As the chief financial officer of BigCommerce, a software-as-a-service (SaaS) ecommerce platform that empowers merchants to build and grow their online businesses, Robert Alvarez keeps a close eye on growth.
Since joining BigCommerce in 2011, he has been credited with helping to transform the company from a small business solution to a comprehensive ecommerce platform for midmarket retailers, large enterprise segments, and businesses of all sizes across 150 countries.
During a busy CFO tenure, Alvarez has guided BigCommerce through its IPO, first follow-on offering, and private growth financing rounds with tier 1 institutional investors that have included General Catalyst, Revolution Growth, SoftBank, GGV Capital, and Goldman Sachs.
Along the way, Alvarez has become increasingly focused on employee satisfaction as he has sought to help BigCommerce lock in the benefits that come from having employees enjoy what they do.
Asked how BigCommerce is responding to what has frequently been referred to as “the Great Resignation,” Alvarez responds that his company has yet to experience a serious uptick in employee churn—a fact that he attributes to the company’s obsessive focus on culture.
Alvarez: We’re a very culture-based company. This is a huge reason why people join us. It’s a big reason why people stay. Most people today are very purpose-driven, so a lot of times it’s not about the money. They want to find purpose in what they’re doing. I learned a long time ago that if you focus on your people and your culture, managing money and raising money are a lot easier. This has been really important to me
I had this goal early on that no matter how big we got, I never wanted us to lose our soul along the way. We put a whole framework and system around recruiting talent, what we call Bucket 1 and Bucket 2. Bucket 1 is your resume. It’s the LinkedIn profile that you’re looking at on me. Bucket 2 is all of the stuff that my wife and I are trying to teach our three kids and the things that my parents taught me.
It’s all of the things that back in the day weren’t talked a lot about. Being selfless, being empathetic, being compassionate. We like to use the word “humbitious” when it comes to our people. This means people who are not only very ambitious in their thinking but also have a beautiful degree of humility about them that pushes them every day. They just want to be better every day.
We built a framework around how to recruit people who would fit our culture and help to preserve our soul, and we rolled it out to every office. Today, in every office at BigCommerce, whether it’s in Sydney or in Austin, everyone knows about Bucket 1 and Bucket 2. Everyone recruits around Bucket 1 and Bucket 2, and we manage performance around it. We promote around it.
It’s a very competitive market out there today. We hear about this Great Resignation, but the fact is that if you don’t have a great team of folks who feel like they have great friendships and great mentorships and people around them whom they can learn from and grow with, then it’s easy to join a company one day and then leave it the next. One of the things that we try to do is to highlight the purpose of our business and what we do here.
“We like to use the word ‘humbitious’ when it comes to our people. This means people who are not only very ambitious in their thinking but also have a beautiful degree of humility about them that pushes them every day.”
– Robert Alvarez