Six Startup CEOs On Their Company Culture, Boiled Down to One Word

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mergers and acquisitions. He vows to stay focused on executing, which should serve Elemental well in the hyper-competitive field of online video.

Modumetal (Seattle, WA)
CEO: Christina Lomasney
Culture: “Competent”
Comments: Lomasney says her staff is brilliant, dedicated, aggressive, and well-rounded. But what really sets them apart is their competence in engineering and program management. When you’re talking about a company that makes nanotech armor to save lives in combat (among other mission-critical applications), the competence of Modumetal is crucial—and understated.

Ontela (Seattle, WA)
CEO: Dan Shapiro
Culture: “Humble”
Comments: Shapiro says intelligence, drive, and hard work are givens in his staff, but humility is at their core. That means a willingness to listen, learn, and constantly improve their mobile-imaging products. It probably also means understanding where they fit in the vast mobile ecosystem, and adapting to work more efficiently with the big wireless carriers who sell Ontela’s software to customers.

Picnik (Seattle, WA)
CEO: Jonathan Sposato
Culture: “Easy”
Comments: Sposato says this reflects both the company’s product and its culture. Picnik’s photo editing software is easy to use, and its staff is easy-going. Runners-up would be “LOVA”—the green leafy canopies from Ikea that sit above people’s desks and give the office an outdoors-y, family feel—and (my personal favorite) “kaffeeisenbahnzug,” German for “coffee train,” a nod to the team’s daily cafe expedition.

Smith & Tinker (Bellevue, WA)
CEO: Jordan Weisman
Culture: “Obsessed”
Comments: Weisman says his team has set a different goal—to merge traditional toys with video games—and is obsessed with bringing it to life. That means the staff has expertise across hardware, software, game design, toy manufacturing, marketing, and sales. That mix (and mindset) should serve Smith & Tinker well as it tries to straddle two $21 billion markets, and create a new kind of game experience.

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