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How Valve hires, how it fires, and how much it pays
How Valve hires, how it fires, and how much it pays
February 25, 2013 | By Frank Cifaldi

February 25, 2013 | By Frank Cifaldi
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Game developers the world over have been curious about the inner-workings of Steam and Half-Life maker Valve, particularly following the public availability of a company handbook revealed that Valve has no managers.

Valve's economist-in-residence Yanis Varoufakis recently spoke on the EconTalk Podcast about the specifics of this unique structure, how Valve hires (and fires) and, interestingly, how much it pays its team.

The hiring process

"The way it works is very simple. Let's say you and I have a chat in the corridor, or in some conference room, or wherever. The result of this chat is that we converge to the view that we need an additional software engineer, or animator, or artist, or hardware person. Or several of them. What we can do is, we can send an email to the rest of our colleagues at Valve and invite them to join us in forming a search committee that actually looks for these people without seeking anyone's permission in the hierarchy, simply because there is no hierarchy.

"And then we form spontaneously the search committee, and then we interview people, first by Skype, and then we bring them in, if they pass the test, to the company for a more face-to-face personalized interview. And anyone who wants to participate does participate.

"And then during that day -- it's usually a day-long event -- emails are fired all over the place with views whether this person should be hired or not until some consensus is reached where there's effectively no one is vetoing the hire of that particular person."

How pay is determined

"This is a haphazard process. The payment mechanism is to a very large extent bonus-based. So the contracts usually have a minimum pay segment in it, which is more or less established by tradition. And then the interesting part in this contract is how much is left to the peer review process, which is very complicated. It involves various layers of mutual assessment.

"In companies like Microsoft or elsewhere, usually the bonus is something between 8, 15, 20 percent of the basic salary. In Valve, I'm told, there's no upper limit to bonuses. Bonuses can end up being 5, 6, 10 times the level of the basic wage."

"Gabe [Newell] had this view from the beginning. He wanted a community of partners, he didn't want to be the boss of anyone or to be bossed around by anyone."

Firing people

"It does happen. I've seen it happen. And it's never pretty. It involves various communications at first when somebody's underperforming, or somebody doesn't seem to fit in with the rest of the company.

"In many occasions people simply don't fit in not because they're not productive or good people, but because they just can't function very well in a boss-less environment. And then there are series of discussions between co-workers and the person whose firing is being canvased or discussed, and at some point if it seems there is no way that a consensus can emerge that this person can stay, some attractive offer is made to the particular person, and usually there's an amicable parting of ways."

But don't people slack off without a boss?

"It is important to understand that such spontaneous order-based enterprises rely to a large extent on individuals that believe in the social norms that govern their existence. So by the very nature of the beast, you don't have people there who try to hide and who try to somehow create a smokescreen around the fact that they're not very good at what they do.

"Most of the people there, all of them, have been hand-picked to be excellent at what they do. They're usually on top of their game elsewhere before they join the corporation."

A team change only two plugs away

"The mobility within the corporation is a great asset, and everybody recognizes it. Everyone's desk is on wheels. There are only two plugs that need to be unplugged in order to shift from one team to another.

"There have been I'm sure, I wasn't with the company long enough to notice, but there must have been situations where somebody didn't fit in and eventually was edged out of the company. But the vast majority of such moves simply contribute to the overall efficiency, and to the private joy of working there."


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Comments


Mike Griffin
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Besides the unexpected, slightly awkward, lingering trace impressions of cultist compound/pseudo-zealotry, working at Valve seems quite interesting!

Kevin Reese
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I don't agree -- but this was humourous nonetheless, thanks!

To me this whole Valve place sounds great. I think that's a fantastic approach to organizing the efforts of the company. And the work they produce speaks for itself. I certainly don't think this approach would suit everyone but for folks that it does...well I'd imagine they'd not have it any other way.

Jimmy Albright
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I've been a longtime fan of Valve, day 1 adopter of Steam Beta and I couldn't agree with you more. (about the zealotry surrounding Valve) Valve's contributions to PC gaming are massive, but so often their mistakes and many shortcomings are completely overlooked seemingly due to foaming-at-the-mouth fanboyism. Even the Steambox was receiving insane amounts of hype before anything was even known about it. Even still very little is known, unless there's been more information leaking since CES that I haven't seen.

I'm curious how a work environment like that is going to fare against competitors in the console industry. Can a team of 300 or so people with no formal leadership structure develop, produce, and market hardware competing against behemoth companies who can spend millions just to secure priority with multiplatform DLC? Time will tell I suppose.

Tyler King
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Maybe though, if they weren't boss-less we would have Half Life 3? While committees are awesome they are not always the most effective.

Bart Stewart
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Well, this explains why the credits roll at the end of Valve games consists of an alphabetized list of names.

So how do things work when there's a decision that has to be made between two or more options, none of which are obviously the best? Do camps form around the most articulate proponents of the competing options, who send their champions into a cage from which only one emerges alive?

If decisions can't be made until interested sentiment converges on one option, that also explains "Valve time"....

Adam Bishop
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That's one of the benefits and drawbacks of democracy, right? It's the same with democratic governments; democracies tend to be pretty slow to change in terms of things like social progress because you usually have to reach a state where a very large percentage of the population is in agreement before the government adopts the new policy.

Kevin Fishburne
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@Adam Damn man, you beat me to the analogy.

John Flush
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This exact reason is why they still haven't decided if they should make HL 3 or not... it is still in committee.

Ramon Carroll
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Excellent point, Adam.

Kevin Fishburne
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Sounds like a true democracy, versus a democratic republic (or dictatorship as some studios are run). As with all utopias, sometimes the illusion must be spoiled as I'm sure Gabe occasionally flat out lays the smack down on how things are going to be.

@Bart Haha, good observation with "Valve time". :)

james sadler
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Being as the company runs on a consensus basis I doubt its something as literal as "what Gabe says goes." Probably more like "Gabe is THE man. I'm going to follow him." Even then I doubt its as cult like as that could be. It is an interesting concept for a major company, but they aren't alone. There are a lot of companies moving to this type of dynamic.

Michael Mullins
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The closest analogy that struck me reading this is a law firm with its partnerships. I wonder if there's a multi-tiered culture that extends the analogy, if maybe informally, to junior members are to senior members as associates are to partners.

Michael Mullins
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And I'll also have to add that I think the only way this works is that all hires are very well established already. So I being a brand-spanking new electrical/computer EIT wouldn't think of applying till I'd gotten some years' seasoning and accomplishments.

TC Weidner
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all is good when the money is flowing. Lets hope for them things dont change..

Ishan Aditya
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As far as I know, good things don't happen because of money. It's the other way round, money happens when you do good things.

I'm sure there was a time when Valve wasn't this rich. But I'm pretty sure they had this flat-hierarchy even back then.

As for the case when the money stops flowing, I'd say they'd have a much higher fighting chance as compared to another studio. Elsewhere, people would simply quit in search of a new job, at the first sign of financial instability. At Valve, it is precisely this awesome work culture which will make it resilient to attrition in the case that the cash stops. Imagine the amount to belonging you feel towards your company if you worked at Valve - being a part of all major decisions over a span of several years, participating in recruitment, actually having a say in important things. Even in case the money dries I wouldn't anticipate developers leaving for greener pastures as much as I'd expect them to fight to keep Valve alive. At least I know I would.

Nou Phabmixay
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When the money isn't flowing, it's not very good for anyone. There's already companies that shrink their workforce even when the money is flowing. Lets hope that changes.

Lars Doucet
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In traditional capitalist firms, when money dries up, management lays off workers because they are compelled to produce a good quarterly report and must maintain shareholder value above all else.

In distributist firms, such as worker-owned firms, or private firms (like Valve) where workers make the decisions, workers can decide for themselves how to tighten the belt in a way that optimizes other values. It's similar to how "lifestyle businesses," free from shareholder pressure, are free to pursue their own ends (such as providing a good lifestyle for their workers/owners) with their profits rather than just plough them into endless growth.

Other solutions to budget problems include voluntarily shrinking salaries, self-imposed furloughs, etc. There's more than one way to deal with financial hardship.

The Mondragón Corporación Cooperativa from Spain is a good example:
http://www.economist.com/node/13381546

TC Weidner
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Lars, thats from 2009 and makes my point, Go find out how well they are doing now in Spain, now that Spain is a train wreck. Again, when money is flowing and there is enough to go around, all is well, when money dries up.. well its a different story.

Nou, I am not saying that ruthless Friedman capitalism is the way either, I am just saying there is a reason than mankind has needed leaders since well, forever.




Mitchell Fujino
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According to wikipedia at least, they're still doing pretty well in 2011..

Lars Doucet
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@Mitchell:

Exactly. This isn't the first storm Mondragon has weathered. There's definitely leadership there, it's just a different structure from the traditional top-down-for-everything model.

There's more than one way to build communication networks - the old model was centralized, broadcasted. The new model (the internet) is distributed. There's pros and cons to each. Why shouldn't the same be true for economic models? You can build a distributed company just as you can build a hierarchical one.

WILLIAM TAYLOR
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I don't think I could live with that pay structure. It sounds similar to being a waiter where you get less than minimum wage but are told that the limit of tips you can get is endless. I prefer the peace of mind of company x offering a good salary with mediocre bonuses to company y offering a mediocre salary with the potential of a great bonus that could just as easily end up as a mediocre bonus like company x or no bonus.

Especially when the company seems content to never work on the one title that you know could earn you a nice fat bonus.

Lewis Wakeford
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Not really. Waiter's tips come from customers, the other waiters don't decide who gets extra cash.

Ian Morrison
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I dunno, I very much doubt that the low end of the Valve pay scale is "less than minimum wage"...

Michael Pianta
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This is unbelievably fascinating. I had no idea such a structure was possible. If someone had proposed this to me I would have said "No no, that would never work. SOMEONE has to be in charge." But then, on specific projects, someone IS in charge right? There's a project manager or something (not by name) who helps guide the project artistically?

This reminds me - isn't the Japanese developer Treasure also unusual in their structure? Not to this degree, but I seem to recall reading in an interview that no one at Treasure has a specific job title and that they have little/no internal hierarchy. They all just fill whatever role seems appropriate for the specific project they're working on. I can't remember what magazine I read that in. It was a little while ago.

Anyway, very interesting. Rock on Valve!

Jay Anne
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In one of his talks, Gabe has mentioned there is a manager role on projects. It is unclear what duties this role holds other than project scheduling and task management.

Also, keep in mind that Valve has been late on just about every project they ever worked on, sometimes on the order of being years late.

Johnathon Swift
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Works in game jams, the biggest hang ups I've seen in those has been when someone has decided to be "the producer" and then others decide they have to wait for his approval of their work to keep going.

We've got like 60 hours total (usually), waiting for things like that just ruin it. I've taken it upon myself more than once to just tell them "it's great, go ahead and keep doing the other things we need done". While the teams that work best just go for it, each knowing what they do best and volunteering to do that.

The Valve kind of structure is working GREAT for the OpenMW project I was part of for a while (and still keep tabs on). Everyone is a volunteer, and everyone decides what they work on. Yes, there's a roadmap and coding standards, because someone has decided to be the guy that makes the roadmap and coding standards. That doesn't mean he tells anyone what to work on. The project, which involves volunteers working in their spare time on rebuilding the much of the engine for TES 3 Morrowind as a faster, better, more modern one is making solid progress and looks like it should be mostly working sometime this year, despite being incredibly ambitious and technically challenging project.

Michael Joseph
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http://www.vanityfair.com/online/daily/2012/07/microsoft-downfall
-emails-steve-ballmer

Gabe Newell as a former Microsoft employee I wonder is trying to create an organizational culture that can counter the type of bureaucratic deficiencies and intra-office politics that plague large businesses particularly ones that wish to maintain a creative edge.

Jay Anne
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While Valve makes great games and sounds great to work for, they also appear to spin the truth. I would love to hear inside stories about what actually goes on in there.

Ian Uniacke
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I realise my example may be edging on the extreme, but am I the only person who hears this info coming out of Valve and thinks of Andrew Ryan? This all sounds very objectivist to me.

Michael Joseph
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Objectivism to me is pseudo scientific faith that attempts to rationalize hedonism. Their so called "belief" is more for you to buy into than it is for them (ie. is politics). So no, it does not sound objectivist to me.

Sociopaths like Ayn Rand may espouse all sorts of philosphies but in the end, these people have no guiding philosophy, they are natural born hypocrites and anything they do is justifiable to themselves but not necessarily for others. People need to recognize these personality types and avoid them like the plague.

p.s. If you had a close relative that was like Ayn Rand you'd know all there is to know about "objectivism."

p.s.s. Name me one self admitted objectivist who's created any great work of art? I don't think creation is their first nature. It's some tertiary thing at best.

p.s.s.s The world exists in some form of societal order DESPITE these Nietzsche Superman sociopaths thankfully because they are not the majority. If everyone was like them there'd be no society. From this we know that the sheep are not so sheepish. Some of the flocks of sheep can keep things together. Objectivist types will simply never have total control because most people's brains are not wired as theirs, but that is also why the objectivists can skate by in the world... most people don't realize how different they are.

Ian Uniacke
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Only because I couldn't resist, but there's http://www.adherents.com/people/pd/Steve_Ditko.html

The reason I thought of this was not so much objectivism as a philosophy (which may not be the most apt comparison) but more that it sounds like Valve are trying to create their own rules but rather are held back by pesky laws (eg paying everyone minimum wage because they HAVE to but it sounds like they would make 100% of pay performance based if they could).

So not 100% accurate for me to say it sounds like Objectivism, but rather the philosophy behind it rings of similar reasoning to such ideals.

Michael Joseph
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Well i wont say whether or not Ditko's contributions to Spiderman constitute a great work (and i did try to tilt the field in my advantage by using "great" as a qualifier) but I will say it's more than I thought anyone would find. Touché. :)

Ishan Aditya
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@Micheal - You seem to have completely ignored the possibility that you might have misjudged Rand or her philosophies (or even your cousin).

Firstly, I would like to point out that hardly ever is any one philosophy complete (or even correct) by itself. Rand's flavour of objectivism often shoots itself in the foot, but several parts are quite hard to argue with - like a merit based society. Evolution itself, for that matter, is a merit-based system.

"Name me one self admitted objectivist who's created any great work of art?" - That's because most people don't realize that their beliefs essentially amount to objectivism, even if they're never heard of the term.

I had to post this because your first post really felt like knee jerk reaction, or rather a raw nerve. Something's amiss - something tells me you don't hate Rand for the right reasons :)

Blackjack Goren
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@Michael

Every philosopher is a hypocrite. However, one can be both hypocritical and wise.

I haven't read anything from Ayn Rand, though I've seen some interviews with her. Just felt like pointing out that the will to follow one's own beliefs is not proportional to the accuracy of their theories.

Lars Doucet
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It's more like a worker-owned co-operative, with the technical detail that Gabe actually owns the shares but chooses to let the workers make the decisions.

It's closer in principle to Distributism/Georgism than it is to either Capitalism (whether traditional or Objectivist) or Socialism.

David Serrano
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Ian Uniacke

Rand labeled objectivism as "rational selfishness." Temporarily putting aside the fact that she was a mentally unbalanced sociopath and her "philosophy" is nothing more than the rebranding of robber baron ethics and socioeconomics... Gabe Newell voluntarily de-compartmentalizing power, responsibilities and wealth is the polar opposite of objectivism... it's rational selflessness.

[User Banned]
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This user violated Gamasutra’s Comment Guidelines and has been banned.

Steven An
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Valve has lots of money, can pay for top talent, and top talent usually doesn't need strict management. And when someone under performs, they fire them. It's simple enough, just very hard to pull off without tons of money.

Jannis Froese
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As usual, you need money to make money.

Gabe N. argues that the best of the best are actually the cheapest because fewer of them do more and better work, and when it comes to programmers I agree with him.

David OConnor
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Yes, imho the best are motivated by doing excellent work, and making great products: the (excellent) money that comes with this is an adjunct. Typically, it is hard to get good workers to STOP working, because they like to keep on polishing and bringing THE JUICE to their work. I guess this is partly why Valve's projects are frequently late, because they have to wrestle it away from their geniuses.

Julio Nobrega
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Reminds me of Semco. Its owner, Ricardo, wrote several books on the subject. He celebrates years of being the "boss" and not taking a single decision. There are several stories about how his personal opinion was overruled by democratic decisions of Semco employees. Worth the reading!

Jan Zheng
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So if it is a true democracy, who decided to restructure Valve and initiate the layoff? Wouldn't all parties agree to a restructuring before laying people off? It sounds to me most people at the company were surprised by the move

Rebecca Richards
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I wonder if this piece was intended as a refutation. They literally refused to comment on the layoffs at all, and the piece is strangely quiet as to how they would decide to let go of 25 people at once.

Christopher J
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I think calling the guy a sociopath is a bit ridiculous. Valve has a formula that is working for them. You gotta understand that every form of “Rule” isn’t best for every situation. For example… if this guy were a police chief applying these philosophies with his staff, or a hospital functioned in this manner. It most likely would be a disaster. One needs to consider that the types of people who put out fires or save lives are not the same personality types that go into film or making video games.

I think an open structure like this creates room for innovation which fuels our industry. These folks (creative types) don’t have stress cramping their brains. They have room to think. For gaming this is a great approach. Maybe not good for running the government or a space station but they aren't doing that… they are essentially happy successful toy makers instead of frustrated corporate slaves.

David OConnor
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If you have a group of people who are operating at the top of their game, management becomes a lot less necessary.

High functioning individuals don't need much.... just give them the tools they need and let them get on with it.

I am reminded of Simon Hollis' GDC talk on making of the all-time-classic Goldeneye for the N64: http://www.gdcvault.com/play/1016460/Classic-Postmortem-GoldenEye
.php

Jay Anne
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Naughty Dog is another example of a studio with a similar structure. But then again, we probably won't hear of the cases where such a structure went badly.

Ramin Shokrizade
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My greatest concern about this system is that it tends to lead to gender and racially homogeneous work forces, and gender and racially homogeneous products.

Christopher J
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Interesting… some would say that the industry is already that way. I was thinking this type of structure would help change that since it’s not exactly business as usual.

David OConnor
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You are right, but there are similar risks with every form of organization.

Imho, a meritocracy gives people the best chance of success, whatever their race or gender.

Jay Anne
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It probably looks like Lord of the Flies in there

Ramin Shokrizade
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I say this because instead of hiring externally via a meritocracy approach, they hire whoever they know. This is, of course, not a unique situation in our industry. The game industry is possibly even more insulated than Hollywood. If you have young (mostly white) men hiring the people they know to work with them, it is almost certainly going to be more white men. If all you make is FPS's then this might be a successful approach. I personally think there is an abundance of these products already, and while at least 47% of gamers are women, the product selections (especially at the AAA level) do not reflect this.

Jay Anne
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@Ramin
They have publically mentioned they look specifically for people who either come from other industries or can provide professional experience from a different viewpoint that can teach them new ways to do things. I don't know whether they truly do this, but the fact that they have hired Hollywood artists, economists, psychologists seems to hint that they at least practice this to some extent. Based on hearing public stories about candidates they have turned down, it also seems that they try to exclusively hire people who are likely to improve their process, rather than hold the line. I'm very curious what actual effect this has on the politics that usually form when savvy powerful people are locked in a room and forced to collaborate.

Dan Jones
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They don't hire who they know, they hire who they notice.

If someone out there in the world does something impressive enough to get on their radar, they consider whether their company would benefit from working with that person. If they decide to pursue someone, gender, race, or whether or not anyone at the company has ever met them are not relevant factors.

Ian Uniacke
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Actually David I think meritocracy is the opposite of that. The major problem I have with meritocracy is "who decides which merits are important?". This inevitably leads to discrimination since (as an example) most society is a patriarchy, and we will hold traditional male values as having more merit than female values.

Ian Uniacke
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Further to this, the people who don't fall in the cultural norm (eg not white and/or female etc) but succeed in this system are generally the types that act in spite of their norms. That is to say, Uncle Tom might succeed in a meritocracy but an implied racism still exists and he has to deny his cultural roots to succeed.

David OConnor
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^ Ian, for sure there are risks of exactly the kind of bias that you describe.

But it depends on how 'merit' is defined by the organization, and the integrity of the people in organization.

On a side note: Is it possible to assume that integrity and high performance are correlated? I would suggest that a high-performing individual is significantly more likely to exhibit a high level of integrity. Just an opinion of course.

David OConnor
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^ sorry, double post... don't know how :P

Jay Anne
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@Ramin
Oops, I misinterpreted your comments. You were only commenting specifically about gender and race discrimination, not discipline or educational or experience oriented discrimination. I've seen many examples of women and minority hires working at Valve enough to be convinced that it's not a serious problem. I mean just look at their website roster.

Ramin Shokrizade
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I actually applied for the position held by the OP. I was interviewed twice. The person they hired was a conventional economist who had no industry experience or experience with virtual economies, and trumped my 12 years of experience and my dozens of papers on the subject. I wasn't wearing my turban that day (joke), but when dozens of people messaged me to ask me why they hired the other guy I really had no explanation. I quickly got picked up by two companies larger than Valve so it all worked out. It still leaves me curious though.

Rodolfo Puig
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The Valve Employee Handbook is definitely a must read: http://newcdn.flamehaus.com/Valve_Handbook_LowRes.pdf

Pres N
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Sounds like the whole place would become one big political game, where if you don't suck up to the right guy or get in the way of the wrong group, suddenly a "consensus" forms that you're "not fitting in".

Works alright for low-level programmers and workers that don't have any political capitol, but anyone even remotely connected to making decisions that impact other people would be constantly fighting to stay afloat.

David OConnor
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Yes, there absolutely is a risk of this. Again, like with any organization. But it isn't necessarily the outcome. Like anywhere, it depends on the integrity of the people you are dealing with. One could argue that highly skilled/smart/well-paid people don't need to politic so much, if its all about the quality of the product.

Jay Anne
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The difficulty would be roles that require collaboration or the buyin of many people. If I'm the greatest motion graphics artist in the world, the value added by my work should be evident after a few hours of working myself to produce a standalone piece that can be judged immediately. On the other hand, if I'm a designer trying to get a new form of matchmaking into Dota 2, I first have to convince other people of its merits, get it implemented by programmers, have it go live in some capacity before its merits can be evident.

David OConnor
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^ Jay, you are right, and that is partly why this approach is challenging and isn't done so much. And may be partly why Valve regularly misses deadlines.

One could also argue that the 'design by committee' approach kills innovation. But this doesn't seem to be the case at Valve, in fact the opposite.

Jay Anne
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@David
Yes, I suspect its effectiveness depends very highly on the culture of the workforce. Which probably could be said about every kind of structure ;-)

Keep in mind that Valve seems to be extraordinarily good at finishing and launching games they acquire like CS, TF2, Portal, Dota, L4D. They haven't created a new game from scratch in a very long time. So I wouldn't immediately assume that innovation is entirely their strong suit, at least when it comes to incubating new product.

David OConnor
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^ Jay, again, you are right. Though I was thinking of the HL2 committee-driven design (described here on Gamasutra), that is quite a long time ago.

Jay Anne
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@David
Yes! I remember the GDC talk they gave. I wonder how those processes may have scaled since then, especially after the move to Dota and Tf2 being their primary products. For being one of the most innovative companies as far as processes go, Valve does not talk very much about how they work anymore.

David Hoffman
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Love the company but the worst interview of my life was with Valve. Driver told me all he does is drive people back and forth to Valve (all day long) for interviews. Take it for what you will.

Jimmy Albright
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Care to elaborate?

Vytautas Katarzis
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I find it ironic that they emphasize productivity as one of the most important traits, but have some of the longest development cycles in the industry :d

Nevertheless, Valve personally seems like a great company to work in.

David Paris
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Sounds both interesting and potentially problematic at the same time. My guess is that personal charisma can drive a lot, allowing you to accomplish great things as long as you can make other people believe. But the side effect, is that it also becomes very easy to slip into politics, where progress, particularly on difficult or uncomfortable issues, gets really bogged down.
rn
rnI'd definitely worry about the danger of being the guy who points out the 'elephant in the room' in such an environment. Hey guys, I know we're all plowing along pretending this problem doesn't exist, but we need to solve it now before we get steamrolled by it later. Particularly with the question of where the serious goal setting is really coming from, since everything's importance is truly relative to your basic goals.

Jay Anne
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@David
Gabe has mentioned that in the past, he has needed to intervene at times. I wish he explained more about how that went.

John Owens
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I can see how this would work well initially with a small team who where hand picked however it must get increasingly difficult as the company gets larger and also later when the people who where productive are no long productive for whatever reason (personal or professional) but still have friends in the company that will ultimately protect them.

My guess is that the revenue from steam sort of makes it all a bit easier and without that they would have by now reverted to a more conventional structure.

Daryl Hornsby
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So the idea of making games loved by the masses is to have them designer and produced by the masses? Gotta love that way of working, the benefits of being indie.

Joshua Darlington
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Portal 2 was cool - it gave me motion sickness but I liked the writing.

I guess they are saving money on managers. I wonder why everyone doesn't do this?

Matthew Downey
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If I had to guess, it's because Valve's employees happen to be nearly 100% intrinsically motivated (they work because they want to as opposed to for money or recognition or fear of being fired).

If you put someone in an environment without managers and they aren't used to being self-motivated, they might not survive in the company's culture no matter how smart they are.

Most companies cannot afford this because they would have to pass up on very skilled programmers who are not entirely self-motivated but are still excellent hires because of their vast knowledge.

David Aiken
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Viva Valve!


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