Didier Elzinga

Co-founder - Culture amp

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Software engineer. Founder of a Technical Academy Award winning software company. CEO of a Hollywood visual effects company. Founder & CEO of one of the fastest growing Australian startups. 

Didier Elzinga’s journey into tech has been anything but typical, but his experiences all shaped Culture Amp - the world's foremost employee feedback & analytics platform.

Right out of the University of Adelaide, graduating with a Bachelor of Mathematical and Computer Sciences , Didier joined Rising Sun Pictures as one of it’s first employees. 

Initially working as a software engineer, Didier became an artist at the company and after nearly 8 years, at the tender age of 26 he became CEO. Over the next five years Didier led the company through a significant growth period and some huge productions including Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter and Batman.

With a team of over 100 people he quickly realised that at such scale, culture becomes vital to success. Working with Hollywood, Didier also had a chance to see first hand how a lot of our ideas about how to scale don’t work in the new world of knowledge work.

Didier explains “I call it the Hollywood myth. The Hollywood myth is that we’re going to make a film. We’re going to cherry pick the best people and we’re going to pull them together… and then they’re going to deliver this amazing project… That’s great in theory. In practise it doesn’t work quite so well”.

“When you’re trying to solve complex tasks, the future of work is bringing people together for longer periods of time. It’s using technology to access people... you’re actually trying to get a diverse bunch of people that can work together and can create something special at the team level not just the individual level.”

Didier did not arrive at this realisation by accident. In fact, it took a year of burning through savings, failed ideas and nights on the verge of quitting - pondering the path he’d chosen. 

“I was the CEO of a successful company at 26, I had stepped out of that and I had no income… I kept asking myself “Have I done the right thing? Is this ever going to work”. 

It dawned on Didier that the question he was attempting to answer was the wrong one. ‘Can we build it?’ became ‘will anybody care if we do?’.

It started with the world’s most naive business plan: 10,000 x 10,000 = $100m and a mission to make the power of people analytics accessible to everyone. Today, Culture Amp combines psychology, statistics, UX and engineering into a platform that is transforming organizations worldwide (including a roll call of almost all of the valley’s greatest companies).

In the last five years Culture Amp has grown into a global software giant with more than 100 employees across four offices (Melbourne, San Francisco, New York & London). They’ve done the impossible $0 - $1m, they have navigated the tricky $1m - $10m and now they have their sights set on building Culture Amp into a $100m/yr culture first company that other companies aspire to be like by 2020.

Didier will be appearing at the Sunrise conference, sharing his journey and giving insight into a road less travelled.