When Glassdoor was young: the early years

Steven Loeb · February 27, 2019 · Short URL: https://vator.tv/n/4d4f

Glassdoor saw more than 10,000 new reviews and 1.2 million page views on its first day after launch

This story has been updated with the most recent stats for Glassdoor

As our readers know, Vator has started a series called When they were young.

It's a look back at the modest days of startups, what traction they had in their first few years, and how they evolved. In the end, we hope to provide a glimpse into what great startups looked like in their first few years.

Stories like these are always well received because it reminds us that anyone, regardless of pedigree and environment, can rise above the noise and have great influence. They show us the value of being resilient, persistent, and committed. If we can follow their footsteps, maybe we too can have similar success.

This segment is on Glassdoor.

— Glassdoor's First Year —

Founders (age at the time): Tim Besse (26), Robert Hohman (36), Rich Barton (40)

Founded: Glassdoor is incorporated in Delaware on June 7, 2007

Initial company description: The initial idea for Glassdoor comes from an incident where Barton, founder of Expedia and Zillow, accidentally leaves employee survey data in an office printer. 

“I was the CEO of Zillow Group at the time, this was a while ago, and I was doing my performance reviews, the annual performance reviews. And I had the spreadsheet, we didn’t have that many employees, maybe 35 at the time, I had the spreadsheet with everyone’s kind of review rating, what their salaries were, their title, their level, what kind of stock option bonus I was going give them. All that stuff that we, as people who review people, do. And I went to print it for my meeting with the guy who ran the technology group, David, and I printed it on the common printer, rather than my printer. And I didn’t figure it out, really, in time. My assistant, luckily, was one of first people at the common printer and she was like, ‘Hmmm, I don’t think this looks like it should be here,’ and she pulled it into the office," Barton says in 2016. 

"And all was good and what that got me thinking was, ‘Well, why not?’ If we’re running a clean game, if women are being paid the same as men for the same job, if the right people are the ones getting paid properly, and with the right titles, and have responsibility, then holding that up to the light of day into the sunlight actually shouldn’t surprise anybody. It might upset some people a little bit, but it shouldn’t surprise anybody."

Barton takes the idea to Hohman, who had been one of the first engineers at Expedia, pitching him by saying, "I think we can build a Tripadvisor-like product, a user generated content product, around salaries and reviews, for employment."

First funding, nine months from founding: In March 2008, Glassdoor raises a $3 million round of funding from Benchmark.

"The company is still very much in stealth mode and gives no hints on their site aside from saying that 'except that we think it’s pretty unique and going to be a lot of fun to build.' The company may already be struggling with bringing the mystery product to market, with their site saying that they 'expect to have something live in early 2008,' yet are still displaying a holding page," TechCrunch writes. 

Board of directors, at 11 months from founding: In May 2008, Glassdoor adds three new members to its board of directors: Erik Blachford, CEO of TerraPass and former president and CEO of Expedia, Inc. and CEO of IAC/InterActiveCorp’s travel division; Stephen Kaufer, president and CEO of TripAdvisor and former president of CDS, Inc.; and Rusty Rueff, former CEO of SNOCAP, the digital music commerce provider for MySpace, and previous EVP at Electronic Arts and executive at PepsiCo. They join previous board members Hohman and Barton.

“I’m excited about the stellar group of executives who’ve come together on our board. This is a high-energy and well-rounded team that will be instrumental in helping chart the strategic path for Glassdoor,” Hohman says in a statement. “We’re getting close to officially unveiling Glassdoor and are very excited with our progress to date and the opportunities ahead.”

— Glassdoor's Second Year —

Launch, at one year from founding: On June 10, 2008, Glassdoor launches its public beta. At the time it has coverage on 250 companies with roughly 3,300 reviews.

"We built Glassdoor for a very simple reason – because we believe that work matters," writes Hohman.

"At our core, everyone craves meaningful work.  We want to know that all of our blood, sweat, and tears matter.  We want to know that all of those hours away from our family aren’t for nothing.  We want – we need – to believe that we are serving a higher purpose, and that the world is better off because of our work."

On its first day, Glassdoor see more than 10,000 new reviews and more than 1.2 million page views, with 3,000 new companies receiving first content, bringing the total companies with data to more than 3,250.

Accolades, at one year and two months from founding and two months from launch: In August 2008, Glassdoor is chosen by PC Mag as one the top 100 undiscovered web sites

"Ever wonder what your cubicle neighbors' salaries are? Or what they really think of the boss? Find out on Glassdoor.com, which collects anonymous employer reviews and salary info. Some companies already have tons of reviews and salary info posted, but you'll have to add your own review before you can access anyone else's-as it should be," the magazine writes. 

International expansion, at one year and two months from founding and two months from launch: In August 2008, Glassdoor opens up salary and other pay details in the local currency of more than 100 countries.

“We’ve been very pleased by the initial response to Glassdoor and have accelerated our international expansion to meet the strong demand from all corners of the world. Information about salaries and employers is a powerful tool that transcends borders and we’re delighted employees from around the globe find Glassdoor valuable,” Hohman says in a statement. “By presenting pay information in their local currency, we’re making Glassdoor more relevant to more people, and that can only help lead to more productive work discussions and better-informed career decisions everywhere.”

Traction, at one year and two months from founding and two months from launch: In August 2008, Glassdoor has more than 60,000 salary reports and company reviews for more than 11,000 employers in more than 80 countries.

Second funding, at one year and four months from founding, four months from launch: In October 2008, Glassdoor raises a $6.5 million Series B round led by Sutter Hill Ventures and included participation from existing investor Benchmark Capital. Jim White, managing director of Sutter Hill Ventures, is appointed to Glassdoor's Board of Directors.

“Glassdoor is transforming the way people think about their careers,” Hohman says in a statement. “In the face of these tough economic times, this additional financing allows us to continue to grow the Glassdoor community and advance our product and business around the globe.” 

Traction, at one year and four months from founding, four months from launch: In October 2008, Glassdoor has more than 115,000 contributions for 14,000 companies 

Product, at one year : In April 2009, Glassdoor adds a Job Interview Questions and Reviews section to help people prepare for interviews at specific companies. 

"We know our community members already use Glassdoor to help research companies and compensation and adding a specific section on job interviews is the logical next move – and especially timely given the market," the company writes. 

Traction: In April 2009, Glassdoor has 2,000 job interview reviews for 1,000 companies in 40 countries.

— Glassdoor's Third Year —

Traction, at two years from founding, one year from launch: In June 2009, Glassdoor has more than 225,000 salary reports, and company and interview reviews for 26,000 companies in 100 countries. That's a 7,500 percent growth in terms of reviews in one year. 

"It’s certainly been an interesting year to launch a business – especially as so many businesses have gone through significant transformations. Based on the regular feedback we receive from our members, it seems Glassdoor arrived just in time; the ripple effects of the economy mean people need information more than ever to make better decisions about their careers. The face of business has been unquestionably altered due to the recession and, as we work together in today’s global community, it is vital that we adapt and improve along with a changing job market," Hohman writes in a blog post.

First acquisition, at two years and and four months from founding, one year and four months from launch: In October 2009, Glassdoor acquires JobVent, a site for employees to complain about employers, in an all-cash deal of less than $100,000.

JobVent is renamed Jobitorial, before eventually being shut down by Glassdoor. 

JobVent.com - Inside Information About the Jobs and Employers we Love and Hate

— Glassdoor's Fourth Year — 

Product, at three years from founding, two years from launch: In June 2010, Glassdoor launches Enhanced Employer Profiles, which it says "make it easy and cost-effective for companies to reach target job seekers and highlight attributes of employment by expanding on the basic background already provided for each company on the Glassdoor website."

Initial partners include Accenture, Adobe, Ernst & Young, GEICO, L’Oreal, Orbitz, Shutterfly and Zillow.

“Even in this market, finding and attracting the best person for a job can feel like an uphill battle as companies are faced with a blanket of white noise, wading through hundreds of resumes. Glassdoor attracts millions of actively engaged employees and job seekers each month and with Enhanced Employer Profiles, companies can now tell their own story and better reach the job candidates who matter to them,” said Hohman in a statement. 

Traction, at three years from founding, two years from launch: In June 2010, Glassdoor has more than 2 million monthly unique visitors, and details on more than 84,000 companies.

Product, at three years and four months from founding, two years and four months from launch: In October 2010, Glassdoor launches JobScope, which is search technology that allows job seekers to quickly scan a company’s rating.

To use JobScope, have to select the new “Jobs” tab on Glassdoor.com. Users then click the “Look Inside” link below a job listing and JobScope givses them a snapshot of available Glassdoor data for that company and/or specific job, including company reviews and ratings, salary reports, CEO approval ratings, office photos, company-provided data, company news, and a “Map It” feature, which allows users to see where the job is located.

“There are almost 15 million Americans competing for an estimated 3 million open jobs, which makes for an incredibly daunting search process. Those looking for employment spend hours wading through listings and researching companies to find jobs that best fit their skill set,” Hohman says in a statement. “With JobScope, we instantly peel back multiple layers of each company with information on pay and the workplace environment that cannot be found anywhere else and place it right at our users’ fingertips. This saves job seekers valuable time and gets them one step closer to their goal: landing the right job.”

Traction, at three years and four months from founding, two years and four months from launch: In October 2010, Glassdoor has more than 3 million monthly visitors and data on approximately 98,000 companies in more than 100 countries.

Third funding, at three years and eight months from founding, two years and eight months from launch: In February 2011, Glassdoor raises a $12 million Series C round, led by Battery Ventures with participation from existing investors Benchmark Capital and Sutter Hill Ventures.

Traction, at three years and eight months from founding, two years and eight months from launch: In February 2011, Glassdoor has 3.5 million monthly unique visitors and maintains employee-generated data on more than 110,000 companies.

— Glassdoor's Fifth Year —

Traction, at four years from founding, three years from launch: In June 2011, Glassdoor has more than one million members who have contributed information on 120,000 companies. It has 1.7 million company reviews, interview questions, salary reports, workplace photos and CEO ratings.

"As we move forward, we remain focused on our mission to become the world’s most trusted resource for helping people make informed decisions about their work. It’s exciting to see the site flourish around a seedling of an idea: 'What would happen if everyone’s salaries just rolled off on to the shared company printer and were then posted on the web?'" Hohman writes in a blog post. 

Partnership, at four years and six months from founding, three years and six months from launch:: In December 2011, Glassdoor announces a partnership with Internships.com to allow students to research salary information. 

“Glassdoor is committed to providing every level of job seeker with the jobs and workplace insights they need in order to make more informed career decisions,” says Hohman.  “By partnering with Internships.com, we hope to better arm the next workforce generation with the tools and resources they need when and where they need it. Knowing what is fair when it comes to salary and compensation packages can be key to starting your career on the best foot possible. ”

Product, at four years and eight months from founding, three years and eight months from launch: In February 2012, Glassdoor launches Inside Connections, "a new product that leverages Facebook to help job seekers quickly uncover if they know someone at a company where they want to work."

If user was interested in working for a company, they would simply sign in to Glassdoor using Facebook and then visit that company's profile page to see who within their Facebook friend network, including friends of friends, currently works or has worked there.

“Who you know can make all the difference in a job search and in your career. By using Glassdoor’s Inside Connections, you can now bring together who you know with what you need to know about jobs and companies,” says Hohman. “No other professional network or jobs resource enables users to see this much depth and breadth about companies in one place, while also helping them to identify their own trusted personal connections to the employers that matter most.”

Traction, at four years and eight months from founding, three years and eight months from launch: In February 2012, Glassdoor has more than 150,000 companies currently represented, including 100 percent of the companies that make up the Dow Jones Industrial Average, the Fortune 500 and the S&P 500.

— Glassdoor Today —

Glassdoor currently has 64 million people coming to its platform every month. It has data on nearly 900,000 companies located in more than 190 countries, including more than 47 million reviews and insights. Glassdoor also provides recruiting solutions to more than 13,500 employers, including 50 percent of the Fortune 500.

The company raised $204.5 million in funding, including a $40 million round in June 2016, which valued it at over $1 billion. 

In June 2018, Glassdoor was acquired by Recruit Holdings for $1.2 billion.

(Image source: glassdoor.com)

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