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3 Characteristics Slack’s CEO Wants In Employees

December 8, 2015, 12:08 AM UTC
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Stewart Butterfield, co-founder and chief executive officer of Slack, speaks during a Bloomberg West Television interview in San Francisco, California, U.S., on Wednesday, Nov. 12, 2014. Slack, a software service company helping teams of co-workers to converse, work on projects together, and share links, pictures and more in real time, recently raised $120 million and is now valued at $1.12 billion. Photographer: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Photograph by David Paul Morris — Bloomberg/Getty Images

There’s one part of building a company that Slack founder and CEO Stewart Butterfield thinks he can do better at. “I’m bad at hiring,” Butterfield admitted on Monday at an event hosted by Google’s venture capital arm, Google Ventures.

Workplace chat tool Slack has had a fast ride to Silicon Valley stardom by raising $160 million in a new round of funding at a valuation just shy of $3 billion. The company, which counts Google Ventures as an investor, expects to bring in $30 million in revenue in 2015.

Although Butterfield admits to his failure as a recruiter, he said that he makes up for it by hiring people who are good at hiring. This includes former Twitter executive, April Underwood, who joined Slack earlier this year to manage how companies integrate their own technology into Slack.

And Butterfield demands that each potential hire at Slack have three characteristics, regardless of job function: empathy, curiosity, and diligence. He also wants to see employees who think of their roles in the context of creating a lasting business.

“I like to think we are delivering more value than customers are paying us,” Butterfield said during an interview at the event with Fortune assistant managing editor Adam Lashinsky. “The purpose of that isn’t just satisfaction when solving a hard engineering challenge. It’s about delivering more value as a business.”

Anne Wojcicki, the CEO and founder of personal genomics company 23andme, is also assessing potential candidates for specific characteristics not necessarily related to their business skills. For Wojcicki, each candidate should be focused on the company’s mission as opposed to simple making money or working towards a specific outcome.

Part of creating what she calls an “academic” culture at the company is also enabling employees to meet and learn from one another, even if they don’t work in the same department. Employees at 23andme are required to rotate among the desks in the office, and the startup has built an algorithm that matches employees in different groups who have not worked together to have lunch together weekly.

“I want to drive our employees away from the IPO mentality,” she said.

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