Company culture lessons from the Zenefits debacle

The HR technology wunderkind is getting spanked over its hedonistic environment and leaders’ inability to manage its rapid growth. A focus on doing the actual work is a solid first step back.

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The party is over for Zenefits.

Once the golden child of the HR technology scene with a funding round that valued it at $4.5 billion, it’s on the wrong side of the cultural roller coaster right now.

It has sacked its founder and CEO and laid off 17 percent of its workforce, and the fun’s not over yet. The company will probably have to pay massive fines for alleged compliance failures and will see its workforce depleted and turned over.

Founder and former CEO Parker Conrad’s ouster had been in the cards since that massive funding round closed. Conrad’s inexperience in scaling and operating a company in the highly regulated insurance industry felt doomed to fail.

Criticism from within and without

Venture capitalists don’t like to see their investments get flushed away. I’d assumed that Conrad would be out within a year and that Zenefits would be better off for it.

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