Company integrity – having a Single Story

One of the paramount aspects for us at Outbrain, since the day we started, is maintaining the company’s integrity. There are many different ways we make integrity the core of our company DNA,  but having a “single story” is probably one of the most important ones.

The ‘single story’ principle means that there’s not the slightest difference between the spirit of what is said or expected from our team internally, to what is said to our investors, to what is said to our partners and clients or publicly to the press. If we say we stick to a certain principle, there’s no winking, or lip service, to *any* of our constituencies. For example, when we say that publishers are our true partners, there’s no backroom dealings of any kind that would undermine that in any way. When we announce publicly that we don’t accept any misleading advertisers, it’s my expectation from my team that we strive to comply with that as strictly as we can, even if it costs us dearly in lost revenue. And its the same single story that my investors (existing AND potential) would hear. It’s that same single story I wouldn’t mind having printed on the front page of the NYT’s, because I’d be proud standing behind it with all the constituents that are part of Outbrain.

So many companies in our space seem to put a facade of similar integrity, yet at the same time maintain multiple different stories – one for the market, a very different one for employees, and a very different one for investors. In the short run these facades can probably work. But I suspect that in the long run it’s impossible to hold onto different stories for different constituencies. Integrity in that sense is a lot like a pregnancy – you can’t be half-pregnant, and you can’t run a company with integrity on some fronts but not others. It’s either a principle you stick to, and then *always* do, with all constituencies. Or it’s not.

In short: Business needs can be turned on or off for integrity; but integrity can never be turned on or off in the face of business needs.5 Comments

Add New Comment

* Your email address will not be published. All fields are required.

  • Andres Moran| February 15, 2014 at 4:04AM

    A wise CEO I used to work for once said: “A principle is not really a principle if it never hurts to stick to it.”

    • Yaron Galai| February 15, 2014 at 5:05AM

      Great quote! Care if I borrow it and use it myself?… 😉

  • Guy Gamzu| February 17, 2014 at 2:02AM

    Couldn’t agree more.
    Ultimately, most of us are driven by the power of inertia.
    Those who distort the narrative based on the opportunity — tend to do so because at that moment in time — it seems like the right thing to do.
    And yet, it is by far better to do the right thing wrong than to do the wrong thing right…

  • Tal Or| February 17, 2014 at 10:10AM

    Great. This is the right way! I hope many will follow it.

  • Adam Gal-Ed| February 17, 2014 at 2:14PM

    When you hear at the office’s cafeteria the same vision that is being described by the management in an interview – you understand what is integrity all about…