*High Growth Handbook: Scaling startups from 10 to 10,000 people*

Edited, produced, and partly written by Elad Gil, the book is also a series of interviews with Marc Andreessen, Sam Altman, Patrick Collison, Reid Hoffman, Keith Rabois, Naval Ravikant, and others.

Marc Andreessen says:

If you don’t start layering in HR once you’ve passed 50 people on your way to 150, something is going to go badly wrong.

Claire Hughes Johnson (COO of Stripe) says:

When I came into Stripe, I had a similar document.  I wrote a document back when I was at Google called, “Working with Claire.”  And when I first got to Stripe, I adapted it slightly, but it was pretty relevant.  I shared it with everyone who was working with me closely, but I have made it an open document.  It spread quite quickly through the organization…I think that founders should write a guide to working with them.

Patrick Collison says:

..the CEO ultimately does not have that many jobs, but I think culture is among them.  And it ought not be delegated.  Briefly speaking, I think there are five top responsibilities of a CEO: being the steward of and final arbiter of the senior management; being the chief strategist; being the primary external face for the company, at least in the early days; almost certainly being the chief product officer, although that can change when you’re bigger; and then taking responsibility and accountability for culture.

Self-recommending, you can order it here.


If stripe has 10,000 employees not only are they crooks, but they are inefficient ones. The rest of the world called and wrote a document called avoiding stripe by moving to cryptocurrency. But if you want to combine the high cost and paperwork without the cash-handling capabilities of a real bank or the speed of bitcoin, by all means work with Claire.

Cut the drama. 1,100 employees approx.

This website truly has all the information and facts I wanted about this subject and didn't know who to ask.

What is the background to this hostility? I only know they do payments but don't know much about them otherwise.

I don't know the OP, but a typical reason for people getting mad at payments companies (it doesn't really matter which one) involves fraud protection practices. From fraudulent merchants that get angry because they get caught, to merchants that are not helped enough by their fraud protection and lose money, to problems with receiving money in time and refund disputes that don't go your way. One has to understand that ultimately this payment companies are ultimately acting as some form of insurance company: The main reason fees are high is precisely having fewer checks before one tries to receive payments than banks do: By having lower standards, there's a bit of risk there of ending up holding the bag. Say, a kickstarter campaign doesn't deliver anything, and people dispute the payments. The company that did the kickstarter is bankrupt, so the banks can't collect from them, so ultimately a payment processor that vouched for the campaign is holding the bag. Someone somewhere decided that taking card payments for the Fyre festival was a good idea, and the promoter was insolvent, so they ended up taking the loss on those disputes. When big companies deal with payment processors, they get better rates precisely because they are a very safe counterparty.

I have some experience in the sector, and I am pretty sure that there's no well publicized, special major issue with Stripe itself: They must have a very good PR department.

"I think that founders should write a guide to working with them."
So in America people must come with manuals. Like machines!!

I have never understood how CEOs manage (motivate) a staff, large or small. I suppose many are imperious, and the staff just deals with it. But that can't work well, not for long anyway. I takes a special person to be a good CEO. I should point out that many of the tech firms don't have that many employees, but that doesn't take away from the good management practices at them (especially considering the employees they do have are likely not the easiest to manage). I should also point out that Elon Musk is an awful CEO, always trying to ferret out the traitor among his employees, the Richard Nixon of tech. Of course, I can't help but comment on the nation's CEO. My understanding is that his business actually employs very few people (the affiliated hotels, etc. are separate from his business), and they are mostly family. So it's not surprising that he has been awful, dreadful as the nation's CEO. I don't believe he was asked to author a chapter in the book.

Why would you say they aren't easy to manage? From my experience in different sectors, the tech company I worked seemed like it had by far the easiest workers to manage. Everyone pretty much managed themselves because they were intelligent and diligent. Many of the people would only stay at the company for 1-2 years before heading to grad school, elsewhere so there wasn't really a long-term incentive to even be diligent so I assume most just worked that way by nature.

You made my point: here today, gone tomorrow. Of course, there have been many stories about collusion among tech companies to prevent highly qualified employees to move from firm to firm, but they do anyway, in part because it's California, which doesn't enforce many restrictive covenants. Absent collusion, tech firms couldn't keep good employees. Do any of the authors mention collusion as a good business practice? Nonsense is nonsense, especially nonsense written by those who have profited greatly from the nonsense.

How you deal with your free time at work is perhaps the most interesting thing that I have read little about. In 1999, the Houston Astros lead the league with 7.4 strikeouts per 9, on average (1204 total). The Cassini Division is 4,700 Km squared in width. I think also of interest is how employees are chastened when using free time for potentially discovery.

What was the focus of Elizabeth Holmes' chapter?

'Go Big or go Home'

Same as Trump's chapter. 'Go to Jail'

"Start layering in HR?" Like with a trowel? Or maybe squiggle it in with a cake icer? At what point does HR enhance the bottom line vs. detracting from it?

At the time it manages to help you avoid your first employee class action.

+1. Known Fact isn't aware that HR works for the company, not the employees.

Good point and I'm very aware. The question is, does HR work for the bottom line or against it?

Ah, the all-too predictable potshots from the MR community... criticize all you want, this stuff works and we are doing great... https://twitter.com/hsilverb/status/976848054253965312

Jeff Bezos, is that you?

No, it's not. I'm about three zeros short.

Bezos is, what?, 5'2"? 5'3"? Tragic for you dude.

Briefly speaking, I think there are five top responsibilities of a CEO: being the steward of and final arbiter of the senior management; being the chief strategist; being the primary external face for the company, at least in the early days; almost certainly being the chief product officer, although that can change when you’re bigger; and then taking responsibility and accountability for culture

This sounds a little like a Dilbert parody. Now despite my vast experience of not being a CEO, why should his first role being in charge of pacifying the spoiled babies of senior management? The Chief Strategist seems to be a job that can mean a lot or a little. Steve Jobs was clearly very important to Apple. But why is it second and why is it dealt with so quickly? The PR face of the company? I would hope any company I worked for or invested in was never in the media and so did not need a media face. Taking responsibility for the culture? Again with the vacuous management-speak. What does that mean? What is more when was the last time a CEO resigned because of "the culture"? The occasional sexual harassment case aside. I do agree it is important but it would be good to know what sort of culture they should be heading for - especially combined with the rush to get HR on board which usually means a toxic culture for all - and how they should be managing it. Take James Damore for instance. Where did Google's culture go wrong?

Where did Google’s culture go wrong? It didn’t. It actually went exactly where Igharo as evidenced by the performance of the company and its stock.

PS 6’3 and size 13 shoe.

So then clearly a good corporate culture is irrelevant to a company's performance.

I'm only one zero short but, unfortunately, that's off IQ.

MR is full of armchair economists who thinks the world hasn't discovered their hidden inner geniuses.

ah, I was just thinking ‘if only there were a handbook on that.’

The problem of all these books is that people don't really know what the real reasons of their success are: Look no further than Dalio's Principles. It's not as if the rest of us can be all that sure either, even if we spend a lot of time investigating successful leaders and organizations. Is it important that the CEO reads 100 books a year? Maybe they have to just be curious enough to get that much information in any form they please. Maybe it doesn't really matter at all, as long as they have the magical people skill some of the leaders in that book have, but at the same time, Elon doesn't have any of them, but he seems to have success regardless.

We'd probably learn more from large collections of stories of scaling failure, like the stories from the Ubers and the Twitters of the world. You end up with a technically working organization anyway, but the difference between those and good orgs is night and day.

Successful startups are mostly about product/market fit and not so much about leadership and people skills. And the idea that Uber and Twitter are failures? LMAO.


A classic, but relevant book for start-ups is "The Entrepreneur's Manual" by Richard M White.

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