Corporate Culture

At Intermino, we use laptops from 2012.

If you spend any time on social networks, you’ve probably seen photos of corporate welcome packs mailed to new joiners. You know the kind of thing that we’re talking about: a shiny new (and expensive) laptop, a box of chocolates, some swag and a pile of paper and plastic that will probably end up in the garbage.


At first glance, it seems like a good idea, although we can’t help wonder how much of is just for show.

At Intermino, we take a different approach. We want our people to feel smart, not precious.

We want out people to feel like the world is theirs to conquer, not to buy.

The need to standardize

by using Macbook Pros from 2012, seriously.

Instead of spending a fortune on new models, our employees are given refurbished MacBook Pros from 2012. There are a few very good reasons for that.

Let's start with the classic corporate problem: you need laptops for your employees and ideally you would want them all to be the same.

When you buy laptops online or off the shelf, you usually end up with dozens of different makes and models. This goes directly against one of our objectives, which is to have a uniform landscape and to create a sense of belonging.

On the other hand, companies that try to standardize by buying equipment from corporate suppliers often pay higher prices for the privilege and still end up with the same problem. Laptop manufacturers will continue to develop new products, so the 2019 model looks different to the 2020 model, which looks different from the 2021 model, and so on.

Standard equipment and a sense of belonging are important to us. After plenty of research and deep introspection, we decided to go with a laptop model that would be widely available on the second-hand market at a good price and usually in good condition.

That’s what led us to the iconic 13" MacBook Pro from 2012.

Multiple benefits

of refurbishing rather than buying plastic.

There’s a whole heap of benefits to using old MacBooks, and we’ve already touched upon a few of them.

  • For us, the biggest benefit of all is that we contribute to recycling and saving the planet. We’re able to reuse existing devices that might otherwise find their way to a landfill, and we help to bring down the number of new machines that manufacturers produce.

  • Apple users tend to take good care of their products, so even though we buy used, they generally arrive in mint or near-mint condition.

  • The particular models that we buy have a beautiful design and are super reliable.

  • The models we buy are from the last generation of fully open devices, so we can easily ramp up RAM, add SSD storage and change broken components. When you’re buying second-hand, the ability to replace these parts is vital.

  • As if that wasn’t enough, the 2012 MacBooks run perfectly on Linux, which is what all of us use. There’s a lot of delicious irony that comes from running Linux on second-hand Macs.

  • At Intermino, we’re trying to build a culture and community that revolves around a hacker mentality and the laptops that we use help us to achieve that. Hackers take pride in being able to achieve more on a legacy device than a consumer can on a brand new laptop that costs ten times as much and which they’re constantly afraid of dropping on the floor.

  • The truth is that we don’t actually need better hardware. The 2012 MacBook Pros are good enough to do everything we need to do, so why pay more just so we can say we have the latest model by some trendy manufacturer? Our employees are proud to be techies rather than consumers buying into the latest ads.

  • Let’s be honest – using second-hand laptops makes us look good in front of our clients because it shows that we’re tech-savvy. Clients know that they’re paying for our knowledge, rather than for us to throw their money at expensive equipment that we don’t reeeally need.

A few downsides

to using laptops older than most cars.

There are downsides too, although we certainly believe that the benefits outweigh them by far.

  • Older MacBooks can get quite hot, so if you’ve got one on your lap and you work for too long, you’re going to start feeling the burn. We tend to recommend using them at a desk and not in bed… unless it’s a cold night!

  • Because we buy them second hand, most our Macs come with different keyboard layouts. We try to work around that where we can by being selective with the models that we buy, but that’s not always possible. That’s where our hacker mentality comes in. If we can’t get a standardized keyboard, we encourage people to learn how to use a different keyboard or to map the keys to something they’re more comfortable with. Alternatively, we’ll buy them a replacement keyboard with the layout of their choice, if they learn how to replace it themselves. It’s a great way of encouraging IT people to have fun and learn new skills.

  • The keyboards on our Macs don’t include a Print Screen button, but you can get around that by creating a shortcut. And let’s face it, who wants to spend thousands on a new laptop just so they can take screenshots by pressing a dedicated button?

  • Okay, it's true. Older MacBooks are heavy, and they are more slippery than the latest ultralight plastic devices. It turns out it's a good thing our second-hand Macs cost under $200 so dropping them would not be a major disaster, considering that we back them up on our corporate intranet.

  • Humanity's oldest problem: battery power. Our devices come with worn out batteries. But that's OK. As part of our refurbishing program, we plug in brand new ones!

We still occasionally experience criticism for our choice to use old MacBooks, but we stand by our decision.

If we’re meeting a potential client and they crack jokes at us, we take it as a sign that they might not right for us or vice-versa.

We want our people to be proud to be hackers who can do more with less. We want them to break conventions and to not follow the crowd just for the sake of fitting in. We want them to do more with less and to make smarter decisions.

Sure, we might not attract everyone with our slightly different attitude, but we guess that's OK. We want to hire people who thrive on their courage and creativity - because that’s what our customers need.

And that’s why we use laptops from 2012.

We occasionally get questions about our decision to use decade-old refurbished laptops. Here are a few notable ones.

Q: Are there enough Macs from 2012 to go by?
Sure there are! Thousands are being sold on auction sites as we speak.

Q: Can you get one fast enough for new hires?
Yes, we actually keep a stock ready at all times.

Q: You use Linux. What if you need to run a Windows app?
That's easy, we spin up a Windows instance on AWS.

Q: But are they slow?
In fact, they boot faster than brand new ones. We even play OpenRA on them without any problems!