The company I chose for this project was Valve Software located in Bellevue, Washington. Valve is a large game development firm responsible for a number of successful titles, as well as distribution of the Steam software platform, and the Source engine.
Valve was founded by ex-Microsoft employees Gabe Newell and Mike Harrington in 1996. Their first title was Half Life, which was published by Sierra Entertainment and was released in 1998. Valve has been involved in three major legal disputes over the course of its 19 year existence. Most of these cases revolve around a dispute between Valve and the parent company of their publisher for the original Half Life game Vivendi Universal over the distribution of their title to internet cafes in the early 2000’s. Additionally, Valve was involved in a dispute with Blizzard software over the use of the term “dota”. (Dota was originally a mod for the Blizzard game Warcraft III; Valve later developed a standalone sequel to this game and attempted to copyright the term.)
Valve is structured as a “flat organization” meaning that there are no supervisors, and that everyone has (theoretically) equal say in what goes on at the company. Most work is done in teams, however employees have the freedom to move between teams as they choose. As a whole, the corporate culture is very laid back, there is no dress code, and the office has a number of amenities such as a collection of pinball machines.
Valve makes a point of hiring skilled employees in a wide variety of fields, from electrical engineers to economists. On their website, Valve has stated that they look for potential employees that have a broad range of general skills, but also an area in which they have a great deal of knowledge and skill. Unfortunately, valve has previously stated that they aren’t very good at “teaching people straight out of school.”