In this Weekend Update
Barbary gives some insight into the role of the ATC Coalition.
Mark McClain explains how to build a successful company culture.
Gemalto shares their second Ask the Experts webinar.
We invite you to NewCo Austin.
ATC's Role in Austin's Future
Recently, ATC announced the formation of a new subcommittee of the Board of Directors focused on policy, which we are calling the ATC Policy Coalition; and it has attracted an enormous amount of interest from across our community. We haven’t abandoned our subcommittees on Capital, Talent, and Health Care tech, which will be undergoing some remodeling of their own in the coming months, but the time seemed right to jump into the world of policy.
Based on city policy decisions over the last couple of years, it has become clear that there is a growing need for a more collaborated and prescribed creation of an “innovation agenda” to reflect the thinking and needs of our growing tech industry. Certainly short term rentals and ridesharing can be pointed to as bellwethers of a city-wide attitude about tech and innovation, but I believe that is a far-too-simplistic diagnosis--the challenge runs deeper than just a couple of issues that impact Austin’s tech companies directly or indirectly.
Austin is at an inflection point in its development as a powerful tech hub. A number of thought leaders have noted that as technology solutions become more a part of everyone’s everyday lives (not just those of early adopters), the more regulatory concerns will become an issue for tech companies. Tech workers and tech businesses are no longer isolated concerns—we are increasingly a mainstream part of the business and social fabric of our city. Yet our years of heads-down devotion to our work has left us somewhat stranded, detached in many ways from our representative government and the broader non-tech community. For tech to assume a leadership position in defining and executing a long-term growth strategy for our region, we need to have an excellent relationship with our city, regional and state elected officials; a collaborated collective voice of the organizations and influencers in our industry; and a more integrated and articulated relationship with non-tech leaders as well. Austin has a long love affair with our creative class and the special sauce they add to the unique appeal of living here; it is up to us to share the passion and creativity that is a constant in tech with the broader community to bridge the divide. We must become evangelists for the power of tech to transform our community in a positive way that both directly and indirectly benefits all.
This is one of the very largest and longest-term tasks in front of us at the ATC; and with the ATC Policy Coalition, the list of community partners and collaborative organizations and leaders continues to grow, because we need strength and wisdom from all corners of our ecosystem to achieve our goals. Of course, we won’t try to boil the entire ocean at once, and we will start by addressing immediate concerns that impact our member businesses like mobility, density, and anything that might impede our ability to attract talent and grow great companies. But the long view is about how we contribute the same sort of innovative expertise and passion that we use to build amazing tech companies to helping Austin grow into its full promise as a model of a truly smart city in every way for every citizen, because that is the best environment for all of us to thrive in.
Culture is More than Pool Tables and Breakfast Tacos
Over the years, I’ve seen many tech companies make a sincere effort to create what they perceive as “culture.” But building a strong company culture is not just about pool tables and breakfast tacos; it’s more about fostering great relationships between people and encouraging them to excel. We’re honored that SailPoint was recently named a “Best Company to Work For” by the Austin Business Journal for the 9th straight year. One of the greatest challenges we wrestle with is how to maintain our culture while at the same time implementing the required processes that help us manage our growth. While we want to hold onto the energy and creativity that is typical of a “startup atmosphere,” we recognize the need to become more operationally disciplined.
Our founding team has always believed that the success of our company is directly tied to what we call the “Four I’s”: integrity, individuals, impact and innovation. I believe that three of those – integrity, impact and individuals – are the cornerstones to establishing a strong corporate culture and maintaining our overall corporate identity. And, because they are independent of scale, they represent values that apply to large enterprises as well as a brand-new start-up.
In our early days, we were able to put together a management team of executives who understood our vision and intuitively embodied the core principles of our culture. As the company grew, we knew we would increasingly rely on our management team to maintain that high level of integrity, which we define as “delivering on the commitments we make.” As a leadership team, we set the tone for the company. We know our team will be looking for evidence of how “authentic” our culture is. For instance, if we say that “work-life balance” is important, we have to carve out time to be part of activities such as company meetings, parties and volunteerism; we need to be there to celebrate milestones like birthdays and babies; and, it may even mean making it a point to NOT be the first one in or the last one out some days. Our actions regarding integrity are the key signal to the company as a whole, and we must walk the talk.
A core tenet of our culture is to always treat our team members like adults. It sounds simple, but in my experience, avoiding micromanaging or “clock watching” goes a long way toward building support and trust with employees. We strive to give our employees the tools and resources they need to be successful, then, we hold them accountable to meet their objectives, all without micromanaging. In our company, we refer to this as “measuring and rewarding results, not activity.” For example, this might translate into employees leaving early to spend time with their families, and then working into the evening after their children have gone to bed. We want to create an environment where our employees want to come to work because they are respected, treated like adults and have goals they believe are attainable. A positive, fun-loving, yet accountable work environment is a key factor in keeping our team highly motivated.
A strong team is the “magic” to making a company successful over the long haul, and each team member is a key link in the chain. We try to focus on hiring the best people we can find, which really comes down to the right combination of talent, commitment and humility in each person. We’ve come to believe that this relentless focus on ensuring we bring in folks who embody these characteristics is even more important than having a perfect corporate strategy. A great team can, and will, adapt to whatever comes along over time, but a team mired in corporate politics will not withstand the challenges well.
As entrepreneurs, we strive to creatively solve problems, build a great company and, most important, work with talented, committed and humble people. Building a company culture is all about investing in relationships and treating people with respect. When smart people work on intriguing problems, and they enjoy coming to work each day, they can accomplish great things together AND have a lot of fun doing it.
(Mark McClain is CEO and a co-founder of Austin-based SailPoint Technologies.)
From Shipping Boxes to Delivering Software-Driven Value to Customers
Gemalto’s second Ask the Experts session of the year, featuring Amy Konary, Research VP of Software Licensing and Provisioning at IDC, and Mark Seery, Sr. Director, Strategy and Corp Development at Juniper Networks. This live webinar looks at how cloud and virtualization are expediting the adoption of software business models and what this means for intelligent device vendors and software providers.
For a long time now, many product or device-oriented companies have been attempting to shift the primary focus of their business from shipping boxes to delivering positive outcomes for customers. The success of this approach typically involves a transition to new business models that rely more heavily on software to help cultivate customer relationships and future-proof business processes. This webinar focuses on strategies for using software business models and monetization approaches to successfully launch or grow innovative businesses.
Key questions answered include:
-What are the key forces driving this transformation?
-Which key business model elements must be in place?
-How are software and service supply chains fundamentally different from traditional product supply chains?
-What technology considerations should I focus on to enable this business?
-Who are the top 3 stakeholders within my organization and how should they adapt to this transformation?
For many companies in the midst of this kind of transformation, one of the biggest challenges is getting buy-in from the various internal stakeholders. Unless a company’s management recognizes the new business as a growth engine that is key to its future health, it will be hard to get the support needed for a successful transition. Mark Seery talks about his company’s efforts in moving from a hardware to software-centric business and his overall vision for where Juniper is heading.
As a valued member of our community, we think that you'd love this great event #NewCoATX coming up on July 26th-27th. It's like nothing you've ever seen before. Tickets are on sale now, so be sure to grab one before they sell out. You will be able to pick your own schedule, and gain inside access the offices of Austin's coolest companies like Amazon, Indeed, Google Fiber, Dell Medical School, SXSW, and 90+ more.
At #NewCoATX, 95+ of Austin's most inspired and mission-driven companies will show you how they are changing the world. Founders and executives from companies such as Google Fiber, Amazon, SXSW and many more will open their doors, welcome you into their space, and present their most cutting-edge ideas, giving you insight into how they're transforming business and the greater community.
Take a look at the #NewCoATX lineup, where you'll find tickets, session and speaker information + more!