Versa Networks

Versa Networks

Santa Clara, CA

www.versa-networks.com

Grade: A

SummaryGreat tech pedigree and a start-up culture which believes in cubes, not open spaces. Free lunches, charitable focus, importance placed on worker satisfaction, personal development, focus on speed in development and network transformation.

Intro: Candidates are attracted to Versa’s cutting edge technology and the pedigree of Kumar and Apurva Mehta. The Mehta brothers were previously top executives at Juniper Networks; and were responsible for the creation of the MX-Series routers which have become a multi-billion dollar chunk of Juniper’s business. For those who have been in telecom and networking, this softwarization of networking is a big, exciting opportunity. In fact, Versa has already been recognized as a 2016 NFV Pioneer by TMCnet.

Impact statements: 

  • Candidates are attracted to Versa’s cutting edge technology and the pedigree of Kumar and Apurva Mehta.
  • The Mehta brothers were previously top executives at Juniper Networks; and were responsible for the creation of the MX-Series routers which have become a multi-billion dollar chunk of Juniper’s business.
  •  For those who have been in telecom and networking, this softwarization of networking is a big, exciting opportunity. In fact, Versa has already been recognized as a 2016 NFV Pioneer by TMCnet.
  • Versa provides a unique opportunity for personal development, given that they’re largely engineering-based.
  • They require those engineers to interact with customers on a weekly basis, which they wouldn’t have the opportunity to do in a larger company.
  • Founders brought their great benefits from Juniper Networks and tried to replicate them at their smaller company.
  • Twice a week, the company provides lunch for the staff with votes on what the food will be.
  • The largest space in the office was specially designed and dedicated to ping pong. Our company culture involves frequent ping pong tournaments.
  • Unlike most startups, Versa does not believe in the open office approach. Most of the time cubicles are requested by engineers as they work best for them from a productivity perspective. They have to do so much coding they wanted a more private environment.
  • Team members get recognized in front of everyone. First leadership commends them in weekly, company-wide staff meetings, and they also have their efforts communicated to customers.
  • Versa believes in breaking the traditional silos and levels that exist in most companies. There is an effort to bring people together based on what’s the best fit and most likely to have the best results.
  • Unlike the glacially slow timetables of massive, legacy network firms, Versa execs have a chance to directly touch multi-billion dollar customers and watch their work come to fruition in months, not years. It’s such a rare opportunity that it’s too good to pass up.

Compensation:

There are two main factors that determine compensation levels, the specialization of a candidate’s skill set and his/her level of experience.

Advancement Opportunities:

Versa provides a unique opportunity for personal development, given that they’re largely engineering-based. They require those engineers to interact with customers on a weekly basis, which they wouldn’t have the opportunity to do in a larger company. This really speeds up their advancement as they develop into management roles and helps them better understand their end users’ need for success. Teams get to work alongside customers to solve a problem, allowing them to work faster and smarter. And, unlike other large networking companies, they have opportunities to speak with the media, which helps to raise their industry visibility profile.

Training opportunities:

Team members are frequently sent to technical trainings and developmental conferences to hone their skill sets and make sure the company is always on the cutting edge of technology. As mentioned before, engineers get involved in product launches and working with media.

Medical benefits:

Founders brought their great benefits from Juniper Networks and tried to replicate them at their smaller company. The brothers realized that in order to attract the more experienced engineers from the legacy vendors, they had to offer similar medical and retirement benefits as that mattered more than the typical startup perks. And these benefits extend to spouses/children.

Special accommodations:

Versa has provided not only signing bonuses, but geographic and schedule flexibility, accelerated learning and development opportunities as well as significant outbound visibility opportunities with customers/media/investors.

Community service/charitable causes:

Versa Networks executives are very involved in charity work.

Cause

Action

Bill Wilson Center

The chief marketing officer (CMO) Mark Weiner is on the board, a 37-year old nonprofit community-based organization serving over 5,100 foster and homeless clients in Santa Clara County annually.

Religious institutions

Versa executives make donations

Educational institutions

Versa executives make donations

Charities for homeless/destitute homes

Versa executives make donations

Charities for the blind

Versa executives make donations

Measuring satisfaction:

Versa doesn’t use tools to measure satisfaction. Management prides itself on being “plugged in” to every team, and they do this through meaningful face-to-face interactions.

Creative meeting places:

Twice a month, Versa holds a happy hour with wine/cheese tasting instead of a traditional staff meeting for company updates. There’s a glass in everyone’s hand.

Perks:

Twice a week, the company provides lunch for the staff with votes on what the food will be.

Fun:

The largest space in the office was specially designed and dedicated to ping pong. Our company culture involves frequent ping pong tournaments.

Collaboration tools:

In addition to traditional email, the Versa team utilizes Google Hangouts and Slack. Versa also uses lots of software for rapid communications with customers. With the immediate and collaborative nature of this type of communication, the team can instantly provide support to improve company productivity and customer satisfaction.

How corporate vision is communicated:

Leadership is committed to providing regular, real-time updates on customer status and sharing all news vision, progress and momentum as it happens.

Empowering employees:

One example is how the top security architect designed the service definition for one of our initial customer deployments. This is a job duty that’s usually reserved for the technical sales team. The architect also served as spokesperson for company’s first security product launch, a role that’s typically reserved for the CEO or engineering lead.

Effecting change is a core part of the company culture. Company executives have a collaborative approach to everything, as its leaders believe that multiple people are needed to effect change.

Unlike most startups, Versa does not believe in the open office approach. Most of the time cubicles are requested by engineers as they work best for them from a productivity perspective. They have to do so much coding they wanted a more private environment. Some offices have low walls for the more business/customer facing side. The company actually put it to a vote and most team members didn’t want an open office. The bottom line is that it’s all about listening to employees for what will work best for them.

Versa also has a large, outdoor green space that employees frequently use to take walks to get fresh air and a change of scenery.

Team members get recognized in front of everyone. First leadership commends them in weekly, company-wide staff meetings, and they also have their efforts communicated to customers.

Team members give extra effort to help achieve the company's goals in multiple ways, such as working during the weekends, working overtime during the week helping people on projects in different departments, taking on additional duties and participating in customer meetings.

Ensuring well-being:

Versa knows that people need downtime from work for a healthy work-life balance. They believe in compensating employees for when they spend days working far beyond what they should be doing. After finishing a major software release just in time for the holidays, the company gave everyone the Christmas week off without taking any vacation time from them. Another example is if programmers have to spend PTO to follow up on any bugs, they can reclaim the time later.

Along the lines of work/life balance, Versa grants all employees flexibility to coordinate their work schedules around the needs of their families or even their preferences for time.

There’s no company handbook, so the team enjoys highly flexible hours. Many companies migrate from the flexibility of engineering-focused cultures as the company matures but Versa hasn’t. People still come late and go late, and we find that this approach brings families closer together and improves office morale.

Team members set their own schedule and their own hours.

Versa has a typical PTO policy, but if people put in amazing contributions, the company makes sure that they’re properly rewarded with additional comp time.

Versa allows for very flexible schedules as long as people alert their managers, even if it’s the day of. There are no official forms or permissions needed.

Teamwork:

Versa believes in breaking the traditional silos and levels that exist in most companies. There is an effort to bring people together based on what’s the best fit and most likely to have the best results. The company answers large problems in a short timeline by bringing together disparate teams from across the company. Individual members will share directly with customer execs and C-levels. Often times the engineers responsible for projects will talk to them instead of having the CEO/CTO do it for optics.Everyone is on an equal playing field.

Diversity:

From college interns to senior execs, Versa is committed to diversity across all levels and are proud of having a better gender balance than most Silicon Valley companies; especially when it comes to women in advanced engineering and technical roles.

Just as crucial is a proper age balance and range, as age diversity is also difficult to achieve in a Silicon Valley startup. Many companies are biased against older programmers and many are concerned about their job security. Versa Networks, however, values their experience.

The company has the same commitment to diversity for its contractors as they have for the organization.

Longevity:

Every executive that has been hired since the company’s founding is still here. Furthermore, Versa has enjoyed a large retention rate for its engineers and other members of the staff.

Closing company statements: Founders Kumar and Apurva achieved tremendous success during their time at Juniper Networks and they’re now tackling even bigger networking problems with technology that’s even further on the cutting edge. Unlike the glacially slow timetables of massive, legacy network firms, Versa execs have a chance to directly touch multi-billion dollar customers and watch their work come to fruition in months, not years. It’s such a rare opportunity that it’s too good to pass up.

Back to the entire list of TMCnet 2016 Tech Culture Award winners.

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