Reflecting on 2011 –and Preparing for Future Growth

By Charlene Li, Founding Partner

Altimeter Group Team Photo, December 2011In the life of a young company, a year is an eternity.I sit here looking back to a year ago and I’m amazed at not only the growth of Altimeter Group, how we have grown as individuals and as a team, and the amazing clients we’ve served. While we often publish our insights on how companies should leverage disruptive technologies, I wanted to share a peek inside of our company.

Our journey has seen a lot of growth, here are some stats:

  • We’ve grown from 10 employees at the end of 2010 to 23 today. While our office in San Mateo is buzzing, much of that growth has also been on the East Coast, spreading from Maine to Virginia.
  • We added four new analysts for a total of eight thought leaders. Welcome to Brian Solis, Susan Etlinger, Chris Silva, and Rebecca Lieb!
  • Two books were published: “End of Business” by Brian Solis and “Content Marketing” by Rebecca Lieb.
  • On the commercial front, we grew our client base to 153 companies and we’re honored to include 12 of 30 companies making up the Dow Jones Industrial Average as our clients.
  • We traveled to 18 countries outside the US this year:  Argentina, Australia, Brazil, China, Denmark, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Monaco, Peru, Philippines, Spain, Switzerland, Turkey, United Kingdom. In the course of our travels, we learned that the problems created by disruptive technologies have no boundaries — and that solutions can come from all corners of the globe.

Behind The Scenes
But the numbers don’t even come close to telling the story of the changes we’ve gone through. Here’s a peek behind the scenes:

  • Storming to Norming.  To quote Tuckman’s famed phases of organziational maturity, we’re moving into Norming.  Building an unfunded company from the ground up has it’s challenges, which gives us perspective on how our clients are dealing with their growth challenges.  As we’ve grown, we’ve been challenged to grow our own information infrastructure, get processes in place, and streamline our internal communications – the nuts and bolts of running the business.
  • Growing our team.  We intentioinally hire very slowly.  We’re looking for the right folks, a culture match, and someone that just feels right to the firm.  This year, we’ve invested in four analysts:  Chris Silva on Mobile, Rebecca Lieb on Digital content and advertising, Susan Etlinger focused on analytics, and Brian Solis focused on business strategy and transformation. We’ve also hired a solid team of experienced researchers, operations staff, and a dedicated sales team.
  • A focus on company values. We’ve spoken to entrepreneurs at start-ups, and CEOs at giant corporations, and they all told us how important it is to quickly foster culture by establishing values, and hire and measure performance against it.  Recently, we rolled out our values (Holistic, Amplify, Empower, Humility, Integrity, #GONG) which are literally posted on the office wall where we all work.  Take a look at our photos of our headquarters, affectionally known as The Hangar.

Leadership Reflections
To close, I want to expand on two of values. The first is “#GONG” which celebrates excellence. Some sales organizations ring a gong to note the close of a sale and we started ringing a virtual gong on our internal social network with the hashtag #GONG.

But we also recognize that excellence doesn’t come easily — it takes effort, struggle, and failure along the way. That’s why another key value that we embrace is Humility. We are always trying to improve, and with the grace and patience of each other, our clients, and and our business partners, we continue to learn and grow.

For me personally, I look back on the year as an incredible learning experience and it is what drives me each and every day to come to work — because I grow so much with every interaction I have with the Altimeter team and our clients. My hope is that as you reflect on the past year’s successes — and failures — that you assess how much you and your organization have learned and grown as well.


  1. Adam Helweh says:

    Congratulations on a year of growth and success. Many of you have been inspirations to me individually. As a team, your work as a whole has always been forward thinking, pioneering and important to defining how social media is impacting our world. Thank you for being so open and sharing your work with the community at large. It is highly appreciated.

  2. Kudos to you all.

    As a disruptive firm who understands what is important, you employ simply the best analysts in your space and you deserve all the success you get.

    Not only do you pioneer as a firm but your approach to open research will surely lead the way for other peers to follow.

    Wishing you the best of luck through 2012.


  3. Congratulations on your speedy growth! Sounds like you had a great year, and are prepped for an even better one!