Adzerk Gets a VP of Product!

Larry Karnowski VP Product at Adzerk

We're excited to announce that Larry Karnowski recently joined the Adzerk team as our Vice President of Product.

He brings twenty years of experience in software development, product consulting, and user experience to the Adzerk mix, most recently as a User Experience Architect at Interactive Intelligence. His other experience includes work at Cognitect, Raritan, and as the cofounder of ReviewShine.com.

This is the first role at Adzerk focused exclusively on product management, and Larry sees himself as continuing the awesome engineering culture Adzerk has created over the past four years.

Combining the agility of a small company with the scale and processes of a larger organization is the mission Larry has set out for himself, and from what we've seen so far, he's already crushing it.

If you'd like to introduce yourself, send him an email at larry {at} adzerk [dot] com.

Growing Pains - Adzerk Rearranges the Office

We moved to our current space at City Place in downtown Durham back in December 2012, and our office layout has barely changed since. For over two years, our desks remained lined in rows in the main room. The room next to it contained only a couch, our scotch collection, and a foosball table. (Not to mention the mysterious hexagonal room behind the conference room that sometimes hosted tenants but was usually dead space.)

But when we leased the office, we opted for the extra floor space with serious growth in mind. Now that Adzerk's headcount is about to reach 15 (!) we've finally ougrown our tidy rows.

New Adzerk office layout

So today we colonized the virgin territories of the office, moving desks and shifting furniture to create clusters of functional groups.

The developers decided to join their tables together for maximum collobaration (and for maximum space-age effect from their Christmas lights). Our new VP of Product will sit behind them for easy access.

New Adzerk office layout

CEO James and operations manager Joanna sit nearby. They are the closest to the main door in order to greet visitors and shower them with Adzerk stickers.

The support team is taking shape in the corner of the main room. Our new account manager will sit next to support veteran Jacob as he gets to know our customers and learns the Adzerk platform.

Sales and marketing has taken over the former foosball room, so we can drink all the scotch make calls and be salesy without intruding on anyone else. I'm psyched to be right under the skylight.

New Adzerk office layout

The hexagonal room is on its way to becoming a co-working space for our advisors and friends of Adzerk, as well as doubling as another conference room.

One of the best parts of the new office layout are the open working areas— our orange Nugget sofa hangs out by the main door, and our other sofa now lives close to the conference room to serve as an impromptu meeting or working space. If the work (or fun) gets too loud in a collaborative area, any Adzerker can retreat to where it's quieter.

We'll be hiring throughout the year, so we may outgrow this layout sooner than we think. It's a pretty good problem to have.

Adzerk's Core Values

Adzerk crushes it

Much has changed at Adzerk over the last 6 months. We had great leaders and employees move on to new challenges, but in turn we've hired awesome new people to join the team. We are now 12 people with plans to grow to 15 people in Q1. One of the challenges of hiring new people is ensuring that the things you love about the company stay the same, but hiring new people also creates an opportunity to fix some of the things that weren’t so great.

One exercise we undertook to help grow Adzerk in a disciplined way was to build a set of Core Values. We followed the process and methodology from “Mastering the Rockefeller Habits”, a book Matt Williamson and Aaron Houghton recommended I read. In keeping with our second core value of “Be Open”, we are publishing our Core Values here and on our About page.

1. Make The Internet a Better Place

Years ago, I got interested in advertising when I realized that by running an ad network, I could reward the bloggers whose blogs I loved reading. That hasn’t changed. We are inspired by the awesome publishers that we work with, and we love what we do because we get the chance to work with innovative companies like reddit, StackOverflow, and dozens of others.

2. Be Open

Part of our company constitution is to only work with open source software. The other push we have made lately is to contribute more to open source, and ship more of what we build here as open source software. For instance, we created and sponsored the Clojure tool Boot. Being open also translates into internal practices, like sharing the P/L of the company every month and being transparent about direction and decisions inside the company. Lastly, openness means sharing posts like this with the public.

3. We Are All Adults

We have an Employee Bill of Rights. We trust our employees to do the right thing, and we don’t feel like the company or management needs to babysit them. This also pushes us towards a mostly flat structure of management - if a company doesn’t need command and control, it can survive with much less overhead.

4. Go Above and Beyond

We go above and beyond to help our customers, and we always will. One of our engineers once jumped on a plane to travel to a customer’s site to help them launch - on a weekend. Our support team routinely talks to third party vendors and helps customers with their problems even when they aren’t tied directly to Adzerk.

5. Always Be Crushing

Most engineers ship code either on their first day or their first week of working at Adzerk. It’s not enough to just do things with urgency, though. (We've fallen in that trap before.) It’s important to also ship AWESOME things. It’s always a balance: we can’t always do everything we would like, but we can’t ship out something that doesn’t live up to our standards or our customers' expectations either. We try to embrace both urgency and awesomeness, which we define as crushing it.

6. Be a Hacker

We have always been a technology focused company, but we have been working to infuse it into every part of our culture. For instance, when our marketing specialist wants the team to review a new blog post or customer story, he now submits it as a pull request to the repo. We have also realigned the company to maintain a 1:1 engineer ratio: at least 1 engineer for every non-engineer at the company.

In Conclusion

To keep Core Values relevant for a business, you have to lead by example. As we continue to grow the team, we'll introduce new hires to this list of six, as well as demonstrate our Values every day that we work on Adzerk.