Part 4 "Going along with capitalism VS Breaking free from capitalism”
I don’t like getting orders from people, and so I don’t like to give them either.
Nevertheless, Colorkrew isn’t a company without projects or plans for growth. We have projects and plans.
Using products to change the world is an important goal, and to do that, we have to make some profit and grow. This way of thinking about relations between people is very similar to Mr. Kuranuki’s, but it feels that we are working well with capitalist society.
Yes. We are removed from capitalism.
That’s something we’ve given up on.
When the company was founded, there was a start-up boom, and for raising capital or trying to list our stock, we went to some very fancy CEO meetings, but I felt out of it. (Laughs.)
It was uncomfortable.
Because they have ambitions.
If we talk about ambitions - we have ambitions like, “I want to be a programmer forever, I want to make the company like that,” but, saying that making big profits in order to realize those ambitions is the difficult part.
For example, even if we become a company with tens of thousands of employees, and go from being an environment where one thinks things and does things on one’s own, to an environment where people are forced to do things, that ambition won’t be realized.
So, we thought in the beginning it would be best to stop at a select few. Of course, as the customers increased, we had to increase the engineers.
And so, I thought to stop at just a few people would break the laws of nature. Job applications come in, we have customers; as we cannot be the only ones who don’t change, the shape of the company changed and now expands naturally.
On the other hand, we have given up on rapid growth or listing stocks.
As far as we are a “Manufacturer with no goods,” Almost everything goes to personnel costs. It’s 80-90% personnel. And so, because people are the most important thing, if we take in someone bad, we become bad too.
We have to be cautious of letting people in.
If that’s the case, rapid expansion is impossible. I give up on this world; bring on the next world! (Laughs.)
TIPS: the greedy hiring standard! What is Sonic Garden’s 1 year hiring process?
So, what does that mean your hiring standards are like?
Our standards come from TIPS.
Isn’t that a little greedy?
It is greedy! (Laughs.) We look hard.
“Technique” of course refers to whether one can program.
More than being able to write complex code, it’s about being able to write clean source code, whether one can write maintainable code.
“Intelligence” doesn’t mean whether someone has graduated from Tokyo University; it means being able to talk to customers and understand what is expected.
Sales are done in a team, so of course personality is important, and more than anything else, speed. Even if it’s rough, we get things out fast, and then revise it with feedback. So, it doesn’t work for those people who can’t even have something looked at internally before it’s 100%. We look for people who are compatible with speed.
Someone who isn’t a perfectionist?
We watch for TIPS for about a year.
How do you do it?
Normally, we begin by conducting the interviews with the CEO. As CEO, I personally reply to applications.
After interviewing with various people, isn’t it a waste of time to get rejected by me in the end? It’s not rational.
As applications are increasing, and giving everyone an interview is tough, we made a tryout application system on our website. Applicants put in an entry, and, “Tryout Level 1 Has Begun” is displayed.
It sounds like e-Learning.
We ask them things like, “Can you do modeling based on Ruby on Rails?” For people who don’t know, our web contents tell them where to find it. They can study it on their own first.
The interview questions are also already decided, and so we collect all the answers in writing. Applicants turn in their written answers and tryout, and if they pass, we say, “Congratulations! You have cleared Tryout Level One. Next, you have an interview with Mr. Kuranuki.” And we go on to the webcam interview.
I think we should change what it means to be a programmer.
Among the applicants, there must be a lot of people who just misunderstand and say they just want to write code.
That kind of thing is written all over blogs and places.
When you apply someplace, you look up the company’s website. And when you do, you make sure to read the CEO’s blog, right?
I write a ton of CEO blogs. No matter how much you read it, there’s always more. (Laughs.)
If you read all that, you can see that we are not looking for coders , we are looking for programmers.
The kind of people you are looking for are different from the what is normally defined as a programmer, no?
Even at the time we started the company, I was told that if we talk about programmers, some people will be confused. So, why not use a different word? But there wasn’t one. Making up a new name is difficult, and creating a new word that doesn’t yet exist in the world is difficult.
I was thinking of `architect` for a while, but that seemed impertinent. (Laughs.)
I think we should change what it means to be a programmer.
I only want to work with my friends! From Level Two: the friend phase
In Level One, are there any people who lie?
During Level Two, some code has to be written, so there are no liars. Even if they lie in Level One, they can’t pass Level Two, so they know themselves that they can’t continue by lying. Those people leave on their own.
One year until employment.
There’s Level One, Writing Code in Level Two. What happens after that?
After writing code during Level Two, there is a review of the source code. They are asked to read another of my blogs, and then write what they thought of it. Both good and bad things about the company are written in the blog, so if they feel it’s not a good match, they are free to back out.
After that, there is one more interview, and we tell them various conditions.
After that is Level Three, what we call the “Friend Phase”. After passing Level Two, because we are looking for people who have both skill and personality, in order to find out if we can work together, we first become friends.
Because we’re the type of people who only want to work with our friends, we go out drinking or do some activities to find out if we can become friends.
You drink together in real life, not remotely over webcam?
We do both.
With a remote drinking party, we have everyone on webcam. It’s fun. The bill is 100% split. (Laughs.)
There are people who join after spending time with their families, people who come after sending their kids to bed, and when it finishes, they can just go straight to sleep. No one has to ride a train, so it’s pretty nice.
If they seem like a good person to be friends with, we think, “Okay, let’s work together,” and ask them to join the company. Of course sayinh, “You seem like a good friend… but, let’s just stay friends!” is another thing that may happen.
But they passed the friend test, right? Is it like when you think you could be friends with someone, but don’t want to date?
How do you decide? They drink badly, or something? (Laughs)
What happens then?
The applicant says, “I want to date you!”
And you reply, “Let’s just stay friends!” Or something…? (Laughs)
Yes. Some people are very tenacious.
But, the applicants haven’t left their previous companies at that point.
When applicants enter the friend phase, some of them go on to work in different companies. Those people remain friends, and sometimes they introduce us to different companies.
How many friends do you have now?
There are two applicants who have passed level two and are currently trying out the friend phase. They’ve gotten into the chat tool that we use, “Remotty.”
It’s like lending them the keys to the office.
Isn’t it difficult to get in?
Kind people in a cruel world?! Programming logic in hiring and business meetings
During the friend phase, it seems that everyone in the company gets to know them. There is not feeling like, “a stranger is suddenly here!”
I am thinking about what to do in the future, but for now I hire people after they have met all the employees. There are about 30 people, so after they say okay.
That process certainly sounds like it would take a year. What is the fastest someone might enter the company?
The fast people take half a year.
In that case, applicants can’t quit their jobs and then start looking.
If someone says they have a set time to find a job or they’re in trouble, because starting with us can take some time, we say please find a job somewhere first. (Laughs)
Let’s take some time getting to know each other.
For me, I want to have a long relationship with both employees and customers.
It’s not something like, “We can get married after two or three dates because if it doesn’t go well, we can just divorce!” or something is it?
I think that’s logical. We may be seen in a soft light, but we think like programmers, including the fact our first interview is with the CEO; we do it because it’s logical.
It’s logical not to manage things that can’t be managed.
In order to be freer, where should we invest? If we only think logically about these things, we have to weigh whether to put costs towards managing people, or to put those costs to use before hiring. It just might be cold hearted to one side or the other.
All our employees are programmers, so we decide by what is consistent with the program.
As the CEO, it doesn’t matter how much I explain something passionately, like, “Let’s all do this!” All the employees will be silent. However, if I talk with them logically, they all understand. (Laughs)
Logic is important.
My heart aches. (Laughs).
I try to do something with my ideas a lot, too. (Wry laughs.)
I like them too. Ideas.
When you try them out, only the things that make sense remain.
I want to say, “Whatever, it’s fine!,” but then no one would listen to me.
That’s sound okay. Just trick them.
They’ll say it’s fine, not a big deal. (Laughs.)