Time, as the global leader in media, is now facing a new wave of competition.
A slew of startups have launched over the last year, including Apple, Amazon, Snapchat, Airbnb, Lyft, and Uber.
In this exclusive interview with TIME, founder and CEO Michael Sandel discusses what went wrong, what’s next for the company, and what the future holds.
The full interview is available in its entirety.
The Time Group: When you founded the company what was your strategy?
Sandel: I was pretty clear about my vision for the business.
I thought that we were building something great, but we were really just building a startup.
Time was our primary customer.
We built a great product, and we had a great community.
The team was awesome, and the customers loved the product.
We made the right choices and went about building the product, then we decided to scale the business and scale the team.
The company is now more than 10 times larger than when we started, and I believe we are going to have to go back to the drawing board for a while.
Why did you decide to scale your team?
Sanden: In general, I think the biggest challenge that I had as a CEO in my early years was I didn’t think about scaling.
When I started Time, I was in a position where I was very focused on the growth of my company.
I didn’ see a lot of opportunity to scale.
And I was wrong.
The more I learned about scaling, the more I realized that if I were to start scaling again, I would have to think about the whole business model and the entire ecosystem that was going to support that, and how it would fit with my vision of what we were going to do.
The way we scale has evolved dramatically in the last few years.
It’s no longer about a product.
It is now about how you manage your team.
How do you make sure your team is a product and that they can be valued and that the value that they deliver is high?
How do they help you scale your business?
What kind of environment do you want them to work in?
Time: I started working in the time domain because of a need to make the best business decisions possible.
I needed to make sure that the most valuable product in the world was the fastest way to get there.
That was the most critical thing.
It was also a critical thing that the technology and the people were working on.
So I built a team around those core technologies.
The next most important thing was, how do we make sure they have the right culture to do what they do?
And how do you do that?
The first team I built, it was a mix of tech and management.
It had engineers who were really passionate about the product and had great relationships with people.
Then I built an engineering team.
This team has great engineering skills, but I thought we needed to have some management skills.
That is the way we built the team, and that is how I built it.
I had the right combination of people.
I was lucky enough to be able to find the right people, and it worked out great.
The culture we built around our product is what really drives the business model.
The people are great, and they work incredibly hard, but they also really like working with me.
I think this is a company that is built on a product that is as valuable as the people who work on it.
How important is it for a startup to have a solid management team?
That was a challenge in the beginning.
The first problem was that the people that I hired had very little management experience.
I hired a bunch of people who had been in the industry and knew how to manage teams, but the reality is they have no management experience at all.
I don’t have a team of management consultants.
I hire people on the side who know how to do the things I need them to do, but when it comes to things like the team culture, there is no one on the team who has that experience.
So that was a big challenge in creating a culture.
I started by talking to people about the core business model of Time.
I told them, This is the most important question of your day.
What is the company doing for the next two years?
I told everybody, “This is the biggest business problem you’re going to face for the foreseeable future.”
I told everyone that if you want to do this, you need to build a product, you can’t do this by just building the right product.
You need to hire a product manager and then you have a product team.
And then you need people to do that.
And you need them on the teams to do it.
And when I first got here, the problem was, we had to find a product leader.
And we didn’t have one.
I worked with a lot people, I interviewed a lot folks, and nobody had any idea how to build the product to take on the business of Time