"If you stop on the way back from your massage to play darts or work out in the Valve gym or whatever, it's not a sign that this place is going to come crumbling down like some 1999-era dot-com start-up. If we ever institute caviar-catered lunches, though, then maybe something's wrong. Definitely panic if there's caviar."Those few sentences, culled from page 19 of Valve Software's "Handbook for New Employees," are perfectly emblematic of the rest of the uniquely Valve book. The above illustration is pulled from early on in the handbook, where the company's much discussed "flat" hierarchy is detailed. A Valve rep confirmed the book's legitimacy to Joystiq after it leaked this weekend on Flamehaus.
Seen above everyone else, of course, is company co-founder and president Gabe Newell. But even Newell isn't beyond being overridden. "￼￼We do have a founder/president, but even he isn't your manager," the book states.
"We want innovators, and that means maintaining an environment where they'll flourish," it reads. "That's why Valve is flat. It's our shorthand way of saying that we don't have any management, and nobody 'reports to' anybody else." Bizarre? Yes. Successful? Apparently! A timeline depicting Valve's birth in 1996 shows the company's steady growth into the powerhouse it is today across a variety of projects, all the while espousing Valve's adherence to lack of structure.