One of the toughest problems all companies face is hiring quality people. Without quality people, your company is headed down the tubes. I’ll never understand why some companies end up taking the “most affordable worker approach”. I’d simply go insane attempting what we do every day if we didn’t have our high caliber team. We’re always looking for the best people we can find, and there are at least a few companies that take the same approach.
We’re in the midst of revamping our recruiting approach at daveramsey.com. We hire quality people, but there simply aren’t enough applying. One thing we’ve put on the table is improving our presence online by dressing up our hiring portal and publicizing how awesome our culture is. It’s been worthwhile taking a look at a few companies that are doing a great job getting the word out on their company culture.
I recently came back from the Web 2.0 Summit. Recently meaning November 2010. It was a great conference, and one where I first heard the term “HyperGrowth”.
This particular term, hypergrowth, was used to describe two very fast growing companies. Zappos ($0 to $1 billion in 10 years), and Gilt Group ($0 to $400 million in 3 years).
Now, its pretty common for people to have heard about Groupon. Their business stats are pretty amazing. Truthfully, I haven’t been a groupon user, but looking at some of their business statistics today, I felt it was worth mentioning since they’re one of the latest web hypergrowth businesses.
According to the latest speculation, Groupon is generating over $1 billion in revenue. Wow. 2 years after launch. Now that’s hypergrowth. From 0 to 300 employees in under 2 years. A friend sent me this summary graphic today.
First off, let me say this is not going to be some super in depth analysis that looks into financial statements, revenues shifts, profitability or details like that. I’m merely going to make some basic observations and speak to how I as an Adobe/Omniture customer feel. First, some background.
A Little Background
Our company as been an Omniture client since summer 2007. We’ve been a heavy Adobe customer since 2005 (meaning we have 20 creatives now), and before that we were a heavy Macromedia customer. We use their ColdFusion Enterprise servers…several of them since our site handles 1,000,000+ uniques a month. We use lots of Photoshop, some Illustrator, some Dreamweaver, quite a bit of After Effects, some Flex and probably some things I don’t know about.
Since adopting Omniture as our analytics platform in 2007, we’ve been gung ho pushing analytics into everthing we do. We opted for the full time analyst right out of the gate. After 3 years of sculpting, he’s a rock star. We started with Omniture’s Site Catalyst and Search Center. We’re now using Omniture’s…I mean Adobe’s Test and Target powered by Omniture as well as Omniture’s…I mean Adobe’s Discover 2 powered by Omniture. We love the tools and we’ve done some great things with them. The main reason for us moving to their platform was in preparation for the launch of our new website…which I might add went off quite successfully in November 2009…thanks to Omniture’s…now Adobe’s Tools powered by Omniture.
Here’s Where I’m Weirded Out
I may have been in a hole or something since I stay so busy, but this week I started noticing that my beloved Omniture Green is well…gone. Where did it go? I can’t find it anywhere. It’s like we’re entering fall and all the leaves are falling off the trees! It’s disappeared from my regular Omniture (now Adobe) emails. It’s disappeared from Omniture.com. It’s disappearing from the SiteCatalyst tools!
Now honestly one might think. Well, duh. They were just acquired by Adobe. Of course the branding will change. Just being candid, my day is so busy I hadn’t really thought about it much. Now that it’s taking place before me, I’m having some weird attachment emotions. What is this I’m feeling? Well, actually there’s a good answer. Several incredible marketers have written about it. You might know some of them. Seth Godin, Martin Lindstrom, Patrick Hanlon just to name a few. So it’s kind of funny to hear these guys speak for years and read their books then see what they teach actually affect your emotions about a brand you deal with all the time.
Time for a Contrast The Adobe/Omniture merger went through in late 2009, about 10 months ago. Another big merger happened recently. Amazon and Zappos. Let’s look at where they are after 1 year…roughly the same time frame.
My only point is I’m basically an Omniture freak and why not. Omniture’s helped move our company forward, move our mission forward. Since 2007 when we moved to Omniture from Google Analytics, our web staff has grown from 35 to 60. Omniture helped us do that. Our revs grew…a lot. We just launched a new website that accounts for 75-80% of our company’s business all based on what Omniture helped us do. I’m a bit touchy when you go messing with one of my favorite brands, it’s colors and it’s employees.
Maybe it’s sophisticated rebranding, but it seems like a miscue when you already have the most successful web analytics brand on the market. Brands are emotional as Martin Lindstrom showed through Buyology, Patrick Hanlon covers in Primal Branding and Seth can’t stop talking about it. You took away my green…you just gutted part of my emotional attachment to the Omniture Brand. Not a good way to finish out the first year. I know it sounds a little weird, but it’s where I’m at.
Zappos had their all hands meeting today in Las Vegas. The interesting twist to this quarterly meeting was that they streamed it live via UStream. The streaming broadcast of the meeting was an extension of their zapposinsights.com website. I received an invitation this morning, and fortunately, I had a little time available to check it out.
I logged into the stream around 3:00 CST to catch some quick updates from Tony Hsieh, Alfred Lin, and Fred Mossier. Amazon recently purchased Zappos for paltry $1 billion. Since that time, it seems a few executives have made the jump on to other things. After getting the opening notes out of the way, Alfred, Zappos’ CFO/COO, announced his departure. The date? January 2011. Tony had a great demeanor during the announcement and for the remainder of the session.
I logged off after the first hour, but a friend sent me some notes on the 2nd half of the meeting.
After Chip Conley, author of Peak, did his thing, the entire Zappos team broke into groups of 10-15 (everyone was given a playing card on entering the auditorium) and those groups then processed what Conley talked about and put together a list of the ideas that came out of his speech, and the debriefing afterwards. Those lists are then filtered up through leadership where each idea has a name put next to it. Everyone there must have their name next to at least one idea. Making sure that they get the most investment from the Conley speech and making sure everyone participates and everyone’s ideas get heard by someone.
Comparison to Dave Ramsey’s Organization
After working for Dave Ramsey since 2001, it’s very interesting for me to get an inside glimpse of another company that prides itself on their customer service. While you can’t get a comprehensive inside look in just 2 hours of streaming, I believe our company stacks up quite well. From the chatter, it appears Zappos does quarterly all hands meetings, while we do weekly staff meetings. Our business is quite different though in that we are comprise of several P&Ls, Departments, and Divisions accounting for more than 25 different business lines. The relative simplicity of Zappos’ business model lends itself to less frequent meetings and I’m sure they they probably have general communications that go out regularly to the entire team.
Dave also constantly reminds us about the importance of customer service and caring for the people we are helping. Its at the forefront of what we do everyday. Servant Leadership is key whether dealing with people inside or outside the organization.
These are just a couple of comparison points, but I noticed several that made me feel really good about working for Dave Ramsey and where our company is headed.
A few months ago I ran across some online write ups of Zappos and their company culture. Lots of positive things floating around the net about them. After talking with our HR director, we discovered that Zappos Culture is in fact so phenomenal that they’ve turned their “mojo” into a product line not unlike our EntreLeadership Business product (see daveramsey.com).
Rick Perry, our HR director, reached out to the Zappos team and found a kindred spirit is heading up their Zappos Insights site.We’re considering going out to one of their tours, but in the meantime, Zappos sends out a free “culture book”. I signed up yesterday and am looking forward to getting it in the next few days. Zappos Culture Book
I recently started reaching out to C-Levels in the Nashville area for personal growth and mentoring opportunities. I had to chuckle a bit when Jay Clarke, CEO of Magazines.com, whom I met with just 2 weeks ago showed up in the Zappos Culture video I saw today. Zappos has put together a pretty solid product, and they appear to be doing well with it. Check it out at Zappos Insights