Sramana Mitra: How did your VCs react on the topic of a virtual company?
Fred Plais: This divides people a lot. The world is changing. People are starting to buy the story more and more. We need the same engineers at Google today. We’re doing some complex things on cloud. It requires some extremely experienced people. If you are trying to hire them from Silicon Valley, we would not find the talent. It would be too hard.
The reason is to be able to take talents where they are. We find talents at a good price. We pay at market price. That balance is one of the reasons why, today, we are one of the few technology companies that doesn’t have a recruitment firm.
Sramana Mitra: If you look at your virtual workforce, what percentage of that is spread across Europe? In Europe, the respect is very high for work-life balance.
Fred Plais: The biggest nationality is from the US. We’ve got people from other places. It resonates even more in Europe. I would say that there are more companies in US than in Europe.
Sramana Mitra: You’re finding the value proposition resonate outside of Silicon Valley but within the US more.
Fred Plais: What I’m saying is there’s much more models of companies that are successful and that are getting to big sizes. Especially in France, there’s very few virtual companies that have reached our size. We’re a hundred people. Having a virtual company with a hundred people is very uncommon in Europe.
Sramana Mitra: There is not enough parallel that they can draw from.
Fred Plais: We just need to prove that it works.
Sramana Mitra: I’m a huge believer. I think that’s how people will end up working a lot going forward. Because the Bay Area traffic is so heavy, people spend three to four hours commuting every day. What a waste, right? You could be working three to four hours or spending three to four hours with family and not do this ridiculous commute.
Fred Plais: I agree with you.
Sramana Mitra: Can you imagine three to four hours five days a week? That’s 15 to 20 hours a week of pure commute. That’s a pure waste of time.
Fred Plais: It’s a huge frustration for many people. It makes their lives miserable. When you can avoid it, you should avoid it.
Sramana Mitra: More companies should create that opportunity to do their jobs without having to do this kind of stupid commute.
Fred Plais: A lot of VCs want to see real management team in one place. If you’re an early stage company with a distributed workforce and trying to talk to a US VC, you’ve got no chance. They’re not going to buy into it. It depends on the size. We are getting to a size where there is respect for what we’ve built already.
Sramana Mitra: I think so. The bias goes away as you start to show metrics. This is true in all kinds of bias. I always tell our entrepreneurs in our program, “Bias goes away as soon as you show metrics.”
Fred Plais: It’s all about proof points.
Sramana Mitra: Glad to see that things are going so well. Thank you for your time.