The Fund Founder Spotlight Interview: Kevin Delaney of Charter
The Fund is a founder collective and early stage firm, by founders for founders
Welcome to The Founder Spotlight where we highlight the incredible people behind the companies we’ve backed at The Fund. This week the spotlight is on Kevin Delaney, co-founder and CEO of Charter, a media and insights company on a mission to transform every workplace and catalyze a new era of dynamic organizations where all workers thrive.
There’s no denying that the workplace has changed dramatically over the last few years. Workers have grown accustomed to greater flexibility, hybrid work models, advanced collaborative technology, and an emphasis on a healthy work culture and environment. But how do organizations and their leaders navigate and adapt to this change? Charter is catalyzing a new era of dynamic organizations by bridging research into practice- giving people the tactical playbook for what work can and should be.
Charter was launched last year by co-founders Kevin Delaney, Jay Lauf, and Erin Grau, all media veterans, who between them have worked at The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, The Atlantic, Quartz, Wired, and The Information. As leaders and decision-makers within organizations, they didn’t find resources that gave them confidence in leading teams in coherence with where the world is headed around issues like climate change, reinventing capitalism, multiple generations in the workforce, and the push for diversity. Charter was designed to bridge research to practice and equip organizations and individuals to transform their workplaces. We chatted with CEO Kevin Delaney to find out more about Charter and its role in the Future of Work.
What is Charter’s “North Star”?
Our North Star is really transforming every organization to be more fair and dynamic. We're driven by this mission to have an impact on the experience of individuals at work, and believe workplaces can be engines of broader societal change.
What sets Charter apart?
People are ultimately the biggest value multipliers for today’s organizations. The ability to attract, deploy, and motivate mission-aligned workers must be a strategic priority for leaders. We aim to be a trusted partner for high-value decisions and deliver business value in terms of retention, worker engagement, wellness, and broad transformation of organizations that equips them for high performance over time.
We have assembled a really talented team with a unique mix of experience in startups, media, technology, finance, and research. And a number of us have ourselves led organizations in navigating change—the work we do is informed and deepened by that experience.
Also, Charter operates as a laboratory, putting research into practice in how our own organization runs to create a great workplace and be able to better advise others. The practices we’re currently experimenting with range from meeting formats to wellbeing initiatives, to the structure of job offers.
What’s on the horizon for Charter?
We started as a media business that we've built over the last year that revolves principally around an email newsletter that has 70,000 subscribers, a series of events, and a partnership with TIME to publish our content. Over the past year, organizations have come to us and asked us for training, workshops for their leadership teams, and advisory services around key workplace issues. We recently raised a $3M seed round to jump-start a new membership offering and insights platform targeting human resources professionals called Charter Pro. Launched this week, it’s a membership-based service designed to equip companies and owners of the talent agenda to move their organizations forward, to make smart decisions based on research and best practices, and to move the needle on talent and workplace issues including things like retention and recruiting, engagement, and inclusion. We’re an extension of our members’ teams, providing them with research, content, and advice relevant to the issues they’re grappling with now and in the near future.
Do you have any favorite startup focused books?
I write weekly book briefings for Charter’s newsletter, where I read the latest management and business books and share critical summaries. One of the books I find myself recommending from the past year is called Did That Just Happen?! by Stephanie Pinder-Amaker and Lauren Wadsworth. It's a book about inclusion that's really useful for startups and managers. It's very pragmatic in terms of providing advice for handling scenarios around inclusion in the workplace. People often talk about diversity and inclusion in abstract ways and the conversation can be hard sometimes. This book provides real wisdom and practical advice.
Besides being a co-founder of Charter, what have been some of your most rewarding jobs?
I was a reporter at The Wall Street Journal for years, including in the Paris bureau and the San Francisco bureau. I covered Silicon Valley from 2004 to 2008, which included Google's IPO, the birth of Facebook, and the decline of Yahoo. That was a really intense, amazing experience to have a front row seat for the formation and growth of those companies—and has shaped my subsequent work in startups and digital media. I also couldn't be prouder of the culture, innovation, and journalism that the team at Quartz created over a series of years—it was a group of remarkable people who I feel lucky to have worked with, and the Quartz alumni remain a strong, supportive community today.
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