Kaazing’s Take on Competitive Corporate Culture

I’m sitting back stage at DEMO and the founders of Kaazing are about to take the stage to demonstrate Kaazing Enterprise Edition. The product is a real time messaging brokering system for the Internet, enabling the next-generation of real-time, “live” Web applications. It support scalable messaging in a range of applications.

But that’s not the point of this post.

I met Jonas Jacobi and John Fallows just after Thanksgiving as they pitched their product for inclusion at DEMO. Having helped launch the first Web server at DEMO more than 10 years ago, I understood immediately the importance of what they are providing in this technology. On the spot, I invited them to come to the conference.

Where, John asked, would DEMO 08 be held? Palm Desert, I answered.

“That’s great. Our families will love it there.”

That’s not an answer I’m accustomed to hearing from early-stage companies. Typically, startups teams are heads down — grateful for their forgiving families, of course — but accepting that, during the startup phase, family time is limited.

Not at Kaazing. Maybe it’s experience and a little bit of age, but Jacobi and Fallows not only encourage their few employees to stay connected with loved ones, but also apply company resources to engaging family with the company. From celebrating holidays to traveling along on business trips, family is a “perk.”

While some might question the use of funds, Jacobi makes a sound argument for the expense. “We can’t compete with Google’s perks when we’re hiring. By being family focused, we can offer a benefit that differentiates our company.” Frankly, it’s brilliant. Forget free lunches, unlimited RedBull and Twizzlers, and especially sleeping cots in the corner. Attract and retain talent – and I’ll bet it’s mature and responsible talent – by acknowledging that employees are human, have families, and that these families share the sacrifice, stress, and risk of working at a startup.

Silicon Valley startups struggle to recruit in competition with Google or other big firms that provide generous benefits and perks to their employees. Taking a more human approach to human resources could well be the secret to breaking out in the hiring market.

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