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August 16, 2017

Xcalar’s Culture Described in More than Two Words

“Startup culture” is a term that is thrown around very casually in Silicon Valley.  After you work at a few different companies in the Valley, you realize that using two words with air quotes isn’t sufficient to truly reflect a company’s culture.  It is more than just free food, ping-pong tables, and beers in the fridge. “Startup culture” has become a shortcut term that is often misused, causing many to jump to incorrect assumptions about a young company and what it is like to work there.  Here at Xcalar, we care too much about the company and its vision to squeeze our culture into just two words.  This blog post articulates what makes Xcalar’s culture unique and what it takes to thrive here.

Working at Xcalar requires passion.  Our CEO, Vikram Joshi, is a prime example of that passion, which you experience from the first moment you meet him.  As a programmer, Vikram believes deeply in crafting the highest quality product.  “Building beautiful, inside and out, takes dedication, perseverance, and commitment,” he says.  Dedication means you wake up every day with purpose and you own what you are building such that you will not settle for “good enough.”  Perseverance means continuing with grit and determination through all obstacles, knowing that there are no soft landings or hand-holding.  Commitment means you are in it for the long haul and this is not a flash in the pan.  “Passion and desire are greater driving forces than sheer intellect,” according to Vikram. And he should know.  After working at Sun Microsystems, Silicon Graphics, and Oracle, three of the most innovative companies in Silicon Valley history, Vikram founded two other startups before starting Xcalar over three years ago.

Working at Xcalar pushes you outside of your comfort zone.  You will be valued for what you already do well.  On top of that, you are provided opportunities to do things you have never done before.  It’s not about specializing in one niche function and being the all-knowing expert in that tiny area.  It’s about exploring new areas of interest, trying new things, and being able to add new skills to your toolbox that will further increase your value to the company.  It’s about broadening your horizons and moving mountains, not settling for the status quo and mediocrity.  To truly challenge yourself, you need to be honest with yourself and others, be willing to fail, and let go of your ego. It’s not easy to do, but it’s extremely rewarding when you face that challenge and overcome it.

Working at Xcalar brings out your rebellious spirit. It is certainly easier to appeal to the masses and follow the mainstream, but that is not what Xcalar is seeking to do.  Xcalar is transforming the big data landscape with its data discovery platform.  It is blowing the competition away in terms of unprecedented speed, scale, simplicity, and efficiency.  How do you build such a transformative product?  You don’t assemble a group of people who follow the path of least resistance. You find people who are risk takers and creative problem solvers, those that push the boundaries and think outside of the box.  The most successful people at Xcalar often are the ones who were pining to be successful elsewhere, but had to fight through politics and noise to get things done.  They are not interested in navigating corporate politics, acquiring titles, or building empires.  They want to create value and do the best work of their careers.  This is the attitude that powers and propels the people who thrive and excel at Xcalar.

Having said all that, we do have free food and beer in the fridge.  The jury is still out on the ping pong tables though.
Andrea Ford