During my time as CTO at N26, I experienced first hand a company experiencing hypergrowth. As a leader responsible for managing and scaling tech, I researched what hypergrowth means and how others handled it. I found tips, advice and many lessons learned relevant for the situation I was facing.
The advice and links are still useful to companies experiencing normal growth. However in hypergrowth mode, you often don’t have a chance to course correct and elements can quickly magnify so are more important to address during hypergrowth.
These articles proved useful for me and by sharing them, I hope they prove useful for you. I’ve listed the articles in time published/updated and I’ll aim to periodically update page to keep it fresh. Email me if you also have a link you think should be on this page.
What is Hypergrowth?
Articles defining, characterising and categorising the differences between hypergrowth and growth or rapid growth.
- Managing Hypergrowth (Apr 2008) – HBR publishes an article which is widely accepted as the first time the term “hypergrowth” is used.
- What is hypergrowth, and what can we learn from it? (Apr 2016) – The World Economic Forum publishes a more formal definition of hypergrowth.
- 3 Things Hypergrowth Firms Do Differently (Dec 2016) – An Inc article describing three characteristics of hypergrowth firms.
- What Is Hypergrowth? (And How Do You Achieve It?) (Jul 2017) – A good visualisation of understanding hypergrowth and three proposed stages firms go through.
Recruiting and Retention
Hypergrowth demands new capabilities and experiences. Teams in hypergrowth rarely have the time to build the skills and experiences which is why you often need to look for outside help. It’s important to look at your recruiting teams, processes and especially onboarding processes. Don’t forget that retention goes hand-in-hand with recruiting.
These articles give you ideas about how others have approached, iterated and transformed their recruiting and retention strategies.
- Hypergrowth Startups: Talent Retention and Growth Tips for Customer Success Teams (Mar 2017) – Some great advice around both attracting and retaining talent.
- How to Find & Retain People Who Can Scale Your Startup Through Hyper-Growth (Jan 2018) – A great summary of recruiting lessons learned from Blue Apron.
- (Video + Transcript) Lever’s CEO on the 3 Key Elements to Hiring for Hypergrowth (Jan 2019) – Learn about Lever’s approach to rapidly hiring the right kinds of people.
- 7 Tips To Improve Your Hyper-Growth Hiring Strategy (Feb 2019) – Bringing structure to your recruiting process early on will help you scale.
- 9 Things About Hiring for Hypergrowth You May Not Already Know – Pt 1 of 2 (May 2019) – A recruiting firm (Boutique Recruiting) shares fours tips about recruiting during hypergrowth. Part 2 outlines the other five tips.
- How One Tech Company Achieved Candidate Experience Scores 33% Better Than Industry Average (Sep 2019) – Three areas to focus on to improve the recruitment process.
Organisational Structure and Process
Changes to structures and processes are where you get a lot of leverage to continually optimise for your situation. These articles give you an idea about what breaks at different parts of the journey and what you might do to improve the situation.
- The Do’s and Don’ts of Rapid Scaling for Startups (June 2016) – Explores the idea of reducing cognitive load and what you can do to manage this as a company grows.
- 3x in 3 years: Scaling an Engineering Organization (Jul 2017) – PagerDuty’s transformation from a matrix to tribe based structure
- How We Reorganized Instagram’s Engineering Team While Quadrupling Its Size (Nov 2017) – Instagram Head of Engineering’s experience changing structures from 115 to over 400 in a couple of years.
- Designing a Company’s Operating System for Hypergrowth (Airbnb) (Jun 2018) – The COO from Airbnb reflects on changes they made to support hypergrowth.
- Lessons from Coinbase’s Wild Ascent: Four Rules for Scaling (Oct 2018) – Some great leadership lessons learned about structuring an org during rapid growth and some very good lessons learned.
- Introducing the Target Operating Model – An Architecture Decision Record for the Organisation (June 2019) – An approach I used to establish and set the vision for ensuring we had a good scalable structure as the organisation scaled at N26 during hypergrowth.
- Managing During Hypergrowth and Change – Chris Slowe, CTO of Reddit, at Elevate 2019 (Sep 2019) – A great insight into how Reddit looked at structures, processes and more on their own hypergrowth journey.
- Lessons Learned From the Hypergrowth of HashiCorp’s Remote Engineering Teams (Sep 2019) (Presentation + Transcript) – Hashicorp’s VP Engineering Preeti Somal shares a presentation about how they reworked elements of their team structures. This is particularly interesting as it involved a very distributed engineering team.
- The Alchemy of Scaling Teams in Fast-Growing Startups (Nov 2019) – An insight into the challenges behind successfully growing a team — and 4 key strategies to tackle them.
- Hypergrowth – Lessons learned from tripling the size of a tech team (Nov 2019) – A video presented at CodeMotion Berlin from Piergiorgio Niero (@pigiuz) (Head of Engineering at SuperAwesome) sharing his experiences about experiencing hypergrowth in their team.
- Miro’s Product Alignment Approach (Jan 2020) – Product Lead, Farbod Saraf at Miro shares how they adapted their product alignment approach as they rapidly scaled from 3M to 12M users and 300 to 600 employees.
- How Instagram Co-founder Mike Krieger Took Its Engineering Org from 0 to 300 People (Mar 2021) – Facebook bought Instagram when it had only 6 developers, but after that, the team scaled quickly. Former CTO and co-founder Mike Krieger shares some personal reflections on what that was like.
- Rituals for hypergrowth: An inside look at how YouTube scaled (undated, came across Jun 2021) – A set of planning cadences used during YouTube’s rapid growth.
- Managing Hypergrowth Without Sacrificing Culture: No Offices or Admins (Jun 2014) – VC Battery Ventures shares some advice on what to watch out when it comes to culture in rapidly growing companies.
- How to Maintain Company Culture During a Period of Hyper-Growth (Aug 2015) – WalkMe shares 3 areas they focused on when moving from 40 to 150 people in less than a year and a half.
- How to Build A Unified Company Culture in a Hypergrowth Environment (May 2018) – Nextiva, a fast growing telecommunications company in Arizona share how they went about building company culture during hypergrowth.
- Balancing Hyper Growth and Company Culture (Apr 2019) (Podcast) – Explores some ideas on how Course Hero invested in culture during hypergrowth.
- Scaling Culture in Fast-Growing Companies (Jun 2019) – HBR provides four concrete areas to focus on developing culture during fast growth periods.
- How to preserve your company culture during hypergrowth (Oct 2019) – 7 Ideas on what to focus on to explicitly shape company culture.
- 6 Ways To Build Culture In A Hypergrowth Company (Jan 2021) – Advice from Divya Ghata, CPO at SentinelOne navigating hypergrowth during COVID times.
- How to reinvent the ‘hypergrowth’ culture (Feb 2021) – A short article on what to focus on when your company is scaling and your values are holding you back
- Serving The Under-Served: Samsara’s CPO Kiren Sekar On The Path To Hyper Growth (Aug 2021) – An article from a rapidly growing 6 year company describing what they focused on for company culture and what they invested in to keep growing.
Advice for Leaders and Managers
These articles offer personal advice from leaders, reflections or articles that crossed many categories at the same time.
- Wisdom from Hyper-growth Companies (Oct 2013) – Eric Ries shares what hypergrowth is like, the lean start up way, hiring and org structure.
- Hyper-Growth Done Right – Lessons From the Man Who Scaled Engineering at Dropbox and Facebook (Feb 2015) – 12 concrete tips across a wide variety of topics that every technical leader should consider.
- Survive the Leap to Hyper-Growth with This Advice from Steve Blank (Feb 2015) – Recognise which stage of a company you’re in to understand what you should focus on.
- 3 tools every hyper-growth leader needs to implement today (Aug 2015) – Part 1 of a 5 part series from Kevin Eyres, MD of LinkedIn Europe who managed the hypergrowth cycle. Part 2: Something is always broken. Part 3: Why team-building should be your hypergrowth company’s top priority. Part 4: Shifting sands and the importance of planning. Part 5: Stepping up to the challenge.
- The Keys to Scaling Yourself as a Technology Leader (Nov 2015) – In 4 years, Adam Pisoni grew Yammer from a team of 5 to over 500. Read about how own experiences scaling himself.
- Productivity in the age of hypergrowth – Will Larsen shares his experiences during Uber’s rapid growth and how engineering managers can navigate the chaos.
- Managing Change in Hyper Growth Mode (Video + Transcript) (Oct 2017) – A panel describing some of the approaches to how Salesforce grew rapidly and the challenges they had.
- Five Tips For Managing Hyper-Growth That Every Startup Needs (Dec 2017) – Some good tips that are truly relevant even outside of hypergrowth.
- Hypergrowth and The Law of Startup Physics (Jun 2018) – Understand this law to understand how you scale.
- Elad Gil on catapulting into hyper growth (Jul 2018) – A podcast conversation with someone’s journey navigating from 90 to 1500 during Twitter’s rapid growth phase.
- EU unicorn CTO shares his secret to hyper-growth scaling (Feb 2019) – BlaBlaCar‘s CTO, Francis Nappez, shares his personal lessons learned during hypergrowth.
- Four Lessons from Leading Hyper-growth (Mar 2019) – Lessons from the GM from Shopify all leaders should read.
- (Video) Scaling yourself during hypergrowth (May 2019) – Senior Director of Engineering at Slack, Julia Grace shares 10 lessons learned during her time at Slack.
- Five Challenges That Can Derail Hypergrowth Start-Ups (Aug 2019) – Advice from a VC firm around both founder and organisational processes that can potentially derail hypergrowth.
- Navigating the Stages of Hyper-growth (Oct 2019) – One person’s reflections of 10 years at Skyscanner.
- 9 leadership quotes for companies in hypergrowth mode (Nov 2019) – Leaders from various departments at GetYourGuide share their advice on handling hypergrowth covering many different aspects.
- The good, the bad, and the ugly: ChartMogul’s Nick Franklin on navigating hypergrowth (Jan 2020) (Podcast + Notes) – ChartMogul’s CEO and Founder, Nick Franklin shares his personal advice after 5 years of accelerated growth at ChartMogul.
Tips, personal reflections on individuals experiences working in a company experiencing hypergrowth.
- Freelancing At A Hyper-Growth Startup: Don’t Miss This Career-Making Opportunity (Jul 2018) – One perspective why you might consider working for a hypergrowth company.
- Why Join A Company That’s Scaling Up (Aug 2018) – Y Combinator president Sam Altman gives a number of reasons why you might consider working for a hypergrowth company.
- What hypergrowth is like at N26 (Mar 2019) – In this article, I share five reasons you might consider working in a hypergrowth environment.
- Why Joining a Hyper-Growth Company Can Accelerate Your Career (June 2019) – HighSpot’s HR Leader Jennifer Palecki shares three reasons to consider joining a hypergrowth company.
- How I Survived Insane Hypergrowth at Airbnb (Jun 2019) – The personal reflections of a Director of Product at Airbnb.
Further Reading Resources
A list of related books and other relevant resources:
- Scaling Teams by David Loftesness and Alexander Grosse (Jan 2017) – Five areas of organisational capability to focus on during rapid growth. Read my book review here.
- High Growth Handbook by Elad Gil (Jul 2018) – A seasoned Silicon Valley engineering leader shares their experience on organising a company to support high growth.
- Blitzscaling by Reid Hoffman and Chris Yeh (Oct 2018) – Learn from LinkedIn founders and other case studies on rapidly scaling companies.
- Dynamic Reteaming: The Art and Wisdom of Changing Teams by Heidi Helfand (2020) – During rapid growth, your organisation structure including teams will change a lot. Helfand offers five reteaming practices with case studies showing how they work.
Think an article should make its way onto this list? Shoot me an email and let me know.