Startup Culture: 23 Insights From The NetFlix Culture Deck

By Dharmesh Shah on April 19, 2010

If you have time to read one document on the topic of startup culture, you should read through the NetFlix “culture deck”.  If you have time for two, read through the NetFlix deck twice — it’s that good.  It is so good, in fact, that I’m surprised when I come across entrepreneurs that haven’t seen the deck yet.  These are people that read all sorts of great material on the web to help their startups. 

So, as a public service, I’m sharing with you the best presentation on startup culture I’ve ever seen (including one we’ve created ourselves at HubSpot — more on that in a future article).


Insights From The NetFlix Startup Culture Presentation

These are just some of the points that jumped out at me.  I’m sure you’ll have your favorite parts too. 

1. Comes right out and says who the “freedoms and responsibilities” applies to.  In their case, salaried employees only.

2. Lots of companies have nice sounding values, but real values are defined by who gets rewarded and who gets let go.

3. You can articulate what you are, and are not trying to do.

4. You can separate what must be done well now, and what can be improved later.

5. You treat people with respect, independent of their status.

6. You accomplish amazing amounts of important work.

7. You focus on great results, rather than process.

8. You have a bias-to-action rather and avoid “analysis paralysis”

9. You create new ideas that prove useful.

10. You find the time to simplify so we can stay nimble.

11. You are quick to admit mistakes.

12. We’re a team, not a family. 

13. A great workplace is stunning colleagues.

14. You behave like an owner of the company.

15. Prevent irrevocable disaster.

16. “There’s no clothing policy at NetFlix, but no one has come work to naked lately.”

17. Act in the company’s best interests.

18. Flexibility is more important than efficiency in the long term.

19. Best managers focus on context rather than control.

20. Titles are not very helpful.

21. Compensation should be about external market value, not internal parity.

22. In some groups, there may not be enough growth opportunity for everyone.

23. Individuals should manage their career paths — not the company.

Which ones do you like?  What did you like that you would have included?  Which parts of the presentation do you disagree with? 

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Y Combinator Finally Gets Some Kick-Butt Competition With Y Permutator

By Dharmesh Shah on April 1, 2010

I’ve been following Y Combinator for several years and have a (sometimes grudging) admiration for them.  The “grudging” comes from the fact that they abandoned Boston and are now exclusively running their program in the Bay area.

onstartups ypermutator

Given YC’s success, several organizations in the past have tried to replicate or improve on Y Combinator’s revolutionary micro-funding model for startups.  Most of these have not really accomplished the objective.  The reasons for their failure have been varied, but the primary one was that unlike Y Combinator, they aren’t revolutionary.  Nobody sat down and said “how do we really take what YC has done and turn it on it’s head.”

Until now.  I just read about Y Permutator.  There’s a lot I don’t like about YP — one of which is it seems to be backed by some old school venture capitalists.  Not that there’s anything wrong with them, I just have a hard time believing that those that made all of their money in the 1990s and maybe even the 1980s (gasp!) are really going to understand what it takes to start a new kind of investment vehicle.  But, I have to give credit where credit is due.  It’s different

It goes back to the basics and brings back some of the same things that made VCs so successful across the decades — but adds some new twists.

I'm going to be particularlly interested in seeing what folks like Brad Feld, Davic Cohen, Dave McClure, Eric Ries, Fred Wilson and Michael Arrington think of this.  But, somehow, I don't think the top-tier VCs are going to be shaking in their boots.

If you’re in the market for some micro-funding, check out Y Permutator and let me know what you think.  Is this the future of micro-investing?  What do you think?

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