Here is Tim Besse, Co-Founder and Vice President of Product and Marketing at Glassdoor.com. Tim tells us all about Glassdoor, his background and gives lots of great advice.
Can you begin by telling us about your background? Where you are from, age, college education, etc.
I’m originally from Ohio where I attended and earned my bachelor’s degree from the Weatherhead School of Management at Case Western Reserve University. Prior to co-founding Glassdoor.com, I worked with Expedia where I helped launch early stage businesses, including Expedia’s telesales and private label businesses as well as its online luxury offering, Classic Custom Vacations. However, my most recent role at Expedia was the director of product management and online marketing for the Asia Pacific division of Expedia. In this role, I developed new markets in Australia, Japan, and China, and assumed general management responsibility of the Hotels.com business in Asia.
When did you begin to develop your idea for Glassdoor.com? What gave you the idea to do this? What do you compare the site to if anything?
The idea of Glassdoor.com began in the summer of 2007, when my co-founder Robert Hohman (CEO of Glassdoor) was busy taking time off after having left his position as president of Hotwire.com. His long-time friend Rich Barton called up with an interesting question:
“What would happen if someone left the unedited employee survey for the whole company on the printer and it got posted to the Web?”
The two had previously worked together at Microsoft and then Expedia, which Rich founded in 1994. Expedia ultimately transformed travel by opening up information once available only to travel agents and insiders. Rich then went on to transform real estate with the launch of Zillow.com, allowing anyone to find and research home values from their personal computer.
Robert and Rich contemplated why it’s so difficult to find helpful information about jobs and workplaces. Robert called on me and we expanded the survey concept to include salary details down to the job level and CEO approval ratings, just like politician approval ratings. And thus, Glassdoor was born to deliver new transparency to an incredibly important part of our lives — our work.
To give you a comparison, think of Glassdoor.com as the TripAdvisor or Yelp of jobs and workplaces that uses employee-generated content to provide a free inside look at companies from those who know best – employees.
How did you go about taking Glassdoor.com to where it is today?
We worked on appealing to an individual’s curiosity – There’s always a natural curiosity around the competitiveness of compensation and finding out what others think. Through media relations and word of mouth , we have been able to virally spread the word about Glassdoor so as to show that there are answers out there to questions specific to one’s job title, workplace and even geographic location.
The site definitely seems to get a lot of traffic. What do you recommend to other entrepreneurs who are just starting out and trying to get their site exposure?
Learn from what others have done before you. We have had the benefit of learning from the experiences of members of our Board. For example, Stephen Kaufer (Board Member, Trip Advisor founder and CEO) has been extremely helpful in sharing his lessons learned from building the largest travel community in the world. In addition, we have spent time with other executives at some of the largest community / UGC driven services out there to help us think through the ways on which to build up site exposure. We also continue to hire community experts from local companies like Yahoo! /Flickr.
How do you see Glassdoor.com in the future?
This is a good question as it depends a lot on the needs of the employee and employer. Our goal is to continually improve upon Glassdoor so that it changes the existing paradigm to bring more transparency to the workplace to help people make critical choices about their career.
Are there any ventures you plan on pursuing after Glassdoor.com?
I’m fortunate that I have a job that I love and see plenty of potential in the future in which I can help to make Glassdoor a better career and workplace community.
How has your life changed since you started the site?
Well first I now live in the Bay Area whereas before I lived in Seattle and so I have had the chance to experience a new environment. In addition, I have been exposed to advantages and drawbacks that many individuals share when it comes to their work and careers. With this, I have been able to see that with transparency comes understanding and opportunity.
Can you tell us what inspires you?
In terms of Glassdoor, I am inspired all the time by the feedback and community engagement within the site. It’s a really exciting time for Glassdoor and feel fortunate to have the opportunity to help other people by giving them the tools and resources to make more informed decisions that impact the workplace and their careers.
What are your hobbies and interests outside of work?
I really enjoy traveling with my wife, Wendy, and we also like to get out into nature for a hike when the weather permits. When at home, you’ll probably find me curled up with a John Grisham novel unless a good football game is on TV. I’ve also been known to enjoy a nice bottle of wine now and then.
Do you have any experiences, advice, or anything else that you would like to share?
Don’t be afraid to take a chance if you are willing to work hard at an option that may seem more risky. I walked away from a secure job at Expedia with a good steady paycheck to try my hand at a start-up (Glassdoor). When we began last year, I was investing in the company rather than being paid to work there, but the opportunity to do this was something I knew I could believe in and in turn something that I could put my heart and mind into.
Thanks for taking time to do this great interview Tim!
Be sure to check out our review of Glassdoor.com