In the early days of PayPal, David Sacks managed over 700 employees as the company’s COO.
According to an interesting Quora post, Sacks hated meetings while he was leading PayPal. Former senior executive Keith Rabois wrote that Sacks was sceptical of any meeting that included more than three or four people. He would randomly pop in on meetings, and immediately shut them down if he decided that they seemed inefficient. PayPal’s annual review forms in 2002 even rated employees on whether they avoided “imposing on others’ time, e.g. scheduling unnecessary meetings.”
Why did Sacks despite meetings? Luckily, he explains his reasoning in yet another Quora thread.
Email culture is vastly superior to meeting culture, Sacks believes, because people can make progress on dozens of issues simultaneously by email in the time it would take simply to organise their schedules for a single meeting. The quality of decisions made from emails are also better because there’s no arbitrary “end time” — people can respond when they’re ready, while pulling in additional people and information if needed.
He writes that large meetings also hint at underlying organizational problems. By popping in on meetings occasionally, he got a better understanding of how the company was organised, and what its weaknesses might be. “If a dozen people from product, marketing, sales, etc., are meeting to hash out international issues on a frequent basis, perhaps it’s time to create an international team dedicated to solving these problems,” Sacks writes. “I got a feel for refinements that we should make to the org chart, such as adding new teams to cover unmet needs or re-defining roles to avoid overlaps in job responsibilities.”
You can read his full post here.