I just returned from the Microsoft Create event in Tel Aviv, featuring Irit Kahan, Managing Director at Deutsche Telekom Capital Partners, interviewing Lisa Zaythik, VP of Global People Operations of AppsFlyer – a company they invested in.
There were many unusual things about this interview – and I guess that means I’ve been in out of the loop for a while. First of all, the VC was a woman – that was a first for me. Second of all, the individual representing Israel’s #2 most successful startup, who is very much part of the original founding team – was also a woman. Lisa Zaythik is the head of people operations at AppsFlyer, but that is only her official title. Based on this interview, and another chat we had a few months back, it’s clear she is responsible for the whole down to earth atmosphere and positive spirit AppsFlyer is known for.
Having come to Israel from Ukraine, Lisa does not take one minute of her incredible journey for granted. She stressed that the key to retaining employees is to constantly provide value by helping people develop themselves. One example of this is how AppsFlyer enables their employees to work from other locations for three months, which is very complicated to pull off logistically – but with a global mindset, anything is possible.
Even though AppsFlyer is an extremely analytical company – they are definitely a #HumansFirst company. I think it’s important to start tagging companies that invest so much in having the right values, so that people with like-minded values will be able to find them. Whether those people are potential hires or customers, they will naturally gravitate to a company that is so concerned with people having meaningful experiences.
As their VC Irit Kahan put it, “Success comes when your heart is in the right place.” Clearly when you apply your values to everything you do in a very genuine way, you also attract like-minded investors. AppsFlyer is quite unique in the startup scene because it’s focused on building long-term value, and insists on doing it from the heart of Israel. Unlike other high-tech companies with “headquarters abroad”, and focused on their next big exit, AppsFlyer is very proud to be running its hugely successful global operation from Herzliya Pituach (where its office has a breathtaking view of the Mediterranean ….)
There were many issues covered such as what I’m most interested in: how to keep people motivated and connected. But I’m not worried. Connection may not come so naturally to women because we are programmed to focus on our own homes and families. But I see how the walls of the home have now expanded, and how people like Lisa are concerned with the well-being of a much larger family than most of us will ever have to look after.
We are already seeing many women at the forefront of this great people revolution that has just begun. The high-tech scene has been predominantly male until now, but at this critical people stage we have reached – we can expect so see many more women in charge and setting the right tone/balance between work and play. We are seeing this everywhere nowadays – in governments, organizations and business. It’s not a random process.
One of the great stories Lisa shared was how their CEO, Oren Kaniel, used to to have a designated time every week where his door was open to anyone who wanted to talk, and whisky shots were available. That sounds really cool for a young startup. But when they got past the 400 people mark, not everyone felt it was appropriate for a larger startup, and that tradition was stopped.
AppsFlyer has many other unique people traditions that Lisa didn’t get into. But at a time when everyone is so concerned with leadership and keeping their people motivated, it’s definitely a company to watch. Hopefully all these good vibes will radiate from Israel to the rest of the world.
Event description: (Scaling at speed: How culture is key when growing your company. A conversation between an investor and a hugely successful portfolio company.)