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within other disciplines, the more valuable you become. Non-Engineers: program or be programmed
Valve’s core competency is making software. Obviously, – 39 – VALVE: H ANDBO O K FO R NEW EMP LO YEES different disciplines are part of making our products, but
we’re still an engineering-centric company. That’s
because the core of the software-building process is
engineering. As in, writing code. If your expertise is
not in writing code, then every bit of energy you put
into understanding the code-writing part of making
software is to your (and Valve’s) benefit. You don’t
need to become an engineer, and there’s nothing
that says an engineer is more valuable than you. But
broadening your awareness in a highly technical
direction is never a bad thing. It’ll either increase
the quality or quantity of bits you can put “into boxes,”
which means affecting customers more, which means
you’re valuable. 5
Valve Is Growing – 40 – V ALVE: H ANDBO O K FO R NEW EMP LO YEE S Your Most Important Role
Concepts discussed in this book sound like they might work
well at a tiny start-up, but not at a hundreds-of-people-plusbillions-in-revenue company. The big question is: Does all
this stuff scale?
Well, so far, yes. And we believe that if we’re careful, it
will work better and better the larger we get. This might
seem counterintuitive, but it’s a direct consequence of
hiring great, accomplished, capable people. Getting this
to work right is a tricky proposition, though, and depends
highly on our continued vigilance in recruiting/hiring.
If we start adding people to the company who aren’t as
capable as we are at operating as high-powered, selfdirected, senior decision makers, then lots of the stuff
discussed in this book will stop working.
One thing that’s changing as we grow is that we’re not
great at disseminating information to everyone anymore
(see “What is Valve not good at?,” on page 52).
On the positive side, our profitability per employee is
going up, so by that measure, we’re certainly scaling correctly.
Our rate of hiring growth hovered between 10 and 15
percent per year, for years. In 2010, we sped up, but only to
about 20 percent per year. 2011 kept up this new pace,
largely due to a wave of hiring in Support. – 42 – V AL V E I S G RO W I N G We do not have a growth goal. We intend to continue
hiring the best people as fast as we can, and to continue
scaling up our business as fast as we can, given our existing
staff. Fortunately, we don’t have to make growth decisions
based on any external pressures—only our own business
goals. And we’re always free to temper those goals with the
long-term vision for our success as a company. Ultimately,
we win by keeping the hiring bar very high. Hiring Fig. 5-1 – 43 – V ALVE: H ANDBO O K FO R NEW EMP LO YEE S V AL V E I S G RO W I N G Hiring well is the most important thing in the universe.
Nothing else comes close. It’s more important than breathing. So...
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- Fall '14