Startup culture. Of all the startup terms that get thrown around and discussed, the concept of “culture” is one that seems to be the least understood.
First off…I’m no expert on this topic. As a matter of fact, I’ve probably not thought about this topic much more than the average founder. But I did start a startup that grew a very strong culture organically and (like many) I’m skeptical of all the ways that culture is manufactured after-the-fact (eg beer Fridays, game rooms & scooters).
The concept of even purposely creating a culture rubs me the wrong way - if you have a good team that’s passionate about the vision and working hard, they’ll do some stuff and have some values and those will become the culture. And, of course, that means that no two cultures can ever be alike.
When I heard this very experienced founder discuss culture at two major startups - Google & Facebook - it was really refreshing to hear his thoughts.
He describes the Google culture as academic because the founders came directly from academia. The offices were setup like the Stanford PhD offices. Product development was similar to how research is created and presented. And they mostly hired PhDs. Facebook’s famous “move fast and break things” culture came from the fact that it started in a dorm room and manifested itself in things like developers checking-in code on their first day of employment.
Both startups are success stories. Both startups had very different cultures.
There’s a lot written about culture and I’d encourage founders to read & think a lot of about topic. But - like all topics with startups - it has to be authentic for it to have true lasting value.
Get Right to the Lesson
I’d recommend listening to the entire thing, but to get right to the point go to minute 23:44 of this podcast.
Thanks to these folks for helping us all learn faster
Bret Taylor (@btaylor), co-founder of Quip (@quip)
Ryan Hoover (@rrhoover)
Erik Torenberg (@eriktorenberg)
Please let me and others know what you think about this topic
Email me privately at email@example.com or let's discuss publicly at @davempayne.
Real Founder Lessons
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