Insights into SoundCloud culture

SoundCloud (cf. Wikipedia) is a young Berlin-based company “under the laws of England & Wales”, and with Swedish origin. Six years ago, in 2009, they acquired their first big funding. Since then, they experienced a tremendous growth and were able to regularly raise investment capital. Until today, SoundCloud has created and put itself into a unique position with a convincing product (which I am using — and paying — myself), but can also be considered as competitor of big brands such as Spotify and Beats Music. In fact, according to the Wall Street Journal, SoundCloud can be expected to join the party of billion-dollar IT companies quite soon:

SoundCloud, a popular music and audio-sharing service, is in discussions to raise about $150 million in new financing at a valuation that is expected to top $1.2 billion, according to two people with knowledge of the negotiations.

Having these facts in mind, it is impressive to hear that SoundCloud still only employs 300 people, in just a handful of offices around the world. Just like me, you might be curious about getting to know details of this kind, and about the SoundCloud story in itself. So, I was really eager to listen to Episode 17 of “Hipster & Hack“, featuring an interview with David Noël (Twitter profile, LinkedIn profile). David has accompanied SoundCloud for six years now and currently leads Internal Communications. He clearly is in the position to provide authoritative information about how SoundCloud’s vision was translated into reality over time, but also about how culture and communication within SoundCloud evolved. The latter is what he mainly talks about in the interview, providing insights about the structure and tools applied for defining a culture, for keeping it under control, and for communicating it to employees from the very first moment on until even after they have left the company. David defines culture as the living manifestation of core values and comes to insightful statements such as

Living your values is your culture at any moment in time.

In the interview, we learn that one of SoundCloud’s core values is being open, in the context of internal communications. The culture and communication topic really seems to have a high priority in the company, judging based on methods like the “all-hands” meeting that David refers to in the interview. Personally, I cannot overstate how much I value this, coming from classical research where such elements are often just neglected.

So, if that raises your interest, I recommend listening to three quite likable guys here (listening to minutes 4 to 29 suffices, the rest is enjoyable overhead ;-)):