Dashlane prides itself on not going overboard with the perks. It does, however, have windows. "We’d rather spend our resources and money on things that are going to make us stronger as a team," says Dashlane CEO Emmanuel Schalit.

Dashlane employees get a meager three weeks of vacation (although you can actually take that vacation, as opposed to leaving it on the table). Maybe if you ask nice, they'll give you a free T-shirt.

Is this homely conference room a great proving ground for creativity? Dashlane employees say it works for them. Marketing and analysis manager Alex Cramer says the atmosphere allows for "a ton of work to get done that no ball pit could make happen."

When you're not constantly distracted by free lunch or ping-pong, you can actually get some work done. Imagine! "It’s ugly. It’s tiny. It serves its purpose," the CEO says of the conference room.

The carpets could use a cleaning, but no matter. "We have everything we need," says senior marketing manager Ryan Merchant, who used to work at so-cute-it-hurts Fab.

Being perk-resistant doesn't mean being tech-averse. One fixture of the office is Double, an iPad on wheels that allows the Paris and New York employees to talk to each other "face-to-face."

Bruce Lee will "show you in."

Dashlane's air-shaft view is the envy of no one.

Dashlane may not have a sink, but "we’re not going outside collecting rain on tarps," says senior marketing manager Ryan Merchant. A Poland Springs water cooler provides drinking water, although that's setting the bar pretty low for office lifestyle.

"Ideally, we are all super proud of what we’re trying to achieve and there’s no bigger perk," says CEO Schalit.

Since his stint at Fab, Merchant has become somewhat of an anti-perk evangelist. "When you know you have all these crazy perks you get people who are just driven by: 'I want that perk.'

Dashlane's nod to employee retention: a well-stocked fridge. These guys may not do your dry cleaning, but they won't let you starve.

See The Lamest Startup Office In America

Forget kegerators and ping-pong tables. Dashlane's perkless office doesn't even have a sink--and it makes communications, creativity, and culture better, says CEO Emmanuel Schalit.

In a startup world full of ball pits and kegerators, Dashlane's office cannot compete: it doesn't even have a sink. The workplace amenities (or lack thereof) in its New York SoHo office wouldn't attract many prospective employees--at least not those looking for the storied Silicon Valley (and Alley) perks. The carpets have coffee stains, office security consists of a life-size Bruce Lee cutout, and employees have fashioned curtains out of cardboard boxes. Vacation is limited to three weeks, and nobody works from home. Cue the sad trombone.

Emmanuel Schalit

But Dashlane CEO Emmanuel Schalit takes pride in the lack of offerings. "We’d rather spend our resources and money on things that are going to make us stronger as a team," he told Fast Company. "More--maybe--than on things that would 'look cool' like a big slide, or a big whatever."

Instead of investing in a personal chef or a ping-pong table, Schalit thinks he can attract employees with a mission, values, and a quality product that people care about. "Ideally, we are all super proud of what we’re trying to achieve and there’s no bigger perk." In Dashlane's case, that means selling his company to the talent pool based on its goal to create the perfect password manager--a small, but universally vexing, problem. (Imagine that: People applying to jobs for the job part.)

Of course, as Schalit even admits, perks lure the best talent and for some, solving the great "password problem," as Dashlane refers to it, is never going to be enough. In a nod to employee retention, Dashlane has an espresso machine and the requisite Fresh Direct order, including both alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages.

Being perk-resistant doesn't necessarily mean being tech-averse. One fixture of the office is LifeSize, a video conference system that connects the Paris team to the New York team. (Schalit, a native Parisian, started Dashlane in France.) A large computer monitor affixed with a webcam sits at the head of the New York office. The Paris office has a corresponding setup. If a marketing manager needs to talk to an engineer across an ocean 5,000 miles away, he doesn't email. He walks right up to the monitor and talks to that person via teleconference. For those who want to have a more private conversation, they can head to the "tiny, horrible room," as Schalit describes it, that fits a LifeSize screen and a wooden slab some might call a desk. "It’s ugly. It’s tiny. It serves its purpose."

If you're not into walking, Dashlane might be the place for you. In addition to LifeSize, there's Double: an iPad on wheels. Each office has one that can be controlled by the other office. If a Parisian engineer wants to get the attention of a New York staffer, she might, using an application, wheel the iPad over to that person's desk. Much like virtually walking over to someone in the office, the two could then talk face-to-face via video chat.

Many wouldn't consider high-tech communication tools perks. But Schalit hopes the work environment will draw people who share his interest in creating a more progressive office experience. "We decided that being a tech startup is not just about building tech products, it’s about using technology to work differently," said Schalit.

The type of people who have landed at Dashlane share those values, or at least they have convinced themselves that puppy daycare isn't a deal breaker. The newest addition, marketing and analysis manager Alex Cramer, called perks a distraction. "Part of the reason I joined the team here was I saw the physical space and to me, it was reminiscent of an atmosphere that would allow for a ton of work to get done that no ball pit could make happen," he told Fast Company.

"We have everything we need," added senior marketing manager Ryan Merchant, who used to work at so-cute-it-hurts Fab, a retail startup that, like many others, uses free lunches and beer as a form of employee manipulation.. Sure, Dashlane may not have a sink, but "we’re not going outside collecting rain on tarps," Merchant says. A Poland Springs water cooler provides drinking water, although that's setting the bar pretty low for office lifestyle.

Since his stint at Fab, Merchant has become somewhat of an anti-perk evangelist. "When you know you have all these crazy perks you get people who are just driven by: 'I want that perk.' It kind of becomes about that once you’re there and it’s like 'let me tweet about all these great perks that are at my office.' Then all your coworkers are there just for the perks. Whereas here, nobody is really here because we don't have a play slide."

Not all job seekers want to land a job where they do "a ton of work," which makes offices with pool tables and booze so appealing to so many. Of course, companies invest in said perks not just to impress potential employees with a compensation package that includes free sodas, but to keep workers in the office. At least Dashlane does away with the illusion of the all-play, no-work atmosphere.

So far, the type of people drawn to the relatively perkless office don't mind a bare-bones office life. In the three years of Dashlane's existence, only one person has left. He went on to pursue a career working with animals.

Still, the office could use a sink.

Is your office lame, ugly, and perk-resistant? Share a photo and your story in the comments below!

[Photos by Lyan Bernales]

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106 Comments

  • Monky

    Haha. Actually the lamest part is the one you can't see: the actual source code for the software. You just *don't* want to know. Let alone install that the resulting product on your machine. Some programmers ought to be lined up and shot.

  • Rocket Scientist

    An eye opener. I think perks do tend to get in the " I want this & this & this" kind of people. That being said an office where the employees are more interested in the actual work and not the surrounding do get the job done and raise the bar each time.

    Very interesting read.

  • ComputerPhil

    These guys do seem incredibly hip, but I'm not sure I want to trust all of my sensitive login credentials with them....Gonna stick with the industry standard (sink-having) password managers like RoboForm.

  • gbacoder

    And for those who want to talk person to person to people in Paris, there is always the PRIVATE JET.

  • Phineas

    Instead of focusing on the atmosphere of their office, Dashlane should focus on its product. I've tried other password managers, who I won't name, and they are all miles ahead of what Dashlane offers.

  • betsyrowbottom

    I'm lovin this debate! To perk or not to perk!

    People want is to feel like they are a part of the community. Studies (you know, studies) show that people aren't motivated by simply earning more money --- they want to be a part of something bigger than themselves. Dashlane skips ping pong, but people come to work because they feel aligned by their mission and values. Companies need to publish this information (mission, values, perks) so job seekers understand what a company is all about. If only there was a resource available for companies... oh there is! The Good Jobs was created to help companies attract talent based on what makes that company culture unique. Ping pong or not.

  • Lloyd Lemons

    I love this office! It's got the furnishings I'm most used to. I have no doubt that creativity and productivity are higher than in the office where the children all have there cute little perks. But please.... promise you'll keep it simple. I never want to wear a dress shirt and tie again!

  • gbattle

    I don't understand why this CEO believes frugality and design/cleanliness/order are mutually exclusive. As a Dashlane fan, I'm actually let down by this article. It shows a lack of creativity given the constraint of few dollars. There are so many ways I could make that office sparkle without spending much of anything. I've done design on a dime many times over, and I'm no designer, just a guy who respects that environment affects attitude. The lameness here reflects a lack of effort, not funding. It frankly makes me wonder how secure my passwords really are in their product - did they cut corners there too with sloppy implementation? Broken windows theory in action ...

  • Alex Juel

    No thanks on the boring office. We have a golf simulator at seOverflow and I'm totally fine with that!

  • Larry Ingram

    Offices in NY and Paris? That's no way to cut expenses or go humble. Come to middle America if you really want to see lame....

  • Dale Lancaster

    Startup == pre-IPO stock == why employees want to work there. As to no perks, this company is probably the worst example to use. Rolling iPad, espresso machine, 3 weeks of vacation, lifesize video, huge expensive Mac monitors - poor guys.

  • Maskeladden

    "Schalit thinks he can attract employees with a mission, values, and a quality product that people care about."

    Do not offend your employees by thinking that they share your values and company mission statements, particularly in this market. They will never tell you they are miserable/hate their job, because that means they lose it. Its a job, and it takes up a 3rd of your life so that you can afford the other 2/3's, and in this market its hard to jump ship.

    Perks are not important, but a decent work place is. A focus on work/life balance, a friendly work culture based on logic and reasoning, as well as a decent salary, are important factors. It honestly does not take more than for management to treat others the way they would like to be treated, but instead everyone seem to focus on a range of leadership ideologies and corporate strategies that most people simply cannot relate to.

  • Amit Yaron

    I agree with Mr. Schailt, and I live in a country where hi-tech companies provide employees with more perks than in the US of A. Financial and occupational security is way more important than those perks I can get on my own if I want.

  • bob the builder

    Our software company is based in someone's house and the uni-sex loo is right next our office / living room - we all get to share in each others farts and worse. No water cooler or any perks whatsoever, all you get is your salary, no pension / bonuses etc. At least we have a sink and a small garden and are allowed to work from home occasionally. I love it cause it's casual, close to home and the salary aint bad. And when work gets too hectic, I take a break and go feed the squirrels in the garden. I find I am much less stressed here than in a corporate environment, even though my hours / work are much more hectic and it's probably cause the people are great and I work with great software.

  • dudewhodoesntwanttobenamed

    I enjoyed the office pool table. I dont think the people on the floor beneath us did. Start a slow deployment that takes 15 minutes..... then off to the pool table to moan about how long it takes to deploy.

  • Kevin Thorne

    So their "CEO" has cut perks in favor of what, exactly? Hopefully hiring some solid QA Engineers. I've tried using Dashlane PM & sync is the buggiest p.o.s. ever. The entire UI hangs, I'm always being asked to enter my bluetooth PIN & re-authenticate my iPad. Piece Of Shitake.