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[Bloomberg] Why There Are No Bosses At Valve

post #1 of 37
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Earlier this week, Valve Software—the company behind the Half-Life, Counter-Strike and Portal video game series—released its employee handbook to the public because, according to Valve co-founder Gabe Newell, somebody asked. “I’d mentioned the handbook on a podcast and one of the listeners contacted us and said ‘Hey, can I get a copy?’ So [designer] Greg Coomer sent him a copy and all of a sudden it got posted online,” he said. The handbook attracted a lot of attention because, in addition to offering company massage rooms and free food, Valve has a unique corporate structure rarely seen at such a large company. Valve has 300 employees but no managers or bosses at all. Newell talked to Bloomberg Businessweek about his company’s environment and how it works.

Source

Interesting quotes:
Quote:
But what was so shocking to me was that Windows was the second highest usage application in the U.S. The number one application was Doom, a shareware program that hadn’t been created by any of the powerhouse software companies. It was a 12-person company in the suburbs of Texas that didn’t even distribute through retail, it distributed through bulletin boards and other pre-Internet mechanisms. To me, that was a lightning bolt.
Quote:
In the handbook, there’s a random reference to ponies. What’s with the ponies?

Oh, if you leave your phone at your desk someone will use it to send an email that says “I like ponies.” Some people will make more and more elaborate photos of ponies that people might like. There are some incredibly entertaining characters who work here.

Of course, then everybody found out that I actually like the TV show My Little Ponies: Friendship is Magic so I never hear the end of it.

Edited by Riou - 5/1/12 at 9:52am
post #2 of 37
Quote:
If somebody is screwing up, we don’t have a lot of internal controls to monitor that. We assume people know what they’re doing.

Of course. Nobody can just walk into the company whose made some of the greatest games of all time and tell them what to do.
That's a great way to lose any credibility/respect. rolleyes.gif
post #3 of 37
Quote:
Originally Posted by frickfrock99 View Post

Quote:
If somebody is screwing up, we don’t have a lot of internal controls to monitor that. We assume people know what they’re doing.

Of course. Nobody can just walk into the company whose made some of the greatest games of all time and tell them what to do.
That's a great way to lose any credibility/respect. rolleyes.gif

 

It does seem aloof or irresponsible, however, if your hiring process is virtually perfect...  this is technically a non-issue. 

 

Think of it like SpecOps or SEALs (although they are also trained) they are left to be completely independent and handle mission objectives within usually defined, yet vague, parameters.

 

In this case the vague parameter is to Make great video games.  Plus there is work performance that is peer-reviewed, so much more acadamia styled.

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post #4 of 37
I think this is a little sensationalist though. There is the feeling of difference in semantics, with a very small functional/operational difference. You still have manager-type people, only they're a product manager for a specific product and they may or may not retain that capacity for a different product. You still have someone playing that role, you just don't refer to them as a "boss."

I do think it's good to not have what they term "bosses" that get into a specific permanent position/role and never change--IMHO, that's a poor business model that only results in stagnation, and it is clear that they recognize that. But at the same time, you have managers still acting as "bosses" generally would, you just don't call them bosses, and they may or may not be the same sort of manager for the next product or project.
    
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post #5 of 37
Why are they advertising so hard these days? First the handbook, now this. As I said in the handbook article, seems like they are going Apple-ish for marketing. Maybe there was a meeting after all heh

In all seriousness, this is all fluff with no substance. I'm sure things aren't even remotely as laid back as they say. Laid back, yea sure, but the way they make it sound, c'mon. I'm not buying it.
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post #6 of 37
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Fuell View Post

Why are they advertising so hard these days? First the handbook, now this. As I said in the handbook article, seems like they are going Apple-ish for marketing. Maybe there was a meeting after all heh
In all seriousness, this is all fluff with no substance. I'm sure things aren't even remotely as laid back as they say. Laid back, yea sure, but the way they make it sound, c'mon. I'm not buying it.

Umm...did you read the article?

Also elaborate Apple-ish marketing.
Edited by Riou - 5/1/12 at 10:26am
post #7 of 37
Quote:
Originally Posted by Riou View Post

Umm...did you read the article?
Also elaborate Apple-ish marketing.

What makes you think I didn't?

The other isn't much of a serious comment, but its rather self explanatory I thought...

Long story short: Valve calls themselves awesome and the saviors to the gaming community. I have a healthy dose of skepticism. Nothing more, nothing less.
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post #8 of 37
Quote:
Originally Posted by Fuell View Post

Long story short: Valve calls themselves awesome and the saviors to the gaming community. I have a healthy dose of skepticism. Nothing more, nothing less.

They don't say it directly, but they have been playing to the media for a good while now.

Does a month go by where a "Gabe Newell says XYZ" article doesn't pop up these days? Funny enough since the "Crysis 2 removed from Steam" thing, he's literally just been in the media non stop.

There has been a lot of rabble about DRM lately and while he knows that his service used to be lambasted just as much as any other, if not worse, he is now standing as the knight in shining armour and taking the opportunity to play that role with all he's worth.

Gabe Newell isn't a stupid man.
Edited by GrizzleBoy - 5/1/12 at 2:32pm
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post #9 of 37
Can we not let this thread degrade into a "Valve sux" or "Valve is the savior of gaming" thread, please?

I think their business model is intriguing. Most companies operate on a "pyramid" structure(bosses, managers, employees, etc.), while valve operates on a flat plane structure where everyone is technically equal. It's almost like the Borg from Star Trek, only Valve actually does something that benefits gamers as opposed to hurting humanity (well... I guess they make humanity less productive, so that's bad.)
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post #10 of 37
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mad Pistol View Post

Can we not let this thread degrade into a "Valve sux" or "Valve is the savior of gaming" thread, please?
I think their business model is intriguing. Most companies operate on a "pyramid" structure(bosses, managers, employees, etc.), while valve operates on a flat plane structure where everyone is technically equal. It's almost like the Borg from Star Trek, only Valve actually does something that benefits gamers as opposed to hurting humanity (well... I guess they make humanity less productive, so that's bad.)

 

Well, one can argue that a lack of direct productivity will actually make people work better in the long run. Just like taking regular computer breaks while working. Without a switch to their backs people would get more done working 8 hours, sleeping 8 hours and doing something else with the other 8 than if they were to work 16 hours a day. Might not be the best figures but I'm sure it gets the point across.

 

Although it is far from the norm some games have actually made me more productive because they've given me the initiative and content to actually make something from it. I learned quite a few languages(more to test the field with some I wasn't well acquainted with to learn the pros and cons 1st hand) making calculators and such for Demons Soul's for example. :P

 

More on topic though, I have a fair bit of skepticism whether Valve is as great as they make themselves out to be. If the media likes you it'd be foolish to not capitalize on that.


Edited by Ryleh - 5/1/12 at 3:27pm
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