Plaxo Tries Internal Unconference

A couple weeks ago I stopped by Plaxo, makers of the divisive online addressbook, and was told about a little experiment they had been trying since mid-August. Adopting the ethos of the web worker, the company is now running internal planning and product development as an unconference. Instead of littering meetings throughout the week, everybody reserves Tuesdays for meetings, and the management brings in breakfast and lunch.

They call it “Meataxo,” according to a company-wide cloying habit of using the -axo suffix on everything. As for “meat” versus “meet,” I haven’t gotten a straight answer on that.

Meataxo founder Joseph Smarr, a Plaxo senior software engineer, says it’s a good way to save the rest of the week for uninterrupted blocks of work, and to get a glimpse into what everyone else is doing. He thinks it helps Plaxo feel like it’s still a small startup.

But the experiment — assuming it’s still going — is more popular with engineers and product people than the management. “The jury’s still out,” said Todd Masonis, Plaxo founder and VP of products, explaining “most of my meetings are external.”

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