Two of the unique values of our culture at the Rubicon Project are transparency and active communication. Communication takes effort, but we make it a priority. Transparency is a big commitment but it’s also a discipline that, while difficult at times, is incredibly beneficial.
A lot of people ask me about the things that we do to promote active communication and transparency, so I thought I’d share them with you in this post:
1. Team Meetings:
2. Rubicon University: We also have a Rubicon University education committee (lead by Ryan Dranginis from our Ad Network Development team). There is a class syllabus and every week, during lunch, someone from the company does a presentation to educate the entire company. Classes are typically 30 minutes in length. Topics have included:
3. No Offices: No one in the company has an office, everyone sits out in the open. There are no walls or dividers between desks. There is nothing to prevent communication flow and believe it or not, noise distractions are rarely a problem.
4. Boiler Room: Every morning (without exception) at 9:30am our Publisher, Account Management, Ad Network Development, Yield Management and Product teams get together in our daily Boiler Room meeting and go through all of our customers’ goals. We treat each of our customers like stocks and manage them like a stock portfolio to ensure that they are meeting their performance goals. It is all automated through a performance dashboard that we created specifically for this meeting. Either I or my Co-Founder & COO, Craig Roah, run the meeting every day. It forces us to pay attention to all of our customers and over 30 people are present for the meeting, soaking up valuable customer information. The information flow and accountability that comes out of this meeting is incredible.
5. Anonymous Suggestion Box: We have setup an online anonymous suggestion box where anyone in the company can send anyone else a suggestion/comment anonymously. Comments have ranged from “attitude/behavior” suggestions to “it’s too cold in the office.” We try to encourage open communication, but sometimes people are shy or it’s easier to submit an honest comment anonymously. We want to promote as much communication/information flow as possible, and this has been a very useful tool for us.
The only thing off limits when it comes to transparency is sensitive financial information (e.g. salaries, compensation, confidential investor information, etc.) I encourage everyone in the company to speak their mind and ask any questions they may have. I haven’t heard a question yet that I have felt uncomfortable answering. It’s quite refreshing, actually.
All in all, the investments of time that we make into active communication and transparency continue to pay off. We have tight-knit team where everyone is aware of the key challenges and opportunities. Given that, in less than a year’s time, our team has signed 1200+ customers (such as American Greetings, Washington Post, Gannett, Electronic Arts, etc.) and has optimized over 40 billion ads across 225 of the top ad networks and we now reach over 210 million unique Internet users on a monthly basis (that’s more than MySpace or Facebook) – I can say without a doubt that one of the single biggest contributing factors is the strength of our team’s ability to communicate effectively and proactively with each other.