Handbook Part 10: Catalysts Is Growing!

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Your Most Important Role

Concepts discussed in this book sound like they might work well at a tiny start-up, but not at a company with dozens of people working from several locations in different countries. The big question is: Does all this stuff scale? Well, so far, yes. And we believe that if we’re careful, it will work better and better the larger we get. This might seem counterintuitive, but it’s a direct consequence of hiring great, accomplished, capable people. Getting this to work right is a tricky proposition, though, and depends highly on our continued vigilance in recruiting/hiring. If we start adding people to the company who aren’t as capable as we are at operatin as high-powered, self-directed, senior decision makers, then lots of the stuff discussed in this book will stop working. We do not have a growth goal, however, on revenue or on number of employees. We intend to continue hiring the best people as fast as we can, and to continue scaling up our business as fast as we can. Fortunately, we don’t have to make growth decisions based on any external pressures – only our own business goals. And we’re always free to temper those goals with the long-term vision for our success as a company. Ultimately, we win by keeping the hiring bar very high.


Hiring well is the most important thing in the universe. Nothing else comes close. So when you’re working on hiring – participating in an interview or innovating in the general area of recruiting – everything else you could be doing is stupid and should be ignored! Our hiring process for software developers consists of the following steps: 1. Coding Contest – either a public Catalysts Coding Contest or a private one; training examples are available on the CatCoder. 2. Technology Screening – especially for interns who are only with us for a few weeks or months, we’d like to know how knowledgeable they are with our main technologies. 3. Submission of Detailed Application – to summarize steps 1 and 2, with details about the practical experience with respect to those technologies 4. Telephone or In-Person-Interview For experienced professionals, we’ve adopted the TopGrading approach with its Career History Form, its Snapshot, and InterviewGuide.

Why is hiring well so important at Catalysts?

At Catalysts, adding individuals to the organization can influence our success far more than it does at other companies – either in a positive or negative direction. Since there’s no organizational compartmentalization of people here, adding a great person can create value across the whole company. Missing out on hiring that great person is likely the most expensive kind of mistake we can make. Bring your friends! One of the most valuable things you can do as a new employee is tell us who else you think we should hire. Assuming that you agree with us that Catalysts is the best place to work on Earth, then tell us about who the best people are on Earth, so we can bring them here. If you don’t agree yet, then wait six months and ask yourself this question again. Usually, it’s immediately obvious whether or not we’ve done a great job hiring someone. However, we don’t have the usual checks and balances that come with having managers, so occasionally it can take a while to understand whether a new person is fitting in. This is one downside of the organic design of the company – a poor hiring decision can cause lots of damage, and can sometimes go unchecked for too long. Ultimately, people who cause damage always get weeded out, but the harm they do can still be significant. Check out our → video “philosophy & values @ catalysts”!



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