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What defines a great company culture? (twitter.com/danrose999)
219 points by prostoalex 4 days ago | hide | past | favorite | 166 comments

This thread isn't really clarifying or defining what a "great" culture constitutes, and it strongly suffers from survivorship bias.

The author is pointing out that a necessary ingredient (among others omitted) is strong culture--which is something of a tautology. Of course a company with great culture has a strong culture; if it were a weak culture, it wouldn't be pervasive or definitive of the company. A company with weakly held cultures wouldn't be described as a "company with great culture". At best it would be described as a "company with great team cultures", at worst a "company without culture". But none of these three statements hold any inherent truth about how productive the company might be, how happy people might be working at said companies, the values of the people working for these companies, or how the collective values of the employees impact the company.

The author is also looking at two companies that have been around for 15+ years. Where is the evaluation of all the companies with similar leadership values to Amazon and Facebook that didn't survive? Was their strong culture an aid or a hindrance? Did they fail despite their strong culture or because of it? Where is the evaluation of companies with similar success and longevity that don't have top-down cultural values? Can we say definitively that they don't have great culture?

I appreciate that the author has a lot of respect for and values the culture of previous employers, but when asking the question "What defines a great company culture?", I would hope for a more substantive answer. Reinforcing that "whatever the cultural values might be they have to be strongly endorsed by the leadership" can be part of that, but that's describing something other than the "great culture" itself.

Yeah, a lot of this is just retroactive justification and narrative building, which then gets cargo culted because everyone wants to repeat the success. But in fact what makes these billion dollar companies successful is the outlier confluence of product-market fit, timing, strong execution, and a million small decisions along the way that compounded returns on a few lucky breaks. I don't doubt the importance of company culture to operate effectively, but I am very skeptical of crediting the success mega corps to any particular aspect of company culture.

A company culture is great if it fits the company strategy. In other words, the company should value internally what the customers like about the company. It might high quality or agility or efficiency or whatever.

If a company changes its strategy, the culture can be too strong. You can see that a lot where established hardware companies struggle to adopt more of a software culture. A culture can be too weak to support the company strategy in any meaningful way. That is a competitive disadvantage because there is a lot more need for communication and coordination.

What are the differences between hardware and software culture?

Software people are comparatively terrible at schedules, schedule fidelity, long term planning (in terms of what needs to be considered now to satisfy anticipated requirements later), cost management, cost over time modeling, and day one quality, among other things.

Well, having worked at a hardware company I think you over estimate how accurate hardware schedules are. And day one quality is more about how you define day one I think. (Some types of hardware) you can release A01 to "internal customers" but the broader public's experience is over a year and several spins later.

No disagreement on the long term planning aspect though.

With hardware the lead times are longer and there are no updates after delivery. Thus, a waterfall approach is more suitable. Customers can actually provide useful and comprehensive requirements.

This kind of comment is underrated. A lot of advice is really survivorship bias descriptions!

Relatively useful:

“All you need is access to capital, or a lot of stuff that can only be done with capital, and that’s what you’re missing, girl.”

Not useful at all:

“What you really need is this cargo-cult aspect that the successful companies have years after their success, but also tons of failed companies have that we never consider, and it isn’t the main reason for the company’s success”

"Built to Last: Successful Habits of Visionary Companies" is a very good book on what makes companies great, and a lot of the points echo this twitter thread, especially "cult-like culture".

It's also very interesting because quite a few of the "visionary companies" have failed in the 30 years since it was written.

Same with Good to Great (I think that was also written by the same guy). Some of those companies applauded are still doing well and others are embroiled in scandals of various sorts.

If I remember correctly, 'The Halo effect' by Rosenzweig has a pretty critical retrospective on these two books.

I had to read it for a leadership class. It had some great stories, but people overlook that the CEOs interviewed all said "luck" was a huge factor. So the rest of the book seemed like it was partly BS.

For example, Walgreens sold off their lucrative restaurant business and put all new stores in extremely high traffic areas and became the seller of not only prescriptions, but random things people need, but don't want to go to Walmart for. It paid off nicely, but it was extremely controversial at the time. They also didn't freak out when internet dotcom companies (set to take over the industry) popped up as they knew those competitors were missing the entire supply chain. Instead they took their time and automated things better to make customers happy in a different way like automated phone ordering. Was all of that genius, or luck. Maybe a bit of both. The same story with Barnes & Nobel and Amazon doesn't turn out so well.

I am really fascinated by the failure of Borders and the continued decline of Barnes & Noble. I'm not an expert but it feels like they really overextended themselves, diluted their focus and like you said, failed to leverage their position the way Walgreens did. But maybe the reason I feel that way is just that I spent a lot of time at the neigbhorhood B&N/Borders reading their books without buying anything other than the Starbucks coffee at the on-premise coffee shop. Can't say they managed to get much money out of me, but I think they provided an enormous service to the community.

One of the things I hate most about Covid. I used to go to B&N almost every weekend to browse and buy. I probably spent at least a thousand dollars there over the past decade and nearly $0 in 2020-21. Yes, it's a great service. I love libraries too, but B&N is better about newer books. Also a great Saturday morning out if you have a toddler. Amazon has the niche' books I like such a weird programming books, but the experience is missing. I also like just rummaging around until I find something unexpected that I like.


Microsoft is a great example of a company which had...

a) many cultural shifts over time

b) still is a company with many different sub team cultures

...and regardless of where they were on the spectrum they have always managed to sell Windows, Office and SQL Server very well.

I saw a video once, the goal of which was to sell to Microsoft execs how to market the first Xbox. The video explained that the target market wasn't fortysomething guys wearing suits in cubicles. It was skateboarders with tattoos on their neck. (And many other demographics that varied significantly from middle-aged IT people).

As a middle-aged IT person, that sounds like poor advice to me for two reasons:

1. Marketing to the 'cool kids' with the expectation that everyone else will follow-along... is probably not good advice in the absence some key differentiation. For Microsoft, this could have just been the massive amounts of capital they could deploy towards getting the Xbox to market. Even then, just spending money is not a strategy.

2. Middle-aged IT people are likely to have more disposable income to afford a $X00 device and a library of games (where the real revenue is). They could also be thought to have less leisure time and place more value on it accordingly, which would correspond to spending decisions. They may also see themselves as 'skateboarders with tattoos.' There's nothing demographic specific about those properties.

> Middle-aged IT people are likely to have more disposable income to afford a $X00 device and a library of games (where the real revenue is).

This is not as relevant as many think...

Good sales people know that..

- it's hard to sell expensive items to anyone, let alone middle aged people who have many other things to pay for

- the best people to convince a middle age person to purchase something are their children

- it's infinitely easier to convince children that they need something

... which is why so many industries focus on selling it to the cool kids. Once the cool kids have something then the other kids want it. When kids want something they will get on parent's nerves until they eventually get it, unless the parents truly can'f afford it.

Daughters with puppy dog eyes are bad for the budget.

It was neat when I overheard the oldest coaching her sisters on how to plead in a cute tone.

Do you reinforce that behavior or put a stop to it? That's a serious dilemma.

Now and then I’ll let them get away with it. Does make me smile.

But I have no qualms saying no most of the time. Immunity did take time to develop.

Today they gave their best pleading voice for chickens. All while holding baby chicks. Super cute.

This might be a valid perspective today, but the first X-Box came out in 2001. How many middle-aged people in 2001 were playing console video games? Some, I'm sure, but it's probably a much more significant demographic in 2021 than it was in 2001. Back then it was much more lucrative to market to teenagers and young adults who's parents had disposable incomes.

You might be right, but the overall point seems to be lost. Microsoft was used to marketing microsoft products to middle aged professionals and now they needed to be aware that they may need to think very differently about a very different product from the rest of their offerings (at the time).

Also, relatively expensive luxuries (such as video game consoles) do not need to be marketed toward people who have a lot of money. They just need an emotional appeal to the people who will want them -- then those people will either direct a larger percentage of their income toward those items or they'll motivate their parents/grand parents to buy them for them.

Lastly, even if a console costs $500, many poor people consider them a very cheap form of entertainment in the long run because that $500 console will last for several years where as a trip to the movies is very expensive since it only lasts a few hours.

Regarding 2. — are you sure the people with disposable income would buy a gaming console of all things? I mean it requires time to enjoy which is something a middle aged person trying to dance between family and work doesn’t have.. Also those younger people that are being targeted have middle aged parents with money:)

Of course it’s entirely possible that you’re right and I’m just bitter that I can’t spend more time gaming :)

Only targeting people “with disposable income” is a losing strategy. If you’re making something in this sub $1k range, people will find ways to save up for it if it’s cool. I remember people struggling to pay rent coming up with ways to manage to buy iPhones.

> a) many cultural shifts over time

MS lost a decade because of stack ranking under Ballmer. Dropping that has allowed them to get back to being more competitive with Google and Apple.


Other companies can be successful with stack ranking (or removing lower performers) like Goldman Sachs or big law firms. I feel like the culture issue is somewhat orthogonal: you can have a failing company with great culture (what was the culture like at Sun or Netscape? I don’t know but wouldn’t be surprised if it was good). You can also have a successful company with a bad/lacking/incohesive culture, or a culture you don’t like)

As the post says, "the knife cuts both ways".

You're missing the point! One can't say what are the cultural elements of "great". All you can do is tradeoff one element for another. What defines a great company culture is one that is held consistently, and that you, personally, as a person with your own particular outlook (let's call it red or blue), enjoy and are productive in. What's great for you is not what's great for another.

Too bad we can't understand this in our politics.

> Reinforcing that "whatever the cultural values might be they have to be strongly endorsed by the leadership" can be part of that, but that's describing something other than the "great culture" itself.

Necessarily so! You cannot define "great" culture because there is no such single thing. You can define consistency, though. This is the critical element because it means that you can predict the repercussions of your actions and act accordingly. Rewards and punishments don't feel capricious and subject to "politics". You don't have to guess what your particular manager will do based on his particular and inconsistent whims.

True, but none of this changes that the author didn't answer their own opening question. If it was framed as "How can a company support great culture"?, then it would be a fantastic thread to read through for those curious. But leading with one question and then answering another is essentially click-bait.

> What's great for you is not what's great for another.

> Too bad we can't understand this in our politics

Unless you have a very good reason to not get a vaccine and not wear a mask I will expect from you to do these things. Not because I don't understand what's not great for you. It's because I understand the objective reality of the disease.

Reminds me of the “Bullet Holes and Abraham Wald” lesson in survivorship bias https://onebiteblog.com/finding-the-missing-bullet-holes/

My view on what the thread is saying, is that having everyone aligned on the same page of how to work and communicate means you don’t waste time on arguing on how to work and communicate.

Instead things become frictionless and the organization can become fluid.

A great company culture is one where everyone is aligned to the mission of the company and everyone is aligned, empowered and incentivized in this exact same direction.

I’ve worked at a couple of companies that had great culture and the best was Uber. Uber, post-shenanigans and pre-Susan Fowler memo, was hands down the best company I’ve ever been at. Everyone was aligned together which meant that everyone was working together, everyone had the same mission and understood it and we were empowered to do great things.

Similar to Facebook, TK had weekly Q&A that was incredibly open and transparent. TK, contrary to the popular narrative, was an extremely progressive person and it showed in the company. Things weren’t perfect, but perfection isn’t the enemy of great and it was great working at Uber between about 2014 and 2017.

The Susan Fowler memo was an inflection point that lead to its culture being essentially destroyed. People were no longer aligned or empowered, and the incentive system was changed to basically destroy engineering culture. By 2020, when I left, the engineering culture was a bad joke. The only thing on most people’s minds was “How do I get promoted?” and the incompetency of engineering leadership lead to decisions like “Toil vs Talent” which meant incentivized people to create their own microservices and not work together with others.

I don’t discount anything Susan Fowler wrote in her memo, everything she wrote was verified by Thuan Pham himself. I didn’t know her personally but I know people that did, and she was known to be very smart. But her experience was not the majority experience. I think most people and especially most women had very positive things to say about working at Uber. But it was a wake up call that things needed to be changed, but what they ended up changing ruined what made it great. It’s a fascinating topic that I daydream about writing a multi-part Medium post about but never will.

> TK, contrary to the popular narrative, was an extremely progressive person

Travis Kalanick illegally obtained and read the private medical records of an Indian worman who was raped by her Uber driver. He publicly claimed she was lying to frivolously sue the company, despite absolutely no evidence to support those allegations.

> Uber, post-shenanigans and pre-Susan Fowler memo

The "shenanigans"--I think you mean systemic discrimination against women via a culture of sexual harassment by high-ranking men with the complicity of HR--continued until Susan Fowler published her memo and the board belatedly fired TK.

> The Susan Fowler memo was an inflection point that lead to its culture being essentially destroyed.

> I don’t discount anything Susan Fowler wrote in her memo

This reads like you're trying to blame the fall of Uber's engineering culture on Susan Fowler without saying so. And sure, there's room for people to disagree: I personally think the board fired Travis Kalanick because he didn't IPO as quickly as they wanted. But this honestly reads like "Everything at Uber was great until this one woman complained and ruined it for all of us." And I don't think that's what you actually want to communicate.


By shenanigans I mean all the stuff they did in the name of competition. Lyft and Uber both did shitty things to each other but somehow Uber got the rap as the bad one. Globally, every single company Uber competed against did shitty, illegal stuff but you never hear about it. Didi sent in spies to Uber China to work there and steal data. No one talks or cares about that.

You didn’t read the article you linked to, didn’t you? It’s pretty funny. Neither TK nor Uber blamed the victim ever. And TK didn’t order getting the medical records. His subordinate, Eric Alexander, who I had the pleasure to work with once and he was an asshole, obtained them and showed TK. TK shouldn’t have looked at it, but he did. Nothing came of it except Eric Alexander was fired.

I didn’t blame Susan Fowler. I know you have an agenda against Uber, so feel free to believe what you want to believe. The reaction to her memo ruined Uber because leadership was incompetent. She was right to have written that memo, so don’t try to make it seem like I’m blaming her.

Companies the size of Uber will always have harassers and assholes. It’s unavoidable. The best you can do is create a culture that calls it out and fires them immediately. Uber hired a VP of engineering from Google but he was fired because he left Google because of sexual harassment. But Google covered it up. Same with Andy Rubin and his sex slaves. Yet how many of you still use Android?

I agree that TK should have brought Uber to IPO years sooner.

Here's the result of 30 seconds of googling:

USA Today:

"The Uber executives who viewed her files, which included CEO Travis Kalanick and senior vice president Emil Michael, had started to believe the incident had somehow been orchestrated by Indian ride-hailing company Ola, according to reports"

The Guardian:

"Last week, however, it was reported that Uber took a different view of the assault internally. Alexander, then the president of business for Uber Asia Pacific, reportedly traveled to India in the days after the attack and obtained the victim’s medical records. He then allegedly shared those records with Kalanick and Michael, the senior vice-president for business, and the group theorized that the victim was part of a conspiracy by rival Indian firm Ola to damage Uber’s reputation."


"Several media reports cited in the lawsuit said that senior staff at the ride-hailing company, including Travis Kalanick, the former Uber chief executive who was ousted in June this year, and former executives Emil Michael and Eric Alexander, had questioned the victim's account of her ordeal."

The suit settled out of court, so we'll never see all the evidence, but this behavior by Kalanick and other upper management would be in line with his their hiding Uber's actions from regulators via "Greyball" and spying on Lyft's drivers. (Google "Uber Greyball" or "Uber Hell" to learn more about those programs. Contrary to your claims, neither of them were ended before Fowler's open letter.)

It is certainly true that their competitors also behaved badly. But your original post was about how amazing Uber's engineering culture was before Susan Fowler publicized the ongoing, systemic discrimination against women there, at which point all the goodness went away and your good times were spoiled. That honestly makes you look like a clueless, sexist jerk, which I would like to think that you are not.




Everything you wrote above disproves everything you wrote in your first comment and reinforces everything I said in my comment. TK didn’t order for the medical records to be gotten. A subordinate got them on his own and then shared them with TK. TK shouldn’t have looked at it, but he probably didn’t understand the long term consequences of the optics of doing that.

Also, TK and Uber never publicly accused the victim of anything according to all of your links. Did they have closed door meetings where they questioned whether or not the victim was faked by Ola? Maybe. But publicly they didn’t even hint of that. If you are accusing TK of a thought crime, for going through the exercise of figuring out if there was a motive, then you are engaging in totalitarian beliefs at this point. How many horrible things have you thought or said in your life behind closed doors but were never brought to light because the media isn’t gunning after you?

After everything Uber had been through, was it so crazy to think they Ola would bribe someone to fake a sexual assault to hurt Uber? Of course not. Was it right to obtain a victim’s medical records? Of course not. And Eric Alexander was fired for it. Did Uber ever even hint publicly that maybe the sexual assault was fake? No, and all your links say the same thing. Publicly, in every single link you provided, Uber and TK decried the assault and paid a settlement to the victim.

I know people that worked on Greyball. It was a tool created because competitors in areas like France, were calling Ubers to locations and then physically attacking them. Greyball was used to protect these drivers. Subsequently, police officers would also call Ubers and then try to ticket them. Whether or not you agree with the legality of that is your own right, but it was a way of protecting drivers from getting huge tickets or fines. To qualify that as a mechanism to subvert regulators, well I guess I disagree with you. And in the end Uber ended up being right.

I have plenty of female friends and coworkers that would vouch for Uber as a safe, progressive and supportive environment for women. If any company like Facebook, Google, Amazon, etc went through as thorough a review as Uber did, I would wager much worse things would come up. I’m glad Uber went through it, to rid our ranks of people who sexually harassed women or worse, but only 20 out of 15,000 people were fired. I don’t think that qualifies as “system discrimination against women.” I think that Uber is/was largely a great place to work.

And I know you have an agenda against Uber, so everything you want to believe is going to reflect that agenda. I frankly don’t care what you think of me, and my words speak clearly for themself.

No. The culture seemed great at the time, because all the skeletons were still in the closet.

Alcohol was rampant. There was all sorts of sexual harassment and execs having affairs with reports. There was politics and subterfuge and extremely non-blameless postmortems (i.e. you were fired). People were working 60 hour weeks.

Hiring was a total shit show. There was no standard practice -- managers were hiring their friends left and right. Nepotism, not meritocracy, ruled. Recruiters blatantly lied to candidates about offers. There were a few suicides.

People were spying on their ex's, celebrities, fighting and committing fraud, giving friends credits or discounts. Thousands upon thousands of borked fares where drivers or riders were respectively paid or charged incorrectly.

From a technical standpoint, it couldn't be worse. Sure it was fast and exciting, but some of the worst, biggest technical debt decisions ever were made in this time. Almost all of the engineers who made this decisions are no longer there. China, schemaless, M3, all the ops shenanigans. On call was a nightmare. Teams were competing internally by solving the same problem but not talking to each other.

You wanna know why the culture seemed great? Because they were burning money like there is tomorrow. There was no oversight. So the firehouse got turned off, the party was over.

Fowler was a symptom. Her memo didn't cause culture to implode, it was already a time bomb.

> but what they ended up changing ruined what made it great

Please explain more. Did they change more than just sexual and other harassment reporting and handling policies? Why did any of the changes have any effect on engineering?

The engineering culture didn’t working together to succeed. It incentivized people to keep creating new services that were a little different so that they could get promotions. It caused a lot of unnecessary work and an explosion of services. It was very stupid. Blame Thuan for that. He was a terrible CTO.

Okay, but what does Susan Fowler's memo about systemic sexual harassment have to do with incentivizing engineering siloes? You seem to draw a pretty direct line.

> People were no longer aligned or empowered, and the incentive system was changed to basically destroy engineering culture.

Same with Google. The intentional misrepresentation and ousting of Damore was a turning point where engineering culture was run over by activist culture.

Would you argue that the outsing of Gebru and others is a turning point where engineering culture is running back over activist culture?

That's pushback, but engineers haven't reclaimed the culture and are mostly still silent and afraid.

> They key to a strong culture is consistency from the top. The CEO's job is to make sure everyone on the management team is on the same page. If a senior leader wants to create their own unique culture for their part of the org, they can't be allowed to stay.

I love this entire thread and it resonates a lot with me. I, too, believe that there is not THE right company culture that will solve everybody’s problems. Many in the agile or “new work” camp seem to believe that their way is the ONLY way, for example.

Consistency is much more important than how the culture actually is.

I think consistency is overrated, and a cause of countless undue issues.

We seem to mostly agree that diversity is important, and having employees from different background help bring different ideas and solutions to the table, react with more agility on unforeseen situations.

On a fundamental level, applying the same vision and forcing the same values and rituals on everyone looks to me at odds with what diversity is supposed to bring.

As an aside, if a company has a credit card processing division and mini-game producing divisions, I'd see a clear case for them to not have the same values nor the same priorities, and in the end the same culture. That's what I also felt reading accounts from UX designers at Google in the early days, when they seemed to be crushed by the 100% data driven culture from which they tried to carve a small niche.

>On a fundamental level, applying the same vision and forcing the same values and rituals on everyone looks to me at odds with what diversity is supposed to bring.

IMO the difference is that consistency brings people together to agree on the same goals but diversity brings different perspectives on how to reach said goals. It's a bit of nuance, like the distinction between strategy and tactics.

Having disjointed strategy wreaks havoc because people can't agree on what's ultimately important in determining success. Differing tactics brings a bit of experimentation to the table where groups may try out different paths but are all honed in on the same end goal.

I've worked in organizations that couldn't align on strategy and it was horrendous. One level wanted the focus to be on creating an organization that is known for high-quality "world-class" work. The other wanted to move fast and bring in as much work as possible, sometimes at the detriment of quality. Leadership couldn't get on the same page and it created a fracturing of the workforce into competing camps, neither of which trusted (and at time worked to undermine) the other.

Personally, I believe consistency is an indicator of defined process.

Consistency can still produce negative results, but, because it is a defined process, it is much easier to ‘pull the levers’, and wrangle the process into an outcome you want.

Serendipity is great, but it really does take a special group of people for that synergy to work, absent a process.

I think of it like a good band.

Yes, I think at an individual level there needs to be clear rules and expectations, and the sense of belonging to a coherent group sharing the same values.

It's more at an organization level where I see the need to have niches accomodating groups that have different dynamics, perhaps goals and working patterns.

Another instance of that could be customer support centers, who work hand in hand with the product and dev centers, while having wildly different composition, processes and targets from the rest of the company.

I guess it depends on how hard it is enforced. In the end, consistency is something gray and not black and white.

> Many in the agile or “new work” camp seem to believe that their way is the ONLY way, for example.

I think many in the Agile camp are fed up with being held back by people who are unwilling to change, and are willing to break the mold (and some eggs) in order to find a new, better way to work.

> Consistency is much more important than how the culture actually is.

This just leads to a consistently toxic culture that nobody wants to work for. I have worked for plenty of places where nobody gives a shit and nobody tries to change anything, and it was terrible. Our working life should mean more than a stock ticker.

The "Agile" problem is more like a bunch of consultants and managers polarizing the population while the middle waves their hands and goes "uh, guys, you know 'agile' isn't the same as Scrum, and many more implementations exist beyond it, right?". As the consultants and managers keep insisting that if you don't want to participate in "Agile Scrum" (how in the world did we get this abomination of a word anyway?), you "don't understand the values of Scrum and/or Agile". In turn, monopolizing the ideology of iterative, short cycle development.

The last being absolutely insane, since both the values in Scrum and the values in the Agile Manifesto are extremely broad and abstract. Even the guide itself clearly states Scrum only being an implementation for those values, not the definition of those values.

I’ve always found it ironic when coming across discussions of people’s frustration with Agile (uppercase A) only to see the “you’re doing it wrong” comment-which I’ve seen often right Here on HN, among other places.

Mainly because wasn’t one of the foundational elements of agile (lowercase A) “people and tools over processes”?

Lately Agile feels as ritualistic and process-heavy as a checklist for a rocket launch.

Actually, no it wasn't. The one you are referring to is:

Individuals and interactions over processes and tools

Also "Agile" doesn't feel ritualistic and process heavy. I'm probably now doing what you refer to as the "you're doing it wrong".

Agile itself is not ritualistic and process heavy. Specific frameworks and people are. E.g. take a SAFe consultant trying to get a paycheck from a large corporation. Of course that's gonna be ritualistic and process heavy. That's the point of SAFe and even in the name. They're trying to sell a "safe" implementation of agile practices to enterprise organizations. Safe in the sense of not actually having to change all that much. Basically keep what you have but you can call yourself agile now. Comes with a rubber stamp too now!

That's way different than a company trying to actually live agile values as defined in the manifesto. E.g. throw away your issue tracking tool to build your software and put a bunch of post it notes all over the walls at the office. Talk to your peers. Build awesome software together from rough drafts on a post it. Or how a friend of mine describes working at Tesla: "Jira issues? Yeah we write those after implementation is done so that the AC match what we did". Awesome!


Hehehe, self fulfilling prophecy really. And no worries I get it. 'Problem' is, I'm still on the idealistic agile train myself and thus I will predictably (and I told you it was coming) fall into that pattern. Can't do anything about it. On the interwebs it's obviously hard to impossible to distinguish this from other forms of this. E.g. the SAFe consultant who feels dissed ;)

So yeah if you see me in real life, I'm fighting for proper agile value implementation in the organization around me and living and teaching them in my teams.

This really doesn't match my experience about what the interesting parts of "culture" are.

How much do we value doing the work vs. talking about it? Are the highest-status people the most skilled practitioners, or something else? Are policies and processes designed with empathy for practitioner workflows, do they make any intuitive sense to practitioners, or are they decrees from clueless faraway box-tickers?

Are people on top of their shit and constantly improving it, or do they not even realize what's wrong with it until you tell them? When you file bug reports and feature requests are they responded to promptly and taken seriously?

How much do we value consistency, reliability, stability - both in our work product and in our interactions with each other? Are APIs stable? How are migrations handled? Do platform teams provide nice off-ramps? Do they continue providing adequate support for the old thing until you're actually off, or just shrug and say you should have been using the shiny new? When you get a "monthly newsletter" - was there an issue last month? Will there be next month? If you come across a 2-year-old "approved" design doc in unfamiliar territory, what are the chances it was actually executed?

I have seen all these things vary quite a bit between teams and over time.

Is there any reason to think Facebook or Amazon are examples of "great company culture"?

From the outside looking in, these companies seem like the two most toxic workplaces in big tech. What makes their culture great?

At very least they are large enough to exhibit most scenarios, good and bad.

If you take IBM as an example, on the one hand you have the IBM people like to make fun of but then you also have teams inside IBM who are extremely sharp (e.g. the people working on their Silicon). That being said culture isn't technology.

Came here to say the same thing. Neither company represents cultures or values that enrich the communities they are a part of.

I think parasitic capitalism is a feature not a bug. no pun intended. There's not many companies that give back these days. Look at how hard Amazon pushed back against unions.

How about none at all? I'm not joining a cult. I go to work to get paid and that's it. I don't need some weird culture shoved down my throat and I certainly don't need to be thinking about work 24/7.

Agreed. I'm not sure what this "culture" talk is. I've been in the bay area for a decade now and have worked at a small YC startup with a modest exit, a big-ish company that got acquired, and a bigger company that's gone public.

In all cases each company talks up it's "culture" - to me it's just a phrase that elicits an eye-roll.

Another commenter suggested you look for a "typical 9-to-5", but even there I'm sure they'd talk up their amazing culture.

Not having to think about work 24/7 is culture. You need to look for a job where that is part of the culture.

That in itself is a perfectly valid culture - e.g. happy and relaxed employees who actually want to come into work in the morning are probably more useful than even extremely clever people bored out of their minds being berated by egotistical managers.

> How about none at all?

This is like saying I don't want to have any behavior.

Every company has a culture. The difference is whether you are aware of it and working on it or not.

Agree. Professionalism is what I look for in a company, not culture.

You just described a culture.

Take a typical 9-5 job. Problem solved.

> Strong cultures are well-defined with sharp edges, and well-understood by everyone in the organization top to bottom. Strong founders with unapologetic personalities set the culture early and maintain it.

I can think of numerous historical examples of organizations (typically nations or empires) where this was true but the outcome was very bad for everyone involved.

I find this thread kind of confusing, it basically seems to say the culture itself doesn't matter. What matters is that it is strongly held. Which means top down, ritualized and vigorously defended against any attempts at change.

The message is that consistency matters and that strong leadership can produce good results in the right circumstances. Top-down isn't necessarily a bad thing.

And what are the alternatives? No consistency throughout the company would mean that there wouldn't be any company culture to speak of. And if your processes aren't (ultimately) top-down, then what's the company leadership actually for?

Some values ought to be universal across a company. I'm sure everyone at Volvo could agree that driver safety is a high priority.

Other values may well vary between departments - People working on the car's software can do weekly releases at little or no cost with lightweight planning - but the injection-moulded door handle will need a $$$$$ mould and several months for every design change, so they'd certainly better have frozen the design several months before product launch.

There might not be much common ground on ideas like starting with an MVP and iterating, moving fast, dealing with changing requirements, two week sprints, and so on.

I think it's basically the thought that a great culture is one that is strongly held. The wheels are liable to come off quite quickly if that's the only criteria. I'm confused because it's quite simplistic and reductive.

The obvious alternative is a bottom up organization of culture although most companies are not setup for that to work well. The actual reality is going to be a combination of both. I'm sure everyone's worked in environments where the corporate values are treated as a joke.

It seems to me that it will prevent adaptation to changes.

The way I understand this is: consistency is important for managing expectations.

Change is not a problem but consistent application of expectations is important (in my opinion, this would include expectations around how you manage change).

If you have one set of expectations from one manager, and a different set of expectations from another manager, the complexity of your work just squared.

The major takeaway for me is that with a strongly held culture, everyone in the company is playing the game by the same rules, making it clear how to succeed, how to fail, and as such, how to conduct business. It's also clear whether or not you would enjoy working there -- there's no finding the right team or department with its own culture if everyone has the same culture there.

Of course, he doesn't explore whether or not the benefits of this are worth the disadvantages, and there's plenty of room for argument either way, especially with large organizations.

Well, of course, the complement is that a diverse culture is one where most people can find some place they can add value and be recognized, and if they get in a team they don't fit well, they can just move into a different one, instead of a completely new job.

Both of those versions are gross oversimplifications.

A good company culture is one that the whole company follows. As opposed to a bad company culture, where there is basically no global culture to speak of, and every manager has their own little fiefdoms.

So if I create a culture of fear and abuse, but everyone on the company follows it, it's suddenly a good culture?

That's very reductionist.

Fiefdoms are bad, but is a company monoculture necessarily a good thing? Perhaps different teams (especially if geographically dispersed) can adopt a culture that works for them rather than follow some top-down mandate that they'll follow half-heartedly if at all.

> that they'll follow half-heartedly if at all

At that point it’s bad company culture right?

Arguably beyond a certain size and other than some basic rules around things like good behaviour and ethics, I'm not sure you can have a one-size-fits-all for a company (or any other) culture.

That's such a narrow definition it almost feels circular. If there is no global culture throughout a company can you even describe it as having a company culture?

Probably depends on who you ask :)

>> I find this thread kind of confusing, it basically seems to say the culture itself doesn't matter. What matters is that it is strongly held. Which means top down, ritualized and vigorously defended against any attempts at change.

Yes, because you're taking a significant risk joining any company (in the sense that you have limited time and want to go where you can have the most impact for the firm and best outcomes for your goals).

You often dont know details about projects, people, etc -- but if you vibe with the culture, you can easily find your place there. If the culture is all over the place, it is hard to know from the outside. And if the culture is a mismatch for you, better to neither waste your time nor that of the firm. Without a strongly projected culture, that is hard to do.

Though I’m an atheist, I think that many different churches do good things for their participants from a community and social perspective, even though they may differ from each other significantly in their specific religious doctrine.

Yeah, it certainly doesn't define what great company culture actually is.

I think it does. Great culture is different for everyone. I like a culture built around fast innovation. My friend likes a culture built around slow and steady progress. Neither culture is right or wrong, they are just different.

But a great company culture is one (regardless of its core tenets) that’s followed strongly throughout the organization, top to bottom, starting with the CEO.

> I find this thread kind of confusing

Having it split into tweets doesn’t help. I struggle to think of a worse format - perhaps a series of short videos would be worse?

Yeah, it seems to me the same. I dont see that as massive positive.

> Amazon's most memorable value was "ruthlessly escalate." This removed any question about how decisions would be made. It encouraged a culture where people would debate strongly held ideas, knowing the solution to disagreements was to bump it up to the next level of management.

"Ruthless" anywhere in your value system is terrible, unless you are the military, or your mission statement is to "fight" something like cancer or child hunger. Second, management never knows how to solve a problem better, they just pick one and go with it. Third, a culture where everyone is always asking their boss to solve their problems? Yikes.

> Second, management never knows how to solve a problem better, they just pick one and go with it

But if your (presumably intelligent, qualified) engineers are at a stalemate between two things, what's to say both options aren't fine and they need just exactly that: someone more senior to pick one, given the pros and cons of each.

It's a function of growth and success.

If the company is growing, winning deals, all people are busy it feels great. A lot of energy is pointed outwards, competing, hustling, convincing. Literally no time for internal politics.

Once a company stalls, the energy, actions, focus, drift inward. "Politics". Shit culture.

Now, what is correlation, what is causation?

I suspect results drive culture. Culture can't make up for overall failure.

The thing I've seen, read and heard for years is "agency". Buzzword, but "having some ability to affect outcomes", so whether "I've moved the photocopier because people couldn't get to it where it was" or "I've moved the marketing team because they needed X" - as long as people feel they can make a difference, are listened to and their skills are used - they're more likely to be happy.

And this, presumably mean "great company culture" too.

But what you are allowed to do needs to be limited. That photocopier might be in a bad spot, but that is the only place where we have have enough power to run it. Marketing needs X, but they are by Y instead because I want them to be forced to interact with Y (at least when getting coffee), a team they would otherwise ignore to our eventual failure. Or worse the person I caught trying to use GPL-3 code in our proprietary code base.

Agency is good, but only if people understand where they have agency and make changes in those areas and leave the others to someone else.

There are lots of variations but my list is this:

No hypocrisy ( you all need to work hard while I'm only working 2h/day)

No superstars (high performers are fine but no high performing jerks)

No gossip

Fair and easy to understand reward structure

Things aren't made difficult deliberately ( 6 layers approval process)

Laziness and poor attitudes aren't tolerated.

A big one for me these days is "No pressure to attend non-mandatory outside-of-work-hours outings like after work happy hours".

I don't really drink, I don't like bars, I often like to spend my evenings with my SO or my friends, not my coworkers. I don't like being made to feel like I am "not a team player" for not wanting to participate in "team building" outside of work hours.

You took the words right of my mouth... I also don't drink, but my main gripe is that I'm joining a team, not a family. I have other obligations and relationships that need to fit into my already limited non-work time.

I do drink and I'm happy to go to a bar or restaurant or whatever else is there but only when I feel like it. There's no "team building" happening in a bar,unless people think that having a few beers together makes you a stronger team.

Gossip is useful, though, because social networks around work usually outpace org chart changes by (ballpark guess) 10x.

When people talk about company culture, I always have to think about a new CEO that started in a company I worked for.

He was there for a few months and always talked about how things we do (and did for years, since the company existed) weren part of the company culture. Like he could simply walk in and say what the culture of the company is.

I understand that he wanted to turn the company around, but he talked like some kind of history revisionist.

No man, this is the culture here, it grew over decades, try to make new policies and hope it changes. But simply saying it's not like it is won't achieve anything.

Well I've seen culture change in a day. If you have enough power and can unilaterally change an incentive structure you can get people to fall in line really quickly.

When I worked at a bank we had pretty predatory selling practices and a fitting culture. This was starting to catch the eye of the media and government so the Bank exec stepped in and said the parties over and If anyone doesn't conform to these new rules then they're out on the street. That day, the culture changed, and everyone was happy to changed because they didn't want the existential consequences to happen to them.

There's the softly softly approach over years and then there's the speeding u-turn. Both can work. The latter just takes more grit.

It is an important part of the job of the CEO to say what the values of the company should be, and make sure that the company tends towards following those values. The culture then follows by that. It is allowed but insufficient for the ceo to declare that the company is to be more open or collaborative—they must also make sure that management below them are deciding things (eg distribution of work to teams, how performance is assessed) in ways which promote those values. And sometimes values do need to change quickly to change the focus of a business. Maybe VC money runs out and profitability becomes more important than growth. Setting values can distribute the work of changing a business across all its staff.

You hire the right people and they make the culture. Culture is NOT enforced. It is simply the reflection of you as a good or bad hire-er.

Sort of. However you need to be careful about unexpected consequences.

The vast majority of programmers are male, so if you only hire the best you might go a long time without hiring any females, thus developing a male-only culture. I've been told the worst case of this is one female the rest males, as the one female encourages that bad parts of male only culture to ensure that she is always the most powerful female in the room (because she is the only one). None of this needs to be true, but when you only have 3 males total you need to ensure that you are not developing female hostile culture by accident. Once you have a few females around they can moderate the male only culture, but going from 1 to a few is hard because the great females you want to hire will check your culture and not even apply thus locking you out of that market.

I used females, but there are plenty of other minorities. If the subject was nurses you would reverse the minorities, some of their cultures are male hostile.

I once worked at a place with a strong, great culture. They acquired another place with a strong, great culture. The cultures were diametrically opposed. It turned into an awful culture for both.

People find like-cultured people. Don't hire someone who is a mob programming advocate into a culture that thrives on individual work, or vice versa. Don't hire someone who wants a completely transparent culture into Amazon.

Its a bit of a chicken/egg situation. The right people to hire are the people that meets your requirements. Some of the requirements would be what their cultural beliefs and behaviours. So the cultured is enforced by enforcing the right type of people you hire. It is a vicious circle.

I'm a big fan of this thread because it helps correct the preconceived notion that culture is on a 1 dimensional spectrum between "bad" and "great".

At our 30-person company, we did an experiment where we took a culture framework that was evaluated on 2 axes, and took internal surveys between two years to determine where on the spectrum employees felt our culture was currently at, and what their ideal culture would be.

For anyone curious, I have a data visualization of it here: https://ryochiba.com/2016/11/22/what-is-a-company-culture.ht...

For anyone in a position to explore these questions at an organizational level, I would highly recommend doing an exercise like this. It gives more agency to the employee to express what direction they think would be optimal and brings awareness to the fact that totally different cultures can both be considered "great".

Interesting, and thanks for the framework. As someone who leans heavily toward the right side of your framework, it's good to have a reminder there are "left-sided" companies that are successful.

It seems to me managers may prefer the right side, while many employees see the left as optimal. Did your data shed any light on this?

A company that does not micro-manage and trusts its employees to do the right thing. Anything else is secondary.

As an advanced programmer it always seemed I was getting rejected for jobs because of 'culture' because I wouldn't put up with their abusive environments.

IMO that's a feature, not a bug. I really would not fit into that culture, so I'd love for them to reject me based on my refusal to work overtime, except in emergencies... Which had better be pretty seldom.

Right. Say anything in an interview to suggest you won't work 60 hour weeks every week and you're suddenly not a good culture fit.

Workaholism is a real problem in North America I guess

Find a different industry. There are plenty of companies doing boring everyday things and going home at 5 scattered around that would love to hire you. Sometimes you take a pay cut to work there - your willingness to do this reflects on you.

There are plenty of well-paying tech jobs that don't require you to work nights and weekends. No need to 'find a different industry'.

You kinda sound like you buy in to the overwork and are trying to convince others of your own decision. I would say: the company never really appreciates or rewards it, and becoming a kool-aid salesman is often a path to ruin.

Mind blowing to me how a statement like "I don't want to work half-again as much per week as my contract requires" gets a response like "go find a different industry"

As if I'm the one who is wrong here. Decades of workers rights and unions trying to make work safer and better for people, to work less for the same pay, but I'm the one who is wrong for wanting that.

Why do software devs love to be exploited so much.

There are lots of industries that need software developers. Switching industry doesn't mean you can't write code anymore. Banks hire a lot of great programmers, and they expect them to work 8 hour days, and many enforce a 2 week vacation every year (if you are committing fraud 2 weeks is long enough for someone to notice something that you would cover up if you had access to the office). Are control software for some valve in some industry. Or medical records need help.

Maybe it's because you refer to yourself as an advanced programmer?

The GP might be a prima donna, or he might just be stating the facts.

We have to be able to distinguish apprentices from people who have all of the breadth, depth, and color that comes with experience. In sane professions, they don't call someone "senior" after 3-5 years.

My take is to ask: for who?

"Who" is this great company culture for?

Is it for the company to be more competitive in the market and make more profits? Well, Amazon seems to be doing not too bad.

But as an individual, would I want to work there? Not from all reports...

I find the idea of success through culture hard to believe for companies that are both old and large. Hiring processes are very random, so if you hire vast numbers of people, you're going to end up with typical employees eventually.

Setting an example as a CEO might have some effect, but I honestly have no clue what my CEO, or the people immediately below them, are up to.

People do seem to realize this, which is why you end up with lists of "company values", but if you look at a few of those lists, you'll notice that every company claims to have fairly similar values. People mostly just ignore it as a result.

> Zuckerberg's response: "I'm building a company that I would want to work for if I hadn't started FB. And I would want to work at a place that shares openly."

Still sharing everything 15 years later

We know Zuckerburg is a secret privacy fanatic. The signal app on his phone, buying up all property that can see into his enclave, the tape over his webcam. When he launched he thought people who shared everything with him were “dumbfucks.” In other words, he wouldn’t have shared the type of information that others were giving away for free - as a college student.

I think it's important to separate a desire for privacy outside of work with the transparency/openness in running Facebook, I don't see these things as being closely related to one another.

As for the "dumbfucks" thing - somebody young said something stupid, news at 11. Any time somebody brings this up like some big gotcha I just sort of roll my eyes.

I don't understand this.

Maybe the leaks of facebook phone numbers?

a joke about Cambridge Analytica scandal / facebook leak which happened few days ago most likely

Sometimes I think there's too much obsession over culture, to point its become too naval-gazing and even cargo-culting.

Culture is the result of doing other things right, like hiring smart, relentlessly resourceful people who get things done and who are deeply interested in their work.

Beyond that, maintain a standard of excellence and integrity throughout the organization, and you're pretty much done. From that point, success is up to hard work and some luck (timing, right place at the right time, etc).

Bad cultures ignore values, or have toxic values and toxic social outcomes.

Good cultures incorporate values, live them consistently rather than just talking about them, and have good values and outcomes.

This isn't just a moral position. Your culture is like code. Ethics define your edge cases. You do not want code - or a culture - that works of the time, but collapses when it has to deal with an input that is difficult or unexpected.

That's not my experience. In fact it's the opposite. I suspect that incorporating values can work, but it's not universal.

Best company cultures usually concentrate on good work, not values. Results to the society don't matter when people get things done.

I think most companies should try to be as amoral as possible outside the purpose of the company. People choose to work in different companies based on their values or other needs.

It's not that simple.

I have never been convinced that there is actually such a thing as 'amoral' decision making. Making the sole decision to focus on good work and results (presumably making money for the company) is a moral choice. You have said to your employees and society at large that what is important is money. Make money. Ethical considerations are second. That is a moral stance.

Let's say your company makes widget A. You can source part B for the widget from a company that is suspected of using child or slave labor overseas. They are half the price of part B's competitor. Your 'amoral' decision to focus on the purpose of the company (which, again, is presumably making money) would have you make a very, very bad decision, ethically.

Ignoring your place in society and an organizations obligation to at least speak to the ethics of the people that work there is not really realistic in today's society, I would argue.

Your example is wrong. Many companies are careful not to use suppliers that use child labor because if they don't the negative media attention will collapse their market and in turn result in less money.

A better example is today many companies have no problem with doing business with suppliers that donate to planned parenthood, even though that means they are morally contributing to abortion. I know right now many of you will be screaming but abortion is morally okay, and others will screaming that they wish they could punish such companies...

> Results to the society don't matter when people get things done

If the results to the society are negative, I prefer if you dont get things done. Because it would negatively harm me too.

That's different discussion.

Acknowledging that people can have high morale, and deep sense of purpose and fun when doing stuff that is net negative for the society is important if you want to improve society.

When people associate causing harm with low morale, it distorts what people think is acceptable. "But my work is meaningful to me and we have a greatest team in the world".

I tend to agree with the commentors saying that culture is secondary to business reality.

Most startups and even a lot of established companies have a nebulous and weak business model; success or growth is not assured. Culture moves the deck chairs into different patterns but the odds are still that the ship goes down.

People who want culture to drive growth are misguided.

Autonomy, agency, trust and shared goals. Knowing that everyone is doing their 80% and looks out for the team, not themselves.

Before you listen to any one connected to early Facebook discussing their “company culture,” I suggest you read the link below and understand what I am saying. There are deep, dark reasons why the word “consent” has never been part of Facebook’s culture.

There are a lot of lottery winners in Silicon Valley who leave out the “turned a blind eye to the sexual predator” part of their success stories, whether it involves founders or investors. You couldn’t be part of “the mafia” if you didn’t think that sort of stuff was okay.

The day of reckoning is coming.


I read all of it against my better judgement and I still have no idea what you're really talking about. There was no substance, just vague allusions. But anyone can make those. I could tell you Zuck is a lizard person and make odd hand gestures as I whisper about dark secrets. So what? It comes off as being written by a crank.

Are you planning to name this person? You should, to help protect others.

I remember early FB employees talking to me about how they were spying on people's private activity (who was looking at who's page for instance). I have no doubt there were and are many unethical things going on there. It is indeed a joke to suggest they have a "good" culture.

It’s Sean Parker.

Spend my evening going down the rabbit hole and trying to see what you have been up to for a few decades and seems your are pretty spot on and pretty informed on many things. But some of the things I stumble on also seems incoherent and perhaps that’s because you can fill in the blanks in your head but don’t write it or because you deliberately make it hard to decipher. If all you have said is true it’s quite impressive what you have seen over the years but I can also see that it can be hard to believe the way it’s communicated. I was wondering what happened between 2011 and now where your described this guy I think you are referring to as a great guy and I hope that if there is anything to your latest post that you would actually follow through with it and elaborate more on it.

I submitted this to HN - sorry if it was premature. https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=26724522 I also tried to contact The Guardian (UK) about it today - will try again tomorrow.

"helps avoid politics" thats how we got where fb is now

I think the author is talking about office politics, not electoral politics.

Great for whom ?

Great question - it depends what (or who) you’re optimising for.

I’m generalising, but as an example:

The optimal culture to get very difficult things done far more quickly and efficiently than other companies could (think SpaceX) probably often won’t have the best work-life balance. In contrast, a culture which optimises (at least partly) for employee well-being will very likely lose some edge, efficiency, innovation, drive… along the way.

There are of course myriad other variables, but there probably isn’t an ideal answer to the culture question: it all depends on what you want to do, and how you’re willing to act to do it.

From an employee perspective, the one fairly definitive upside I can spot is knowing what to expect ahead of time.

Are you implying it's mainly/only great for management?

I have found that the more a company talks about culture, probably the worse it is... :)

When company culture is created without it becoming the defining factor in performance reviews. Or having your calendar filled with daily culture events that just make entire coworker relationships feel forced.

The amount of money that gets direct deposited into my bank account, biweekly

The thing with salaries is, there is a certain number (different for everyone obviously) at which you are happy and comfortable, and each incremental dollar from there on matters less and less. That is the point where you can afford to care about things like social impact, company culture, fulfillment and more.

You should try to get past that to post-scarcity thinking, possibly interstellar.

There doesn't seem to be any hope of me living that long. Interesting to think about in a science fiction world, but for now there are a lot of toys that I can't afford.

I don't think we will ever get there. The energy required for interstellar is too high, and global warming is a concern with anyone using too much energy. (Dyson spheres sound good, but mathematically they are tricky because they imply some form of global warming that you need to work around)

too late to explore the world, to early to explore the universe.

btw I was alluding to this: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Culture

To me a great company culture is trust and honesty. Being able to speak truth and people trusting each other.

Agree to disagree.

These are two obscenely rich companies. I don't believe that it is possible to dominate market(s) and maintain "great culture".

In my view there is an inverse relationship between ethics and profits. I don't see any reason to assume that these companies have "great culture" simply because they are very rich. Quite the contrary.

I don't think the author is drawing any connection between great company culture and great company ethics. The culture refers more to group dynamics, which values are embraced and which are ignored, the kind of leadership, etc.

In this context, great has more to do with efficacy and consistency. The author would probably say a company can have a great culture and still be very polarizing or controversial.

In short: shared values.

I do agree with the consistency thing. One bad culture failure mode is a case where one or two senior executives run amok enforcing their view of culture, while the CEO fails to enforce consistency and a bunch of other executives, directors, etc., just try to “stay out of it” and remain culturally neutral (which isn’t really possible).

I saw this in one company where it was the CTO running amok with an aggressive culture of yelling in meetings, slamming doors, and emphasizing arbitrary deadlines.

I saw it in another org where it was the CPO instead, trying to install Dilberty consultant snake oil with constant reorgs and zero accountability for product managers.

lol culture at a big co...dont bs me plz.I've worked at big co's, and theres no culture there. Only places with any sort of character are small - mid sized startups.

That would assume that all big companies are the same. Which is provably false.

You don't seem to know the difference between character and culture.

Chaos is a culture, right?

Great thread.

It reminds me of reading Bezos annual shareholders letters.

The culture of the place could be seen from reading those letters.

A couple of those values since day one are:

1.We will continue to focus relentlessly on our customers.

2.We will continue to make investment decisions in light of long-term market leadership considerations rather than short-term profitability considerations or short-term Wall Street reactions.

3.We will continue to measure our programs and the effectiveness of our investments analytically, to jettison those that do not provide acceptable returns, and to step up our investment in those that work best.

This blog https://leveragethoughts.substack.com/p/jeff-bezos-amazon-an... breaks it down further.

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