Matt Hoffman

Partner

If you’re not adapting a growth mindset and always looking to learn and improve, you’re likely to be outpaced quickly.

Trajectory
  • DigitalOcean (VP, People)
  • Return Path (Sr. Director, People Ops)
  • NYU (Organizational Psychology)
  • Cornell University (Policy Analysis)
  • 2019 #1 Best Place to Work in NYC (Digital Ocean)
  • 2014 #2 Best Place to Work in the U.S. (Return Path)

 

Perspective

In a marketplace where products and technology are becoming more and more commoditized, Talent is often the key differentiator. It’s fantastic to see how more and more companies are realizing that, and I’m incredibly passionate about helping entrepreneurs use Talent to their advantage in order to build sustainable companies that execute well and win.

I think many leaders discount culture, saying that it’s something that either “just happens” or is secondary to other areas of the business.  The best companies bring the same level of thought and intention to developing their people as they do toward developing their products. Maybe more so if they are really smart.

The truth is that building a healthy culture is one of the best and most impactful ways to drive sustained high performance in a business, and it in fact helps accelerate the speed of growth, especially in early stage companies. Creating a culture of trust, empowerment, and psychological safety is essential to ensuring a resilient foundation for a high-growth organization. Strong cultures help ensure that everyone knows what they need to do to succeed. They help teams move more quickly and with more agility, and seed the conditions for innovation and success.

I’ve seen first-hand the way companies with amazing product-market fit can crater because of toxic cultures, and I’ve also seen how a powerful and unified culture can help business last through downturns that would have killed less resilient organizations.

I’ve been lucky enough to work for some of the most innovative and progressive organizations around. Working under a visionary CEO and board at Return Path helped me understand how vital strong culture is to creating successful organizations.  At DigitalOcean, I got to partner with world class operators and lead an astonishingly talented People Team as we helped scale a rocketship that grew almost 700% in size over four years, all while achieving both significant revenue growth and industry-leading organizational engagement.

There’s no secret to balancing high growth and high engagement! One of the biggest drivers of engagement is feeling like you’re part of a successful mission. And when your business is growing quickly, that inherently comes with greater opportunities for your employees to grow as well. Smart teams lean into those opportunities by giving their people meaningful developmental experiences, as well as by using a growth mindset and a culture of continuous improvement as a competitive advantage when attracting and retaining talent.

When teams get regular, open, and candid feedback at the rapid pace of growth, it can be totally transformative. At DigitalOcean, we were fortunate enough to have our agile HR processes recognized by Harvard Business Review.  We had applied best Agile practices and methods from Engineering and transformed them to the People space, recognizing that growth is continuous, ongoing, and iterative. By using methods of real-time feedback and performance development, we were able to unlock new levels of potential and performance in our teams.

The number one trait I look for when helping to select leaders for our Launchpad or portfolio companies is intellectual curiosity and humility. Even the most successful founders know there’s always an opportunity to learn, and there’s always an opportunity to get better and raise the bar for themselves. It’s precisely that belief what helps the best founders break barriers and do things that others thought impossible.

If you’re not adapting a growth mindset and always looking to learn and improve, you’re very likely to become outpaced by the competition quickly.

One of the key differences about M13 is how deeply and authentically we invest our time with founders, and honestly for me that’s the most fun part of this job. Whether it’s helping a founder think differently about the way they’re approaching an executive search, understanding how to operationalize their culture at scale, or building best practices around retention, talent development or compensation, it’s been amazing to see how impactful we can be.


Insights