What I learned as Vercel's COO
Lessons on Hyperscaling
After 4 years at Vercel, I’m stepping down as COO. During my time, we went from a team of 20 to more than 450, increased revenue 75x, and learned ten things for others experiencing hypergrowth.
1. Iteration velocity matters more than anything.
You will mess up when moving fast, but the damage of moving too slow is far greater.
2. As a leader, your most important job is to be a coach, not to be the best at coding, selling, writing, etc.
You have to transition fast. Too many executives spend time trying to do their team's work.
3. Always be learning who you can trust to act independently. Enable them.
Your business will be too complex to keep everything in your head. Your primary output should be frameworks.
4. Embrace talking about pay and promotions.
Make sure your team is comfortable discussing compensation and career. The most damaging thing your company can experience is losing your best people over a few dollars.
5. Own the outcomes.
Don't blame others when things go sideways. Solving hard problems requires big swings. Your team will strike out a lot, and that’s okay. Let them know they need to keep swinging and you’ve got their back.
6. Finish the swing.
Hold your team accountable for iterating not just shipping version 1.0. Getting something out the door is fun, but it’s critical to measure how well that thing did.
7. Don't accept chronic behavior issues.
It’s easy to let small things go. Debug bad behaviors: find the cause and fix it. Your culture is informed by these norms and when you’re hyperscaling issues can replicate very quickly.
8. Continue to hold the standards high for who you hire and what you ship.
Don’t believe your own hype. Treat every single ship as precious.
9. Build deep trust with your leadership team and over-communicate.
People have a lot going on, so remind them you're in their corner frequently. Silence is often assumed to be a negative.
10. Express gratitude.
Make sure they know you see the work they’re doing to build a company with you. Special thanks to the Vercel OGs. It's been an incredible ride.