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There are newer employer reviews for Valve Corporation
There are newer employer reviews for Valve Corporation

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Helpful (24)

possibly the best game company to work for

  • Comp & Benefits
  • Senior Management
  • Culture & Values
  • Career Opportunities
Current Employee - Anonymous Employee
Current Employee - Anonymous Employee

I have been working at Valve Corporation

Recommends
Approves of CEO
Recommends
Approves of CEO

Pros

good quality of life, and being surrounded by creative people. there are many reasons to work at valve. the standards are pretty high, but they push you and really make you strive for the newest, best thing. there is no formal management structure, and responsibility is given on a competence level or if one asks for it. there is lots of room to try new things, so you feel like you are learning all the time. i have been at valve for many years and found it to be extremely rewarding, both in a business sense and personal one.

Cons

very competitive internally (high standards).

Advice to Management

more insight into what's happening at the company, future plans.

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  1. Helpful (2)

    Brilliant people, brilliant CEO, deluded culture, strange management

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee

    I worked at Valve Corporation

    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    Pros

    Valve has managed to hire some of the smartest people in the world, and strangely, almost everyone there is easy to get along with. Valve pays almost double industry standard. It is a thriving company that is making more money than it knows what to do with. Anything you work on at Valve will affect millions of gamers worldwide. The CEO, Gabe, is truly brilliant, and any chance to hear him or talk with him is worth a lot.

    Cons

    The culture at Valve is a bit like a cult. There's a party line and if you veer from that, it is discouraged with one-liners rather than discussion. Valve cultivates the image of a company where anyone they hire can choose to tackle anything they want, but in reality, people who cause extra work for management can be fired without warning. The incentives are setup so the people who place themselves around upper management the most and are the loudest about what they're doing (that jives with what upper management likes) will be compensated several times more than those who don't. Therefore, if you can't sell yourself well, then Valve is not a good place to be.

    Gabe is a brilliant leader, but he is virtually invisible at the company at this point.

    Advice to Management

    Gabe needs to take a more active hand in encouraging projects to move forward. Sometimes projects at Valve feel like they're completely out of context because Gabe rarely or never provides that context. Sometimes at Valve, a team utterly fails to deliver because there is no place where the buck stops. If Gabe did a monthly reality check with each team and gave some high-level encouragement and feedback, it would help.

  2. Helpful (9)

    Valve is theoretically utopia, but the reality falls short

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - No Job Titles in Bellevue, WA (US)
    Current Employee - No Job Titles in Bellevue, WA (US)

    I have been working at Valve Corporation full-time (More than 5 years)

    Doesn't Recommend
    Positive Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO
    Doesn't Recommend
    Positive Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO

    Pros

    Valve is a hugely profitable company filled with brilliant developers. They try hard to understand what their customers want, and their steady revenue stream (from Steam and other sources) gives them the luxury of taking their time and doing the right thing.

    The lack of management can be liberating. As long as you don't make stupid choices you get huge flexibility in deciding what you want to work on. You can change projects and, within reason, decide what to work on within a project.

    The resources needed to do your job are generally always available, as they trust you to make responsible decisions with the company’s money.

    Cons

    The idealistic paradise is ultimately undone by a flawed review system. The lack of managers means that a peer review system is necessary, and Valve is very proud of theirs. But their review model is best described as a “popularity contest masquerading as data”. You never know who will (or who has) reviewed you so you have no opportunity to remind them what you have done, or why your work was valuable.

    Employees react to this review system with strategies such as choosing more visible (even if less valuable) work, announcing accomplishments to the whole company in hopes of being heard by their reviewers, or just hoping that reviewers will remember the work they did nine months earlier. None of these are ideal.

    Valve strives for a hands-off objective review, but in reality the system is manipulated by those who run it. All employees’ opinions are equal, but some employees’ opinions are more equal than others, and those employees who run the review system have significant impact on how others are evaluated and compensated.

    You also receive no feedback from your review. You get a bonus, and perhaps a raise, and (rarely) some stock options, but other than those numbers in an e-mail you get no information. There is no indication as to whether you are getting better, or worse, or how you could improve. There is no information about how your performance or compensation look compared to your peers. Many employees don’t even realize when many of their coworkers are getting stock options, and the owners rely on this opacity. Those who get stock options do extremely well, and the others do not. It’s an unacknowledged two-class system.

    The rational response to this uncertainty is to find a patron – somebody who can guarantee you a good review if you do their bidding. These patrons (the knights) guarantee themselves good reviews by doing the bidding of a higher-level patron (a baron), and the barons pledge fealty to the board members. This unofficial structure necessarily evolved and you opt out of it at your peril. The irony of a hierarchical structure spontaneously forming in Gabe Newell’s company after he has spoken so strongly about the problems of “command-and-control type hierarchical systems” is delicious. As was noted in “The Tyranny of Structurelessness”, “structurelessness becomes a way of masking power”, and this masked power is more insidious than formal power.

    So, I quit in order to get better compensation, an acknowledged hierarchy, and appreciation for my work.

    Advice to Management

    The review system needs to be fixed. The moderator should be prevented from influencing people’s opinions and a way should be found to give employees better feedback about their performance.

    Most importantly, employees should be allowed to create a one-page summary of their year’s work, and reviewers should be required to read these. I can’t easily remember what I did nine months ago so how can my reviewers be expected to? Only then can the review system become at all accurate.

    Compensation in general should be more transparent, and every employee should receive a few stock options every year, instead of randomly dolling out one-time grants. The use of large and occasional grants makes stock options an even more capricious method of compensation than normal.

There are newer employer reviews for Valve Corporation
There are newer employer reviews for Valve Corporation

See Most Recent

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