Denver, CO

Grade: A+

SummaryCompany is a leader in electronic communications “Gridders” are encouraged to fill out frequent engagement surveys and almost 100% do. Corporate culture driven by the 4H’s: Happy, Hungry, Humble and Honest. Lots of room for promotion, tuition reimbursement, many training opportunities and the opportunity to give anonymous feedback to management. Best of all, meal allotments at local restaurants and potato sack races on the beach!

Intro: Our culture at SendGrid, we focus on our 4H culture of being Happy, Hungry, Humble and Honest. We attract and retain great people because our teammates genuinely enjoy working together and we believe those values create value – that having a deeply shared set of beliefs actually creates economic value.

Leaders are aligned around the philosophy of serving their teams and the business they drive every day. We believe in Servant Leadership, in which we flip the organization chart on its head, to visually represent the executive team, leadership and managers all working to serve the individual contributors who do the hard work of our company every day.

We challenge our employees to stretch themselves and empower them to chase career defining achievements. We push our leadership team to remove obstacles and create an optimal environment for every employee to do their best work.

Skills/Competencies – Level of experience, impact to the organization and critical or hard to find skills are recognized, in order to motivate and retain employees with the ideas and skills needed to get the job done.

External Market, Value of Position, & Internal Equity – We strive to ensure that our pay is competitive in the market, and define our strategy to help us attract and engage key talent.

Performance Levels – Employees consistently performing above expectations should be handsomely rewarded.

Impact statements:

  • At SendGrid, we focus on our 4H culture of being Happy, Hungry, Humble and Honest. We attract and retain great people because our teammates genuinely enjoy working together and we believe that those values create value – that having a deeply shared set of beliefs actually creates economic value.
  • Using SendGrid’s career development framework, we are clear about performance expectations for the future, and at different levels of the organization.
  • SendGrid is committed to delivering a comprehensive benefits program that provides protections needed for Gridders and their loved ones. That is why SendGrid offers a choice of three medical plans, designed to help Gridders get the care they and their family needs at a price they can afford.
  • SendGrid believes in building a strong and connected team, so we host four quarterly meetings including two off-site meetings in a hotel conference room and other unique space near our Denver headquarters and two large-scale retreats.
  • SendGrid utilizes many different tools to foster team member collaboration and ensure SendGrid remains an agile workplace both with our customers and internally among employees.
  • Our vision, mission, values and enduring measures of success are reviewed ongoing with the full company and within each practice area. They are lived and breathed every day. Everything we do reinforces and connects back to our overall vision and strategy.
  • “Arm In Arm” is one of four favorite mottos that describes how we work as a team with a “we” and collaborative attitude. This is so vital to our culture and success that it transcribes into a quarterly award that is awarded to one team per quarter.
  • Our vision is to be the world’s most trusted customer communication platform.
  • Instead of a fixed accrual for time off, we provide a Personalized Time Off program that provides Gridders with the flexibility to manager both their personal and professional life.

Advancement Opportunities:

We leverage internal talent for our net-new and backfill roles.

  • Of the promotions that have occurred in the past 14 months, 12 people transferred into new departments within SendGrid, many of which that aided in their career progression.
  • Overall 29 Gridders have applied for internal roles and have been accepted in the last year. When including in-line promotions we’ve had an additional 80 promotions marking the distinct achievements Gridders have made.

We articulate expectations at different levels.

  • Using SendGrid’s career development framework, we are clear about performance expectations for the future, and at different levels of the organization. This allows employees to more accurately self-assess if they have what it takes to move ahead in the organization.

We proactively manage opportunities for HiPos.

  • When considering our most valuable employees, we find it is important to be more purposeful in their development and to plan for key experiences that will help to develop the skills they need to become good managers or leaders.

Measuring satisfaction:

We use Culture Amp for engagement, onboarding, diversity and inclusion, exit, and miscellaneous surveys throughout the year.

For engagement we survey twice a year, using consistent questions so that we assess improvements or decreases in scores over time. Once we’ve analyzed the results, we host focus groups (where needed) to better understand our lower scores. Our leadership team align on and integrate our engagement initiatives into our annual company strategy, ensuring accountability for action.

We also drive improvements at the team level by holding team engagement reviews, with the goal of identifying and addressing pain points at the team level. 

To ensure our onboarding is effective, we survey at 30, 60 and 90 days. We also hold group meetings with the specific onboarding cohorts to se what’s going well and where we can improve. 

We also survey when individuals exit the business. We believe it’s important to understand the reasoning behind someone’s decision to leave SendGrid and gather data that we can act upon to improve our Gridder’s employment experience and engagement.

Denver, CO: Our Global Headquarters in Denver consolidates SendGrid’s multiple Colorado office footprint into a single Denver location to drive employment engagement, collaboration, and productivity. The office was designed to hold more than two times the current Colorado employee-base to accommodate its growth plan of 900 employees globally by the year 2020.

The office was thoughtfully designed with a staircase in the reception area that connects the fifth and sixth floor to encourage interactions and conversations between employees. SenGrid’s new brand and logo, launched in June of 2016, is incorporated throughout the modern design in the ceiling, floor, walls and other materials and color choices. The office features open workspaces and collaboration spaces that are placed along the windows, rather than the interior corridor, to ensure light and street views weren’t blocked for employees.

SendGrid commissioned art from local artists who used innovative materials and plants that were carefully placed around the office to create a soothing and inspiring work environment. The kitchen, bistro, and other areas have an abundance of seating to encourage employees to meet and eat together, stocked with sub-zero refrigeration, craft beer, wine, and healthy snacks. Employees also eat free at several local eateries.

Irvine, CA: The Orange County office, located in Irvine, is located at the heart of the region’s rapidly growing technology center, at 400 Spectrum Center. Conveniently located, with retail shops, apartment communities and transit stations nearby, the Irvine office is designed with the OC Gridders in mind. The open floor plan design, floor-to-ceiling windows, pairing rooms for engineers to code together and collaborative workspaces are all featured in the office, while still maintaining the look and feel of SendGrid’s global headquarters in Denver.

Redwood City (RWC), CA: Headquarters of the CEO and Chief Product Officer, SendGrid’s RWC office is located in the heart of Downtown RWC and the art district, right across the street from the CalTrain. Its central location provides Gridders with access to unique boutique restaurants and great coffee shops. The office, home to the platform and lab teams, is focused on collaborative spaces, with IR TVs, open spaces for teams to gather and meet, and sound masking in certain areas to reduce noise pollution. 

NOTE: SendGrid wil be opening a new and improved Redwood City office in Q2 of 2018.

Creative meeting places:

Semi-Annual Retreats: SendGrid believes in building a strong and connected team, so we host four quarterly meetings including two off-site meetings in a hotel conference room or other unique space near our Denver headquarters and two large-scale retreats. These retreats give Gridders a chance to align around company objectives and spend quality time bonding not just as employees, but as friends.

Each summer, we gather together in Colorado for KASA (Kick Ass Summer Alignment). In 2016 we had space reserved at Sports Authority Field (home of the Denver Broncos!). It was held in the BMW Suite Level with SendGrid branding all across the display screens…It truly felt like a SendGrid conference but just for Gridders. Most recently, Gridders enjoyed music and danced the night away at Ophelia’s Electric Soapbox.

Every winter, we’ve traveled abroad to Mexico, but this year we are switching it up and traveling to the scenic and sunny landscape of Arizona for KAKO (Kick Ass Kick Off). This outing in particular is filled with team-building exercises, presentations from leadership – and plenty of time to build genuine friendships. It’s important to note that we fly all regular full-time Gridders to these locations, 100% paid for, because we feel strongly around aligning the workforce to our vision and strategy. We know alignment and connective tissue is key to achieving our goals and having a highly engaged team.

Team Offsites: In addition to our company quarterly meetings, we encourage our teams to take time to go off site for planning and relationship building. For each offsite, Gridders embrace Colorado’s beautiful outdoors and participate in many outdoor activities for team bonding exercises.

For example, SendGrid’s Marketing team held its offsite enjoying Colorado’s scenic slopes during a team ski day. In addition, our Revenue Marketing team enjoyed a day of archery and cycling and our Estes Park, Colorado. All 15 teammates (across the Denver and Orange offices) traveled to the mountains for some major team bonding, activities around our team’s MVVG as well as The Five Dysfunctions of a Team, and a friendly team cooking competition.

Other functional groups do offsites such as, custom wine blending, cooking classes, sports game, local wine/beer tours, team dinners and lunches, top golf, conferences, certifications, etc.


Stocked Kitchen & Daily Lunch: Gridders located n a core office are provided with a variety of snacks and beverages. In our Denver office, for example, we have a high-tech Coca-Cola soda machine, several “spa water” containers (think strawberry & mango, pineapple & rosemary – our office managers switch it up every day), eight wine, kombucha and cold brew on tap, six beers on a draft (plus a device to freeze glassware in seconds), catered soup, snack and cereal canisters, and a coffee bar. We also provide a meal allowance of up to $12/day at local restaurants in our Denver, Irvine and Redwood City offices.

Cookie Tuesday: Cookies are provided by a local bakery and delivered fresh to the office on Tuesdays.


Don’t get us wrong, we love to work hard, but we know that taking breaks to enjoy each other’s company and just have FUN is an important factor…Gridders team up to play:

Ping Pong

Video games

Nerf gun

Hanging out by the café bar

Participating in Tough Mudders

In-house Olympics competitions

Hanging out in costume

Shooting hoops

How corporate vision is communicated:

Our vision, mission, values and enduring measures of success are reviwed ongoing with the full company and within each practice area. They are lived and breathed every day. Everything we do reinforces and connects back to our overall vision and strategy. In addition:

KAKO: Corporate vision is predominantly communicated at our annual kick-off trip. One full day is reserved for presentations recapping the previous year as well as the upcoming year’s plans including four presentations for all members of our Executive Leadership Team, 4 panels, 7 awards, a talk/game show session, and much more.

KASA: Our annual summer alignment allows us to check in on our vision and mission in a way that’s engaging and exciting and set new goals where necessary.

Onboarding: We purposefully crafted onboarding to include a welcoming and exciting orientation that reaffirms a new hire’s choice to join SendGrid. Our 3-day New Gridder Orientation communicates our history/mission/vision/values/goals/culture, develops connections between new hires, gives knowledge of business which prepares them to succeed, makes it easier to assimilate into their new role and the SendGrid ecosystem, which subsequently increases their engagement, role satisfaction, and retention.

Each onboarding class, which is a cohort of new hires, is assigned a letter of the alphabet and tasked with creating a class name starting with the letter. We’ve had fun class names like Rocky Mountain Rascals, Mo Mail Mo Money, Blood Sweat & Beers, InstaGridders, Blue Kids on the Block, and Ja Rule Jedis. We also pair an onboarding sponsor from our leadership team to join the onboarding class. The sponsor attends orientation, enriches the overall orientation experience by providing additional perspective, and is another avenue of support (outside of their manager, team, and People Operations). New hires walk out of orientation with big smiles on their faces, authentic friendships, confidence, and enthusiasm to jump into their roles.

New hires leaving orientation with a firm understanding and connection to our MVVG, product, and each other.

Empowering employees:

Our Gridders are encouraged to effect change by completing our semi-annual engagement surveys. Gridders are also encouraged to submit anonymous questions for our leadership team that are discussed in each monthly All-Hands meeting.

Engagement Surveys: Gridders can provide anonymous feedback (rated and open forum) through our surveys; which are reviewed by our executive and senior leadership team. Themes are identified and discussed by our executives and acted on where possible.

Anonymous Questions: During our monthly All-Hands meetings, Gridders can ask anonymous questions or make suggestions to our executives. These are answered live during the meetings or in writing if there is not enough time. These suggestions have driven changes such as updates to our parental leave (extended from 2 weeks to 5 weeks) and our Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) initiative. Specifically for D&I, our program called Prism was born out of employee feedback and is designed to make SendGrid a more diverse and inclusive workplace. We conduct D&I surveys to learn what is, is not and will have the greatest impact and are creating action items for areas that make SendGrid a place where as we say “not only are you invited to the party…your’e comfortable enough to dance!”

Lastly, we believe that everyone is accountable at SendGrid for our success. If an employee sees a problem, they’re expected to bring it up (our Honest H value) or “pull the andon cord” and help make certain that it gets resolved. We see this as core to our culture and to our ongoing success and we often highlight examples of peole or teams pulling the andon cord in our employee meetings.

We have an internal recognition program that seeks to create and nurture an extraordinary culture of recognition and appreciation by way of quarterly awards. We realize that when Gridders are truly engaged, they are emotionally invested and ‘the organization’ becomes ‘my organization.’

Our four quarterly award categories are specifically tied to the things we value, cultural language and organizational goals:

1. 4H Award: Four Gridders who markedly embodies all of the 4Hs: Honest, Hungry, Happy, and Humble.

2. Summit Award: One distinguishable Gridder who went above and beyond to help us achieve company imperatives.

3. Servant Leadership Award: This quarter, we unveiled the Servant Leadership Award to replace our previous Yoda Award. Servant leaders enable us all to do our best work and tap into having pinnacle career experiences.

4. Arm In Arm: One standout team who exceeded expectations to help us achieve company imperatives.

Gridders nominate peers, managers, direct reports and teams with touching nominations. A cross-functional Recognition Committee reviews and scores nominations, and then the highest scoring nominees are announced at our quarterly meetings. The award reveal includes video testimonials from peers, beautiful laser engraved wooden plaques, and a picture with one of our executives that is then shared on social media. Award recipients also receive a $250 experience of their choice as well as a place on our “wall of recognition” in Denver headquarters.

Decisiveness is a competency included in our Career Development Framework. Our career development framework defines what competencies we expect of our people as they move from individual contributor to management and more senior positions. We interview for this in our recruitment process, meaning we hire people who are comfortable making decisions. We also evaluate our people against this competency, holding our people accountable for engaging in a thorough decision making process. 

We push decisions down as far as we can in the organization and encourage both managers and individual contributors to make the decisions necessary to do their best work and to move the organization forward.

SendGrid also utilizes Bain & Company’s RAPID framework internally, a tool designed for accountability and to help employees make decisions. RAPID, a loose acronym for Input, Recommend, Agree, Decide and Perform, assigns owners to the five key roles in any decision. When the roles involved with making decisions are delineated, teams and organizations make the right choices, both swiftly and effectively. 

  • Recommend – Recommend a decision or action
  • Agree – Formally Agree to a decision – view must be reflected in final proposals
  • Perform – Be accountable for performing a decision once made
  • Input – Provide Input to a recommendation – views may or may not be reflected in final proposals
  • Decide – Make the decision – commit the organization to action

Ensuring well-being:

Instead of a fixed accrual for time off, we provide a Personalized Time Off program that provides Gridders with flexibility to manager both their personal and professional life. We believe that creating an environment where we all feel good about both our professional and personal lives leads to higher engagement and makes all of us stronger, happier Gridders. Personalized Time Off includes vacation days, personal days, and floating holidays. It does not include disability, parental leave, community days, bereavement, company holidays, or other types of leave covered under Family Medical Leave. Our goal is to provide an awesome environment for all of us so that we can do great work with amazing teammates and have fun in the process. We’ve always been a company that stressed the value of work/life balance and the importance of taking time to relax and recharge and that’s never going to change.

Our unlimited sick leave is available for both personal and family use. When someone is sick or has a sick family members, they don’t have to think about whether or not to take time off…it’s available to them. Our generous materinity/paternity leave (which also applies to adoption) allows both parents to have the time needed to bond and acclimate to having a new member of the family. 

Our medical plans have full benefits for mental health which is also supported through our Employee Assistance Program. There is a gym for use in our building, standing desks, lactation rooms, healthy meal options for breakfast and lunch and a health and wellness stipend that can be used for gym membership, classes, etc.

Closing company statements: SendGrid’s 4H culture is what makes our organization unique. It’s the sum of our values, traditions, beliefs, interactions, behaviors, and attitudes and it’s the way we recruit and retain top talent. The core of our culture is our 4H’s: Happy, Hungry, Humble and Honest. SendGrid’s people are Hungry to raise the bar to deliver results, yet are still Humble and always learning from each other and their customers. They are Honest, meaning they value transparency – sharing feedback freely and are Happy to enjoy both their work and their lives outside of the office. Happiness isn’t about free food or matching 401Ks, it’s about the people.

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


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