Looking forward to a response. If I read this, it also seems like they are not choosing quality, something we have seen back in the level of support.
“They were pretty clear their model was to reduce costs as much as possible, and with the engineers they said their goal was within a year everyone working at global competitive rates, which is like Bangladesh or Egypt rates,” says Sid Bos, vice president of engineering and one of 250 employees in Jive’s Portland office.
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If you've ever had a story written about you or someone you know well in a major media publication, I'm sure you are familiar with the dynamic of not recognizing either yourself or the other person in the article. This is because the writer generally will have a narrative, and will shape facts and cull sources to fit that narrative (this is not, by the way, intended as a criticism - a coherent narrative and compelling dramatic arc is essential to a broad media article). I certainly had that experience reading this article.
I have known Joe Liemandt for nearly 20 years. During these two decades, I’ve found him to be a man of unquestionable vision, intelligence, and integrity. He is also a relentless innovator, setting his sights ten years in the future with an aspiration of literally changing the world.
He has also been, by the numbers, one of the most successful software entrepreneurs in history. While he is not Aurea’s founder (a small team of us served that role), he is our investor (through his ESW Capital investment arm) – and I am personally lucky to have a software visionary of his caliber a phone call away for advice and counsel.
Now to the heart of your question:
"It would really be helpful to hear your opinion on the article, especially regarding the work conditions it highlights. And if those conditions are accurate, I would like to hear your vision of how Jive can remain the innovator in the ECM space given all the workers are contractors? "
One of the core strategies we adopted when we founded Aurea in late 2012 was to lean in to the “future of work” – a model that, interestingly, Jive is intended to enable. The “future of work” means lots of different things to different people, but to us it meant:
- A global workforce – tapping into the talent pool that is 7 billion humans
- A virtual workforce – unconstrained by the geography of physical buildings
- A flexible workforce – embracing work/life integration and a more open-minded approach to the myriad ways people come together to get work done
Compared to more traditional environments, I can understand how this can make us look odd. And we certainly looked odd to Nathan Verdi, the Forbes columnist.
We have a decidedly global workforce; when your recruiting pool is literally the entire planet, that will inevitably happen (the US is 5% of the global population; it’s about 20% of Aurea’s headcount).
But more importantly, the driver of this isn’t economics as the article implies – it’s about our mission to recruit world-class talent. We have hundreds of people based in high wage countries like the US and countries in Western Europe, but what we don’t have is every single employee based in one city like Portland, OR. To us, that design looks absurd. Portland is a great place with a lot of great talent (we have a lot of folks who live in Portland, and we love to visit them), but surely not all the great engineers in the world are based there.
We also have lots of people that work from home. Managing a team – no matter how talented – is more difficult when that team is distributed around the world. And so we created or acquired tools, like WorkSmart and now Jive, to help Managers replicate (and even improve on) the collaborative experience of working together in the same office even while remotely distributed.
And, yes, many people are contractors. In fact, everyone on my executive staff is a contractor. As the article linked above describes though, we see this is an arbitrary, legacy distinction that no one at Aurea cares about. What do they care about? In my experience they care about three things: meaningful work, engaging with smart and interesting people, and being rewarded with competitive compensation. My leadership team and I work hard to ensure we provide all of that in droves (but no bagels, sadly).
And to your question about how all this impacts our ability to innovate: I firmly believe the diversity of talent and experience that our global team brings is a source of competitive advantage that will enable us to take Jive places where it otherwise would not have gone. The new technology core for Jive that we’ve been building – PeopleGraph – is a perfect example of this.
I’m proud of the work environment we’ve built at Aurea, and I believe in many ways we are a model for the company of the future. I’m happy to share more about our culture and work environment in this and other threads. It is one of our most important sources of differentiated advantage.
Hi Scott, I really appreciate you taking the time to give such a well thought out reply. I completely understand the comment about "I'm sure you are familiar with the dynamic of not recognizing either yourself or the other person in the article." That is precisely the reason I wanted to hear your side of the story and clear the elephant in the room. As I am sure you can imagine, we all have a lot at stake with our communities. Ensuring end users and leaders have confidence in the future of the platform goes a long way toward community success. Articles like this place increasing doubt in our minds (and our leader's minds) about the future of Jive, so your response is very helpful.