Building a Company From 1-1,000: Scaling HR One Leap at a Time

1K Frogs

Over a decade ago, our CEO, Shlomi Ben Haim, approached me to lead HR for JFrog. I wasn’t yet an employee, and at that point JFrog had only 15 people on staff.

I said no. Why would JFrog need HR with 15 employees? His answer to me is the essence of how we have built JFrog: “We’re building a company, and we need to make sure we’re building it right.

I was convinced to become employee #16.

And 10 years later, with over 1,000 employees in 15 different countries, we’re still building a company without compromise.

As an organization, we’ve experienced many milestones in our journey. Our innovative engineering and product teams have been true community advocates, they have built products with, by, and for developers and injected the Open Source spirit into JFrog. We’ve acquired 8 companies. We had an IPO that followed 4 funding rounds. Our products continue to lead the market. We’ve accomplished a lot together.

That’s important to say: together. The community backing and the constant listening to customers have created an environment where smart, authentic people – the Frogs – are working together towards a common goal.

“We’re building a company, and we need to make sure we’re building it right.”

In order to get it right, we need to constantly not only attract and retain the right people, but build the right culture within the “swamps” for them to thrive in. This culture needs to go beyond typical tech company perks. It’s not the table tennis or free snacks that you see in the office. It has to be an inherent part of who you are as a people.

The compass of our culture

When you’re in company-building mode, you need something to guide you, something you can constantly use as your compass to keep things moving in the right direction. This becomes especially important when you’re scaling quickly and it becomes easy to lose your way or compromise.

For us, the “north star” is the JFrog Codex. This is not a top-down set of goals that executives have put on the wall. This is an employee-driven documentation of who we are. It’s our contract with one another, written by all of us as citizens of the swamp.

“We’re building a company, and we need to make sure we’re building it right.”

As we continue to build, the Codex will continue to be a guidepost for us, as it’s a reflection of the hearts of our people and how we diligently shape JFrog. Core principles of thinking big, care, customer happiness and more did not come from executives, but the Frogs themselves, the keepers of this culture.

Universal values

At JFrog, building a company means opening new offices around the world, embracing new geographical and people group cultures, understanding that when we’ve gained hundreds of new employees yearly, we need to make sure that all of us are looking at the same goals.

Sound easy? It’s not.

Is it possible? 1000% YES!

The JFrog SpiritThe JFrog Spirit

“We’re building a company, and we need to make sure we’re building it right.”

When you invest time and effort in this rapid growth, one of the ways to keep a company on track is to always focus on the “why” of what we are doing. Sometimes, that’s a big answer about value to customers, partners and global competitiveness. Sometimes, the “why” is more personal and relatable to individuals – like when we’re all facing a global pandemic. It’s important to keep our values at all times and in all circumstances, spanning multiple cultures.

The JFrog IPO actually happened in the midst of COVID restrictions, with a mostly-remote workforce taking part in this once-in-a-lifetime milestone. The complexity of keeping a culture alive in a remote environment while facing unprecedented challenges made our compass even more important.

One of the Codex values we have is that “everyone counts, everyone matters.” As such, we made efforts to involve every employee in the IPO, deliver special gifts to their homes the night before we “hit the bell”, incorporate them in the publicity and more. We could feel the togetherness. This proves a culture that permeates a pandemic and goes beyond any physical office.

Growth of people, not just numbers

Being employee 16, I’ve had the honor of watching over 1,000 Frogs come through the office door. Some have started out as senior leaders. Some have grown in their roles over a decade into leadership positions. We’ve seen children born – hundreds of “tadpoles” – around the world to our employees’ families. We’ve spawned marriages and friendships that last lifetimes. I’ve seen careers be nurtured that have been pivoted into roles that lead industries – even outside of JFrog.

This employee growth, both personally and professionally, is important to me, as one of the privileged keepers of our culture. The whole person matters here. It’s the foundation of who we are.

“We’re building a company, and we need to make sure we’re building it right.”

It takes courage, partnership and bold decision making to continue to succeed. Though markets and locations and businesses may change, we will never compromise on our values.

That’s the essence of everything. That’s our soul.

Many thanks to the countless hours of our HR teams, hiring managers and fellow keepers of the flame and guardians of the Codex for making this 1,000 employee milestone possible. We can’t accomplish togetherness without intentionally pursuing it as one team of Frogs. With our drive to succeed, we’ll reach the next milestones together. That’s “building it right.”