Hosted at Fullscreen’s office space in sunny Playa Vista, Culture Amp’s second geekup in LA focused on the challenges of scaling culture during company growth. At the geekup, Sheauen Park, VP of HR at Fullscreen, shared their story of going from Series A straight into Acquisition, and Damon Klotz of Culture Amp presented the Culture Crunch report.
Life at Fullscreen from Series A to Acquisition
Fullscreen, founded in January 2011 by George Strompolos, is an independent YouTube network that provides services, end-to-end management, consultations, and optimization to its clients. Park describes their culture as an “adhocracy,” a flexible, adaptable, and informal organizational structure without bureaucratic policies or procedures.
“We have policies and procedures,” says Park, “but it’s not how we operate by default. As we grow we’re finding we need more policies and procedures in order to manage change and be effective, but it’s not what the company naturally gravitates towards.”
In 2012, Fullscreen’s team of 70 employees were crammed into an unfinished post-production space. At the time, the company’s energy was raw and uncontained, a contagious and motivational force was shared amongst colleagues.
“All people wanted to do was be part of this vision that George [Strompolos] created. It was close to the rave culture that Tony Hsieh talks about in his book. We were even in a warehouse suited for the occasion. 70 employees waiting for the DJ/CEO to drop the beat,” says Park.
Two years later, Fullscreen was acquired by Otter Media, a joint venture between AT&T and The Chernin Group. By 2015, Fullscreen had acquired two subsidiaries, Rooster Teeth and McBeard. With all that growth and change, the contagious energy that had previously pushed employees forward wasn’t there anymore.
Culture is your competitive advantage
Due to their rapid growth and evolving culture, Fullscreen had to make some changes. “[We] had to be more thoughtful and methodical in our decision-making,” explains Park. “Very counter-intuitive to our culture. It was hard for everyone from George, our CEO and our President, all the way down to the employees who were starting to feel like their connection to the greater vision of empowering creators and brands was slipping. Present day, we’ve come a long way, but there is still work to be done.”
During times of massive growth and disruptive change, company culture is one of the few sustainable business advantages. As stated by Park, “Culture is the how and why we do business; it’s imperative to understand what resonates with our employees. We have to recognize the gap between what our leaders say and what they do. We must find ways to connect what someone does on a day to day basis to what matters in a bigger scheme.”
If your company is facing growth and change, focus on sustaining your culture. Like Fullscreen, this could mean being more thoughtful and methodical in decision-making. It might mean gathering feedback from your company to understand people’s thoughts on company culture. If you’re looking to gather data to help make informed decisions about your culture strategy, we’d love to help. Reach out to a Culture Amp People Geek to learn how our people analytics platform can enhance your HR strategy.