Added May 27, 2022
The purpose of this document is to align the team on what we make public and why. Currently, we are unusually transparent with the information that we share with people. As an example, as of February 12, 2021, the Friday Forum is distributed to 354 people (mostly consisting of Levels investors and potential hires), and Investor Updates are distributed to 1,266 people (mostly existing investors and possible future investors).
Openness is one of our core values, as outlined in Mission & Vision. Transparency is inherent in our internal culture, too. We are honest and open with information when we communicate as a team, and we've carried those values into our public-facing presence. But there are still risks to being public with our internal information, so we need to be mindful of what those are so we can address them.
One thing we'll have to consider, moving forward, is how our transparent behavior will have to change, as we get further along in fundraising and scaling. It's inevitable that, eventually, our internal and external-facing behavior change will have to evolve, as Levels evolves and grows. With that said, we can take inspiration from companies, such as Netflix, that have managed to create and maintain a culture of hyper-transparency internally with feedback and information sharing, even as a publicly traded company, and companies like GitLab, which are hyper-transparent externally and have many of their processes and culture documents made public.
As such, we should be mindful of both the positive and negatives implications of our transparency, and make an informed decision, rather than simply avoiding the risk of negative consequences.
Going forward, we should use the classification system in our Memos database to define, in advance, what the expectations are for a given document. No document should be moved to a more public classification without a full scrubbing and buy-in from the author and all contributors.
We have to be consistent with our distribution classifications and no one should be surprised by information they produce, such as comments and half-formed thoughts, ending up broadly distributed.
Default behavior is important and should be aligned with our company values. We value transparency and openness, and we want to avoid over-classifying our information, so we should default to the most open classification that makes sense for your document.
To be clear, this does not mean that all of our documents should be Public (as defined below), and it's likely the case that most of our documents will be classified as Internal. There are perfectly valid reasons why a document should be marked as Internal or Confidential (several of which are listed below) and most of our documents will be classified as Internal — certainly more than we have that are classified as Public.
The highest bar is for information that is classified as Confidential.
We should first align on some definitions, as there are degrees of transparency that are appropriate for different types of information. For example, we could use the word "public", but that might mean different things to different people. These are not objective definitions, but rather terms that we'll agree to use for the purpose of this memo.