Crain's Q&A: How to scale your firm and keep its culture
A hot company with its eyes set on an IPO or another big exit can double or triple its staff within the space of a year. Manhattan-based MediaMath, a software-based marketing company and one of Crain's 50 fastest-growing companies last year , had about 175 employees at the beginning of 2013; it now has 350. But growing a company is not just about adding talented staff. It's about being able to make sure the culture that won you the early success grows along with the company. Crain's asked CEO Joe Zawadzki about the tactics executives can use to retain a culture while the company is adding staff.
How have you done that much hiring in one year?
A little more than half was just organically adding people. At the fastest pace at the end of last year, we added a couple of people a week. A lot of the focus was on the recruiting process: People were focused on bringing on the skill and will. We interviewed for "math values."
You've said what makes MediaMath different is the people you hire and the environment you create for them to work together. How do you create that collaborative environment?
We pay attention to collaboration in both physical space and virtual space. There's the notion of having a variety of workspaces for the different kinds of work people do. … There are lots of huddle areas, and also workspaces that are reflective. We have a regular hackathon. One of the apps that people built was an always-on virtual window into all of the offices.
We think about how to cross-pollinate different cultures; we just hired a woman who was running a lot of Google Japan. She's come over to the New York office to start a global best-practice team.
What insights did you have as you worked this year on scaling your culture?
You codify what "good" looks like, and communicate how people have been successful in the organization.
We create a "true north" strategy document. It gets updated between the quarterly business reviews, and it lasts a year or a year and a half. It gets reinforced in a quarterly business update, and we tie it in by saying, "Here's what we said from a high-level perspective, and here's how that ties in with what happened." We move up and down the slide of strategic thinking and tactical implementation.