Tuxera – how a flat organization works for a high-tech company

Organize for innovation with less management – and more freedom

To begin, every startup has a well-known challenge: to find a product-market fit and scale it up.

Unless you are Steve Jobs, you most likely won't get it right when you come out of the gate with your new product or service. When that happens, you very quickly and effectively need to learn how to make it work. Part of your success will be in making sure you have talented people to help you get the job done – and keeping them.

Startups are like team sports. The best teams are built on the idea of “Strength in Numbers.” You’ll have to forgive me for that reference to the NBA team, the Golden State Warriors. I’m a big fan of basketball. But getting back to the topic at hand: here’s a thing or two I can share when it comes to building an all-star team of innovators.

Encourage self-learning

I believe the most effective way to organize a company from the get-go – if organizing is even the right word here – is to design it with as much self-learning as possible. In Tuxera’s case, we’ve grown from a startup with just a handful of people to a 70-person team. During our growth and into today, we have spent next to nothing on consultants.

Your people don’t learn and grow when information is sucked away by outsiders, whose only purpose is to process the information, then sell it back to you wholesale. Information should be collected, processed, and decisions made right there where your team meets with the customers, and where your team builds the products.

Think laterally

I don't believe that a successful company needs what you call “middle men.” As a matter of fact, a culture of self-learning is blocked by middle men. If your people have to go to you or some manager time and again to get things done, you waste valuable time and lose information. What’s more, individual creativity and motivation suffer – and in turn, innovation suffers.

This organizational model, the so-called “flat organization,” isn’t novel. But I feel it’s important in attracting and keeping the most talented people. For sure, there must be somebody who can steer the purpose and vision from within the whole team and get everyone on board. However, that process cannot be based on professional status or top-down supremacy.

Final thoughts

You don’t organize your company around control, hierarchy, or even one very charismatic leader. You do it around an idea or purpose. Your team members are smart – they must buy in to the company vision and direction on their own. I feel this is the best way to keep everyone motivated and creative. From my experience, no reward opens the floodgates to innovation quite like giving your team the freedom to “just do it.”

Want to learn more about culture in a high-tech company? Check out What's a "company week" and why it's important.

Pantech and the Recipe for Growth

Pantech is a Korean company not too many knew about just a few years ago. They started out back in the early 1990s with pagers and over the years expanded to phones, in a way reminding of how RIM grew. Today Pantech is the third biggest phone manufacturer in Korea behind just Samsung and LG. Pantech does pretty much all kind of Android smartphones from the entry level to the high end focusing on the hot, highly competitive Korean, Japanese and US markets. Unlike RIM and some other old giants, Pantech has decided to grow with the market instead of trying to redefine it.

The phone we ship together first is called Vega R3 and we've had the shipping units here for testing over a month now. If you think about the features they are truly over the top as of today: the latest quad-core Snapdragon S4, huge 5.3" inch crystal clear screen, 4G LTE, and a 13MP camera. Vega R3 is also my first personal phone since using iPhones over five years and my conclusion is that after obvious Android migration hassles Pantech does deliver.

Of course the specs will be overtaken one day (and based on rumors Pantech is set to top Vega R3 themselves by CES) in the near future but what we hope and believe will stay is the attitude we have seen Pantech has in developing and delivering their products. They boldly aim to the mainstream, do not fear competition, and just focus on their own game at delivering better products quicker than anybody has done before. That can-do, forward-looking attitude can take companies far. Good job!

Meet us at CES, Jan 7-11, 2013, Las Vegas, USA

As before, we are present at the annual Consumer Electronics Show to showcase the benefits of Tuxera’s file systems and other products to consumer electronics manufacturers. Please email us to pre-arrange a meeting!

Also Nook HD and HD+ ship with SDXC support

Barnes & Noble's new Nook HD and HD+ are finally out and we have our unit here at Tuxera as well. Nook specs only talk about microSD and microSDHC support up to 32GB and some reviews based on early specs and test units tell the same. So as the developers we are proud to make it clear that the actually shipping Nook HD and HD+ do support microSDXC cards according to the SDXC standard. Yes, Nook reads and writes in exFAT format and the high capacity memory cards do not need any reformatting. You will get the full 64GB (or more) what the card supports without any limits to file sizes. It is also now explained in the Nook manual on page 93:

Besides, the new Nook is a one cool device. Ideal for ebooks but works also well for your other content, videos and pictures especially now that you can plug & play the storage with your phone. You have the option to be free from the cloud.

How Tuxera software works inside Audis and BMWs

When it comes to cars the Germans are the ones you should look for leading the way. We are really excited and proud now that Tuxera software ships inside Audis and BMWs across the globe. Sometimes it has been difficult to get the message out what we do in Tuxera but I am quite sure these examples will help:

Tuxera ships inside the all-new Audi A3.

Audi's MMI has pioneered the use of SD cards. Now the system also supports SDXC for both navigation and media connectivity.

The Ultimate Driving Machine. See how comfortable ride you get inside the cabin.

Plug in your USB media to be enjoyed with the coffee...

SDA General Assembly, Oct 11-12, 2012, Berlin, Germany

Come discuss your file system needs and the benefits of Tuxera’s interoperable file system products to consumer electronics manufacturers. Please email us to pre-arrange a meeting.

IBC, Sep 7-11, 2012, Amsterdam, the Netherlands

Come discuss your file system needs and the benefits of Tuxera’s interoperable file system products to consumer electronics manufacturers. Please email us to pre-arrange a meeting.

Transformer in Action on NVIDIA Tegra 3

One of the cool things working at Tuxera is we get our hands dirty with absolute stunning new gadgets when they are designed. Today we published a PR about our long term cooperation with NVIDIA. Their new Tegra 3 is going strong in the top-of-the-line mobile devices and the industry analysts have previously reported a number of major design wins including Acer, ASUS, HTC, Lenovo and ZTE. It's all about Android tablets and phones.

Tuxera software powers today for example ASUS Transformer Prime, the first Tegra 3 tablet out in the markets. ASUS strategy has been to extend the tablet with a removable keyboard dock with USB and SD interfaces. Here's a couple of review videos:

Movie loading, playback, tracking and skipping around work all instantly from an external hard drive with Tuxera software inside. "We give thumbs up to the hard drive!" Makes us feel happy.

CES day 3

Third and final day for us at this year's CES kept us busy. Here's a wrap up of some of the major trends that are close to what we do at Tuxera:

  • Wireless interoperability and remote management
  • There's currently a lot of approaches for wireless streaming inside the home. There's DLNA, there's Airplay, there's WiDi and there's a host of proprietary company specific approaches. Some companies presented simple solutions just to get old devices into the connected world. A good example is Skifta from Qualcomm Atheros, basically a small wifi box with audio out. You control the thing with a mobile app.

  • Android is the innovation platform
  • Android is everywhere and getting better every year as we go. At least I came to the conclusion the latest Android 4 phones on display have passed Apple in both form factor and specs. Android is clearly the leading innovation platform, the one where all the cool hardware and system software innovation takes place first. Both Apple and Microsoft are seriously trailing in that regard. Still, despite Google's "Smart Home" talk where Android runs also inside your refrigerator it is still too early to say Google would end up being the interface in all devices in the future. What has been demoed on Android will work on other Linux based systems as well.

CES day 2

We started the second day with a PR with NETGEAR. Following the previous day's announcement with Marvell, we wanted to highlight the impact of our work in high performance storage to actual devices on the market:

With the help of Tuxera, NETGEAR’s ReadyNAS Duo v2 and NV+ v2 products feature significantly faster back-up times and seamless user experience with portable storages.

While both Marvell and NETGEAR are key partners for us in the storage segment, Tuxera keeps on working with all the leading chipsets and their different platforms.

Another market we have been investing a lot at Tuxera is automotive infotainment. It is also clearly a growing area for CES. In the first day Daimler CEO Dieter Zetsche gave one of the keynotes with the following observation of what's going on:

Here at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas there are some people who view the automobile as an accessory to consumer electronics. Conversely, at the auto show in Detroit there are many people who view consumer electronics as mere trimmings for the car. Both points of view miss the point: as much as a smartphone can be far more than just a tool for communication, a smart car can be more than just a means of transportation. Precisely at the interfaces between communication and mobility, vast potential for innovation lies dormant, and we intend to tap it.

It looks like every second car will have a tablet-like dashboard in the near future -- a sort of placeholder for your digital identity. NVIDIA had the top design wins on show like the Lambo pictured above...