There is always a big focus on a company mission statement to help companies stay on course through the great times and the challenging times. The mission statement is analogous to the US's Declaration of Independence:
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.”
The problem with mission statements is that because they are short and broad, they can be unhelpful as guidelines. Re-read above and then remember that the authors said all men are created equal, even as slavery ran rampant. Most company mission statements are either ignored or manipulated to the point where they are useless.
Companies, then, should focus on building constitutions, not mission statements.
As I embark on Kevel, I want to first outline some core rules for Kevel that I hope will forever shape how Kevel employees interact with each other and the outside world.
Just like the US Constitution, this will be a fluid document – amendments can be added by the executive team, but it will be done in a very transparent fashion. I know that Kevel will change and adapt in the coming years – but now we can at least be sure that it will be done consciously and deliberately.
As Kevel has grown, Kevel has codified and made actionable our set of Core Values. We view these as Kevel Constitutional Amendments because each value represents a specific course of action for all employees to emulate.
Decades of ad networks and OpenRTB have gotten us to an Internet that is inundated by ad units that slow down websites, harvest our data, and obtrusively take up the screen. We aim to fix that by giving publishers alternatives to terrible programmatic ads - and allow them to build custom, seamless, privacy-first ad platforms that'll help them monetize without resorting to awful banner ads.
We will build a company where we want to work, with a focus on self-responsibility and autonomy. As noted above, we have an Employee Bill of Rights and want all employees to be fairly compensated. We trust our employees to do the right thing, and we don’t feel like the company or management needs to babysit them.
We will fight to empower underrepresented groups - whether that's through community efforts or active programs to find and recruit diverse viewpoints. This goes well beyond having an equal opportunity employment policy - it's about striving to have a workplace full of and shaped by unique backgrounds.
We are open and transparent with our employees, customers, vendors, and the public. We work only with open source software and also contribute to it; for instance, we created and sponsored the Clojure tool Boot. Being open also translates into internal practices, like sharing the P/L of the company every month and being transparent about direction and decisions inside the company. Lastly, openness means sharing posts like this with the public.
We aim to delight our customers and also delight our customers' end users (their advertisers, their website visitors, etc). This includes active conversations between customers and our executive staff and product team. It includes proactive support and customer success help. And it includes a constant practice of listening to customers, fixing our mistakes, and delighting them moving forward.
We will build a culture of innovation. We are not happy with the Status Quo and will always seek to find ways to improve our product, our internal processes, and our personal skills. The term includes 'deliver' because innovation without making it actionable doesn't help anyone. Innovation also implies 'new' - we don't want to just offer incrementally better features to our customers; we want to release transformative products that improve the lives of them, their advertisers, and their users.
As we continue to grow, we will introduce new hires to our Constitution and Core Values, as well as stress them in quarterly kick-offs and in every-day interactions. We look forward to continuing to refine and tweak what we stand for and our guiding principles.
James has been a thought leader in ad tech for over fifteen years. He is currently the CEO and founder of Kevel. An engineer by trade, he built Kevel with the goal of making the Internet a better place through tools that make it easy to monetize without resorting to page-slowing, data-harvesting banner ads.