Dropcam CEO's Beef with Brogramming, Late Nights, and Free Dinners

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things that only big, mature companies did. That has allowed us to hire from a bigger group of people than we would be able to if we were part of the brogrammer culture.

“We focus our benefits on the entire gamut of people who work at Dropcam. We often do events that are family-friendly—not just buying out a bar for a night like the average Silicon Valley startup. We are planning a big barbeque this year. You can still have a beer at a barbeque, but you can also bring some kids. I also run helicopter rides for everybody.”

Don’t Serve Free Dinner

“We try to put our money where our mouth is. We pay for breakfast and lunch but we don’t bring in dinner. Dinner would cost us nothing and would probably get people working for extra hours late at night. But again, it’s one of those things. When you have a person who can work anywhere they want to, and you say, ‘We bring in breakfast, lunch, and dinner,’ you are really trying to trick them. You are trying to get them to work until 10 pm or midnight every night.

“We bring in breakfast and lunch because we think it makes people more productive if they don’t have to go wait in line at restaurants in SoMa, which are crowded. But we don’t bring in dinner. We don’t make people work late. It’s a way to keep people from getting burned out.”

Happy, Rested Workers Are Productive Workers

“When you talk to the spouses of employees [who have changed jobs], they say they would rather find another job here [in the Bay Area] than have their spouse leave Dropcam and move, because it’s a kind of family. Not the weird, creepy kind of corporate family that makes you stay until midnight every night and forget your real family. It’s a different way to run a business, and it comes out of research.

“Did you know that Henry Ford did some research on the number of hours that creative workers can work before becoming marginally productive? It’s between 40 and 50 hours per week. Some startups try to play this game of saying, ‘We want you to work 80 or 90 hours, but only for a few years,’ and they sell the company, and the founders make a lot of money, and the employees make some, but then they’re like, ‘Why where we working that hard?’ Well, why don’t we just take some of that money and make it so you don’t have to be that productive? We want happy, healthy workers who have a good work-life balance.”

If You Must Flip the Company, Hold Out for A Billion Dollars

“We are not building the company to flip it. We have turned down many acquisition offers. Fundamentally, I think that most acquisitions are not good for employees. The average Silicon Valley acquisition is, in the end, in the tens of millions of dollars or less. Think of some of the networks that have been created by the most successful company exits—the PayPal acquisition was for more than a billion dollars. That’s almost like an IPO in terms of the value that’s created, and look what has come out of that: Elon Musk running SpaceX and Tesla, Peter Thiel running Clarium and Founders Fund, Luke Nosek running Halcyon Molecular.

“Dropcam will be successful if we can create a dynasty of people like that. But you can only do that by aiming for large exits. So that is something that is really important to me: making employees wealthy, versus selling out for something that would just make the founders millions.”

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Wade Roush is a contributing editor at Xconomy. Follow @wroush

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