Building a Better Company and Community — Origin’s Cultural Values

When you talk to many of the most successful founders in the Web 1.0 (e.g. Peter Thiel of Paypal) and Web 2.0 (e.g. Tony Hsieh of Zappos, Brian Chesky of Airbnb) eras, you’ll hear that company culture is one of the most important ingredients to building a successful, generationally-impactful company.

Most startups have hard-working, motivated employees. Some startups discover initial product-market fit. Few startups have both of those and also manage to build a steadfast and powerful culture that guides growth and innovation for years to come. It is an aligned, coherent culture that acts as a company’s North Star. In times of doubt, uncertainty, and endless options, culture dictates how company’s operate and make critical decisions.

Culture makes it easier to hire likeminded teammates that we share in our mission to “enable true peer to peer commerce”. Culture makes it easier to prioritize long-term and short-term tradeoffs. Culture even informs what product features should be built and how we should communicate with our users and community.

Culture is one of those things that may seem optional in the beginning. When it’s just the founders and a handful of employees in a garage or co-working space, there is almost an unspoken of culture that slowly manifests organically. At Origin, Josh, myself, and our early employees experienced this. We naturally focused on being hackers, having high degrees of accountability and just getting things done, communicating openly and transparently (sometimes to the point of discomfort), and having a lot of fun along the way. Left on its own, we’d probably be able to continue building this unspoken of culture for a year or two longer and could perhaps scale to two to three dozen employees without explicitly codifying out culture. This would be a huge mistake though.

At Origin, we are not only aspiring to build an amazing company. We are trying to build a strong, thriving ecosystem of marketplace partners, open-source developers, investors, and most importantly, end users. With over 100k members in our community already, culture is even more important at Origin than at traditional startups. At Origin, culture defines how we recruit engineers (from our community of contributors instead of through the standard interview process). It informs how we react to short-term crypto prices (we focus on building, not market speculation).

Culture determines how our team, distributed across four continents and counting, work together in a collaborative, productive, and mission-driven way. 60+ engineers have contributed to our project already, and we expect this number to double or triple in the next year.

Today, we are publicizing Origin’s mission statement and company (and greater community) values. This serves two purposes. First, putting this on paper enables new employees, partners, and community members to more quickly and effectively engage with our core team. Second, we believe we will be even more accountable to ourselves and our community by explicitly defining who we are and how we operate.

In the past few weeks, we had our employees and extended team (our most active open-source contributors and community members) brainstorm and vote on exactly what our values should be going forward. Here they are below.

Mission statement

Enable true peer to peer commerce

Cultural values

  1. Be an owner — At Origin, we believe in extreme accountability. When you sign up to do something, you deliver. In addition, every one of our employees and many of our community members will, in fact, be owners of the open network we are building by holding and using Origin tokens.
  2. Default to public — Whenever possible, we communicate openly and transparently. A lot of projects are open-source, but far less are open about the way they collaborate. Our weekly engineering call is open to the public, and we do most of our collaborative work on our public Discord channel. Our project planning board and the majority of our meeting notes are available for the public to view and comment on. Being public by default also means we can’t hide behind vanity metrics or avoid dealing with difficult problems. We have to tackle everything head-on.
  3. Lead with influence — We’re not trying to build a traditional hierarchical company where job titles dictate authority. There are defined job roles and levels of seniority like any company, but we strive to be as flat as possible. We believe good ideas can come from anyone, both internally and from the community. The best ideas should be championed and cultivated, then measured with data. This is especially important as we look to continually expand our community (which will not respond to dictatorial leaders anyways).
  4. Find a way — Building a generationally-impactful company, community, and products is insanely hard. We will face many obstacles and potentially multiple near company-ending events along the way (if we are successful). This is a reminder that we must have both grit and creativity. We will be hackers that do whatever is possible to make our vision of the world a reality.
  5. Have an epic adventure — We know there will be many ups and down along the way. When you’re trying to take on corporate monopolies, the path forward will resemble a roller-coaster with parts of the tracks missing. We’ll have to work ridiculously hard, but the only way we’ll make it to the other side is if we also take the time to have fun and enjoy the journey. We should feel blessed to be working on such an important mission with such incredible teammates.
  6. BUIDL for the long-term — Compounded growth can take small and modest starts to unimaginable outcomes. When Larry and Sergey started Google, it was impossible for even them to predict all the impact that would evolve from a slightly-better search engine. As we survey many other blockchain and cryptocurrency projects in the space, we see many projects and investors that are only focused on the most recent price swings. While there is no denying that we are operating in an industry that inherently uses financial incentives to power open, community-driven networks, we refuse to let short-term fluctuations distract us from the longer-term objectives. It is in years 5, 6, and beyond where we expect to deliver magnitudes more value than we are today.

Share the same personal values as we do and excited about working alongside us? Get in touch!

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