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Talent, Locations, and Being Different. Groq’s Growth Success

Written by
Tobi Crabtree, Director of People & Culture
Groq Growth
Groq grew significantly over the past year, from a small but driven team of 50 people to being more than three times that size. This would be a significant challenge for any start-up, under any circumstances. But 3x growth during a global pandemic forced us to examine how teams of highly talented people can be empowered to work together effectively. Along the way, we gained some interesting learnings. We seek the kind of mind that values precision and introspection, innovation and out-of-the-box thinking. And we believe in innovating together. Our reach, outcomes, and resiliency stem from a culture mindset that’s as unique as the technology it creates.

Team

At Groq, reputation and identity are built more on a sense of contribution than ownership, whether an engineer, a manager, or an executive. We’re biased toward connected teams that collaborate openly, seeing ideas as resources to be pooled, refined, and executed collectively. The result, even at a company-wide level, is a hunger for greater influence and accomplishments, not greater credit.  “A great team is made up of folks who share rough drafts openly and early on.” – CEO Jonathan Ross To us, the word “team” symbolizes evenly-weighted contributors, whether remote or in-office. We’ve mastered successful virtual team projects because we fundamentally believe that collaboration doesn’t have to happen in person. 

Talent First

In every field or ambition, it’s not the technology that determines the outcome, but the people behind it—designing it, pushing it, guiding its evolution. Our true medium isn’t code or silicon, but talent in all its forms, operating on multiple levels. And the best talent isn’t just unique—it’s adaptable. That’s why we’re committed to seeking out talent on its own terms, not necessarily ours. While we offer physical locations for our employees to work in Mountain View, California (and we’re building more in places like Toronto, Portland, Austin, and San Jose), we have firmly rejected the “build it and they must come” mindset. For any task not physically dependent on the resources of a lab, Groq is geographically agnostic. Our employees, all over the US and Canada, collaborate and thrive remotely because we enable them to do so. 

Team Building

Of course, collaboration is about much more than the work itself. It’s built on a foundation of trust, familiarity, and that most elusive quality of all: chemistry. That’s why team building must live where fun resides. The all-too-common perks of Silicon Valley are a start—no one’s going to turn down endless snacks and ping-pong tables, after all—but we believe the opportunity goes much deeper. True camaraderie is the product of engagements that are as satisfying intellectually as they are interpersonally. Examples include our bi-weekly Beers & Demos gathering, where employees can share their accomplishments in short, 5-minute segments over a beverage of choice, and Lunch & Learn meetings, where employees share 50-minute presentations on topics of personal interest, ranging from technical (such as competitor performance modeling), to operations (such as GroqNet intranet functionality), and hobbies (such as build-your-own ski equipment, algorithms and game theory), and life hacks (such as surviving in the woods). In fact, our Lunch & Learn meetings have become so successful that we’ve started to share them on our YouTube channel Groq’s trivia slams, scavenger hunts, wine tastings, and yoga classes bring us together in meaningful and enjoyable ways that are more light and spontaneous. But we also reserve time for planned and purposeful events such as International Friendship Day,  professional development perks like working with an external coaching agency, and access to our internal portal – People Central. The employee response to these initiatives has been overwhelmingly positive:  “Shout out for hooking up these super fun team events including today’s Recruiting/HR Trivia Slam! Though our team didn’t win, we had an amazing time and a blast getting to hang out and laugh at all the silly questions. Thank you! #coolestcompanyever” -Isabel  “The Sales wine tasting event was awesome. I was skeptical how good it could be, but it was really fun!” -Jeremy “I was amazed at the Lunch & Learn session today… Can we publish it on LinkedIn or our YouTube channel? This is a mega value add and depicts the innovation culture.” -Sanch

Listening

We believe that culture can’t be manufactured, but must be nurtured thoughtfully into an organization’s framework. This stems from employee participation, not just dictates from the top. While our monthly All-Hands is top-down, our monthly Town Hall meeting is bottom-up, and employees across Groq are encouraged to share shout-outs, peer accomplishments, and updates about active customer projects, growth in the company, and more. In order to preserve a start-up feel even as we grow, our CEO recently began emailing weekly company-wide updates and conducting routine Q&A sessions across the company. All employees are given the opportunity to sign up to talk with Jonathan Ross in small, intimate groups, ensuring open and honest dialogue in a comfortable and non-intimidating environment.   These cultural principles weren’t born of desperation or urgency, but built on the foundation we laid during our company’s inception five years ago. They have ensured organizational growth and development over the past year, even throughout our most ambitious period of team growth yet. We’d like to think that our 100+ new employees came because they were attracted to our technological expertise and our innovative minds, but we know it wasn’t only our technology that brought them here, nor is that the only thing that will keep them here. So while our vision is nothing less than the next generation of high-performance compute, we’re equally committed to building a company culture where every employee is surrounded by top talent that pushes each other to grow. We don’t have it all figured out, but we’re passionately listening, observing, and experimenting with ideas that help everyone grow with us on this journey. Want to join us? Click here to find your Groq Opportunity.