Company values matter. I mean really matter. As in billions of dollars and creating new industries. Most people say they matter, but I’m not sure everyone really believes that values are transformational in their significance.
I learned this first hand. My first job after college was at PeopleSoft. PeopleSoft had a strong core value around their employees. This was driven directly from the top. It was clearly a top priority from Dave Duffield. He had dedicated people in the organization to drive this day-to-day. Company all-hands meetings were centered around employees — championing their success, their uniqueness and basically thanking them for their dedication to the company. There were the free bagels and drinks (before it became de rigueur in Silicon Valley), funny names for things like “PeoplePeople” (PeopleSoft employee) and PeopleSoft jerseys for each employee with their employee number on it. Mine was 1396. More than one time I heard it referred to as “a Cult”.
Partly this was just a reflection of Dave’s genuine caring for people. But Dave is also a competitive and highly astute leader. I think he knew valuing employees would be critical in the end.
In 2003 Oracle started the great consolidation wave in on-premise enterprise software (aka “the death of innovation”) by launching a hostile takeover on PeopleSoft. It seemed key to their strategy that after the hostile bid, PeopleSoft’s sales cycles would stall and it’s employees would lose faith and be unable to execute. Sales cycles did slow, but the employees held firm and kept plugging forward. Even after 18 months and a DOJ court case they didn’t buckle. I think this was a direct result of the company’s core value around employees and the fierce loyalty it engendered. You know the end of the story. PeopleSoft finally sold to Oracle for $10.3 Billion. Even resolve can’t withstand the right price. What happens without that employee resolve? Does it sell for $8.5 Billion like BEA? Does it sell for $7.8 Billion like Sun? Does is sell for $5.8 Billion like Siebel? Billions for a Value.
Salesforce.com created a new industry. They combined vision with great technology and brilliant sales and marketing. Marc Benioff gets credit for a lot of things, and deservedly so. But many don’t realize how maniacally focused he was (and still is) on customer success. He was masterful at driving this value through the organization. The product had to be extremely easy to use. The very first versions of the product had dedicated designers and usability testing. The product had to be simple to try (Free Trial) and deploy (nothing to download, nothing to install). Most importantly, the customers had to use the product and use it continuously. Without this, there was nothing – no success for the customer, no business for Salesforce. Salesforce has sophisticated metrics and processes around customer adoption and usage of the product. They jump into action to help when customers get stuck. There are many special things about Salesforce, but this simple value of customer success is the basis for the new industry they’ve created. The values of customers and vendor were completely aligned for the first time in enterprise software. Salesforce.com marketcap — over $11 Billion. Enterprise software delivered as a service? About $10 Billion per year in revenue and growing fast.
Although we have a lot of work to do before we’re as big and successful as either PeopleSoft or Salesforce.com, we take company values seriously. Not in a trite “we need a values statement” way. But because we’ve seen first hand that they really matter. Our vision is to power the next generation of corporate IT. We want to enable companies to build next-generation Cloud Area Networks™. See How covered is your cloud?
Here are the values that will get us there:
- Customer Success: Without this we have nothing. It is built into our model.
- Talent and Teamwork: We need to recruit the best and provide them a great environment to excel. The opportunity is too great for a small group to tackle. We’ll need to work well together. The sum has to be equal to more than the sum of its parts.
- Transparency: We are open and honest. We communicate directly and clearly both internally and externally.
- Competitiveness: We play to win. We don’t like to lose.
- Execution: Hour to hour, day to day, week to week. We must get things done. There are larger competitors. We need to out think them and out execute them.
- Agility: We are working in an industry in transition. The status quo won’t remain long. We need to drive forward, but with an open ear to how we should be changing what we’re doing.
We work hard every day to drive these values through our organization. If these values resonate with you, come join us. We’re hiring!