On paper, Tristan Walker could check off a lot of the standard boxes for “Silicon Valley entrepreneur.” He has an MBA from Stanford and a résumé that includes Twitter, Foursquare and four years as entrepreneur-in-residence at Andreessen Horowitz.
However, the CEO of Walker & Company Brands roundly rejects the Valley’s favorite cliché, “culture fit.” On the latest episode of Recode Decode, hosted by Kara Swisher, Walker said startups rarely define their own cultures before using it as an excuse to hire homogenous workers.
“Foursquare worked, we got to 150 employees and no one left because we knew who we were,” Walker said. “The thing I’ve realized this time around, that I wanted to do from Day 1, is define that.”
Walker & Company is a health and beauty company that puts an emphasis on products for people of color, and it has raised more than $33 million to date from firms like Andreessen and IVP. Walker said he laid down six specific corporate values before he raised any money: “Courage, inspiration, respect, judgment, wellness and loyalty.”
In addition to explaining how those terms apply to his business, on the new podcast Walker discussed the challenges he initially faced in getting investors on board; how he evaluates the recent mega-sales of Jet.com ($3 billion, to Walmart) and Dollar Shave Club ($1 billion, to Unilever); and his nonprofit initiative for minorities in tech, Code2040.
“We just graduated a class of 90 fellows,” he said. “A lot of these folks are saying that they don’t exist. That is complete bullshit, because we found them inside of six months.”
“But the inevitability is this,” he added. “They’re the ones who are going to go and start the companies. They’re the ones who are going to hire. They’re the ones who are actually going to create these lists and define values. If folks are complacent, then great: Don’t hire those folks. We will.”