The reason we leap out of bed each morning is because we want to help developers deliver amazing business applications - more quickly. We believe that business applications do not have to suck. We at Vaadin have an opportunity to help millions of developers impact billions of people at work. How cool is that?
So, onto the point of this culture code. Our ultimate objective is to create the best possible environment for us to fulfill our mission, together. We wrote this culture code to define what culture means to us at Vaadin, and to empower all Vaadiners to strengthen our culture through your ideas, actions and personality over the coming years. Look at this as a snapshot into the most important aspects of our culture today and what life’s really like here at Vaadin.
We’re more than a company: we’re a herd. Perfectly imperfect. Constantly learning and unlearning. Empowering each other as experts and individuals, but succeeding and failing as a group; as a team.
When we put our great minds together, there’s nothing that our happy herd of nerds can’t solve.
So, how did we get here?
Our journey (so far) has taken us from ambitious beginnings to dreams made reality. We’ve been around the globe and back, taking incredible technology with us and leaving happy developers in our wake. Here’s our story, from the very people who were there.
Story of Vaadin started back in the year 2000, when five developers working at a virtual hospital noticed that there weren’t sufficient tools to build software. Building web applications was difficult, expensive and time consuming.
We decided to start our own company building better developer tools, to ease our own and other developers’ work. By the name “IT Mill”, growth wasn’t fast. We sat together at a round table constellation and called it “the coding circle”. The servers stood in the middle and if the servers went down it meant literally – because somebody had accidentally kicked them with their feet. Later on we took up a small office in Turku, Finland (the place that company HQ is located to this day). Back then Java was new; we decided it would be the next big thing (at least better than Perl, which we were using at the time). In 2002 Millstone 3 was released: the first open source version of Vaadin Framework that simplifies developers' lives. We did various different consulting projects to fund its development; the going was slow to begin with, as there was no dedicated development team.
Fun fact: this was the time when people were using Internet Explorer 5 (6 had just been released) or Netscape, causing headaches for developers around the world. Nobody had heard of Chrome, Firefox or Safari yet.
Our brand was important to us. We took our jobs very seriously and wanted to make an impression (even if that meant dressing up in suits at official events to look as important as we felt – as a small Finnish tech company, we wanted to get noticed).
2009 was a big year in our history. We were releasing something new (Vaadin 6) and so a brand refresh was in order. All kinds of cool, innovative sounding names came to mind, like Fruityboost, Last Nomads, Netcase and Dr Mooze (what were we thinking?!)… But nothing sounded right.
Long story short, with the help of an advertising agency who made us reflect on our whole purpose again, we found ourselves again; we found Vaadin.
We released Vaadin 6, which was a breakthrough moment. With our new release, our new brand and new company name, Vaadin, we attended the JavaOne conference in San Francisco. We wanted to stand out with a cool Scandinavian look – so, naturally, we chose to go all in with a white booth and big white carpet. We invested in the quality of our work and how to present it, but still in 2009 were penny pinching with everything else, meaning we chose the cheapest, twice-as-long flights and squeezed ourselves into the smallest hotel rooms. We indeed stood out at the conference, not only with our fancy booth and massive piles of the first edition of the Book of Vaadin, but by attending the conference as developers, as a team. We had the opportunity to talk eye-to-eye to our industry peers and exchange ideas. We noticed that nationalities and cultural differences blurred out, because all developers faced the same issues, wherever they came from. A developer speaking to a developer. We were the forerunner in bringing developers to the conference stands.
After this, JavaOne took the stage. We joked about “conference-driven development”, since all of our releases had to come yearly for the JavaOne conference. During this time, we’d already grown to about 30 people and our company language had changed to English. We were positively rebellious, trying to develop the world. Thinking of U & I.
The Vaadin community grew exponentially and so did our business. The majority of our customers were no longer inside Finland. We expanded our operations to the US and Germany to be closer to our customers. We opened offices in Berlin and San Jose and started to build teams in them.
The herd started to grow rapidly. By the year 2013, there were already about 70 of us – and the number kept increasing. Vaadin 7 was released in 2013, increasing our popularity and expanding the Vaadin community even more. We started to develop commercial products that were made available for a one-time fee. Keeping busy, some would say.
For a couple of years, we organized the GWT.Create conferences together with Google in San Francisco and Munich. The conferences were a huge success, but a big effort from our small team. The second time around, between the SF and Munich events, all of our audio visual equipment and conference swag was stolen. With seamless teamwork, this was handled without even one of the hundreds of conference guests in attendance noticing.
These were fun years. On April 1st 2014, we made an April fools’ announcement post that Vaadin is now a .NET framework, complete with having our website transformed to back up the prank. We had some angry customers contacting us that day for making such an irresponsible move…
During these years some big investors came along; the business focus started to move from services to software products. We noticed that we started losing deals to companies who wanted to do frontend development with a Java backend for instance, using the newly released Angular 1. So, along came project Hummingbird.
We figured out what we could offer these companies without creating a completely new product. At the same time, Google started talking more and more about web components and we wanted to jump on that wagon for technical (works everywhere, a standard, wow) and marketing reasons (this worked well with GWT). The Hummingbird project then turned into Flow, components rewritten as web components and Vaadin 10.
Alongside this, we started many other new and awesome projects at the same time – and, as a result, we started to lose our focus. In 2018, there were already over 150 Vaadiners working across Finland, Berlin and the US. We were ranked at the top on the “Great Place to Work” list in Finland, but scaling the startup mentality had its challenges.
Then Covid-19 hit the world. Like many others, the pandemic saw us make the switch from part remote to fully remote. With our CEO already in a different timezone, we adapted to the changes pretty well.
For the first time, we hired fully remote teammates all over the world, and couldn't be prouder to have Vaadiners from all continents. We enabled Vaadin users to deal better with remote work environments for their customers through Collaboration Engine. We abandoned the idea of having only one framework for everybody and split out Vaadin Connect, later Fusion, later Hilla into its own framework.
Things were good, busy; however, being an open-source company and not being able to talk face to face with developers at events sucked, big time. The pandemic hit us business-wise as well.
The year 2021 was a tough year for Vaadin internally. We went through probably the biggest and most difficult changes that a company can go through, let alone handling it remotely. We had changes in our management, we got a new CEO and we did an internal reorganization that required some hard decisions. But we pushed through stronger and wiser, together.
2022: a year of new beginnings for Vaadin as an organization. In the beginning of the year we found ourselves thinking about our purpose and our goals again, a process we were led through with a new CEO.
We have refreshed our company vision and mission, and identified our main focus: app modernization. We are continuing to build Flow
to be the best way for Java-only development of business web applications, and trying to make Hilla the same but for teams with both Java and frontend knowledge.
Internally we’re in the process of embedding our new values into our everyday work life and moving forward strongly. We are more than a company, we are a herd. We Vaadiners do not just work at Vaadin, we are in it together.
Many wish their workplace technology performed just like their personal technology. It is not a secret that many feel their job is harder than it should be because of legacy technology. Modern business apps are HARD to build and there is HIGH cost and time pressure. We help solve the problem, because business applications do not have to suck.
Success requires having the best people. We constantly work towards keeping
our herd happy and being a great place to work. Our frameworks and technology empower developers around the world and offers a productive developer experience. We help developers become heroes, like Q helps James Bond. We guide, mentor, support and equip developers on their journey. We’re the trusted provider of insight, foresight, and tools that give developers an edge. Vaadin applications offer modern user experience for long-lived business applications that delight the users.
All too often the words “company culture” are bandied about without real thought or meaning. So, we’ve built our workplace to be an intentional, proactive one; a place where culture comes alive through actions and insights, not just words.
We believe that an amazing culture makes it possible for us to retain and attract the best talent.
Culture is something that boosts our abilities and helps us to do our best work, both individually and as a team.
At Vaadin, we enjoy a culture of trust, expertise and mutual respect. We are a highly talented, caring and passionate herd of nerds, having fun building something that truly has an impact on developers and business application users worldwide.
At the core of everything we do is trust. We all have a role to play in building a culture of trust, by fostering open communication, being reliable and consistent, treating everyone with respect and fairness, and showing confidence in others. There are special friendships amongst us and we always have each other’s back. Trust goes both ways. At Vaadin, everyone is empowered to make decisions regarding your responsibilities, and everyone is expected to have the confidence and courage to make them while trusting management to set the direction.
We especially follow the three core values below among our herd. Together we – all of us – keep these values alive by living by them, leading through them, and acting according to them every single day.
We, the herd, ARE the company. We succeed or fail together.
Trust is at the core of our herd. We strive to act in the best interests of the herd. Given this, by default we always assume good intentions from our co-Vaadiners. Together, we create a safe place to work; an environment that values diverse backgrounds, aspirations and opinions, where we can all be (and be valued for) our true selves.
Everyone at Vaadin is worthy of their co-Vaadiners time. You can trust that you are never left alone and, vice versa, you must make sure no Vaadiner is left alone.
We value transparency, but go beyond that. We actively share information, knowledge and experiences. The more we share, the stronger we are as a herd.
Vaadin was founded to solve a problem: make building modern web applications less difficult, expensive and time consuming. The solutions we’ve created have gotten us where we are today. At Vaadin, we will continue to identify problems – but our passion is rooted in developing the solutions to them.
We know the difference between good enough and perfect. We never compromise on quality, but we must be realistic about what it takes to get things done and delivered.
Getting things done requires active participation and trust from all Vaadiners. We take the initiative to get involved, make decisions, and ask for help when we need it.
Sometimes a solution is simple and quick – but most times, it’s not. We value persistence and resilience. As a Finnish-born company, we describe it with a word: sisu. Sisu is the ingredient of Finnish culture we want to nurture at Vaadin.
We never despise any work or any task. What must be done, must be done.
Our business requires an explorer’s heart and mind. Our reality is that problems, technology and customer needs change constantly, so we must actively explore ways to listen and lead that change.
We must dare to question our own expertise day in, day out. We must have the courage and trust necessary to challenge our current assumptions and ideas. Above all, we must have the courage to be challenged. At Vaadin the best idea wins.
Discovering new things and new ways of working makes us tick. We actively seek better ways to do our daily work, develop our business, lead our company, and inspire each other.
When trying new things, we have to accept that mistakes happen. We must openly share these mistakes and challenges; after all, it’s the best way to learn.
If our values guide our daily behaviors and decisions, it's our beliefs that represent the underlying philosophies of our culture.
The following beliefs are what we believe drive a happy, healthy workforce, achieving incredible things, together.
At Vaadin we believe in…
We believe that our people are trustworthy, talented, helpful and well-intentioned. To succeed, we need the best people to choose our herd as home – luckily, our herd is quite awesome. A team made up of amazing people and true experts is one of the best things about working at Vaadin; we don’t take that for granted.
We are open, and we welcome all input, but transparency is not about decisions by consensus. We expect all Vaadiners to be open, honest and respectful with one another and with our community. We encourage clear communication, collaboration, exchange of ideas and thoughts, and active participation in seeking a stronger understanding of other people as well as different aspects of our business. This is what will build mutual trust and pride in what we do.
The most amazing results are likely to be realized
if we have people with different backgrounds, experiences and perspectives onboard. In other words, we believe that diversity is a great competitive advantage for Vaadin. It follows then that we’re committed to the philosophy of diversity. In order to make this diversity to work towards our mission, we need to keep our work environment free from all discrimination, and to include everyone. To us, inclusion means providing everyone with equal access to opportunities and resources. Towards this, every Vaadiner should aspire every day.
We’re digital nomads who believe that flexible working schedules benefit everyone: Vaadin the business, Vaadiners themselves, and our Vaadiners’ families. We have a holistic perspective on life. We love what we do here but we all need to make time for our personal passions too, so that we can nurture our creativity and innovation. When we thrive, Vaadin thrives.
Our actions have long term consequences. We are conscious and sustainable in all we do and in all choices that we make. We strive for social, environmental and financial sustainability. Ongoing self-reflection is a big part of our work culture, allowing us to find our blind spots and do better. We’re following our sustainability program to integrate more sustainable actions in our everyday work culture.
We fight discrimination and promote diversity.
Our mission is to make working life better for as many people as possible. By making working methods and tools flexible, we ensure that people can easily combine work and different life situations. We aim to be a carbon neutral company. By modernising existing applications, we create value for our customers in the most sustainable way possible. We take care of security and ensure that our customers can best serve their customers now and in the future.
We’re passionate about learning new stuff and
we learn from each other every day. At Vaadin, everyone is worth your time. We help each other
to solve problems and share our knowledge openly for the greater good. We believe that nobody is ever complete in their learning process. We give everyone opportunities to learn and grow here. We’re here to support and enable everyone’s professional development – but, ultimately, you get to be in the driver's seat when it comes to your own learning and growth.
We are all proud of our interests. We are proud to be, and will always strive to be, world class experts in our work, all in our own areas. And, last but not least, we don't take ourselves too seriously – being a little nerdy and part of the Vaadin herd is awesome! At Vaadin, we like different things and we respect everyone as they are. Some can’t get enough of photography, or board games, or backpacking, or cats. Some are super into sports, and some know everything there is to know about Star Wars. You get the idea. At Vaadin you can be your true self – we respect people for who they are.
One of us; we are a happy herd of nerds.