Jun 15, 2009

Pizzanomics

We’re up to 8 pizzas now.

8pizzaboxes

Today, 4 new people joined the MailChimp team (Bobby, Hank, Mark, and Steve). I talked about that a little bit in this recent MailChimp Newsletter (where I also introduced 3 other new-ish members).

So that makes us 24 people total, and I think the various departments are interviewing for about 4 more positions.

This changes our pizzanomics.

We have a policy at our company: when it rains, we order pizza for the entire office. Nobody likes to go out there and get wet, then come back and work in wet clothes. Blech. We also order pizza whenever new people join. In an office full of nerds and computer geeks, pizza days is about as social as we get. Anyway…

From 2000-2007, we’ve basically been 3 people. That takes 2 pizzas to feed. One "normal" pizza, and one thin crust for Dan, who actually cared about his health back then.

Towards the end of 2007, we doubled to 6 people, but could still make it by on 3 pizzas.

By the end of 2008, our office required 4 pizzas to feed.  Not only that, but we started to form lines to get our food. LINES! That’s when things start to change for a business.

Throughout much of 2009, we plateau’d at 5 pizzas, but we had to start mixing things up to accommodate the vegetarians and the bacon-ists. That’s also when we hired an office manager to help us order those pizzas on time (among many other duties).

We’re now at 8 pizzas, and the new challenge is making sure everyone knows when the pizzas have arrived. We seem to keep forgetting Josh (our video guy), who sits waaaaaaaaaaay back in the corner office in a sound-proof room. Poor Josh comes out after we’re done with the company meeting and all the food’s gone. We feel so awful.

Today, 3 people specifically told Josh the pizza was here. But we forgot Dougal, who was quietly programming in his office with his headphones on. D’oh!

Company-wide emails don’t work (yes, I realize we’re an email company) because some of us just don’t check email that often.

So I think we’ll be getting a chuckwagon dinner bell for the office:

dinner-bell

Sometimes, when I can make it out of the office to talk to people, they ask me, "so how many employees is your company up to now?" I usually never remember. I have to close my eyes and count out loud on my fingers. People think I’m nuts when I do that. But head count has never been all that important to us. We’ve never thought of head count as a sign of success or failure. We just want to be 100% organic in our growth. But we do kinda like the idea of being able to support +80,000 users with a staff of 24. I think that speaks volumes about the usability of our product, and the effectiveness of our support staff.

Sometimes I just tell them how many pizzas we have to order. So far, only 2 people understood me when I said that. It was at a Business of Software event in Boston. I was sitting at a table and I mentioned the pizzanomics thing, and Joel Spolsky and Seth Godin both chimed in and talked about how they handled it (I mentioned it in this old post). Seth even drew a little diagram for me on a napkin, and cited the Googleplex cafeteria somehow.

Here’s what we look like now on pizza days:

photo24people

Compare that to this pic from December 2008:

n43929265776_1576216_6191

if you’re interested, you can get a glimpse of the entire team over at the MailChimp Jungle, in this photo album.

We’ll start introducing some of the new MailChimpsters soon. In the meantime, I’m going to start researching some pizza ovens or something. I think we might have to bring this entirely in-house.