- Work/Life Balance
- Culture & Values
- Career Opportunities
- Comp & Benefits
- Senior Management
I have been working at Valve Corporation full-time (More than 5 years)RecommendsPositive OutlookApproves of CEORecommendsPositive OutlookApproves of CEO
Valve hires very smart people with a shared core set of expectations about communications and problem solving. Individuals and groups at the company act with customer goals identified, and sort tasks and product choices accordingly.
The employee handbook and occasional articles about how the place runs are true. There are no bosses. No one, including Gabe, has the authority to tell someone else what to do. Proponents must recruit people to projects by explaining why the task is important and how it is important, and convincing people to share time or prioritize over other competing needs.
The lack of hierarchy and titles is a conscious design to minimize bureaucratic resistance to getting work accomplished (and bureaucratic authority to get the wrong work accomplished). It's also a design to keep valuable employees indefinitely. No one has to leave because a peer got a promotion into a job he/she though he/she deserved. No one has to become a manager because it's the way to get paid more. Individuals can get more and more valuable over years and decades of work, get rewarded as such, and have no particular forcing functions to trigger them to leave. Great to individual and company.
The scarce resource at Valve is people's time. Capital is available for most any purchase need, if you can make the case for what you're doing and why. Routine purchasing decisions are devolved to employees.
This system, hiring great people, giving them resources and great colleagues, and getting out of the way between them and their customers, has produced a lot of value for customers and the company.
Last pro: Valve takes good care of employees and their families. Benefits are generous and sometimes astonishing. Most anything that can keep employees happy and productive will be considered.
To succeed at Valve, you have to be a self-starter. No one will tell you what to do -- if you ask, people may give you an opinion about what they think you should do, but no one hands you a list of your five most important tasks for the next review period.
Beyond being a self-starter, you have to come up with ways to judge yourself, or to gather feedback from customers, partners (developers/publishers/vendors), or other employees. I think the comp system works reasonably well, but the feedback system has never functioned well for all employees. When an employee is having trouble, the system (which is really just a group of peers, sometimes guided by HR or more senior colleagues) is more focused and effective at gathering and communicating specific feedback for people.
Some people are just driven nuts by the uncertainty of this kind of management and feedback system. Some people thrive and delight in the absence of semi-annual self-evaluation forms.
At Valve, it's hard to get a grand project started. It's easy to get a clever, valuable, smaller project started. Turning the latter into the former requires great communication skills or a clever plan of laying out small projects to take the company in the direction you think is smart (and which is confirmed by the outcomes of prior small projects). There are no patrons to make things happen for you. I disagree with a few other (typically former employee- ) reviews that suggest there is secret management structure that controls everything. There are certainly more senior people (who may or may not be more experienced by years of work) who can give great feedback on what is worth doing, or how to do something. But there is incredibly little control, and shadow management is just not true. I think that is often a projection by people who can't believe the uncertainty of radical freedom.
Advice to Management
Hmm. This is really advice to all of Valve, since no one has buck-stopping authority.
People should consider part of their job to sweep through other parts of the company, either working on some projects, grabbing coffee or lunch, or just asking people to explain what they're working on. At the size of the company (~350 at this writing), projects and individuals can become isolated, and feedback can dry up unless teams actively seek it or unless others come around looking to see what's up. That feedback cycle is the biggest gift at Valve, but it takes energy and repeated focus when there are no lines of reporting.
Getting an Interview
Getting an Interview
Helpful (1)No OfferNegative ExperienceAverage Interview
I applied online. The process took 1 day – interviewed at Valve Corporation in June 2015.
I applied online and received an email requesting a phone interview about two weeks later. Typically the first point of contact at companies I've interviewed with in the past mostly involve getting a feel for my past experience and determining if I'm a good fit to proceed with a technical interview. I was given little indication what Valve's phone interview would entail, and was somewhat surprised with the outcome. The phone interview started as I expected. We reviewed my previous experience and I talked about why I'm interested in Valve. Great so far. Then out of no where they ask me a completely open ended design question. "Design me X"... The scope of the question was beyond anything anyone could answer in a half hour phone interview. I was confused. I asked clarifying questions which were met with resistance. I'd start talking about the topic then they'd start putting restrictions topic to guide me in a different direction. It was overall incredibly frustrating. I knew a great deal about the topic, but each route I took was cut off before I could develop depth. I have no idea what they wanted to hear. In retrospect I'm unsure if they did either. After that disaster of a question they pulled up a google doc file and asked me one very straightforward question. Implement some trivial function that does X. It was a freshmen level computer science question. I was flustered by the previous question, and felt a bit patronized that they'd ask me something like this given my experience. I stumbled around and wrote something that probably worked while they did the equivalent of watching over my shoulder while I programmed. It was unnerving. I solve problems much more complex that freshman 101 level homework questions everyday. No one watches over my shoulder while I do it. I'm not sure what this was supposed to reveal about me. This was not a pleasant experience.
After the interview I received an email with no feedback saying they were not going to proceed with me as a candidate. Their interview style is odd, but perhaps it works for them. I can't help but feel like my time was wasted by interviewing with them though.
- They asked me an open ended design question with a broad scope. I'm unsure what they are looking for here and the give little indication if you are providing them with answers they are interested in hearing or not. There would be no way to prepare for this interview. Answer Question
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Valve Corporation keeps gamers moving full Steam ahead. Along with creating video games for consoles and portable devices from Nintendo, Microsoft, and Sony, as well as for the PC, Valve also runs the industry-leading online game distribution, management, and social platform Steam. Popular Valve titles such as Half-Life, Portal, and Left 4 Dead are available on Steam, as well as games from publishers such as Electronic Arts and Ubisoft. Valve also licenses its Source game engine to game developers and others, and it provides gaming content to a network of cybercafes in...