Editor's Note: Seismic is one of Inc.'s 2017 Best Workplaces, our annual recognition of companies creating employee-centered organizations.
Southern California's startup hubs are determined to catch Silicon Valley and San Francisco. Los Angeles has been dubbed Silicon Beach, but there's another option just 20 miles north of the Mexican border. San Diego tech companies are pitching the sunny city as a place with tech salaries comparable to the Bay Area, but a lower cost of living, and plenty of interesting work. The local startups need to entice software engineers and other talent down south.
And Seismic is succeeding by selling itself as a fun place to work. One of San Diego's ascendant startups, Seismic is a B2B software company that lets salespeople create highly refined proposals within minutes using a presentation platform powered by machine-learning algorithms. Fueled by new funding, the company has more than doubled in size in the past year to 200-plus employees. As it accelerates into the aggressive growth phase of a startup's life cycle, its leaders want to make sure that they do it well.
One anonymous Glassdoor reviewer wrote in February: "Seismic is by far the most team-oriented company I have worked at. At most companies, the motto 'We're all in this together' rings true until about ... what, 25 or 50 employees? We're now north of 200 employees and we're still working towards one common goal."
Scaling the work force swiftly has been Nicole McGuire's responsibility. A former Qualcomm exec recruited by CEO Doug Winter, McGuire has built out familiar HR functions such as a formal onboarding process for new employees, and regular performance evaluations to help keep managers and employees in sync. "Bringing HR into a fast-growing company is something of a scary proposition for folks," she told Inc. "They think, 'Oh boy, here comes the corporate culture and here come all the processes and policies,' right? That's definitely not the case."
Seismic is willing to be picky, despite its need for warm bodies. "We don't settle," McGuire said. "We know we need to grow; we need to get great talent on board -- and we'll wait for that talent." It recently listed more than 25 open positions, including "Customer Success Manager" and "Administrative Enthusiast." (The latter listing goes on to say "You will be essential in maintaining our position as one of the Best Places to Work in San Diego.")
The company recently teamed up with a handful of fellow San Diego firms for a recruiting raid in the Bay Area. Qualcomm and Teradata were among Seismic's collaborators in setting up an atypical job fair in Mountain View, which featured programming along the lines of a tech conference, according to The San Diego Union-Tribune. Attendees were treated to craft beer and fish tacos.
In terms of the office vibe, Seismic matches the perks that Bay Area startups are known for. Desks can be converted for sitting or standing, there's plenty of couch space, and employees have unlimited access to snack stations. There's fruit in the morning, beer in the evening, flexible work schedules, and equity participation in addition to a game room for playing Ping-Pong, darts, or video games. "It's the same kind of casual environment, very flexible workplace, snacks and games -- we're mimicking that same Silicon Valley tech company, just on a smaller scale down here in San Diego."