Learning About the Organizational Structure of 3 Top Start-Ups

Improved self-management, freelance workers and independent task forces as opposed to compartmentalized structures – these are all developing trends around the world for new start-ups. Revolutionary businessmen like Elon Musk and Mark Zuckerberg have both described the organizational structures of their respective companies to be their biggest asset. Discussed below are some interesting facts about the organizational structure of 3 major start-ups and how they are changing the norms of management –


Zappos is an online shoe and clothing retail business. In 2009, Amazon acquired Zappos for $1 billion. In 2013, CEO Tony Hsieh announced that the company was shifting to a ‘holacratic’ model, letting go of its traditional hierarchical structure.

What is Holacracy? In their own terms – Holacracy is an all-inclusive practice for organizing, administrating, and managing a company. Instead of using a top-down foresee and supervise archetype, it seeks to achieve control by sharing authority. The company views it as a new “operating system” that inculcates swift evolution in the central activities of an organization. Here are some key aspects of a Holacracy –

  • Power shift – Holacracy doesn’t involve hopeful principles — it provides a tangible, actionable set of rules that, instead of dictating terms, help in structuring the organization with a proper framework.
  • Defined roles – Create transparency and accountability with defined roles and responsibilities for every member of the workforce.
  • Fluidity – Instead of big reorganization efforts every year, change the company structure as soon as there’s a chance to make vast improvements. A decentralized organization that constantly evolves with the environment is the goal.


Zapier is the perfect example of a modern start-up. Founded in 2011, it is a web-based service that enables users to assimilate the applications that they use. Their service of providing third-party integrations has helped millions of users in their bid to connect platforms. They have a remote team of workers. Unlike Zappos, they haven’t tried to transform their organizational structure – instead, they have taken verified elements suitable for their company and executed them properly. According to Ben Oliveri, the company’s CTO, these are the key factors they have used in shaping their organizational structure –

  • Employ passionate, well-informed, and harmonious talent with good communication skills
  • Rationalize on boarding with deep-rooted methods, mentors, and consistent feedback
  • Record all activities and communications so data is available when required
  • Set up accommodating expectations and limitations
  • Trust starts when good people are lead to employ good practices

There’s a clear emphasis on pre-planning and structure via generating actionable activities and policies.


This web application development company focuses on synthesizing competing ideas. Basecamp employs a technique called ‘scope hammering’ in which they reduce the scope of the task in hand to be solved over a 6-week period. This work is then taken on by small teams which are amassed on an ad-hoc basis. Basecamp’s work attitude states that the company and organizational structure is the key point of focus.

As long as new start-ups continue to improve their organizational structure, customer service will automatically improve.


A number of companies are increasingly realizing that a strong organizational structure is their biggest asset. While Zappos has incorporated an all-inclusive practice like holacracy, others like Zapier are laying focus on pre-planning and generation of actionable activities. Again, Base camp has adopted ‘scope hammering’, wherein a task is distributed amongst small teams.

Reshali Balasubramaniam

Head of HR, HR Counselor and adviser at https://jobpal.lk and EFutureTech Systems. Submit your resume online and be contacted by prospective employers.



company culture, Development, Employees