BY JACOB A. MCGINNIS
• This is a picture of Squarespace’s founder and
CEO, Anthony Casalena.
• This is a link to a video containing Jeff
Bridges talking about how he used
Squarespace to market his Sleeping Tapes
• Squarespace is a smaller sized company headquartered
in New York City that specializes in software
development pertaining to website design and
maintenance for individuals and small businesses.
• Squarespace’s strong customer support and passionate
drive for excellent design have won them accolades for
• According to Deal and Kennedy, Squarespace has all of
the elements of a strong company culture.
• Squarespace is a Small to Medium Sized Enterprise
(SME) consisting of only 580 employees.
• The Squarespace software was invented in 2004 by CEO
Anthony Casalena in his dorm, because he wanted to
build his own website, but was unimpressed with the
services provided by existing website-building software
• Squarespace is headquartered in New York City, with
offices in Portland and Dublin, Ireland.
• Squarespace has made Crain’s list of best places to work
in New York City every year since 2012.
• Squarespace was listed among Fortune’s 100 best
workplaces for millennials in 2015.
• Squarespace employees use Squarespace to do their
work. For example, the Squarespace official website was
built and is managed using Squarespace, with the idea
that it creates a better connection to the client to have
employees using the service they build and supply.
DEAL AND KENNEDY’S STRONG
• In 1982, Deal and Kennedy developed what they called “the
principles of strong cultures”, which include values, heroes,
rites and rituals, and a cultural network.
• Squarespace’s values as listed on their official website are:
• Be Your Own Customer
• Empower Individuals
• Design is Not a Luxury
• Good Work Takes Time
• Optimize Towards Ideals
• Be Your Own Customer: This company value references
the fact I presented earlier that Squarespace employees
use Squarespace to do their work. This makes it much
easier for Squarespace to get and stay close to the
• This also means that issues apparent in the software may
be fixed before they are reported by customers, allowing
employees to spot bugs in the system ahead of time
because they constantly use it.
• Empower Individuals: Squarespace is essentially a small
business for small businesses. This means that artists,
journalists, photographers, entrepreneurs, bloggers, and
all other types of innovators who either work for
themselves or are trying to start a business or creative
project are enabled and empowered to build their online
presence easily with Squarespace.
• Design Is Not A Luxury: Similar to Steve Jobs’ vision for
Apple, Squarespace places a high value on the visual
aspect of their product, going to great lengths to make
the website templates they provide beautiful, simple,
• For example, the pop rock band Walk the Moon used
Squarespace to create their website:
• Good Work Takes Time: As a company, Squarespace
understands that for projects to get done well, they must
take time, which means that they as a corporate culture
would rather take a long time to release a new feature,
template, product, etc. than release it quickly and not be
proud of it.
• To make sure the company stays in focus, however, and
doesn’t completely lose track of time, Squarespace holds
monthly “all hands” meetings. More on this later.
• Optimize Towards Ideals: Although this value may seem as
though it is mere corporate jargon, the intention behind
this phrase is that Squarespace makes their decisions based
on their values and ideals.
• To go further, this means that Squarespace could,
hypothetically, reach the end of a month, look over their
financial progress as a business, and consider the month a
failure even if they increased profit margins if they felt they
didn’t properly execute their values and ideals.
• Squarespace believes their success in the market comes
from executing their values and ideals, not merely pushing
to meet financial goals.
• Simplify: Peters and Waterman mention that “Excellent
organizations avoid complex structures and divisions of
• Squarespace’s offices reflect this value through a
• Since Squarespace is such a small company, simplicity in
communication networks comes easily. For example,
there are only 10 departments in the organization;
Customer Operations, Communications, Design,
Engineering, Finance, Media and Acquisition, People,
Product, Strategy, and University.
DEAL AND KENNEDY’S STRONG
• Anthony Casalena, Squarespace’s founder and CEO, is
the most obviously identifiable “hero” at Squarespace, as
he was the company’s only engineer, designer, and
support representative in its early years.
• Although Squarespace has grown large enough for
Casalena to have to hand off many of his responsibilities
to other people, he remains directly involved with the
engineering, design, and product teams.
DEAL AND KENNEDY’S STRONG
CULTURES: RITES AND RITUALS
• Similar to Zappos, Squarespace holds “all hands”
meetings once a month to celebrate victories, inform
employees on important updates, and welcome new
• These meetings feature guest speakers, such as Neil
Degrasse Tyson, Jeff Bridges, and other prominent
industry leaders from diverse fields.
DEAL AND KENNEDY’S STRONG CULTURES:
• As mentioned previously, Squarespace holds monthly
“all hands” meetings. This is an example of a formal
• Squarespace’s offices have lounges specifically for the
purpose of collaboration, so that employees have places
to go other than their desks to do their work. These
lounges encourage an open, informal communication
PUTTING A FINGER ON IT
• Although it is apparent that corporate cultures are
complex systems, and that there may in fact be several
subcultures within the larger corporate culture overall,
Squarespace’s company “style”, or at least what they
want the public to view them as, is incredibly hipster.
• Just as Zappos is “fun and weird”, Squarespace is “cool
and unique.” This general feel can be observed from
their daily catered gourmet meals, pantries stocked with
whole foods, and their company blog posts about
attending indie folk festivals.
• Squarespace is an SME headquartered in New York City
that focuses on software development and web design.
• Squarespace meets all four of Deal and Kennedy’s
principles of strong cultures by putting people first,
demanding excellence, and balancing employee
autonomy and a clear direction for the future based on
company values and ideals.
• Would Squarespace function better as a large company, or is its size
• Does Squarespace’s CEO Anthony Casalena have a protégé‘, or
someone to hand the company to if his health fails? Would
Squarespace be able to function properly if Casalena were not around?
• How does Squarespace maintain simultaneous loose-tight properties?
Freedom is given to employees to work autonomously, but they still
report directly to their team lead who reports to the manager who
reports to the CEO or department director. Is this kind of hierarchy
necessary? Why or why not?
• In the event of a zombie apocalypse, how would Squarespace function
as a mini-society struggling to survive? What would the group
dynamics look like? Would everyone panic, scatter, and die, or pull
together to wait it out?
• Although this may seem like a trivial suggestion, perhaps
adding a small amount of vibrant color to the offices would
accent the creativity the company wishes to express.
• Bonding Time: Although I understand that Squarespace is a
professional organization, I was sad to see such few cases of
company outings. I found several blog posts about
attending an indie folk festival, which would indicate that
the teams do meet outside of work occasionally, but I
believe that more company outings will create closeness
within the company, which will in turn directly and
positively effect productivity, because people tend to do
better work in teams of people they know and enjoy the
• Entis, Laura (06/22/2015), retrieved from