Valve Corporation Reviews | Glassdoor

Valve Corporation Reviews

Updated May 8, 2017
22 reviews

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4.1
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Valve Corporation CEO Gabe Newell
Gabe Newell
15 Ratings

22 Employee Reviews

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  1. Helpful (9)

    "Great place to work and learn"

    Star Star Star Star Star
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Software Engineer in Bellevue, WA
    Current Employee - Software Engineer in Bellevue, WA
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    I have been working at Valve Corporation full-time (More than 5 years)

    Pros

    You get to work with the smartest people in the industry, you get to take on as much responsibility as you are capable of, you get to directly influence and make decisions about product direction, no on else has the authority to force you into a decision you don't agree with, compensation and benefits are amazing

    Cons

    You will be held to very high standards, having to take on more responsibility and make higher level product decisions can mean additional pressure/stress vs more narrow roles at other companies

    Advice to Management

    Keep hiring only the very best and don't let standards slip as the company grows


  2. Helpful (21)

    "The best company to work for in the tech industry"

    Star Star Star Star Star
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - N/A in Bellevue, WA
    Current Employee - N/A in Bellevue, WA
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    I have been working at Valve Corporation full-time (More than 5 years)

    Pros

    Amazingly empowering. No management. No red tape. Salaries are above top of the industry. And families come first - work-life balance pretty much couldn't be better. Not constrained by public/outside investment - entirely self-funded, so making customers happy is all we have to worry about. Easy to make an individual contribution that impacts millions of customers in a positive way - every day. Whole company takes everyone to freaking Hawaii (with families) every year - not to work, just to chill out. And so far, things the company doesn't do well have gotten identified and have become the target of concerted redesign and improvement.

    It's not the superficial workplace niceties that make Valve awesome - those are a given. It's the substance of the place that is different.

    Also, Gaben's beard.

    Cons

    Not having a boss often makes it hard (at least temporarily) to know whether I'm doing the right thing. Let's see, what else... Company doesn't yet have an office in Hawaii.

    Advice to Management

    N/a. Maybe I should use this space to advise myself... Uh, use breath mints more often. Remember to smile.


  3. Helpful (10)

    "Great Company"

    Star Star Star Star Star
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    I have been working at Valve Corporation full-time (More than 5 years)

    Pros

    - awesome work environment
    - very talented people
    - great benefits

    Cons

    nothing bad about this company


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  5. Helpful (1)

    "my review"

    Star Star Star Star Star
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Programmer in Seattle, WA
    Former Employee - Programmer in Seattle, WA

    I worked at Valve Corporation full-time (Less than a year)

    Pros

    great culture to be working in.

    Cons

    that all companies aren't run like this!

    Advice to Management

    keep up the good work


  6. Helpful (48)

    "Great with the right fit, hard to anticipate fit"

    Star Star Star Star Star
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - None, Thanks for Asking in Bellevue, WA
    Current Employee - None, Thanks for Asking in Bellevue, WA
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    I have been working at Valve Corporation full-time (More than 5 years)

    Pros

    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.

    Cons

    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.


  7. Helpful (20)

    "Innovative Entertainment"

    Star Star Star Star Star
    Current Employee - Volunteer Customer Support
    Current Employee - Volunteer Customer Support

    I have been working at Valve Corporation (More than 10 years)

    Pros

    Growing company and great minds.

    Cons

    Not enough time in the day


  8. Helpful (13)

    "The best gaming company to work at!"

    Star Star Star Star Star
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Software Engineer in Bellevue, WA
    Former Employee - Software Engineer in Bellevue, WA
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    I worked at Valve Corporation full-time (More than 3 years)

    Pros

    1) Really amazing people all around
    2) Amazing offices (Google them)

    Cons

    Not a lot of cons I could see around.


  9. Helpful (41)

    "Utopia for some but painful when the fit is bad"

    Star Star Star Star Star
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Senior Software Engineer in Bellevue, WA
    Current Employee - Senior Software Engineer in Bellevue, WA
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    I have been working at Valve Corporation full-time (More than 8 years)

    Pros

    Valve can be an amazing place to work, but it requires the right fit.

    The people who will do well at Valve need to be high performers in their specific area, but beyond that they also need to excel at thinking about users and products and contributing to product level decision making. Additionally people need to be able to take in a lot of sometimes conflicting opinions and advice from co-workers who are all peers and then go make good decisions on what they should work on and what direction they should take their work independently. People who can demonstrate an ability to do those things well will be afforded a huge amount of freedom, independence, and responsibility at Valve.

    Most of the people who do those things well are extremely happy at Valve and have trouble imagining leaving. For those people Valve is a place of huge opportunities, freedom to take big risks, freedom to work on many different projects, and a place filled with smart people who will help you accomplish things you couldn't on your own.

    In terms of more tangible pros compensation is competitive at the base level, and for high performers bonuses (cash and sometimes equity) can be extremely generous. The company takes you and your immediate family on a free vacation to a fancy resort every year, you get extremely good medical coverage, life insurance, a very generous 401k matching plan, free food, free personal trainers, etc. Overall benefits are generally as good or better than the best companies out there.

    Cons

    The biggest con is that fit can be difficult to measure up front. The company has a difficult hiring process and works hard to measure not just your competence at your role but also your ability to work without a manager and to make high level user/product decisions. This process is tuned towards allowing false negatives and trying to avoid false positives but mistakes in hiring can still be made.

    For those who end up inside the company and struggle with the environment it can be very painful. Since you don't have a manager it can be difficult to get clear guidance on how to improve and you may get conflicting advice from peers. The company has a yearly ranking/review process that has proven very effective at correctly compensating those who are doing well but I agree with a prior reviewer who stated that it's never been 100% effective at providing useful feedback to those who need help.

    If you end up being in a situation where you are struggling at Valve you will get some advice and guidance from peers and from HR but you will ultimately need to figure out your path to success on your own. For those used to having a more hands on manager as their advocate this can be hard.

    Many of the negative reviews here seem to come clearly from employees who struggled at Valve to varying degrees. My experience is that these employees are a small minority due to the difficult hiring process but their negative experiences are still real. The best thing you could do for yourself before working at Valve is to try to really understand the work environment and the high expectations. Once you understand those make sure you are really honest with yourself about whether Valve is likely to be a good fit.

    Advice to Management

    Keep taking risks and pursuing big opportunities. Work harder at improving cross company communication so employees understand what other teams are working on more clearly. Keep the hiring bar high and don't compromise on hiring anything less than top performers.


  10. Helpful (6)

    "Valve is good"

    Star Star Star Star Star
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    Pros

    It is a nice company

    Cons

    Hard
    To get in

    That is. Bad

    Advice to Management

    Hi I like turtles


  11. Helpful (3)

    "Great Place to Work"

    Star Star Star Star Star
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    Pros

    Excellent environment for adaptive/iterative problem solving, surrounded by very smart individuals.

    Cons

    Opaque approach to compensation and retention breeds a culture of paranoia.


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