Reflections: 4,800 Days at Viget
I recently began my fourteenth year at Viget. It’s the longest I’ve ever worked anywhere -- and it’s not a path I’d foreseen when 5 of us were working on folding tables in my basement back in 2000. In those days, at the height of the dot-com boom, I thought being part of a small company helping to build the Internet would be an exciting change of pace; but, if I’m honest, I didn’t see us lasting more than a couple years until we disbanded and went on to other things. I’m glad I was wrong about that prediction.
In all these years, I’ve seen a lot of changes here at Viget; but, I’m most impressed by the things that haven’t changed. Here’s just a sampling:
- Talented people. We started Viget with the idea that we would be very particular about those we hired. We were tired of working places where teams were bloated with people who didn’t carry their own weight. As anyone who works here can attest, our screening process can be daunting. Phone screens, portfolio reviews, pair programming, written quizzes, whiteboard exercises, and formal presentations are par for the course. End result: I’m surrounded by awesomely talented experts in their fields.
- Great benefits. One of my first responsibilities was to line up insurance coverage. It was me and four young, single guys who never went to the doctor. They were concerned about building our first big web solution (an online catering system built on the LAMP technology stack). I wanted to make sure that we had premium medical coverage because no one stays healthy forever. Since the beginning, Viget has always paid 100% of our premiums. Over the years, we’ve expanded Viget’s cost sharing to include 100% of family premiums and full funding of deductibles, in addition to adding a 401k plan with matching contributions, life & disability coverage at no cost, and, most recently, paternity leave. Continual reevaluation of our benefits to ensure that our people and their families are taken care of remains a priority.
- Enjoyable work environment. I don’t just mean amenities like free soda, free lunches, casual dress, ping pong, and fun group activities like snowmobiling which have been constants since Day One. Those are all nice and I’ve certainly enjoyed the free soda (by my calculation, 9,480 cans of Diet Coke, which is somewhat horrifying to admit). One remarkable aspect about working at Viget is that we’ve managed to stay true to our “hire genuinely nice people” mantra. Yes, we vet people’s skills, as noted above. But, that’s not everything. We want to work with people who are enjoyable to be around. People who check their egos at the door; who graciously share their knowledge, time, and opinions with their peers; who care about others’ families, hobbies, and outside passions. We all spend a lot of time at work -- at Viget, we choose to spend it among nice people.
- Opportunities to learn. Naturally, when we were small, we all wore multiple hats and we had to just figure out how to get stuff done. Over the years, as we’ve grown to nearly 60 people, we’ve been able to become more specialized; however, that spirit of being willing to take on a project, responsibility, or technical challenge that may be new persists. Our people are not only unfazed by obstacles in their path, they embrace those challenges. I love that mind-set and I’m so proud to work with fellow go-getters.
My prediction now is that Viget will be around for another 5,000 days and beyond -- and will continue to remain unchanged in all the important ways. I’m looking forward to it.