Why culture isn't a buzzword

It made Airbnb and almost sank Uber

Airbnb closed their series C with Peter Thiel in 2012.

When Brian Chesky, Airbnb’s co-founder, asked Thiel for his biggest piece of advice, Thiel said, “Don’t fuck up the culture.”

He had just given Airbnb $150M.

There’s also this.

GiveForward--now a part of GoFundMe--took a big step forward when they partnered with Nationwide. (Yeah, the one that’s on your side.)

One of the biggest factors in the partnership?

GiveForward’s culture.  

And then there’s that Culture slidedeck from Alfred Lin, partner at Sequoia Capital. He looked at Fortune’s 100 Best Companies to Work For. What he discovered? Those great places to work for averaged 11.08% stock market returns from 1997-2003...almost double the returns companies in the renowned S&P500 and Russell 3000 saw.

And of course, who could forget Uber.

Uber was slammed throughout 2017 and 2018. Reports piled up detailing questionable decisions, employee mismanagement, and scandal. Customers left, the CEO resigned, and multiple executives stepped down. #DeleteUber was a thing.

The issue most articles still point to?

Culture.

Culture isn’t a “nice to have”

We’re not talking about sprinkles on the exit cake, here. We’re talking about a thing that’s foundational to your startup, no matter what stage you’re in.

Something that you already have, like it or not.

Something that can be one of your keys to success...or one of the reasons you’re in the grave.

But here’s the scary thing. Most startups don’t know what culture is, or how to influence it.

And to most founders, “culture” is just a fluffy buzzword--they have “real problems” to worry about thankyouverymuch.

But when culture impacts funding, finances, retention, and recruiting we’d say it’s something you (literally) cannot afford to ignore.

Check out this post where we define culture, explain why it matters to small startups, and what the heck you can do about it as a founder.

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And if you’re the skimming type, make sure you don’t miss these paragraphs:

  • An alternative to hiring for “culture fit”

  • Why ping pong tables don’t mean anything

  • The superpowers that culture gives employees

There’s a reason us, investors, and employees care so much about company culture. Go dive in to find out why.

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