This is the true story of how one small startup, suddenly growing into a big company – Wix.com, overcame its growing pains and turned itself from good to great, using transparency around key activities.
Wix is a 34 million users company that revolutionized the web by enabling anyone to set up their professional Flash or HTML5 website, no coding or design needed. It was founded in Tel Aviv, Israel in 2006 and currently has over 450 employees in Israel, Brazil, New York and San Francisco. We spoke to Avishai Abrahami, Wix’s visionary CEO and co-founder, on how Wix maintained its company culture as it grew from 20 employees to 450 and all the way to an IPO.
Wix, the early days: a room with a view and a dog
Wix.com, trading on NASDAQ as of November – a path chosen by very few Israeli startups – was always a maverick; it reinvented itself twice in face of a changing market, once from a flash based tool to an HTML based tool and the second time from a web-only service to a cross-platform service enabling users to create web sites that perform perfectly on mobile too.
It also happens to be one of those companies sure to make it to the Best Companies to Work For list one day: it has a bring your dog to work policy, throws huge bi-annual parties for its workers and partners, offers a free Manhattan based co-working space in the heart of Silicon Alley called WIX Lounge and more.
From its very early days, when a new employee came on board, they were handed the company’s credit card and sent to buy their own computer and keyboard of choice, no forms to fill no guidelines to abide by. And when the company started growing and moved to its new Tel Aviv seaside offices, no offices were placed along the wall overlooking the sea; that view was for everyone.
It was this company culture that Wix wanted to maintain as it was growing from 20, to 60, to 450 employees and it was trying to figure out how. After looking into existing tools and feeling some were too chatty while others were too narrow and closed to answer the company’s ideology of transparency, they came up with the idea of daPulse: a transparency-driven communication and collaboration tool revolving around work and the recognition it brings. We, daPulse.com, then spun-off to become an independent startup, facilitating growth through transparency around key activities, for many other innovative companies.
Wix after the solution: where everyone knows your name
CEO and co-founder, Avishai Abrahami, who was the visionary behind daPulse, tells the story of the pain, the solution, and knowing most of your employees by name.
daPulse: What was Wix’s main pain which led you to envision daPulse?
Avishai Abrahami: “Our main pain was that at 50 people, suddenly one person didn’t know what the other sitting next to them did. The designer at the studio didn’t know what went on in R&D and the other way around. And once you add a remote office, it becomes completely unbearable; you need to spend hours each night to compose updates for the overseas team.”
DP: How did daPulse change that for you?
AA: “With daPulse, even the most basic behaviour generates amazing value. Like someone from the studio posting a new design they’ve created and suddenly each and every employee gets to know what’s being done by the studio, or R&D or Product.
“Another thing – at 60 employees, people don’t know each other anymore, they can’t know everyone and they don’t have a clue who’s in charge of what. With daPulse, even today with 450 employees, almost everyone knows who’s in charge of what. How come? because they see the updates on daPulse. Stuff like ‘Sivan deployed a new feature to Mobile’ or ‘Jenny launched a new campaign’”.
DP: What’s the value of this for you as CEO?
AA: “The first value, just as for the employees, is I now know everyone and what they do. The second – I get the big picture on what goes on in Wix – it’s transparent! And it helps you grow, because when you had 3 people doing marketing you’d catch up over lunch, but at 10 people you’re already losing track and at 30 you have no idea what’s going on. With daPulse you naturally get to know what they do and it feels as if you caught up over lunch. Now you can use the time to learn about their ideas, vision, plans.”
DP: Was the adoption of the new tool easy and natural?
AA: “The thought that things need to happen ‘organically’ is wrong. A company’s structure is the result of decisions, a result of a leadership that creates a culture. Someone needs to lead with an idea. The idea is more than just ‘maintaining a startup spirit’, it’s about togetherness, it’s about people getting feedback on their work. It reminds me of Dan Arieli’s TED talk, he said that humans’ strongest motivation is having someone pay attention to their efforts, getting recognition. And the fact that at any of our Wix parties I can approach any one of the employees and talk to them about what they do, this blows their minds. They’re like ‘how do you know?’ and the answer is daPulse. Do you know what that does to their motivation?!
“As a company’s CEO it is super fascinating to you to know what they do. I really want to know what Mike does, he does fascinating stuff and it’s quite something that I can know. And it takes me 5-10 minutes each night to look at daPulse, and after I’ve seen an update by Mike for the fifth time, I already know who he is and what he does. I can’t say I know all 450 Wix employees, but I know many of them and it’s all thanks to daPulse. You see, it’s not about the people, it’s about what they do. If Facebook, let’s say, is about you, daPulse is about what you do. It helps leaving behind politics and ego. With the recognition it generates for people, it’s obvious that when people talk it’s about what they do not who they are.”