3 big tech companies share how they maintain their startup culture — even as they grow

by April Bohnert
January 25, 2018

In the tech world, startups seem to get all the glory. With their ping pong tables and kegerators and laid back attitudes, they’re often stereotyped as fun and fast-paced places to work.

But make no mistake. Big companies know how to have fun, too. In fact, according to these three established tech companies, they’ve built a company culture that offers employees the best of both worlds.
 

HomeAdvisor startup culture Colorado
Photo courtesy of HOmeAdvisor.

HomeAdvisor provides a nationwide marketplace that connects homeowners with prescreened home service professionals in their area. The company ranked second on our 2017 list of the top 100 digital tech employers, with nearly 1,500 employees in Colorado alone. But despite its size, the office still manages to feel like that of a startup. HR program manager Bud Bartholomew shared some of the culture initiatives that make HomeAdvisor such a special place to work.

 

What's the most surprising, startup-y thing about your company culture that people may not know?

HomeAdvisor hosts a unique startup culture that lives within our larger corporate culture. For example, our product and technology teams regularly showcase their work in front of their teams. We also launched our own Q&A meetup after hours and invite talented technologists outside of the company to attend.

Personally, my favorite ingredient in our cultural recipe is the student apprentice and internship programs offered at HomeAdvisor. It’s exciting to see students in the office every day, working alongside employees, learning the technical skills to help them succeed after graduation.   

 

What other ways does your company embody the culture of a startup?

As a company, we like to foster opportunities for employees to build community in fun, exciting ways. We host “Fun Friday” events each month where we encourage employees to enjoy a fun afternoon getting to know one another. Our technology and corporate staff celebrate anniversaries and accomplishments, and have been known to race hoverboards or challenge their peers to a chili cook-off. We have game rooms, a basketball court and employees can even rent a cruiser bike to take on a mid-day ride.

 

What are some of the benefits your employees experience working at a company like yours?

Because we are an established tech company with a large employee population, we have more opportunities to collaborate and draw upon the experiences and successes of many groups. HomeAdvisor’s employees can enjoy the best of both worlds, with the ability to rely on and learn from well-established practices the company has set all the while enjoying the fun, fast-paced culture of a startup. The leadership at HomeAdvisor encourages employees to put passion into their work and recognize the importance of maintaining a strong work-life balance.

 

Xactly startup culture Colorado
Photo courtesy of Xactly. 

Xactly offers a range of cloud solutions that help companies build more effective incentive compensation programs for their sales teams. With roughly 85 employees in Colorado, the company has long outgrown that startup phase, but HR programs manager Jessica Lake explained how her team continues to embrace fun, collaborative spirit often attributed to smaller companies.

 

What's the most surprising, startup-y thing about your company culture that people may not know?

At Xactly Corporation, we believe in promoting a spirit of giving and engagement that extends our C.A.R.E values into the communities we live and work in. XactlyOne organizes volunteer opportunities for employees and encourages them to donate their time and talents in their local neighborhoods. The XactlyOne volunteers strive to make a meaningful impact and create positive changes. The rewarding experience of helping others further strengthens the Xactly team.

 

What other ways does your company embody the culture of a startup?

Xactly provides all of the sparkling water and snacks you can dream of, hosts the happiest happy hours, and encourages employees to de-stress and get to know one another with a mini put-put green and Xbox in the office. Employees have multiple opportunities to grow their career, not only within their department but also cross-functionally within Xactly.

 

What are some of the benefits your employees experience working at a company like yours?

Xactly offers a robust tool that helps automate and streamline the incentive compensation process. We use the Xactly products internally for all of our employees on a variable compensation plan, and we also use empirical data to benchmark and offer competitive compensation in the technology space.

 

SpotX startup culture Colorado
Photo courtesy of SpotX.

SpotX’s video advertising platform helps online publishers, media owners and advertisers buy, sell and analyze digital ads. The company has grown to more than 250 Colorado employees since its founding in 2007, but a quick tour of its office would be enough to prove the company still has the soul of a startup. Joel Dubien, VP of software engineering, shed some light on the aspects of SpotX’s culture that make working there so fun.

 

What's the most surprising, startup-y thing about your company culture that people may not know?

It is common to bring beer or whiskey to afternoon meetings to help get the creative, innovative discussions going. Brainstorming sessions that require working through complicated technical designs for new products and features are always more fun after a beer or two, and it really can help them be more successful.

 

What other ways does your company embody the culture of a startup?

Foosball, ping pong, project completion happy hours and a casual dress code are just a few of the ways SpotX culture feels startup-y. Also, lead developers are responsible for many different roles, including scrum-master, project manager (for tech-relevant projects), team motivator, architecture designer and more. Our dev leads are not worried about stepping on titles. We try to get the team to be productive first, without requiring a fancy title to go with their roles.

 

What are some of the benefits your employees experience working at a company like yours?

Company-provided breakfast every Friday, as well as beer and wine on tap all week, are just a few of the benefits provided by SpotX since it has grown to the current size. Unlimited vacation, gym-membership reimbursement and providing our team with the latest technological devices are also awesome benefits that SpotX'ers enjoy.

 

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