The Team Handbook
Matthew Gregory CEO
Ockam is building a future where all applications can be interoperable - everywhere.
Ockam empowers builders with simple tools so they can create applications that Trust Data-in-Motion
Values (What we believe)
It's our only value. It is at the core of The Team, what our product does, and how we engage the builder community.
Virtues (What we do)
High Performance Mindset
Ockam is a team of doers, builders, shippers, and finishers. We celebrate things that are complete and intentional. Ideas are the easy part. We win by turning ideas into action.
At Ockam, it's essential to embrace a growth mindset (open and listen to this video). High Performance teams have the grit to do the hard things and to maintain a growth mindset. We dream audacious goals, and continue to progress towards those goals regardless of obstacles or setbacks.
We also understand that every team member will win some, and lose some. Learning from losses is an essential part of a growth mindset. We strive for continuous improvement in everything that we do.
Keep Things Simple
The creation of simple solutions out of complex problems is the basis for our namesake, Ockam. Every idea, product, and procedure at Ockam should be governed by the principles in Occam's Razor.
We recognize that simplifying is a difficult and iterative journey. But in the end, when you keep things simple, they tend to be robust - less goes wrong, and there is less to maintain - and less to break down.
Default to Transparency
In the ethos of open source, we believe it's best to err on the side of disclosure and clarity. By making information public, we can reduce the threshold to contribution and make collaboration easier. Practicing transparency, even when hiding the details could be easier, builds Trust.
Transparency is closely connected with Ockam's virtue of Simplicity. To be transparent, we must communicate ideas simply. By writing down our plans and showcasing our work we demonstrate our virtue of transparency.
Our only limitation to transparency is privacy. Some things need to be private, and you can Trust the team to keep what needs to be kept private - private.
Time is Precious
Time is the most valuable asset that we have.
We Trust each team member to use time wisely. Responsible use of time includes our own and that of others. We show up on time to meetings, keep meetings on track, and consider the impact to others when we take holidays.
We value your time. There are 168 hours in a week and we only have a couple of obligatory meetings per week. We Trust you to manage the remaining ~164 hours in any way you see fit.
Tools and Frameworks
OKRs stand for Objectives and Key Results. In this goal-setting system, objectives define what we seek to achieve; key results are how those top-priority goals will be attained with specific, measurable actions within a set time frame. Everyone's goals, from entry level to CEO, are transparent to the entire organization. The benefits are profound. OKRs surface The Team's most important work. They focus effort and foster coordination. They keep us on track and allow us to align on what is critically important, what's a nice to have, and what is not a priority. They link objectives across silos to unify and strengthen the entire company. The book Measure What Matters is required reading for everyone on The Team. The short video version (open and watch this link) is a good way to get started - and essential to your success on The Team.
The Team believes in you.
The Team gives you Responsibility, not ownership. We don't like it when people use the word 'Own' inside a product driven company. Typically it is used in the context of “I own the relationship with the customer”, or “she owns the problem with her feature.” Describing individual 'ownership' inside our high performance team culture doesn't make any sense.
We use a RACI framework at Ockam because it interconnects The Team. R-A-C-I it stands for,
Aligned / Agreed / Approved
When we juxtapose Ockam's high performing team to a professional sports team the RACI framework comes into focus. Consider the role of the goalie on a soccer team. She is world-class at her position, is Responsible for defending the goal, seeks coaching, works with other players to turn a defensive play into an offensive one, and clearly communicates with the rest of the team.
Every Objective at Ockam has a role for who is Responsible, what must be Approved or Agreed to, who is Consulted, and who needs to be Informed throughout the lifecycle of a project.
Ockam has also adopted a culture of 'Disagree and Commit'. Ockam moves fast, and relies on Trust. This means that we disagree and commit to decisions all the time. This also means that Ockam's culture is not a consensus driven culture. We have far too many decisions to make. This is why Responsibility for an Objective also comes with The Trust and empowerment to make decisions.
How Compensation is determined
Ockam's compensation structure has three components:
Cash: Your base salary is denominated in US Dollars and wired to you in your local currency twice a month.
Equity: We provide employees an ownership stake in Ockam in the form of equity option grants.
Benefits: Extra things that we give you.
We use Carta's Total Compensation Benchmark data to generate midpoint salaries for each level's band. We set those midpoint salaries based on the benchmarks of the 75th percentile of companies in San Francisco / Silicon Valley that have raised a Series A and have a valuation between $50m and $100m. Carta's data is based on over 27k employees across 450+ companies.
Base salaries are determined by your level, where you are performing in that level, and your location.
At Ockam, there are 3 tracks to accommodate team members with differing growth goals. This table is an example of the engineering career tracks:
|Levels||Individual Contributor Track||Management Track||Executive Track|
|L4||Senior Engineer I||-||-|
|L5||Senior Engineer II||Engineering [Team] Lead||-|
|L6||Staff Engineer I||Head of [Area]||-|
|L7||Staff Engineer II||Director of [Product]||-|
|L8||Principal Engineer||Senior Director||-|
|L9||-||-||VP of Engineering|
More details on the expectations at each level can be found in our blog.
We make adjustments to compensation based on the compensation packages of the companies in your local area. Regions are defined by Carta Total Comp and are divided into the following four categories, which determines geographic compensation adjustments: Highest, Intermediate, Average, and Lower.
New York City
|Lower||All other countries|
The graph below displays how regional adjustments change by level. As your level increases, the adjustment we make from the San Francisco (highest) reference point becomes smaller. For L1-2 we set compensation to be highly competitive in your local area. At L3-4 we adjust to a larger regional area. At IC5, and above, we will compensate you as though you live in the highest compensation region in the world - San Francisco.
Carta data is reviewed once per year at the beginning of December and we will update target compensation based on changes in the data.
Our salary bands aim to be exceptionally competitive when compared to companies that are similar to Ockam. Thus, as Ockam grows, we will compare ourselves to a different set of companies over time. We use the Carta Total Compensation tool to make these comparisons.
We didn't discount your offer in anticipation that you would have to negotiate back to what is reasonable in the first place. We offer a compensation plan that is inline with your skills and experience and it is based on market data. We aim to have consistency in our compensation across the entire team and remove negotiation bias. Since we are a global company, there are different social norms and expectations for negotiating an offer to join a company. We remove this bias so that as we grow we don't end up with different compensations for different categories of people.
You are not 'just' an employee at Ockam. You are an entrepreneur. Everyone on The Team is an owner of this company.
Ockam provides equity option grants as part of your compensation. Equity grants are subject to a vesting period, meaning you must work at Ockam for a certain period of time to obtain ownership of your options. Equity grants vest over a four year period; 25% after the first year and then 1/48 of your equity will vest in each subsequent month.
The amount of equity you receive is determined based on your level and base salary. We derive equity compensation, measured in dollars, as a percentage of first year’s salary based on this chart:
|Level||% of first year’s salary|
The current share price for Ockam will determine how many options you receive. For example, if you are an IC5 with a base salary of $200,000, you will receive $100,000 worth of equity over a four year vesting period. We determined this by using the chart above to calculate that your equity grant will equal 50% of base salary. If Ockam's share price is $2 at the time of your grant, you would receive 50,000 equity options.
The more senior you are, the higher percentage of your compensation will be equity based.
Ockam provides employees with a 5 year exercise window after 2 years of service. This means if you leave Ockam after 2 or more years, you will be able to exercise your options 5 years after your departure date. For most companies, this window is 60-90 days, however at Ockam we believe your hard work should be rewarded with the ability to realize the benefits of your equity.
Equity in Ockam has the potential to be worth a lot in the future. Below is a list of potential outcomes, and real life examples of companies that have experienced each of these outcomes.
|Fail to Raise Series B||2 years||$0||0x||Link|
|Acquisition - Low||2-5 years||$50,000,000||1x||Link|
|Acquisition - Medium||3-5 years||$500,000,000||10x||Link|
|Acquisition - High||4-6 years||$5,000,000,000||100x||Link|
|IPO - Low||5-8 years||$5,000,000,000||100x||Link|
|IPO - High||5-8 years||$50,000,000,000||1,000x||Link|
Learn more about equity here.
Ockam pays all employees an additional $100 per month to allow you to have the best possible connection to The Team.
Communication is extremely important for a remote company and we want to ensure our meetings run flawlessly. You should use it to purchase the fastest available ISP in your area. This benefit can also be used for a microphone, headphones, a monitor, 4k camera, or other equipment to ensure you are set up to connect with your team.
US Based Employee Benefits
Ockam's 401k is administered through Guideline. You will receive an email shortly after starting at Ockam to sign up for your 401k and make contribution elections. Ockam provides a 401k match of your retirement contributions, up to 5% of your base salary.
This benefit is subject to a vote by Ockam's Board of Directors every December, which determines if it will continue into the following year.
Employees can enroll in benefits for Health, Dental, Vision and Life Insurance through Gusto. Ockam offers three healthcare plans through UnitedHealthcare with varying deductible amounts: Platinum, Silver and Gold. Dental and Vision coverage are provided by Beam. Ockam covers 95% of the insurance premium for Health, Vision and Dental. Ockam also covers 100% of $50,000 in Life Insurance coverage, provided by Guardian.
Total Compensation Chart
The table below shows total compensation bands across levels and regions. This is inclusive of base salary, equity, and benefits. However, it does not include the benefits to employees inside of the USA, such as medical coverage and 401k.
Ockam conducts career reviews once per year. However you should expect to get feedback from your team and manager on a regular cadence through 1:1s. The end-of-year review includes a Manager, Self, and Peer reviews. The end-of-year review will be discussed among the entire executive team and your manager will set up a 1:1 to review the feedback and discuss performance and future goals.
Based on the year-end performance reviews, management will decide on promotions, compensation increases, and additional equity grants.
Change in compensation factors:
- Changes in Carta Data: Increase resulting from a compensation calibration process where salaries have increased across the industry.
- Performance at your Level: Increase within the salary band for your level based on your prior year performance.
- Promotion to a new Level: Increase due to promotion to the next level in the Ockam Career ladder.
- A grant of additional equity options may be based on performance, tenure, or promotion and is at the discretion of the CEO.
Trusted Time Policy
Ockam is Built on Trust
You are Trusted to manage your time.
We support your whole-life balance so that you are productive and happy in your life. Take the time you need to tend to your personal commitments such as family time, important events, and your health and wellbeing.
Trust comes with Responsibility.
Be sure to inform those who might be depending on your availability, and ensure that your RACI's are completed by deadlines or are otherwise covered. We are an asynchronous, globally distributed team, building a complex product and high-growth business in a very fast moving industry.
We care about
How effectively you collaborate with others and serve the team. Are you committing to your goals, in public, and meeting your Responsibilities? Sequencing and prioritization are the highest leverage decisions you can make. Building the right thing, in the right order can get Ockam to its goals weeks, or even months, faster. It's just as important to be able to clearly articulate what you are doing with what you aren't doing. The quality of the work you produce, and how you balance experimentation with sustainability. Some things are experiments or will require some learning, while other things need to be built right to make future development faster and sustainable. Know the difference and be intentional.
We do not care about the hours you (have or have not) worked
We are Responsibility driven, and Responsibilities do not equate to how much time is spent on them.
You are Responsible for spending the necessary time to fulfill your Responsibilities; including learning, executing, reviewing, or helping a teammate.
It's going to be difficult and it will take a lot of time
Startups are hard.
High performance teaming is hard.
Trust is hard.
Being remote-first is hard.
Being Global is hard.
Silicon Valley is the premier league / everest / olympic games / pinnacle of industry.
What we are building (our product) is hard to build.
… We are doing all of these at once, so Ockam is as hard as it gets!
Expect what we are doing to be difficult. We are all here because we want to build something great, want to be a part of something great, and want to be our best selves. Greatness is hard. Greatness takes dedication, hard work and time. Embrace being great. Own it…and then congratulate yourself for taking on the challenge we have in front of us!
Acknowledge that we have to put out fires when they flame up. We produce critical infrastructure for people building in a dynamic and global around-the-clock industry. While we want to have as much flexibility as we can, there will be certain times where it will be necessary for folks to jump in, with short notice, to put out a fire. This includes late at night or on the weekend.
We don't value working lots-and-lots of hours for the sake of working lots-and-lots hours, but sometimes we'll need to work hours that may not fit within the 9-5 hours from Monday to Friday.
Ockam has ambitious product delivery schedules, but it's management's Responsibility to set a cadence that is reasonable; they won't give you more Responsibility than what should take 45-50 hours per week to complete. A 55-60 hour week could be required from time to time, but these should be rare occasions.
If you happen to find yourself with less than 45 hours of work to do in a given week, you are probably not challenging yourself to do what it takes to help your teammates and your team to succeed. Someone on The Team is probably struggling; find them and help them if you have spare time to give. We succeed as a Team.
Of the 168 hours in a week, we only have meetings for about 4 of those hours. You are empowered to allocate your time across the remaining ~164 hours as you wish. It is your personal choice if you want to be online outside of 9 to 5 local working hours such as on weekends, early in the morning, late at night, or a mashup of each. You are Responsible for your work schedule, no matter where you are in the world, while staying in good communication with your team and your manager. It is your Responsibility to be a great teammate and to get your teammates what they need from you, when they need it.
We have Maker Day every Friday — that means no meetings should be scheduled on Fridays. Also refrain from interrupting others who may be in a state of flow. We want everyone on the team to dedicate the entire day (or if you prefer, the weekend) to creating without any meeting distractions.
Since we are distributed across many time zones, our opportunities for synchronous time are limited, and should be seen as a valuable resource. Sync time is great for brainstorming, building alignment, working through difficult decisions and scoping a project.
In order to make scheduling easier for internal meetings and to create overlap, managers will set a window where everyone on their team will be expected to be available for synchronous time. They will take into consideration who's on their team and make accommodations to best suit their team.
1:1s and small team meetings can happen outside of the 8:30am to 10:30 am [Pacific Time] on Tuesdays and Thursdays windows.
Be sure to schedule meetings in advance, be prepared, have an agenda and record notes for later reference or to share with people that were not in the meeting with you.
Customer sessions/support may happen outside of meeting windows, but are usually on the calendar for at least a day. External facing roles should expect additional meetings throughout the week.
Obviously things often come up during the day and you will be away from your workstation (such as to pick up your child, go to the doctor, meet the plumber, etc). This is totally fine, just make sure to observe the same courtesy to your team and Ockam's users by making sure anything time sensitive is covered and mark on your calendar when you're going to be out so that everyone else can work around your calendar.
On time is on time.
20 seconds late is 20 seconds late.
Respecting teammate's time in Zoom meetings
A key trait of a high performing team is that when people get together everyone is 'present'. It's important that everyone who needs to be present in a meeting has a presence in the meeting. Time is one of our Virtues, and how we meet is a reflection of this virtue.
Dual Monitor setup
You must use two large monitors to watch demos and to see and engage with the team at the same time. We use the 'dual monitor' setting in Zoom. This enables everyone to be able to follow a demo / screen share and see everyone in high fidelity. We want to connect with the code and to connect with each other simultaneously.
Please avoid, as much as possible, attending zoom meetings from your laptop.
It's required for everyone in attendance to have video turned on during all zooms calls. It's really tough to establish personal connections in a fully remote team.
Video helps to create personal connections. If we think about in person meetings it's obvious: Imagine if you were at an in-person meeting, and you were standing in front of the group, presenting something that you've been working on. Imagine it's something that you are really proud of. However you look up, and one person was standing in the corner staring at the wall. And another person was heads down typing away at their laptop. You would probably feel like you weren't being heard, wasting your time, or that your work isn't valued. This scenario is not what High Performing teams do, and it's not how they show up for each other.
Almost all of our meetings are open to attend. You may have a curiosity about a topic that some others might be discussing, then it's ok to audit these meetings. When you are auditing a zoom call it's OK to have your video off, because your presence in the meeting is not required and you are an observer or are multitasking.
Preface from Matthew
“High performing teams, and the players on it, don't need to count or to track holiday time. It would be my preference to omit this entire section from our handbook. I know that Sabeen and Mrinal feel the same.”
“However, in my experience across a lot of different teams, the number of holiday days, and when they are taken, is something that comes up in conversation with average and low performers. These teammates typically are out of sync with what the team needs and we all expect from them. Thus we (unfortunately) need to have a framework to discuss how holidays are utilized in the performance reviews where corrective actions or dismissals are needed.”
“In contrast, high performers know when the team needs them, and they lean in. But when there is an opportunity to recharge, they take that opportunity, and come back better than ever.”
Given our flexible time policy, we are often asked what is a reasonable expectation for time off.
You will be Responsible for work that will challenge you, so you should be aware of the amount of time we anticipate you will need to complete your work assignments. If you are taking more time away from your Responsibilities at Ockam than the guidance below, then you are vulnerable to underdeliver on The Team's expectations of you as well. In most cases, it will not be possible to excel in your role, and to be a resource to your team, if you are away more than the guidance amount.
Since we are a global team, holiday time is defined differently across seasons, countries, and religions. Holiday time is holiday time, whether you are observing a national holiday, a religious holiday, taking a vacation, or a day of rest. We don't distinguish between the reasons you choose to take holiday time.
|L1 -3||25 days|
RACI and Holiday Time
When taking a vacation, be sure to take the following steps before going out of office:
- Communicate to your team and your manager (A+C in RACI)
- Create and distribute (A+I in RACI) a coverage plan for the work you are Responsible for.
- Input your vacation in the holiday time tool
- Set your Slack status to away / vacation
- Turn on Gmail automatic replies
- Decline meeting invites in Google calendar
When taking vacation you will need to synchronize with the product release, quarterly kick off schedules, and when your teammates will be away. There will be times where we will be 'all hands on deck'. By talking with your manager about your Holiday Time plans early we can align on when is the best time for people to be away from Ockam.
Advanced notice expectations
If you are going to be away [Monday to Friday] then you need to let your manager know - with as much time as possible. As guidance;
Length of Holiday Time
Most Holiday breaks should not be more than 5 weekdays long (1 calendar week). Please Align with your manager and teammates as you plan for your time away. We are a small team so extended time away from your area of Responsibility puts a large burden on your teammates to cover for you since there is little overlap in Responsibilities between us all.
If you are away for more than 10 consecutive calendar days (inclusive of national or religious holidays, weekends, etc) then you need to get approval for your time away through an escalated request to the CEO. Your manager will work with you to prepare and present your request for a long Holiday. Why do long Holiday Time requests need to be escalated to Matthew? Ask your manager this question.
While not strictly enforced, you should assume that your Holiday Time accrues throughout the year. Roughly, you should take a quarter of your yearly Holiday Time every quarter. You can not take all of your Holiday Time all at once, or at the beginning of the year.
If you are new to The Team (congratulations!) you should expect to be busy for the first 3-4 months of your journey to get up to speed. You will need a dedicated focus during this time and should take a minimal amount of time (2 to 3 days) away from your Responsibilities.
We assume that you will need somewhere between zero and ten sick days a year for self-care or for the care of a loved one. We provide a maximum of 10 paid sick days per year. If you require more than 10 days in a calendar year the extra days will be assumed to be Holiday Time.
Ockam does not pay out for unused sick time upon resignation or termination, since don't have a 'sick time bank'.
If you have a medical condition you know will take you away from work regularly, please work with your manager for accommodations and we will find a solution that works for you and your team.
Ockam adheres to US Department of Labor laws. Please speak with your manager if you are expecting to take time off for parental leave.
Unpaid Leave of Absence
If you have been at Ockam for more than a year, then you may request a two week long Unpaid Leave of Absence. If you plan to take an Unpaid Leave of Absence, then you need to give your manager at least 24 weeks of notice and get approval from the CEO.
When a team member is absent for two consecutive workdays and fails to contact their manager, they may be terminated for job abandonment.
Over-employment is when someone has multiple jobs, or takes on consulting contracts, in addition to their full time job.
Having another employer while you are employed at Ockam is not only unethical, but it is also strictly prohibited in Ockam\’s employment contract. If we discover that someone has a second job, we will immediately terminate their employment, potentially take legal action for damages, and contact their other employers to let them know.
Engineering Levels Ladder