I worked at a number of startups and big companies before becoming a venture capitalist.
I’ve brought with me a number of lessons I try to keep in my brian so I remember what it was all about. But often I learn the best things from our portfolio companies.
An example of something I’ve learned from our portfolio companies is the weekly all hands meeting. I wish we did this at my previous startups. Like it sounds, the meeting is where you bring the entire company together every single week. For the most part, the all hands meeting is a place to discuss a number of things:
- update everyone on company goals and progress
- update each other on what everyone is working on
- opportunity for employees to ask the ceo/founders questions or concerns
- demonstrate new things
Some of our portfolio companies invite their investors to attend or talk at these weekly meetings about various topics or just q&a. I always enjoy those sessions.
The weekly all hands meeting makes a huge difference with culture, moral and communication. The key of good weekly meetings vs not good are transparency and consistency. Those are the essential ingredients.
These meetings are important even in the earliest days. I asked David Karp (Tumblr founder and ceo) about this topic last night and he told me:
One of my biggest regrets is waiting until we were about 20 people to start holding regular weekly All Teams. Getting up there in front of so many people I adored was overwhelming, and my first attempt was hardly inspiring. I realized I could have had three years of practice, and a chance to work my way up to the big team, if I’d started earlier.
And as you grow you should keep them going. I’m told Google still has the weekly all hands meeting. Twitter has about 900 employees and they have “Tea Time” every single week.
I’d love to hear from other folks things that make a great weekly all hands meeting. Such an important thing to do.
Update: I asked Dennis Crowley (cofounder and ceo at foursquare) about his all hands meeting. Here’s what dennis told me:
i try to walk people thru: new hire intros (everyone says 3 sentences about themselves), team updates (product, eng, community, talent, etc), then usually there’s one 5-8 min presentation from someone on the team (“noah is going to walk us thru monetization roadmap”) and then end on Q&A.
Dennis also emphasized the importance of using the time wisely especially as the company grows larger. Great point.
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(disclosure: our firm is an investor in Twitter, Tumblr and Foursquare.)