During her six-year tenure as Netflix VP of Talent, Barbie Graver implemented a one-year unlimited leave policy for new parents — a move that was widely applauded, and quickly imitated. To Graver, her achievements at Netflix were the capstone to her long career in HR at companies like Cisco.
“I thought after Netflix, there wouldn’t be another company attractive to me,” Graver tells Business Insider. “I was wrong.”
Today, Graver shares with Business Insider exclusively that she’s joined GitLab, a hot startup helping software developers work together, and a major rival to $US2 billion Silicon Valley startup GitHub. So far, GitLab has raised $US25.6 million of funding — and we hear from a source familiar that more cash is on the way soon.
As Chief Culture Officer, Graver faces what might be her biggest challenge yet. While she has experience with fast-growing tech companies, GitLab is a little different: All of GitLab’s 193 employees (and their 45 pets, apparently) work remotely, from their own homes, in 38 different countries. There’s no GitLab office. Anywhere. At all.
“I’m still thinking about” about how to address the challenges this presents, says Graver. It’s hard enough to establish a consistent corporate culture when everybody is in the same place; it’s harder still when they’re literally dispersed throughout the globe. And as we saw with Uber’s recent run of scandals, maintaining a positive culture is critical.
Graver says she’s still thinking about how to address those challenges specifically, but that GitLab’s dispersed nature actually lends some big advantages. Once you’re not limited to hiring people from any one city, state, or even country, you can recruit only the best people. And the best people, by definition, are the ones who contribute positively.
“Without the great people, it would all fall apart,” says Graver.
On her to-do list, says Graver, is making sure that women and people in marganalized groups are represented among GitLab’s team. A cursory glance at GitLab’s team page shows that it’s still heavily weighted towards men. It’s going to take some time to find the right way forward, says Graver, but she’s willing to experiment.
“I’m not a big process-and-bureaucracy person,” she says.
Otherwise, Graver says she was drawn to GitLab because of its philosopy of transparency: For example, the GitLab website lays out the company’s business plan, history, and product roadmap. And while Graver doesn’t go into it, GitLab won praise from the programmer world for maintaining a constant stream of communication with users during its infamous February outage, which happened due to employee error.
Graver isn’t the only new exec joining GitLab, either. Former Trifacta VP of Marketing Joe Scheuermann has signed on as GitLab CMO, with former Airware VP of Engineering Eric Johnson signing on at GitLab in the same role. Scheuermann echoed Graver’s praise for GitLab’s transparency, and its willingness to hire anywhere.
“My potential workforce is anywhere on the planet,” says Scheuermann.