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When In Doubt, Communicate

October 18th, 2007   |   by Frank Addante

I’ve gotta run into a board meeting. But, I wanted to write a quick post about our announcement this morning. As I mentioned in my previous post (What to do when hit by a tidal wave?), we were swamped with beta sign-ups from our site launch last week. We weren’t prepared for such an overwhelming response. So, we were trying to figure out how to manage all of the sign-ups. We wanted to respond to our users quickly, but we couldn’t come up with a fair solution for how to select beta users. Rather than trying to hide this fact, the team said “Why don’t we just put up a forum, invite our users to join it and ask them for their feedback?” Of course, there is risk in exposing all of this information. What if people say bad things about us? What if people ask questions that we don’t have the answers to? What if people see our plans and try to copy what we’re doing? (see my personal thoughts on this in a post from a long time ago: “Tear Down Your Firewalls“) Funny thing is that these issues came up only once and very briefly; our team was very quick to dismiss these as concerns. Our company culture is built on a strong foundation of very open, active communication. And everyone agreed that we should extend the same to our users. Let’s be open and honest with them, let’s let them know exactly what we’re thinking and when.

So, that’s what we did! We opened a forum for beta users, websites, ad networks and the curious. We’re going to use the forum to communicate with them, get their feedback and encourage them to communicate with each other on issues they’re facing with online advertising. Our team rocks! They went from idea to launch in a week. They constantly amaze me on how agile they are and how fast they execute. The forum is open to the public, you’re more than welcome to check it out: http://www.rubiconproject.com/forum

PS – we also put up a forum topic called “Culture” for our entire team to communicate with everyone. The team asked me to write the first post. My immediate reaction was that there was no one better in the company to write the first post than my assistant (Mallory), who’s also our office manager (and our first employee). Mallory is the perfect example of an A++ teammate (see my post on “The DNA of an A++ Team“). She didn’t have any office experience before joining our team. She was a teacher. At breakneck speed, she mastered “office life”. Now, she’s the backbone of our culture. (click here to read her post)