Working at Valve

April 20th, 2012 by Jeff

Yes, the things you have heard are true. After four glorious years of freelancing and working on fun open source hardware projects, I am going full-time again.

In June, I will be joining the hardware team at Valve.

Yes, Jeri works there. No, she is not my boss (or anyone else’s, more on that later).

On my last visit to Valve, I got a copy of the brand new Handbook for New Employees. This handbook outlines what it’s like to work at Valve.

Valve Handbook

If you read the handbook, you will discover that working at Valve is quite a bit different than working at other software or hardware companies.

Perhaps most significantly, Valve is a completely flat organization – there are no managers. (And by flat I don’t mean simple, or boring, because it is certainly neither of these things.)

Valve Handbook

No one, not even Gabe, can tell you what to do or what projects to work on.

So how does anything get done? Simple:

Valve Handbook

Interested in working at Valve? The handbook also talks a bit about the sorts of things that Valve looks for in the hiring process. I found this diagram particularly interesting:

Valve Handbook

Valve looks for people who are experts in their field but also generalists. (Jack of all trades, master of one?) This applies across all disciplines.

(Does this sound like you? If you are interested in working on hardware in an amazing work environment, surrounded by other super-talented people, I highly recommend that you contact Valve.)

The handbook contains lots of other good information for new and prospective employees. Unfortunately, it’s not available for download (yet), so you’ll have to come visit and beg for/borrow/steal a copy. (In the mean time, there are a few more scans here.)

As for me, I need to start packing. Wish me luck.

Update: LambdaGeneration just posted a link to the complete handbook.


22 Responses to “Working at Valve”

  1. David July says:

    Congratulations, Jeff! It certainly sounds like an interesting, dare I say perfect environment for this sort of work.

    I recently started a new adventure of my own so I know how excited you must be right now. Best of luck and I hope your move is not too much of a PITA!

  2. Cybergibbons says:

    Jeff, just out of interest, what would you call your expert area?

  3. Vincent BEcker says:

    Very nice! That looks like an excellent company. Hope you’ll have some time to spare on your personal projects!

  4. Alex says:

    I expect BIG things if you and Jerry work on something together. Just can’t wait.
    Also, having worked for a company that tried self organisation and kind of failed, I’m interested how that feels and works out for you.
    Best of luck!

  5. [...] have been swiped up to work for Valve. Yes, that Valve, the game company. Amongst them are [Jeff Keyser] aka [Mighty ohm] and [Jeri Ellsworth], both names that we have seen on these pages many times. [...]

  6. LeKevbo says:

    What a cool place. It has its own Jeri too! What could be better than that? Makes me wish I had a useful skillset and the desire to head west!

    • Jeff says:

      I can’t imagine anywhere else I would want to be. And the West coast isn’t so bad… I’ve lived there most of my life.

  7. [...] is a handbook for working at Valve that was previously released [...]

  8. Dave H says:

    Valve does hardware? Son of a… I mean, wow! Congratulations!

  9. Jeremy Blum says:

    Excited to see some awesome things rolling out of Valve soon… I might have to try to pay a visit.

  10. Darminian says:

    Living the dream.

  11. Alan Parekh says:

    Congrats Jeff! Sounds like a cool place to work. No bosses around? That’s a cool concept.

  12. [...] they work on what they want and produce a presentation on their work afterwards, there is also Valve who have no managers telling people what to do and instead have varying projects that people think [...]

  13. kmmankad says:

    Thats great news!

    All the best :-)

    I’m really curious about this side of Valve..

  14. [...] permanently – hopefully not!  I plan to reopen the online store after I move to Seattle, but my new day job might slow down the process a bit. I’ll post updates as I get settled. Share [...]

  15. Tyler says:

    I’m new to your blog, and interested in Valve. What are you going to be doing there? I’ve also read Micheal Abrash’s blog “Ramblings in Valve Time.” Are you going to be working with him on the whole wearable computing idea? How does electrical engineering work at a company like Valve?

    • Jeff says:

      Hi Tyler,

      I can’t say much as I haven’t started yet. Ask me again in 6 months and I should be able to provide a lot more insight into what it’s like to work as an EE at Valve.

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