100 Best: In the family

100 Best: In the family

Article Index

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Above: Friday happy hours at Urban Airship give employees like Jaime Burton the chance to relax and socialize with colleagues.
Below: Urban Airship's employees, including Chris Detchon, enjoy a work-hard, play-hard environment that fosters creativity and gives them flexibility in their work.
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Above: A midday ping-pong break at Urban Airship suits Anthony Dotso and Wesley Itamura just fine.
Below: Corey Gault (center) watches as Jaime Burton (left) comes up short in a game of foosball against Tracy Abrahms.
// Photos by Eric Naslund
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Urban Airship

Location: Portland

Rank: 25th best medium company

Years on the list: 2

Urban Airship, a mobile marketing technology firm, has found a unique way to keep employees from abusing the company vacation policy: Don’t have one. 

“Everyone gets their work done, but you take the time when you need the time,” says Scott Kveton, co-founder and CEO of Urban Airship. “It puts a level of trust in our employees and makes them feel valued and treated like adults.”

Such a relaxed approach to time off sets the workplace tone for Urban Airship, which employs 115 people primarily in Portland but also in California and London. The company also offers the easygoing benefits that have come to stereotype fun places to work in Portland: kegs in the conference room, ping-pong tournaments, a Halloween party that featured a choreographed dance to Michael Jackson’s Thriller

But you don’t grow revenue by more than 400% or manage more than 40 billion mobile notifications in a single year by acing the table tennis circuit with a pale ale in hand. Instead, Kveton says the Urban Airship approach fosters creativity and innovation among colleagues that ends up driving the business. Case in point: Once a quarter, employees enjoy a “Free Friday,” on which they have 24 hours to work on anything they want so long as they share their results with the company. Some of those have led to new apps, new technology features and even one of Urban Airship’s acquisitions.

“We have a team here that is super hungry and aggressive,” Kveton says. “But we have a blast working here too.”