How to Thrive for 15 Years in Ad Tech

Last week marked Motive’s 15th birthday. Fifteen years is an eternity in ad tech and, as such, we’ve been reflecting back on how Motive has prevailed through 15 years of innovation and change in the competitive ad tech industry. We’ll let you in on a little secret: it’s not millions of dollars in funding or a hundred person team spanning the globe that explains our longevity. The secret to our success: our culture.

Our Founder and CEO Brendan Smith talks often about the importance of having our culture at Motive upheld at all levels, by every teammate, in everything we do: whether that be writing an email, leading a meeting or simply walking down the hall. As he likes to say during our weekly All Hands meeting: “I envisioned our culture, but you built it”.

How did we build the culture here at Motive? We are a team of gritty innovators and self-starters. We built the culture to fit our need for agility and passion for building custom solutions that fit our client’s needs. Despite our rapid growth in the last couple years, our commitment to a lean team has been important to preserving the family atmosphere we’ve created at Motive. We commit to quality over quantity by only adding team members who uphold our values in everything they do. This is not to say we don’t require certain skill sets from potential recruits (we’re not going to hire a data scientist who has a great attitude but can’t can’t craft a beautiful algorithm!). But if it comes down to two equally qualified candidates, the one who embodies Motive’s values will receive the offer. Below find the recipe for creating a culture that can withstand the test of time, even in an ever-changing industry like ad tech.

  • APPreciate your teammates every chance you get

At Motive, we thrive on building a culture of recognition and appreciation. Our tradition of high-fives encourages teammates to openly acknowledge other members of our team for acts that go above and beyond their core roles and responsibilities. High-fives are given during Motive’s weekly All Hands meeting and throughout the week on our internal communication platform. This practice also underscores our core value of Collaboration, that encourages teammates to go outside of their core roles to lend a helping hand.       


  • Create a fun-loving environment

Herb Kelleher said it best in reference to the legendary culture he built at Southwest: “happy employees create happy customers”. We couldn’t agree more and, as such, work to create the happiest of work environments for our team. This includes obvious startup perks like catered breakfasts, unlimited snacks and a beautiful open-plan office space, but also fun-loving annual events like our Easter Boozer Egg Hunt and Del Mar Race Track Opening Day party.   

  • Prioritize transparency

Part of what makes our culture unique is the commitment to transparency practiced from the top down. Our CEO and founders operate Motive with an open-door policy, inviting team members to come to them with their questions and concerns when they need to. Team members are encouraged to give regular feedback on Motive’s policies and operations in weekly evaluations. This streak of openness is also what has contributed to the family environment at work. It feels like you can bring your authentic self, thoughts, opinions to work everyday and feel comfortable expressing your needs to grow professionally .

  • Make people feel like they belong

At Motive, each year an entire committee of people is appointed to uphold and safeguard Motive’s culture through employee wellness initiatives, team-building events and social activities. This Culture Committee meets regularly to discuss ways to ensure every single individual on our team feels included in Motive’s events and workplace initiatives and includes representatives from each department to encourage cultural initiatives across all teams.

  • Empower everyone to be their own entrepreneur

The main core value we base all hiring decisions on is grit, or the passion to proactively tackle projects and problems as soon as they arise and persevere in the face of challenges. As our cornerstone core value here at Motive, we evaluate potential new additions to our team based on this value and also praise teammates regularly for their grasp of this trait. As such, we’ve built a team of entrepreneurial, gritty teammates who will stop at nothing to get sh** done no matter the challenge.

If you would like to join our growing teams in San Diego or San Francisco, check out our open job positions on our Careers page.