Ryan Carson tells how he manages 40 Treehouse employees remotely


Treehouse, video training for developers, now has 40+ employees and $3 million+ monthly revenue. Founder Ryan Carson explains how he manages the virtual company.

Starting in August 2010 with three people, Treehouse has always been a "virtual" company with Carson in the UK and most of the team "spread out all around the States." First bit of advice? Outsource HR, meaning payroll, insurance, taxes, and pension details (he uses TriNet). Hire a Financial Controller / Office Manager to do day-to-day operations. Set up multiple chat rooms for interaction (he uses Campfire). Other tools? Go To Meeting and Google Docs, and Trello for company projects.

Three years ago, an Ernst & Young exec wrote in Bloomberg Businessweek how she managed employees remotely, in "Managing Virtually: First, Get Dressed." Email and a company intranet isn't enough, so set up a "community homespace" (sounds like Campfire). Be aware of time zones – a real problem for Carson, since the UK is eight hours ahead of many of his employees. And when team members seem to disengage, call them directly, and quickly, to get them back on track.

Thanks for the guidance

It's great that you've taken the time to identify, vet, implement and actually use (!!) tools that set your team up for success.

leahtn on ryancarson.com

These are great points--especially the idea of creating a homespace for virtual team members.

Karen on businessweek.com

People issues

We use job boards, word of mouth and Twitter to find awesome folks to work on the Team.

Ryan Carson on ryancarson.com

Work is work and the mindset has to be same when at work or home.

OpsMan on businessweek.com

I work for a big, older tech company where remote working is an afterthought, not ingrained in the culture like Treehouse.

MitziMoto on news.ycombinator.com

I have been trying to get my team out of email but notice its like pulling teeth to get them to contribute.

Dave Campos on ryancarson.com

How we do it

we use Skype/Google Hangouts for meetings and gTalk for IM alongside them.

Paul Kerrison on ryancarson.com

We meet together once or twice a year, usually combining that trip with some other event such as a conference to reduce the number of extra airfares.


rwmj on news.ycombinator.com

outsource things that are not core competencies (perhaps SEO & marketing, perhaps UI/UX, perhaps even mobile dev).

eitally on news.ycombinator.com

Telework has been possible for years, but less than two percent of Americans work primarily from home. But if you add in those who work from home or the road one or more days per week, the numbers jump way up. Tell us how many days you work from home in the comments.

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