Organizational Organization

November 16th, 2007   |   by Frank Addante

Yesterday, we announced the results from our beta launch here at the Rubicon Project. (read announcement here)

Our original plan was to launch our beta in January of 2008. We hoped to get 500 websites signed up between January and April of next year. We launched early, on October 8, and in the very first day over 500 website publishers signed up. In the first month, we had over 1100 sign ups, representing over 5 billion ad impressions. We had sites ranging from small blogs to the world’s largest sites. In the first three weeks, we delivered over 500,000,000 ads on behalf of our beta sites, and increased their revenue anywhere from 33% to 300%. We continue to get hundreds and hundreds of sign-ups.
So, needless to say, as I have referred to in earlier posts, we were absolutely overwhelmed (with both excitement and work). We immediately kicked into high gear and needed to ramp up the team. We’ve hired over 10 people in the past 30 days and are looking to hire 10 more as soon as possible (new office space coming soon). It seems like someone new shows up at the office everyday. Somehow we found a way to fit 30 people in a space that should only fit 15 (hopefully the fire marshal doesn’t show up). The momentum has been very exciting. Though, it is definitely getting a little crowded in here! As I write this, I’m sharing an office with my assistant Mallory and one of my co-founders, Craig. Someone walks in every 5 minutes to meet with one of us, and it seems like someone is always on the phone. The information flow is overwhelming, but the energy is very motivating.

While growing fast is exciting, we’re also aware of the dangers. We’re trying to keep the culture strong. We’re trying to maintain the A++ level quality of the team. We’re trying to keep everyone productive, motivated and focused. So far, so good – we have only moved faster and gotten stronger with each new hire.

The company is growing so fast, we’re needing to develop the structure in which the organization needs to operate at the same time. Over the past few days, I’ve been focused on what I call “organizational organization.” We’re transitioning from people wearing many hats to people needing to really focus on scaling out specific pieces of the company. I was speaking with a potential investor last night. He asked me what my top priorities were and I could not pick out which ones were at the top of the list (everything is). That doesn’t work.

So, first thing I did was take a step back away from everything. I took a fresh look at the organization and realized that I needed to take everyone in the company and make sure that they each had one primary focus. I told them that I needed to be able to go to and hold one person accountable for each major functional area of the business. I’m about 75% of the way there, but I made a lot of progress today in getting everyone focused. It felt like untying knots from a rope.
Parallel processing is critical to a fast growing company and the only way to have that is if there is clear ownership over the major functions of the business. The hard part is doing it in such a way where people don’t feel like you are “taking something away” from them, but that they understand that the business is growing, it requires focus and that you are simply trying to leverage their strengths.
It’s always good to go through the exercise of organizational organization — I definitely know that this will not be the last time I’ll need to do this.