-Sense of unity - not just being a cog in a corporate machine
-Plenty of of feedback on work
-Few opportunities for advancement
-Mostly consists of engineers, sales and VPs - so you have to either be one or learn how to fit in
Advice to Management
Keep up the good work!
Smart people, interesting technology space; respect for employees and work-life balance, better than average comp and benefits
constantly changing strategy -- they were never able to go for it and execute. Engineering group had no experience building enterprise-class product -- built products that were engineer or CTO driven -- not customer focused. Metacarta wanted to be a cool company onto something big but the product and engineering folks kept getting in the way. Technology just wasn't there and eventually the customers found out (along with the sales guys) that engineering couldn't deliver. There were some really great people there at all levels in all areas of the organization. The problems were really the CTO driving the company into the ground by interfering into the decisions trying to be made by the business folks. Senior management didn't have the pedigree from MIT like the engineering team and because of that I don't believe the engineers respected the management -- they just weren't technical. But the engineers were in their first or second job out of college with relatvely little or no professional experience and it showed. Acted like primadonnas for the most part. No doubt that the sales trip to the tropics were seen as a management faux pas -- I didn't go but it sounded like any other club trip -- maybe there should have been one for the engineering team too but they probably would have found fault in that too or it wouldn't be good enough for them.
Advice to Management
Really take a good look at the technology -- open the kimono. If you want to rebuild the company get rid of anybody that's left, re-architect the product from scratch with a professional crew or just sell the thing. It may actually be too late to do that since other companies are developing the same type of thing as Metacarta and others seem to be able to execute.
The people are extraordinarily bright and highly motivated. Nobody gets hired at MetaCarta who isn't a self-starter capable of managing their own project from inception through release. The environment is very much like Google, people keep very strange hours but always get their jobs done, and done exceptionally well. It was an absolute pleasure to work with everybody at the company despite the managerial problems.
Several of the more academic types have this disillusion that they're the "old man on the mountain", can be very difficult to communicate with and not suited for a team environment. Collaboration is minimal, and when it does happen having too many bright folks on a project can turn a simple task into an insurmountable burden. Re-invention of the wheel is not unheard of here, but to their credit the folks doing the job are excellent at what they do. Management should put a tighter leash on this type of thing and focus on product releases and moving the company forward, rather than holding it back because Engineering can't get out of their own way. Don't expect performance reviews or raises anywhere close to on-schedule, in fact don't find it surprising to go for several years without an annual review (to be fair however, raises did tend to be retroactive to when the review should have been).
Advice to Management
Step up to the plate and start delivering. Stop spending money on conferences and shows when it's common knowledge that less than a handful of leads come from any of that "marketing". Stop treating the sales people like they're the direct descendants of god - in an economy that's going down the toilet there's no need to spend thousands of dollars per head to send salespeople to relax in the Cayman Islands for a week. Most notably when the sales team can't figure out how to make their numbers no matter who their high-profile manager is. The first-class tickets, expensive beachfront hotel rooms, thousand-dollar golf outings and conferences at the Ritz Carlton should be cut back until at least until sales can cut muster.
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