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Rituals for hypergrowth: An inside look at how YouTube scaled
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Implementation

Matrix planning and allocation

How to allocate people across Investment Areas and Big Rocks.
After we had aligned on a list of Big Rocks and team two-pagers, the next step in our process was to allocate resources. For us, this represented a classic but challenging “matrix planning” problem that we gradually became quite good at.
The key challenge was that we allocated resources to our teams (i.e. Investment Areas) but Big Rocks tended to cross Investment Areas. For examples, to launch YouTube Music, we needed bits of help from many teams — from the search and discovery team, to new infrastructure for audio-only streaming, to new artist-centered work from the creators team.
We ran this process in a complex spreadsheet, but the below technique roughly replicates the same process. There are 3 primary components of the matrix model:
: This was our tracking for big bets (generated from the exercise). Often these Big Rocks would align closely to an Investment Area team, but sometimes they crossed across multiple teams. Our process was gradually designed for the latter since it was the more complex case. We often called these “hoodie squads” to indicate that these team members should think of their primary team as the Big Rock team instead of their home IA, and it was signified by answering “which hoodie would this person wear if they were asked to wear their team’s hoodie to work.”
: The YouTube team was organized into
15
investment area teams (grouped into
4
focus areas). As our primary organization structure and primary unit of planning and allocation, every employee belonged to an Investment Area. These teams presented their requests for headcount in their (with low, medium, high guidance) and also managed the allocation of their team members between “IA Bets” and “Big Rocks.”
: A table with a row for every employee, and also a row for every ANS (”allocated not started” - i.e. people who had been hired but hadn’t started yet) and TBH (”to be hired” open roles). At YouTube, this was done as an export from WorkDay and then added to by the recruiting team for the ANS and TBH slots.

The alignment process between these three areas was done cyclically; we would iterate through each until the matrix was “funded.” For example:
Big Rock managers would request what they believed they needed in terms of both aggregate headcount as well as specific teams / skills that they needed.
IAs would ask for headcount in their two-pagers with a guess at both what their Big Rock obligations were likely to entail, and also what their IA Bets (initiatives from the investment area itself) required.
Team members were allocated to Big Rock teams after recruiting conversations with individuals for those assignments.
We compared the requested budgets and allocations to see if we had achieved a balance of funding. If we hadn’t, we would iterate again — perhaps by increasing funding for an IA or by reducing / eliminating the priority for a Big Rock.

You can replicate this process by clicking this button to
copy this doc
and then this button to
clear sample data
in the tables below.
Table 1 | Big Rocks
Add your list of Big Rocks here. As resources are assigned from the they will show up here. The key test was to try to get the # of People Assigned as close to Target Headcount as possible.
Search
Name
Big Rock 2-pager link
Big Rock leads
Target headcount
# of people assigned
Hoodie squad members
View hoodie squad
1
Channelization
Renee Sims
10
8
Becky George
Candice Wu
Nia Matos
Angelina Winn
Alyana Thomson
Renee Sims
Aaiden Savage
Macie Naquin
2
Make YT blazing fast
Ece Akman
10
7
Ellis Schaefer
Alyvia Cope
Lana Steiner
Mercy Law
Ece Akman
Kianna Pham
Kate Morrison
3
Launch YT Kids
Jayden Massey
8
5
Alyvia Cope
Irma Rogers
Donald Chavez
Phoenix Baker
Addilynn Dodge
4
Launch YT Music
Addisyn Ames
7
7
Lana Steiner
Ece Akman
Addisyn Ames
Marco Gregg
Akhil Newman
Jayden Massey
TBH
There are no rows in this table

Table 2 | Investment Areas
Add your list of key teams. Our structure had two primary levels, Focus Area and Investment Areas, with the latter being our primary unit of planning. A few notes:
This structure presumes that Target Headcount is calculated by the sum of People on the team, including “to be hired” (TBH). This was helpful as it focused on “zero based budgeting” and also prevented baseline discrepancies.
It was considered bad form / undesirable to assign TBHs to Big Rocks. This is the heart of the Big Rock philosophy — fund your big bets first.
The total TBH count was the primary input for the recruiting team for each area.
We watched the Big Rock % closely. In aggregate across the team, we generally landed at ~30%. The allocation below is currently at
39%
.
Search
Focus Area
.
Investment Area
2-pager link
Lead(s)
Target headcount
# TBH
People assigned to Big Rocks
People Assigned to IA Bets
% Big Rock
Viewer
24
Sum
8
Sum
Creator
Creator Platform
Alyana Thomson
3
0
Alyana Thomson
Vivianna Kiser
Aaron Nunez
33%
Commerce
Daniela Dewitt
4
2
Lana Steiner
Daniela Dewitt
TBH
TBH
25%
Content ID
Kiersten Lange
5
1
Angelina Winn
Kate Morrison
Kayley Dwyer
Kiersten Lange
TBH
40%
Verticals
Line Rolland
5
1
Ece Akman
Line Rolland
Kiyan Dempsey
Della Case
TBH
20%
17
Sum
4
Sum
Advertiser
Buy-side
Aada Laine
3
0
Mercy Law
Marco Gregg
Aada Laine
67%
Ads quality
Kaya Pryor
5
1
Aaiden Savage
Ian Dejesus
Kaya Pryor
Carys Metz
TBH
20%
Pub-side
Macie Naquin
4
0
Macie Naquin
Kianna Pham
Jayden Massey
Jordy Eubanks
75%
12
Sum
1
Sum
Infrastructure
Infrastructure & SRE
Bryden Tucker
2
0
Irma Rogers
Bryden Tucker
50%
Video Infrastructure
Andi Lane
3
1
Renee Sims
Andi Lane
TBH
33%
YT Data
Donald Chavez
Dasia Lovell
3
0
Addisyn Ames
Donald Chavez
Dasia Lovell
67%
Eng Productivity Core
Alisa Hester
3
0
Phoenix Baker
Jaslynn Land
Alisa Hester
33%
11
Sum
1
Sum
64
Sum
14
Sum


Table 3 | People Roster
This would be a full roster of every employee on the team (usually started with a Workday export) with rows added for every “to be hired” (TBH) called for in the budget allocation.
Every employee’s primary assignment is to an Investment Area.
Some employees (though definitely not all) could be assigned to a Big Rock hoodie squad.
It was generally considered bad practice for an individual to be assigned to multiple Big Rocks, but it did occasionally happen (e.g. for very specialized skill sets, or for our critical path teams). The table will below will highlight in red if an employee is on more than
0
1
Big Rock, but it will allow it.
It was generally not desirable to assign TBHs to Big Rocks (fund your Big Rocks first), but it was technically supported.
The table is grouped by Investment Area for convenience but feel free to ungroup it.
Search
Investment Area
Open
Name
Role
Big Rock(s)
Clients
8
Ellis Schaefer
Design
Make YT blazing fast
Regan Rosen
PM
Taniyah Miles
Engineer
Addilynn Dodge
Engineer
Launch YT Kids
TBH
Engineer
TBH
Engineer
TBH
Engineer
TBH
Engineer
Knowledge
5
Daisy Morgan
Design
Lana Steiner
Engineer
Make YT blazing fast
Akhil Newman
Engineer
Launch YT Music
Loren Spears
Engineer
TBH
PM
Launch YT Music
Search & Discovery
6
Becky George
PM
Channelization
Alyvia Cope
Engineer
Launch YT Kids
Make YT blazing fast
Clyde Lucas
Design
Candice Wu
Engineer
Channelization
TBH
Engineer
TBH
Engineer
Growth
5
Adolfo Hess
PM
Yadira Redmond
Engineer
Nia Matos
Design
Channelization
Harold Adams
Engineer
TBH
Engineer
Creator Platform
3
Vivianna Kiser
Design
Alyana Thomson
PM
Channelization
Aaron Nunez
Engineer
Buy-side
3
Aada Laine
Engineer
Mercy Law
Engineer
Make YT blazing fast
Marco Gregg
Design
Launch YT Music
Infrastructure & SRE
2
Bryden Tucker
PM
Irma Rogers
Engineer
Launch YT Kids
Commerce
4
Daniela Dewitt
Design
Lana Steiner
Engineer
Launch YT Music
TBH
PM
TBH
Engineer
Content ID
5
Angelina Winn
Design
Channelization
Kayley Dwyer
PM
Kiersten Lange
PM
Kate Morrison
Engineer
Make YT blazing fast
TBH
Engineer
Verticals
5
Ece Akman
Engineer
Launch YT Music
Make YT blazing fast
Line Rolland
Engineer
Kiyan Dempsey
Engineer
Della Case
PM
TBH
Design
Video Infrastructure
3
Renee Sims
PM
Channelization
Andi Lane
Engineer
TBH
Engineer
YT Data
3
Addisyn Ames
Engineer
Launch YT Music
Donald Chavez
Design
Launch YT Kids
Dasia Lovell
PM
Eng Productivity Core
3
Phoenix Baker
PM
Launch YT Kids
Jaslynn Land
Engineer
Alisa Hester
Engineer
Ads quality
5
Ian Dejesus
Engineer
Aaiden Savage
PM
Channelization
Kaya Pryor
Engineer
Carys Metz
Engineer
TBH
Design
Pub-side
4
Macie Naquin
Engineer
Channelization
Jordy Eubanks
Design
Kianna Pham
PM
Make YT blazing fast
Jayden Massey
Engineer
Launch YT Music

Key Views
These are a few key useful views for understanding your allocations.
Resources assigned to each Big Rock.
3

How many resources are allocated to each IA?
8

What % of investment area is allocated to Big Rock?
2

People on multiple Big Rocks
8
Search
Name
Investment Area
Role
Big Rock(s)
1
Alyvia Cope
Search & Discovery
Engineer
Launch YT Kids
Make YT blazing fast
2
Ece Akman
Verticals
Engineer
Launch YT Music
Make YT blazing fast
No results from filter

Big Rock hoodie squad details
3
Search
Channelization
8
Make YT blazing fast
7
Launch YT Kids
5
Launch YT Music
7
Channelization
Big Rock 2-pager link
Big Rock leads
Renee Sims
# of people assigned
8
Hoodie SquaD
Add people to the hoodie squad.
Search
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
Name
Investment Area
Role
Big Rock(s)
Becky George
Search & Discovery
PM
Channelization
Candice Wu
Search & Discovery
Engineer
Channelization
Nia Matos
Growth
Design
Channelization
Angelina Winn
Content ID
Design
Channelization
Alyana Thomson
Creator Platform
PM
Channelization
Renee Sims
Video Infrastructure
PM
Channelization
Aaiden Savage
Ads quality
PM
Channelization
Macie Naquin
Pub-side
Engineer
Channelization
There are no rows in this table
Show hidden columns

Investment Area detail
2
Search
Clients
Viewer
Search & Discovery
Viewer
Growth
Viewer
Knowledge
Viewer
Creator Platform
Creator
Buy-side
Advertiser
Infrastructure & SRE
Infrastructure
Commerce
Creator
Content ID
Creator
Verticals
Creator
Video Infrastructure
Infrastructure
YT Data
Infrastructure
Eng Productivity Core
Infrastructure
Ads quality
Advertiser
Pub-side
Advertiser
Clients
2-pager link
Lead(s)
Taniyah Miles
Focus Area
Viewer
Target headcount
8
# TBH
4
% Big Rock
25%
People Assigned to IA Bets
Search
1
2
3
4
5
6
Name
Role
Regan Rosen
PM
Taniyah Miles
Engineer
TBH
Engineer
TBH
Engineer
TBH
Engineer
TBH
Engineer
There are no rows in this table
People assigned to Big Rocks
Search
1
2
Name
Role
Big Rock(s)
Ellis Schaefer
Design
Make YT blazing fast
Addilynn Dodge
Engineer
Launch YT Kids
There are no rows in this table
Show hidden columns

Role / IA People map
8
Search
Focus Area
Investment Area
Role
Design
12
PM
15
Engineer
37
Open
Name
Big Rock(s)
Open
Name
Big Rock(s)
Open
Name
Big Rock(s)
Viewer
24
Clients
8
Ellis Schaefer
Make YT blazing fast
Regan Rosen
Taniyah Miles
Addilynn Dodge
Launch YT Kids
TBH
TBH
TBH
TBH
Knowledge
5
Daisy Morgan
TBH
Launch YT Music
Lana Steiner
Make YT blazing fast
Akhil Newman
Launch YT Music
Loren Spears
Search & Discovery
6
Clyde Lucas
Becky George
Channelization
Alyvia Cope
Launch YT Kids
Make YT blazing fast
Candice Wu
Channelization
TBH
TBH
Growth
5
Nia Matos
Channelization
Adolfo Hess
Yadira Redmond
Harold Adams
TBH
Creator
17
Creator Platform
3
Vivianna Kiser
Alyana Thomson
Channelization
Aaron Nunez
Commerce
4
Daniela Dewitt
TBH
Lana Steiner
Launch YT Music
TBH
Content ID
5
Angelina Winn
Channelization
Kayley Dwyer
Kiersten Lange
Kate Morrison
Make YT blazing fast
TBH
Verticals
5
TBH
Della Case
Ece Akman
Launch YT Music
Make YT blazing fast
Line Rolland
Kiyan Dempsey
Advertiser
12
Buy-side
3
Marco Gregg
Launch YT Music
Aada Laine
Mercy Law
Make YT blazing fast
Ads quality
5
TBH
Aaiden Savage
Channelization