Recently I've seen an increased amount of companies who publicly share their values, beliefs and goals. For some of them it has become just as important as their growth and product. I call them Culture-First Companies.

I've been thinking a bit lately about how startups changed over the past decade, and what that might mean for the coming ten years. A part of this is the fact that remote work has only recently gotten more and more mainstream. It has grown out of a few unique companies that are valuing work-life ethic and thoughtful communication so much, that working together is easy for them, even across timezones.

Looking at these companies, a lot of them have something in common: They are incredibly thoughtful when it comes to picking their members, cautious when it comes to funding, public with their successes, and just as honest when it comes to failures. They are companies that are generally well trusted - and people want to work for them.

As opportunities start becoming available globally (thanks to remote work), I feel like this is going to play a huge part in who is going to succeed and build the best teams. As we all know, building a great team is key to success. With the distribution of opportunities, compensation won't be a big issue anymore - hiring people outside of SF is usually a win-win - and the growing amount of global opportunities also means that there is a lot of different interesting work available. The things that were key decision-points before (money & work) won't be a unique selling point anymore.

What's left is the culture and cause. Companies who simply value growth, money and press are going to have a hard time talking to 'the best' on the market. People like to be valued, work with a cause and identify with their work and workplace. 'Culture-First' companies can offer all of that, additionally to what other companies are able to give them - and will in exchange for that be able to recruit the best people possible.

Examples needed?

There are different ways to define a culture-first company. Personally, I was mostly thinking about Buffer. A company with history, a pledge towards transparency that is unique in the startup world and an attractive place to work, valuing your well-being, skeptical towards the 'norm' - and very well known in the industry.

I'm not just talking about this kind of 'employee friendly' companies though. For me, SpaceX is also a culture-first company, even though it is the exact opposite. Instead of valuing work-life balance, their cause is to push humanity forward, even if it takes 80+ hour weeks. It makes them unique as well, and the value proposition makes people want to work there.

My point is that the startup of 2030 will need more than a good compensation package and interesting work to be able to create the best team possible. It takes a higher cause that everyone can get behind, a culture that every member is immediately part of once they join (other than corporate culture where you have to go through a culture handbook). Companies without culture will recruit employees without character.