I’m not going to beat about the bush here: I think Julian is great. If I had to hold up someone as a role model for other wannabe tycoons to follow, the founder of the Richer Sounds hi-fi chain would be that person. Let me be clear: for all I know, he could be another Rev Paul Flowers, formerly of the Co-op Bank, and spend his dosh on crystal meth and crack. But if there are such horrors in his cupboard, I don’t know what they are.
So what earns him this accolade? The way he treats his staff, the fact that in surveys 95 per cent of them say they love working for him. And then the way his approach translates into tangible results: 52 stores that produced profits of £6.9m from sales of £144.3m last year in an austerity-hit economy, and helped him to build a personal fortune estimated at £115m.
Of all the cool work cultures we’ve ever heard of, none is more impressive than Automattic, the company responsible for the popular blogging platform, WordPress. Automattic is so unusual, it’s the subject of a new book “The Year Without Pants” by its employee Scott Berkun. Berkun is a former Microsoft employee who documented how Automattic grew into a 190-employee company with a $1 billion valuation, while nearly all employees work from home. Even though the company has a gorgeous San Francisco office, Automattic doesn’t consider location when hiring employees. Workers are scattered across 141 cities and 28 countries and get a $2,000 stipend to decorate or improve their home offices (in addition to a new Mac and other tech equipment), WordPress creator and Automattic founder Matt Mullenweg told Business Insider. The company also has a huge travel budget. Any team can meet whenever they want for a “hack week” in any location in the world like Tokyo, Athens, Kauai, San Francisco, Amsterdam, or Sydney. As for daily work, the company uses chat rooms, Google Hangout video, and its own blogging tools instead of email and conference-room meetings. In this way, they update and support WordPress, which is open source software. Open source is a way of writing software in a community. Anyone in any location who uses the software can write code for it, employee or not.
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