help curate the culture and I think we have a pretty cool one here. We have really happy people and they’re just happy to be here. We have a lot of fitness classes here that help them.”

To share their philosophy, Axosoft created #AXOSMASH Smash Bros. Ultimate Tournament. The second one is Sept. 20.

“We had a user of ours who worked at American Express down the street and he loved our product so much that when he learned we were local, he made us a gift basket and delivered it here,” Lawdan said. 

“He made us custom socks, he put a whole basket of goodies and cookies and a bottle of champagne to say thank you for our product and he also challenged us to a Smash Brothers game.”

Of course, Axosoft accepted the challenge. This year, any Valley tech company is welcome to attend. Players and spectators can enjoy pizza, snacks, beer and wine as the competition unfolds. Lawdan said a taco food truck will support the tourney.

Registration for one- to three-player teams is $60, with cash prizes of $50 to $200. In addition, all players will receive a free GitKraken Pro license for one year. GitKraken is Axosoft’s organizational tool that boosts the productivity of more than 1.5 million developers. 

The event, Lawdan said, allows tech developers to share interests. 

“Developers want to be among peers who understand their sense of humor,” Lawdan said. “When we had the Smash Bros. game with American Express, our own team was so comfortable that we just made it into a networking event for developers.”

Lawdan said the profits will support women in the workforce through Axosoft’s #ItWasNeverADress, a scholarship program for females who want to study software development. 

The couple started the program after Lawdan felt it was “disappointing” to not have more females in the tech space. 

Lawdan said she looks for applicants’ willingness and dedication to learn. It’s not about where they come from, but their motivation to shape their future and become part of the software development field.

“It was just a basic movement on shifting people’s perspectives. We need the other half of the conversation in the rooms while we’re developing tools,” Lawdan said.

“In five years, my optimistic dream is, if we could have a workforce that was close to 50 percent female-to-male, that would be fantastic. If I got 20 or 30 percent female (developers), that would be in itself an accomplishment.”

Axosmash and #ItWasNeverADress show the couple’s dedication to its industry. Axosoft was born out of the necessity of Hamid to problem-solve efficiently and then came GitKraken.

Axosoft V1.0 (then called OnTime) was released in 2002, with the goal of shipping software on time and on budget. It has been developing GitKraken since 2014, and it has quickly become a popular Git GUI client for Windows, Mac and Linux developers.

Keeping clients happy, however, is as important as keeping its employees in the right state of mind, which is why Axosoft produces positive energy. In addition to its offices, Axosoft offers large spaces where developers can work together and let the creativity flow. 

Rather than encouraging young software developers to move to San Francisco, she wants to them to relocate to the Valley. 

“We just basically tap into the local talent here. We’re trying to build an ecosystem of techies,” Lawdan said.

“We’re building more than just software, we’re building a community of techies and the more of us that exist, the better off we all are,” Lawdan said.