On my first day at Percolate, I stumbled upon a digital treasure trove inside our company Dropbox. There was a stunning portrait collection of very good-looking, happy people – many of whom I recognized. It turns out I had discovered the Percolate employee headshots directory.

Intrigued, I e-mailed our photographer-in-residence Kara Fein, who promptly let me know that a photo session would be scheduled for the following week — to accommodate the six (!!) new hires, and anyone else who wanted another shot in the spotlight (read: everyone).


We’ve always had an interest in documenting our culture, but it has really stepped up over time, mostly notably in the summer of 2013, when Sofia Hoflin (communications designer and diary-enthusiast) joined us. Our collective Percolate lives —  meetings, coffees, laughs, debates, World Cup viewings, lunch, boxing club, yoga, hacking, espresso-training, espresso-makin— have all been meticulously captured and preserved.

The Percolate Timeline

Why do we photograph our staff? The project is rooted partly in the need to record.

Candid photos are great for capturing the many special moments in our increasingly unique office culture, but they are also a tangible way to observe and keep track of growth in a company that is expanding very quickly. In the way that people look to their Facebook timeline as a historical source of personal evolution, our photo archive will one day allow us to visually look back on every single stage of this exciting period of growth. Reviewing even a two-week roll of film, anyone can spot new faces, teams, and collaborations between previously unrelated parts of the office, as new client relationships are built and new talent brings fresh ideas.

It’s a fascinating record of time flying fast. It’s also an interesting sociological study of the workplace.

No Women Laughing Alone With Salad Here

As ad executive Cindy Gallop stated, “one of the quickest ways to make people think differently about something is to change the visuals around it.” Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg and her non-profit organization LeanIn.org recently announced a partnership with Getty Images, to offer a special collection of stock images that will portray professional women in more empowering ways. The charge is led by Getty’s director of research Pam Grossman, who will speak at our Transition conference on July 16.

Here at Percolate —  as the rise of mobile and visual content apps produces unprecedented image-based communication, perception and knowledge – we strive every day to tell a real, unique story. At a time when corporate America — and particularly, the role of women in its workforce — is examined and debated on a national level daily, the Percolate photo diary is an important natural exposé of professional experiences and trends. Our visual story is one of empowerment, inspiration, joy, diversity, and collaboration in the modern workplace. As Sofia says, “Percolate is everything I want the photos to show – passionate people wanting to make stuff with other people.”


Happy Employees Are Our Best Ambassadors

For Percolate’s Community Manager Graydon Gordian, the Percolate photography project is an expression of the company’s broader understanding of community, and its belief that a brand’s employees are its primary advocates and torchbearers.

“We talk a lot about how built into our product is the notion that employees can be a really powerful part of your marketing. We are believers in the idea of organizing your employees so that they become ambassadors for your brand.” Graydon is referring here to our Ambassador app, which allows marketing teams to push content directly to a company’s staff, and employees to immediately read and share that content.

More than that, Graydon added, Percolate photography reinforces that idea that “we don’t want to lose the human element as the company grows and scales. We’re not this big, faceless company. We’re a collection of people who are working really hard to realize this vision.”

This mission is part of why we have such a huge client solutions team (which welcomed three new members in the past two weeks alone and now numbers at 22). Each one of our clients is assigned one or more Percolators, who are available to guide them through the product, help brainstorm creative ideas, put together briefs, troubleshoot, and address any questions or special product requests that come up (stay tuned for an in-depth look at our Client Solutions team later this week).


“It’s a very interesting thing, to be documenting all of this,” Kara continued. “I don’t think any other company does this. It feels a little bit like a social experiment.

But then this office is not like anything I’ve ever seen before.”