With this being the season of giving and saying thanks, I wanted to share some thoughts on the right way to do it. Unfortunately, it is common in business to rush through your to-do list and quite often that means not thinking hard enough about what gift to give, especially when it comes to giving chotskies at tradeshows. In business, there is much mediocrity.
Today, Compare Metrics announced their Series A funding from Austin Ventures. You can read about it in the Austin American-Statesman article or the Compare Metricspress release. The company is still largely in stealth mode, as you can see from their website. This is something we talked about since I backed the company as an angel investor and Garrett Eastham, co-founder and CEO, read my Lucky7 post on whether to be stealthy or not and took it to heart.
I'm very proud of the team in reaching this major milestone, and I look forward to continuing to serve as the independent Chairman of the Board. If you read aboutGarrett's background, you'll see that he was meant to found this company. Whenever I'm investing, I always value whether or not the founders are destined for their business background wise. Garrett is one of those guys, and I hope you get the chance to meet him soon and experience his passion first-hand. His leadership team is also stellar and I've had the pleasure of working with Chris Richter (VP of Sales), Lisa Roberts (VP of Marketing), and Joel Knight (VP of Client Services) as leaders in the early years at Bazaarvoice. Garrett also worked at Bazaarvoice and was one of our best.
As I mentioned in my first post in this series, every startup has their t-shirts. But you can tell a lot about a company by the t-shirts they make. And so I would like to continue to take you through our history - and our culture - with the most complete collection of Bazaarvoice t-shirts with the possible exception of my co-founder, Brant Barton.
This is the second in my series, and I'll cover the years 2007-2009 here. The first post covers our first two years in business - 2005-2007.
Michael Osborne, our first global head of sales, and I worked hard on establishing a sales-driven culture. In my opinion, this is very important for a B2B company. Your clients are the ones that pay your bills and you should be obsessive about both selling to and servicing them well. All other functions in the company are in support of that goal. The most successful B2C companies, like Wal-Mart and Amazon, are no different in that they are obsessive about those that also pay their bills - with the only difference being they care most about consumers - versus businesses - as consumers are their key source of revenue. Osborne, as we all called him because his personality is bigger than life, was amazing in this regard and a huge part of the culture that quickly took root. His theme song for us "doing the impossible" in our achievements quarter after quarter became Don't Stop Believing by Journey. The YouTube video below will give you a window into our culture and all of us celebrating at the Alamo Drafthouse, where we held our All-Hands (I talked about why the awesome Alamo in my first post in this series). I took this video right after my talk to close out the day, where I was expressing my deep love for the company and then the Bazaarvoice band brought the house down by playing our theme song. This can only be described as a magical moment as I think you'll agree in watching the video (have you ever seen this type of energy at a company you worked at?).
When Brant and I founded Bazaarvoice, we decided to be in "stealth mode" for the first eight months. This was because of the incredible response we were getting from our initial conversations with prospective retail clients as well as several other factors:
Yesterday's post on why I named my blog Lucky7 in honor of my mom and my resulting Twitter batter on our company's name with Sam Decker reminded me of a few stories about how I came up with the name Bazaarvoice.
I remember the day I came up with the name Bazaarvoice like it was yesterday. Rachel was just six months old and we were in Cabo San Lucas in April 2005 using our last few weeks of vacation at Coremetrics before I left to take the plunge to start Bazaarvoice with Brant Barton. I was reading Chapter 4 of The Cluetrain Manifestoand it hit me - big time. That chapter moved me more than almost anything I had ever read. The "voice of the marketplace" - it was perfect. Like the name Coremetrics, it described exactly what the company did. It was a bit of an irreverant name, likely to be confused with Bizarrevoice but that was actually a good thing in this case. There was meaning in that - the voice of customers would indeed sound "bizarre" to all of the corporate types that had been locked away in their towers instead of walking their store aisles like Sam Walton, the founder of Wal-Mart, used to do to "keep it real" and then taught his children in his book Made In America.
Looking back the beginning of Bazaarvoice, I remember my first blog post like it was yesterday. I remember how odd it was to blog back then. Sam Decker had joined me, Brant, Paul Rogers, Jacob Salamon, Jason Amacker, and a few others as our founding CMO. He had joined us from Dell where he was the first blogger in their company's history, I believe, and had his own blog site at DeckerMarketing (which is still live today and Sam is now a successful CEO at Mass Relevance). Sam wasted no time convincing me and Brant that we must blog for our company launch out of "stealth mode".