Company Culture Is Really Important, But The Way We Talk About It Is Wrong

What Makes A Culture “Bad” Isn’t Just That You Don’t Like It

Hunter Walk

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I won’t invest in a startup that doesn’t care about its culture. Because a culture is going to form regardless so you might as well be deliberate about it. And it’s with your first hires that your intended culture will be solidified, evolved, mutated, or challenged. So be thoughtful about the characteristics you seek out; the motivations of those individuals; the processes and practices you put into place at the startup; and the behaviors and outcomes you reward. But in talking about culture with founders, I’m very deliberate when I characterize what I believe is a “good” culture vs a “bad” one. And I think we as an industry are very sloppy when we say “oh, Company X has a bad culture” because more often we really mean it’s just one that doesn’t appeal to us and isn’t objectively bad.

Photo by Sven Brandsma on Unsplash

“Good” cultures are clear, consistent, scalable, actionable, well-matched to the company’s business model, and legal. By this definition, there are lots of “good” cultures that aren’t attractive to me as a team member. Amazon, from the outside, is a company culture that has always been extremely intriguing to me but where I’ve never felt a gravitational pull. Coinbase, which has been quite aggressive in defining

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Hunter Walk

You’ll find me @homebrew , Seed Stage Venture Fund w @satyap . Previously made products at YouTube, Google & SecondLife. Married to @cbarlerin .