Hear this…. HERE!
I-95 Northbound in Stamford CT with view of Indeed Headquarters
“Ok Road Team take a quick glance over to the left. See the Indeed logo on top of the black Office Tower? The huge job-search engine was started here in Stamford. No irony, surrounded by pastoral bedroom communities, urban Stamford’s logo is “The City that Works”.
Indeed’s Tech culture may seem to be lost here in Stamford amongst buildings that boast the prevalence of finance companies like UBS and NatWest both of which are major international banks.
But that is not necessarily the case. In fact, if you were to re-wind to the 1960’s, Fairfield County, Connecticut as well as neighboring Westchester County, New York may be considered the original Silicon Valley. Profiting from the highly educated work force, easy access to investment capital, and a risk taking culture, this area was the birthplace of many major names in early tech.
General Electric, Xerox, and Pitney Bowes once thrived here. Most notable was the Microsoft of its day, International Business Machines.
IBM and its founder Tom Watson dominated technology from the 1940’s to right up until the day in the 1990’s when Steve Jobs at Apple and Bill Gates at Microsoft moved the center of tech from the east coast to the west coast.
Today, companies like Indeed and travel tech unicorn Priceline — which is HQ’ed in upcoming Norwalk — still thrive here. However, they tend to morph and move since Connecticut tends to be fertile grounds for talent but not attractive for less profitable back office operations. In fact, Indeed splits it HQ between Stamford and more tax friendly Austin, Texas.
Indeed has an animal mascot. That mascot is a cute cuddly rhinoceros named Tyrone. Tyrone the rhino reflects the single minded mission of Indeed which made it so successful. Like a rhino, Indeed focuses on one thing and then charges. Its focus is to get you a job. Or as Business Insider calls it… “Indeed was the first auction-based, pay-per-click job advertising service.”
Originally funded by The New York Times, Union Square Ventures, and investment bank Allen & Company, the start-up was so successful on its own it really did not need their $5 million dollars. Seems founders Paul Forster and Rony Kahan only took $5 million to leverage visibility of their booming company. Other than that late stage money, the start-up grew from earnings it generated — which is called “bootstrapping”. The lingo is that Forster and Kahan personally “bootstrapped” the growth of their company from 2004 to 2005 until they took outside investment.
The pay-off to doing that is that the Founders get very rich and do not lose control to outside investors. But that only goes so far. Ultimately such booming companies take on a life of their own and it becomes too big for a couple of guys to run from the back of a napkin… or in this case from the surface of a whiteboard.
Indeed grew from 2 guys to 500 employees in just 7 years.
In an interview with “Business Insider” magazine, Union Square Ventures’ Fred Wilson says:
“"They had bootstrapped the company, launched the service, and were well on their way. They didn't need our money. But eventually we convinced them to take it.”
Co-founder Paul Forster tells Business Insider:
“We've been very capital efficient. Part of our ethos has been to be very, very efficient and hire the right people at the right time. We've also been laser focused on building the most relevant job search company. Monetizing that has been very successful."
Tech companies grow so fast and morph often depending on the stage of the company. Different stages of growth require different skill sets and funding. Like tech companies in Silicon Valley, entrepreneurs here do not necessarily stay long with their own start-ups. In ages past, companies like IBM had leaders who stayed with the companies for decades if not generations. IBM was started in the 1920’s by Tom Watson Senior and his son Tom Watson Junior ran it from the 1950’s through his retirement in the 1980’s.
But Indeed, which was founded in 2004, was sold to a Japanese company just 8 years later for over One Billion Dollars. Since it was privately held, we do not know how much Kahan and Forster made, although we hear that the New York Times Company claimed a hundred million dollar payday on their less than $5,000,000 investment. That means they made between 20 and 50 times their initial investment in just a few years.
Sadly, there is no guarantee that Indeed will stay in Stamford now that its owners are in Japan. The good news is, at least the money it makes and the services it provides are still USA based. As with all things in tech, there is a good and bad aspect. Indeed’s presence in Stamford is kinda like Tyrone the rhino — cute and cuddly and focused — but not altogether real!”
#Indeed #Stamford #Citythatworks #TyronetheRhino #PaulForster #RonyKahan #IBM #TomWatson #PitneyBowes #Xerox #GE