Here’s a short update on Hurricane Sandy & Fab as of 3:30 p.m. on Tuesday October 30, 2012.
Fab HQ. Fab’s headquarters are in the West Village of New York City, at 95 Morton Street. Our offices are 1 block from the Hudson river and our street and building were impacted by the storm. Our office is currently without power and it is closed until further notice. As our offices are on the 5th and 8th floors of the building, we are hopeful that there was no interior damage.
Fab Warehouse. Fab operates out of two warehouses in New Jersey. Both of our warehouses are currently without power and thus are closed. As such, we are unable to ship packages today. We hope to have power restored to our warehouses very soon.
Fab Team. About 1/3 of Fab’s employees are currently without power. The other 2/3’ds of us with power are welcoming those without power into our homes. There’s this beautiful, heart-warming email thread amongst Fab employees called, “Team Together” where team members with power are offering up their homes. It’s special. We’re a Fab Family.
As I write this 12 Fab team members are huddled around my kitchen table working on out recovery plans and our holiday shops. Hotel Betashop (my couch!) is open tonight too!
Fab Website, Apps & Customers. We are doing everything possible to maintain a business-as-usual approach to Fab during these challenging times.
We are launching daily new offerings in the morning and evening, as usual. There are currently 10,000 products on Fab and there will be 1000+ new items added to Fab daily.
We will launch our Holiday Shops on November 1st as previously scheduled.
All Fab packages will ship as soon as humanly possible. Our teams are unloading packages in the warehouse as I write this and shipments will go out ASAP.
I will let everyone know as soon as we have more news. We’re hopeful that power will be restored very soon.
Even in tough times, it helps to smile. We’re all designed to—more than ever.
We started thinking about Fab as a mobile-first company about 7 months ago. At the time we were seeing about 20% of our daily sales coming from Fab’s mobile apps. We envisioned a day in the not too distant future when more than half of Fab’s sales came from mobile.
[Bezos] said that people who were right a lot of the time were people who often changed their minds. He doesn’t think consistency of thought is a particularly positive trait. It’s perfectly healthy — encouraged, even — to have an idea tomorrow that contradicted your idea today.
He’s observed that the smartest people are constantly revising their understanding, reconsidering a problem they thought they’d already solved. They’re open to new points of view, new information, new ideas, contradictions, and challenges to their own way of thinking.
This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have a well formed point of view, but it means you should consider your point of view as temporary.
This Mobile Stuff Is Legit: Fab Mobile Is 15% of Sales In Europe After 5 Days
I’ve written before about how mobile now amounts to around 1/3 of all sales for Fab in the U.S.
We just launched our Fab mobile apps (iPhone & iPad) in Europe a few days ago and we’re already seeing a similar pattern. After 5 days, mobile is already amounting to more than 15% of Fab’s sales in Europe. And, that’s iOS only. We’ll launch Fab Android in Europe in the next few weeks.
We first introduced Fab’s mobile apps on October 15, 2011. Nearly 1 year later, those apps now contribute 33% of Fab’s daily visits and 33% of Fab’s daily sales.
That’s not good enough. We envision a day in the near future when mobile shopping amounts to more than 50% of Fab’s revenue.
To get there, our team re-imagined what mobile shopping could be. And, we started over. 6 months ago we took a from-scratch approach to mobile, challenging ourselves to rethink and re-imagine the Fab experience from the ground-up as if it was designed entirely with the mobile shopper in mind.
The result is the all new Fab apps. We hope they’ll make you smile. As always, we’re still just getting started; there’s much more Fab mobile innovation to come. But, oh wow, what a beautiful fresh start this is.
The new Fab apps are now available in the iTunes App Store. And, for the first time, the Fab apps are also available to Fab shoppers in 24 countries across Europe, in English and German language.
The New Fab iPad Experience.
As the late great Eva Zeisel noted: The best design just gets out of the way.
Fab iPad: German Language.
Fab iPad. Social Shopping On The Go.
Fab iPad. Redesigned Navigation Panel.
Fab iPad. Find Your Favorite Category.
Fab iPad. Search From 10,000 Everyday Design Products.
Fab iPad. Quick Views from the New Browse Bar.
Fab iPad. The Calendar. Re-Imagined.
Fab iPhone. iPhone 5 Optimized.
Fab iPhone. Innovative On-Screen Navigation Icons.
We launched Fab on June 9, 2011 with a simple purpose: To help people better their lives with design.
16 months later, people have ordered 2.4 million everyday design products from Fab. That is equivalent to 4 orders per minute. And, today, more than 7.5 million people in 26 countries now turn to Fab to discover everyday design products at great prices, to connect with the world’s most exciting designers, and to share their favorite design inspirations. And, we’re just getting started.
Over the last 6 months we’ve been investing millions of dollars in upgrading our operations so that we can ship faster. This has been the number one request of Fab’s members. You asked us to ship faster. We listened. This is our absolute number one initiative.
I’m excited to tell you that the majority of the products that Fab sells in the U.S. this fall and winter will ship anywhere in the U.S. in 1 to 6 days. That’s a big improvement. We want you to shop with confidence that your holiday gifts will get delivered fast. During the holidays we’ll also have overnight options on the most popular gifts.
Faster shipping is just one way Fab is working to wow you. We’re also getting ready to launch all-new and significantly improved versions of our mobile applications and social shopping. And, our holiday shops will feature more everyday designs at the best prices than ever before.
And, we’re just getting started.
Soon, Fab will ship 75% of our orders in 1 to 3 days.
It has been awesome, flattering, and humbling to see that post went viral and has been seen by so many thousands of people — mainly aspiring entrepreneurs — and has been translated into many languages.
This past week while I was in Tokyo for meetings with potential partners for Fab, I was invited to participate in a panel discussion on startups. The discussion quickly turned to those 57 things. Amazing. Thousands of miles away and two years later, people still want to talk about those 57 things!
As the questions came in, I realized that my 2010 list was great for what I had learned as of 2 years ago, but it also was in desperate need of an update to include what I’ve learned more recently, especially as we’ve pivoted from fabulis to Fab in 2011 and then scaled Fab to more than 7.5 million registered users, 7500 supplier partners, 600 team members, and a run-rate of more than $150M in sales in just 15 months.
So, here goes.
90 Things I’ve Learned Founding 4 Tech Companies:
Find your company’s One Thing. Your One Thing falls at the intersection of 3 truths:
The one thing you and your team are most passionate about.
The one thing you and your team have a realistic shot at being the best in the world at.
A huge untapped market opportunity.
If what you’re doing does not fall at the intersection of those 3 truths, you’re doing the wrong thing.
Only do your One Thing. Everything else is a distraction. Don’t do side projects. Don’t take unnecessary meetings. Anything that distracts you from executing on your One Thing is just that, a distraction. Say no to everything that does not contribute to your One Thing.
It’s all about the product. Always has been. Always will be. The only thing that matters is how good your product is. All the rest is noise. At Fab, our virtual product is our website & apps, our physical products are the merchandise we sell, and our experience product is our operations and service. Getting all 3 parts of our product right is everything.
The only judge of how good your product is is how much your users use it and value from it.
In the early days the key determinant of your future success is traction. Spend the majority of your time figuring out how to cultivate pockets of traction amongst your early adopters and optimize around that traction. Traction begets more traction if you are able to jump on it.
If you cannot gain traction in 1 year, pivot. I firmly believe that in this age where the product development life-cycle is so short and user feedback comes so quickly, you will know within a year whether you are focusing on a worthwhile one thing.
Sure, you’re not going to get it right at first, no one does. But, you can iterate and iterate on features, but you cannot iterate your way to a business model. I’ve seen too many businesses get stuck or fail because of their endless pursuit for the magic new feature that is going to help them gain traction. Stop. There are plenty of interesting problems out there to solve.
If you can’t show some measurable and real traction within 1 year, move on to working on another problem. I bet you, if you are working on your startup for a year and you have not yet experienced real traction, if you poll yourself and your team and ask the 3 questions: (1) Is this the problem we are most passionate about solving, (2) can we realistically be the best in the world at it, (3) and is it a huge untapped market, you’ll likely uncover that you are working on the wrong one thing. So, pivot. Pivot to the One Thing at the intersection of those 3 truths.
Before there was Fab there was fabulis, a social network meets places guide targeted to the gay community. We built a lot of cool features and iterated and iterated, but we never truly grasped our One Thing; instead we just tried doing a lot of things hoping that something would stick. 1 year later we sat down and had an honest conversation with ourselves and realized that our One Thing, the thing we were most passionate about, that we could realistically be the best in the world at, and that was a huge untapped market opportunity was: Design. So, we pivoted from fabulis to Fab.
Once you pivot, focus, and don’t look back. When we pivoted from fabulis to Fab, from gay social network to design, we made the decision within 10 days to focus exclusively on our new One Thing, and we set a rule that not one person on the team could still do the old thing. We needed every last ounce of resource and mindshare focused on our One Thing. We shut down the old website and apps right then and there. We pivoted the entire company in 10 days, focused on the future, and never looked back.
Be self-aware. Know your own personal One Thing - the one thing that you yourself are really good at. Likewise, know what’s outside your one thing - the many things that you are not so good at.
It’s not about you, part 1. Building a successful company is less about you and more about your ability to bring out the greatness in the people around you. When we pivoted from fabulis to Fab, we pivoted towards building a business around the unique tastemaker talents of one of our founders, Bradford Shellhammer. Fab was born from my own realization that we could be the best in the world at something by taking Bradford’s unique and eclectic sense for color, humor, quirkiness, and his passion for products that brighten up people’s lives, and bring that to the entire world. It takes guts and a whole lot of of self-awareness to build a business focused around someone else’s talents.
It’s not about you, part 2. It’s not about you, it’s about your customers. At Fab we have been focused from day 1 on making our customers smile. From the start we said that we would never make a decision as to what features to build or what products to sell based on revenue alone, rather we would focus on things that make our customers smile and by doing so lots and lots of revenue will fall out over time. Sticking to that philosophy has been one of the keys to Fab’s success.
Have amazing co-founders who are better at what they do than you could ever be. I’m fortunate to have started Fab with some amazingly talented people like Nishith Shah and Sunil Khedar who previously built one of the first truly viral Facebook apps and who co-founded socialmedian with me in 2008; like Veerle Pieters who I uncovered in 2009 on a hunt for the most talented graphic designer in the world whose design aesthetic matched my own, and, of course, Bradford. Fab started off as a collection of all of our abilities and passions, and it remains so today, albeit with 600 more people helping us take it even further.
Work with people you love. Work with people you get excited about. People who thrill you. People you trust. People who you can look at every day and say: There is no better person in the world for this job AND no better person that I’d rather go to battle with. I’m a deeply emotional person. Love is CRITICAL to business success.
Position your desk in a way in which you are staring at your co-founders and they are staring at you. If you aren’t enjoying looking at each other each day, you’re working with the wrong people.
Don’t work with people you don’t love. Bradford and I have a rule: As long as we’re running Fab, we’re only going to work with people we love to work with. If we don’t enjoy working with someone - an employee, a partner, whomever - we’re just not going to do it. There’s no short term gain that is worth sacrificing for working with someone you do not working with.
Founders need to personally own something big themselves. It’s not enough just to lead, you need to own something big and critical to the business and your brand. And you need to really, really own it. My personal belief is that since everything comes down to the product, the best founders are product managers. Bradford and I split ownership for our virtual products, which I own (our Website & Apps) and our physical products, which he owns (the merchandise we sell). To this day, not a single pixel gets on our website or apps without my input, review, and approval. It’s that important. Likewise, not a single designer gets approved to sell on Fab without Bradford’s input, review, and approval. It’s that important. Sure, we employee lots of amazing people whom we trust to help us make it great, but as Founders we still own and control the final product. I can’t imagine it any other way.
As CEO, you need to also do the stuff that no one else can do. Typically that means stuff like pitching and choosing investors, managing your board, coaching your execs, helping your team understand and build towards the bigger picture, motivating and rallying the troops, and most of all, providing clarity of focus. These are the things that only the CEO can do, and you cannot outsource them.
Work with people who argue with you and tell you no.
The most important hiring criteria for your executives is cultural fit. You need to work with people who work like you do, and who enjoy and appreciate your style and pace. It doesn’t matter how smart or experienced people are, if they don’t match your style it’ll never work. You need to love working with them, and them with you.
Be willing to fight like hell during the day but still love each other when you go home.
As the CEO, you and only you can figure out where the company needs to go, how to get there, and how to marshal the resources you need to get it done. Sure, you’ll need a lot of input to figure out the plan, but you and only you can provide that clarity of focus that is required to say, “this what we’re doing” and then align the resources to match the direction. The biggest enunciation of strategy is how an organization allocates its resources.
Make deliberate decisions. There’s no time to dicker around at a startup. Pick a path and go with it. Better to make a decision followed by a mistake and some learnings and course corrections than to sit around idle while contemplating the direction. Leaders need to lead.
Inspire. Startups are hard work. They’re emotionally draining and tiring. Inspire your team to push forward, accomplish the impossible, and persevere.
Push the people around you to care as much as you do.
As CEO, you are responsible for every hire. Until Fab reached 150 people, Bradford and I interviewed every single person we hired. To this day, as we approach 600 people at Fab, we personally interview every manager and we still personally review and approve or disapprove most hires throughout our entire organization. If we make a hiring mistake - and we do from time to time - I put that blame on me, not on anyone else.
Hire people who are passionate about solving the specific problem you are trying to solve. Passion for building a business is not enough; there needs to be passion for your customer and solving your customer’s problem.
As CEO, you set the tone, the style, the pace, the expectations. My tone is confident but humble, and challenging. My style is to cheer on our wins while focusing our management on our challenges. And, I’m direct and transparent. No one ever has to wonder how Jason feels about something. I wear it on my sleeve (and on my blog). My pace is fast. My expectation is passionate pursuit of perfection, knowing that we’ll make plenty of mistakes along the way. I like to say that at Fab we celebrate our challenges and focus on why we suck more than why we’re great. That’s our tone. We also challenge each other in meetings so that we get to amazing results. There are no free rides. It takes thick skin to work at Fab, and I like it that way.
Be tough. Sometimes you have to even be a jerk. Not too often, but sometimes. If every day is a happy day, it’s too easy. I’m not saying be an asshole for no reason. I am saying that greatness comes from pushing people outside their comfort zone. Push. Managers especially need to be cool with this and understand this. If it was easy everyone would be doing it. It’s hard sometimes because we’re creating something special. When you do 98% work and I ask you where the other 2% is, that’s a good thing.
Be authentic and transparent. Tell the same story to yourself, your executives, your general employees, reporters, external observers, and your investors.
If you are down on someone, the rest of your team will already know.
Give a bad seed a day before firing them. Fire fast.
Cultivate and coach people vs. churning through them. At my first startup I soured on executives too quickly, blaming them vs. accepting ownership myself. Coach and mentor. Give a good seed who is not performing several months to turn it around. It might be you, not them. There’s a difference between a “bad seed” someone who just isn’t capable or doesn’t fit in vs. someone who is capable and is a cultural fit but whom isn’t performing at the level you expect for them.
Treat people well on the way in and on the way out. We’ve let go of a small handful of people at Fab and — unless it was because of woeful underperformance or horrible attitude — with each I’ve coached our team to go out of our way to offer more than generous exit packages. In most cases it didn’t work out because the person wasn’t a fit for Fab, not because they didn’t work hard. I take the approach that everyone who ever works for Fab will come in contact with at least 100 people who we eventually want to be Fab customers. We want our former team members to respect and appreciate our company and our brand, forever.
Provide feedback. Even though Fab is a fairly new company, we’re already put in place a recurring feedback process. We do twice-yearly reviews of all Fab team members. But it should never be a surprise. If it’s done right, feedback and postmortems are regular activities and reviews are just the official aggregation of such feedback.
Even executives need reviews. Here are the criteria I review Fab’s executives on:
Fab Culture. Does the executive personify our culture, cultivate it, and help us nurture it?
Fab Passion. Is the executive passionate for our specific Fab mission or could they be working at any company? Is Fab their life? Were they made to work at Fab?
Manages Up. How well does the executive manage up to me and keep me informed about their activities, go to me for input when they should, and not when it’s not needed.
Manages Horizontal. How well does the executive manage and coordinate with his/her peers? Do they operate in silos or do they foster teamwork and collaboration? Do they come to me to solve and referee issues between the executives, or do they bring their peers together and come to me with options? Btw. This is one of the criteria that most executives in startups struggle the most with.
Manages Down. How well does the executive lead and manage their team? Do they provide direction? Do they make sure that all of their team members are clear about their mandate and responsibilities? Do they coach and build people up?
Inspires. How well does the executive inspire people around them? Do they lead by example and motivate people to give their all for the Fab mission?
Takes Ownership. Is the executive accountable for results, both good, fair, and bad? Do they take big projects on their shoulders and get shit done?
Big Picture. Does the executive get where Fab is going over the long term and what we need to do in order to get there.
Attention to Detail. Does the executive meticulously and thoroughly follow up on tasks? Does nothing fall through the cracks?
Exec Ready. Could the executive run the company for a month if I was away? Could they easily transfer to another country or region and step right in and lead? Could they present to investors or reporters about Fab?
You’re never as right as you think you are. That goes for you and for your company.
Think 5 steps ahead. Very hard to do, but it’s what differentiates great companies from good companies. Think where things are going, what the impact of today’s decisions will be tomorrow. What the chain of events is likely to be. Tough stuff, but so important.
Build all of your own technology. This is a must if you want to build sustainable competitive advantage. If you think you can build the next great company on someone else’s stuff, you’re kidding yourself. (I’m not saying don’t leverage open-source or established platforms. I am saying don’t outsource your code).
Bake social into your company’s DNA from the start. It has proven to be a core advantage for Fab. We think social first and we are defining and inventing what social commerce can be. Getting social right is hard. You will get it wrong a lot. Keep at it. 1 billion people use Facebook. 1 billion. Your customer is growing up on social media.
The time to start thinking mobile first vs. web first was 6 months ago. At Fab, mobile is already 33% of our visits and sales and we just launched our mobile apps nearly a year ago. Very soon mobile (smartphones and tablets) will be a majority of the usage of Fab, and of your service.
Go to the gym and/or run at least 4 times per week. Keep your body in shape if you want to keep your mind in shape. So many people get this wrong yet it is so very important. I take it to the extreme - I run every morning and I also lift weights at least 4 nights per week. It’s not just because I’m a fitness freak (ok, I am), it’s because it keeps my body and mind fresh to fight big emotional and physical battles. It’s also because the gym is scheduled private time with myself in the morning (I watch TV shows while running on the treadmill) and with my partner Chris in the evening. It forces us to do something together every night besides just sit on the couch or work, which is a great thing.
Don’t drink on airplanes unless you are on a flight of longer than 8 hours. It ruins you and wastes your time.
The first thing I do, without fail, when landing in another country after an overnight flight is hit the gym. I don’t care if it means delaying my first meeting by an hour. That post-flight workout counteracts the jet-lag and gets me ready to face the challenges ahead.
Follow your gut, and back it up with data. At Fab we like to say that we start with emotions and then support our emotions with data to learn whether our emotions were right. But, it’s emotions that come first. I firmly believe that’s how it should be.
User experience matters a lot. More than most people realize.
The best designed user experiences get out of the way and just help people get shit done. Less is more. If you have to explain it, you’ve already failed.
Be technical and understand how technology is built. Not every leader has to write code but you do have to understand how it is built, what the engineering process is all about, and how the technology works.
It’s easy to farm out the parts of the business you don’t particularly enjoy, but you can’t allow it to be your blind-spot. For me, that’s operations, so even while I’ve taken the approach of hiring people smarter than me and more operationally passionate than me to run Fab’s operations, I’ve also challenged myself to be deep in the details and challenged our organization to make our operations a competitive advantage. Take the part of the business you know the least about and shine a spotlight on its importance. Force yourself out of your own comfort zone.
Stack rank your features; and it’s all features. Every request for use of scarce resources needs to be prioritized vs. alternative use of the resources. No two features are ever created equal. You can’t do everything all at once. Force prioritization.
Ship it. You’ll never know how good your product is until real people touch it and give you feedback. If you’ve been working on some technology for more than 4 weeks and you have yet to have a user start to test it, you’re likely working on too big a chunk of code. Break it down into small milestones that allow for rapid user feedback.
Ship it fast and ship it often. Don’t worry about adding that extra feature. Ship the bare minimum feature set required in order to start gathering user feedback. Get feedback, repeat the process, and ship the next version and the next version as quickly as possible. If you’re taking more than 3 months to launch your first consumer-facing product, you’re taking too long. If you’re taking more than 4 weeks to ship updates, you’re taking too long. Ship small stuff weekly, if not several times per week. Ship significant releases in 3 week intervals.
You’re doing really well if 50% of what you originally planned on doing turns out to actually work. Follow your users as much as possible.
But don’t rely on focus groups to tell you what to build. Focus groups can tell you what to fix and help you identify potentially interesting kernels for you to hone in on, but you still need to figure out how to synthesize such input and where to take your users.
Most people really only heavily use about 5 to 7 services. If you want to be an important product and a big business, you will need to figure out how to fit into one of those 5 to 7 services, which means capturing your user’s fascination, enthusiasm, and trust. You need to give your users a real reason to add you into their time. Or, if you’re selling stuff, you need to give your users a real reason to add you into their wallet. Not easy.
As CEO, you have to balance the needs of the business and the interest of the shareholders. If the two are not aligned, you’re in trouble.
Only work with investors who share your long term vision. Keep reminding your investors what your long term vision and plan is. If you’ve got an investor with a 2 year return focus while you’re building towards a 10 year or 20 year business strategy, you’re misaligned. And, only you can fix that.
Always choose your investors based on who you want to work with, be friends with, and get advice from.
Never, ever, choose your investors based on valuation. A couple of dilution points here or there wont matter in the long run but working with the right people will. Alignment of business objectives and personal relationships means tons more than valuation.
Raise as little money as possible when you first start. Force yourself to be budget constrained as it will cause you to carefully spend each dollar like it is your last.
Once you have some traction, raise more money than you need but not more than you know what to do with. This is tricky. Don’t skimp on fundraising because of dilution fears.
Spend every dollar like it is your last. But, don’t be afraid to spend.
Know what kind of company you are trying to build. There are very few Googles and Facebooks. A good outcome for your business might be a $10M exit or a $20M exit or a $100M exit or no exit at all. Plan for the business you want to build. Don’t just shoot for the moon — at least until you realize that you are legitimately on a rocket ship. From a money-in-your-pocket and return on time spent standpoint, owning 20% of a $20M exit in 2 years is much better than owning 3% of a $100M business in 5 years.
Understand whether your business is a VC business or not. A VC business is expected to deliver 10x returns to investors. That means if you’re taking money with a $5M post-money valuation, the expectation is that you are building for a minimum $50M exit. $10M post-money valuation = $100M target. $500M valuation = $5B target. That’s not to say that you might not sell the company for less and everyone involved might be happy with that outcome, but that’s not what you are signing up for when you take VC money with such a valuation. Know what the implications of taking VC money are and what it means for expectations on you.
Make sure your personal business goals are aligned with the goals of your investors. The business will only succeed if you are motivated. Investors can’t force the business to succeed. And they certainly can’t force a CEO to care.
If you’re on a rocket-ship, strap on on your seatbelt and aim for another planet. 4 months after we launched Fab, when we hit 1 million members of whom 50% came from social sharing, we knew we were onto something big. So, we started thinking about our business differently. We started thinking: Just how big could this thing get? In January 2012 when we looked back on our first 6 months and we saw that 2/3 of our daily sales were from repeat buyers, 50% of members still from social sharing, and just how emotional our customers were about Fab, we realized that we had a unique opportunity to build a brand for the decades, so we started thinking less about near term results and more about what Fab could look like in 5, 10, 20 years. And, then, we started really building our business that way: What will it take to build the next amazing global brand around everyday design became our focus, not hitting any near term numbers.
Find yourself a “sherpa.” This is someone who has done it before — raised money, done deals, worked with startups. Give this person 1 to 2% or even up to 5% of your company in exchange for their time. Rely on them to open doors to future investors. Use them as a sounding board for corporate development issues. Don’t do this by committee. Advisory boards never amount to much. Find one person, make them your sherpa, and lean on them. I’ve leaned on Allen Morgan for the last 8 years through 4 companies and all sorts of ups and downs and twist and turns. He’s been an essential consigliere who has helped me navigate acquisitions, sales, investors, and all sorts of corporate governance issues. Find your Allen Morgan. If you do this right it will pay back in spades.
If you want to build a long term business, don’t give in to short term pressures. Once you’ve decided to ride that rocket ship, Pplay the long game, not the short game. Most startups are playing short. Big winners play long.
Protect and nurture your brand. Too many companies get this wrong. Your brand is bigger than your business. Your brand is the emotional reaction your customers and partners and employees have towards your business. Brands are fragile and they are built through repeated trusted and consistent interactions.
Service matters more than sales. Sales go up and down, service lasts forever.
As you grow, the hardest thing to manage is culture. We’ve probably worked harder on trying to make Fab Fab everywhere we operate over the last few months than on any other initiative. Ultimately, culture is a personification of who you hire, who manages, and how they do it. Alignment amongst managers around who we hire, how we hire, and how we manage (and how we have fun doing it) is key to culture. Don’t talk about culture; create culture by hiring smart and managing smarter.
Don’t defocus your team on strategy. Execution wins. In my first startup we were constantly doing executive strategy offsite sessions, brainstorming together as to where we needed to take the company next. That defocused the team away from executing on the plan at hand. Now, I do strategy by collecting inputs over time and having small dinners with with Bradford (errr, usually on airplanes), and then getting our executive team together twice per year to review and plan together. Between those sessions, it’s all about execution.
Insist on perfection. Never, ever settle. If you start to settle a little here, a little there, soon enough you’ll turn around and say, “how did we get here?” It’s on me and Bradford and Nishith and the rest of our executives to make sure that Fab is Fab is Fab in everything we do.
But make mistakes. Insisting on perfection doesn’t mean your team members have to live in fear of making mistakes. Encourage them to try things and innovate. Celebrate mistakes as learning opportunities.
Just don’t fuck it up. There’s a difference between a mistake that turns into a learning event vs. fucking something up by doing stupid things. It’s not a fine line, it’s a big canyon of difference.
Celebrate your challenges. We have all-company meetings weekly at Fab and they’re about 30% about why we’re awesome and 70% about the challenges ahead. If you want to grow and do amazing things, that’s how it should be. Our management meetings are skewed even more towards improvement, more like 10% success focused and 90% improvement focused. Again, as it should be IMO.
Conferences are generally a waste of time. I know many people disagree with me on this one, but it’s just not my bag. I learn more meeting with our team, solving problems, going to talk to customers and partners or walking a trade show than I do shmoozing at events. My rule is that conferences are to be avoided unless it’s purely for PR purposes or if you’re in sales.
Wear funny socks or colorful shoes. I wear funny socks and red shoes to remind myself to not settle for boring and to be creative. And, to show others that even me, the boring CEO guy, can be fun.
Do something, anything that shows you’re not just a robot. Let people get to know the real you. I’m known to DJ in our office on random Friday’s at 4pm. I shoot marshmallows at people, in the most loving way.
Hang a lantern on your hangups.
Laugh at yourself, and let others do so too. When I fuck something up, I make sure to point it out to our team and make a joke about it. We’re all human.
Tell a good story. People get inspired by stories, not plans and tactics and results. Bring the results to life by making them personal to you and the people around you.
But don’t lie. Ever. You can round up, but you can’t make it up. The numbers are the numbers are the numbers.
Find inspiration in the people around you. Listen to them. Cultivate them. Learn from them. Help them make you better.
Have fun every single day. If it’s not fun, stop doing it. No one is making you.
It’s true what they say in sales, you’re only as good as your last sale. At Fab we’re only as good as our most recent damaged order, or worse yet, our most recent order that we couldn’t fulfill.
Go home. Yeah, it’s cool to build a successful fast-growing company. It’s way cooler to go home to your partner.
Mature, but don’t grow up.
But, change the world. Do something meaningful. Make a difference.
Smile, you’re designed to.
If you read this far, thank you. I write this stuff in hope that it helps other entrepreneurs. It’s also therapeutic for me.
“Bradford and I do [candidate] interviews together [for Fab], and we always ask certain questions. I like to ask people what their parents taught them. And I have them tell me about the most stressful situation they’ve ever had and how they dealt with it. I also ask people to help me solve a problem I’m thinking about, and I’ll often give homework assignments. And I always ask people what they’ve seen on the site that they liked recently. We’re really looking to see, Do potential hires have genuine passion for what we do? Or do they just want a job? We also look for ambition. We don’t want people who are just coming in to do a job—we want people who want to be the best at what they do. As a result, we say no to about 20 percent of the people that we sit down with, and we have very little turnover.”—The Way I Work: Jason Goldberg, Fab.com, Page 2 | Inc.com
“My co-founder, Bradford, and I decided from the beginning that we’d never make a single decision about what goes on the website based on how much money we’ll make on a particular product. Instead, we ask, Will it make customers smile? Excite them? Make them tell their friends about it? The biggest realization I’ve had is that if you really want to build a successful business, it’s not about how much money you’re making. It’s emotional. For us, it’s how do we make our customers smile? Every single decision we make comes down to that.”—The Way I Work: Jason Goldberg, Fab.com | Inc.com
Fab Launches Its Social Commerce Platform Across Europe
Fab has experienced tremendous growth in Europe since we first launched in February.
Fab Europe now has 2 million members.
Fab Europe is on pace to represent about 30% of Fab’s entire 2012 sales.
We now have nearly 200 people on our Fab Europe team.
Order Growth has accelerated.
Revenue Growth has accelerated.
And, while Fab Europe started in February in German-language only, and only serving the Germany and Austria markets, we’ve rapidly been growing our presence across the EU, with countries outside of Germany now amounting to 25% of monthly sales.
The most remarkable thing about all the tremendous growth of Fab in Europe is that we’ve basically been doing this with one hand tied behind our back.
You see, we’ve been operating Fab in Europe on a legacy 3rd-party technology that is far inferior to the core Fab technology we built ourselves and operate in the U.S.
All that changes today.
Beginning today, Fab Europe is now on the full Fab Social Commerce Platform.
And, beginning today, everyone in 26 countries in North America and the EU can access Fab at the same URL: Fab.com. Shortcut for EU = http://eu.fab.com. (Note: Fab does not currently operate in or ship to France).
Many companies take years to extend their technology globally.
It took us 6 months.
Yup, in just 6 months our development team took our Fab home-grown technology platform international. This brings more than 500 new features and benefits to Fab in Europe, including:
Social Commerce. At the core of Fab is a social commerce engine which has led to 50% of our members in the U.S. joining from social sharing and extraordinary high engagement levels. Fab Europe now gets the Fab Live Feed, the Fab Social Ticker, and numerous other features that are powered by Fab’s social relevance engine. In the U.S. we’ve found that users who participate in Fab’s social features generate twice the lifetime value.
Shop with friends! Fab users can easily discover and share what their friends are buying, faving, tweeting, and pinning.
Social discovery. Fab users can now easily discover what products are most popular in real-time across all Fab users.
It’s never been easier to share. Fave any product on Fab and have it easily featured on your Facebook timeline so your friends can discover your latest design find.
Mobile Commerce. All of Fab Europe will be brought onto Fab’s mobile apps in the next 2 weeks. In the U.S. we now get about 30% of daily visits and revenue from our mobile apps. We’re thrilled to bring the Fab mobile experience over to Europe for the first time!
The Industry’s Leading Product Discovery Engine. Featured Today. Browse By Category. Browse by Color. Browse by Price.
Search. Fab’s robust search engine enables people to easily find the exact product or category of product they are looking for.
No Registration or Login Required. We believe that everyone everywhere benefits from everyday design — and you shouldn’t have to login or create an account to find it.
In all, we just added more than 500 new features and benefits to Fab in Europe.
“Quirky and Fab are showing the world what can happen when two engaged, design-oriented communities combine their smarts and enthusiasm. Together, we are proving that turning out good quality products doesn’t always need time; it needs great people.”—
Fab is on a mission to help people better their lives with design.
7.5 million people, in 26 countries, use Fab to discover everyday design products at great prices, to connect with the world’s most exciting designers, and to share their favorite design inspirations. (Yes, we’re growing that fast. Just last week we had 7 million members).
And, now they can check out on Fab with PayPal.
PayPal is now available as a checkout option on Fab on the web. It will be part of our mobile experience as well within 2 weeks when we launch our entirely new mobile apps in all 26 countries we sell to in North America and Europe.
Tonight, Thursday September 13, 7pm EST, the best design ideas will be chosen at a special Quirky Eval.
Friday September 14: After Quirky’s newest inventors have been selected, a real-time design workshop will begin, with Quirky designers and members collaborating round-the-clock to design and refine each invention pick into a final Quirky product.
Saturday September 15: Ben Kaufman himself will fly the results (3D models, renders) of this design process to Quirky’s factories to get the manufacturing process kicked-off.
Wednesday September 19, 3pm EST, just 7 days after the iPhone 5 was announced, Fab launches a special sale featuring the newly design accessories.
At @Fab we believe that the best user experience gets out of the way.
For 15 months now, visitors to the Fab.com website have had to login in order to view the products on our website. This helped us gain 7 million registered members, but it was not a great user experience. Great user experiences get out of the way and help people get shit done. Our mobile experience has not required login — that was the right way to do it.
As we get 50% of our signups from social sharing, having this signup requirement to view products was really frustrating to users and shooting us in the foot. There’s not much worse than getting excited about a product your friend shared on Facebook or Pinterest or Twitter, then clicking through to view and buy the product and getting a huge login blocker. Lame. This was a huge source of complaints on Facebook and Twitter.
There are now nearly 10,000 products on Fab every single day. Why are we hiding them?!?! Duh! We want nothing more than for people to come to Fab and discover and find everyday amazing design finds that make them go Wow! (Btw. Ikea boasts having 9500 products on their website.) We’re building the world’s greatest design store. We should be making it as easy as possible for people to shop it! Again, just get out of the way.
So, today we’re putting our customers first, and we’re fixing this.
We’ve always said that Fab will win in the long term by putting the best interest of our customers first. It’s not about us. Today we’re doing one of those walk-the-talk things.
Here is what the Fab.com homepage looks like now. You can browse the entire website and participate in the Fab social commerce experience without any login required. An account is only needed if you want to add a product to your favorites or buy something.
The Fab Live Feed - Logged Out.
Example Product Page - Logged Out.
The signup to browse requirement is now removed from Fab.com in the U.S. We’ll do the same in Europe in 10 days.
Fab and the Quirky community have teamed up to design and develop a new line of Apple iPhone 5 accessories and rapidly bring them to market.
How fast? Fab fast.
Submit and vote on designs today and start buying the best ones in just 1 week!
Submit Ideas & Vote.
Head to Quirky to vote for your favorite iPhone 5 accessory designs. Voting will start Wednesday at3pm ET, and end Thursday at 6pm ET. Have an idea? Submit your design!
Buy on Fab
Next Wednesday, 9/19, Fab will launch an exclusive Fab & Quirky sale featuring the most popular iPhone 5 accessory ideations.
Fresh off the assembly line, your Fab & Quirky exclusive iPhone accessory designs will be delivered to your door, just in time for your equally fresh iPhone 5. Smile!
Who’s Quirky? They’re The Guys Who Make Stuff Like This.
Apple, iPad, iPhone and iPod are trademarks of Apple Inc. Quirky, Inc. & Fab.com, Inc. are independent companies which have no affiliation or association with, endorsement from, or sponsorship by, Apple Inc.
The future of shopping is in your pocket and on your tablet - and it's about to get even better
When we started Fab all of 15 months ago we set out on an ambitious mission to help people better their lives with design.
As designers ourselves, we also put a heavy burden on us: To try to build the world’s best-designed online shopping experience. We told ourselves that if we were going to sell the world’s best designed stuff from the world’s most exciting designers, we ourselves needed to step up to the plate and design some pretty amazing and seamless shopping experiences. I’d like to say I knew we could do it, but the truth is we were nervous as hell. We had a whole lot, “we’re not worthy,” and “will they like us?” going on for a while. I mean, come on, our website had to be good enough to host the likes of Milton Glaser and Kartel and Herman Miller. Design legends. A tall order, indeed.
We started in June 2011 with the Fab website and then we added to that with our mobile apps in October 2011.
Our design philosophy was inspired by the late great ceramics designer Eva Zeisel. When asked once how to make something beautiful she replied, “You just have to get out of the way.” That’s our design approach at Fab. Our website and our apps try to fade into the background while putting the primary focus on the designs and the designers. It’s not about us. We try to just get out of the way and help people discover great designs. To this day, even with nearly 500 Fab employees and with a team of some of the most talented user experience designers and web/mobile developers on earth, I still personally review every new user experience, and I do so always with an eye towards making it simpler and just making sure we are getting out of the way of the user. As you add features that gets harder and harder. But, it’s that important. It’s everything. We’re only as good as our own design.
Now, to be 100% honest and transparent about it, our mobile apps to-date have mostly been just smaller versions of our website. We took the best of what worked for Fab on the web and just form-fitted it as best possible into the iPhone, iPad, and Android formats.
And to be equally honest, it’s been just incredible to see how people have taken to Fab on mobile. We never could have predicted just how important mobile would be to our future. And, how quickly mobile would take on such importance. After launching in October of last year, mobile usage quickly grew to 15% of our overall usage by year-end 2011, then 20% earlier this year, 25%, and then 30%. And, mobile is carrying the same weight in terms of orders and in terms of revenue. Yep, we’re getting 30% of our sales from mobile less than 1 year from launching our mobile apps.
iPad has been particularly out performing. We have half the iPad users and daily logins as iPhone users, BUT, iPad is almost neck-and-neck with iPhone in terms of orders and revenue. iPad conversion rates are off the charts. 6% to 7% of all Fab iPad visits result in a purchase. Think of that. Around 6.5% of every time someone opens the Fab iPad app they make a purchase. And, they buy more than two items per order on average.
Sometimes I feel like I should just buy everyone an iPad with the Fab App loaded on it. Hmmmm.
And, it’s been a thrill to watch how users have responded to the design of our mobile apps. Again, they’ve just been mini mobile-app-optimized versions of our website, but we’ve updated and enhanced them about 10 times in the past 10 months, trying to deliver regular updates in response to users’ feedback and suggestions.
And we recently have been astonished to find that less than a year after launch, Fab’s app is the #10 bestselling of all free iPad Lifestyle App and #18 for iPhone.
Again, we’re not worthy!
Ok, we’ll take it.
But we can do better.
At Fab, we believe that the future of shopping is in your pocket and on your tablet.
And, for the past 6 months we’ve been hard at work rebuilding Fab’s apps from the ground-up as mobile-first apps. We’ve rethunk (love that word) the entire Fab experience for the mobile user. We’ve designed a new experience special for iPad users.
And, if all goes swiftly with the Apple approval process, before the end of September, we’ll show it to you.
And we hope you’ll like it.
And we promise to absorb your feedback and to keep making it better and better and better.
You see, 30% of visits and sales coming from mobile might be cool, but we’re still at just the very beginning of mobile commerce and Fab hopes to be a leader. We see a day when mobile is more than 50%. And, we want to be the world’s leading mobile commerce innovator. A driver. A visionary. That’s a lot to sign up for, but we’re confident yet humble enough to do it.
When it comes to mobile commerce, we’re on the cusp of huge huge market disruptions. And, we really are just getting started.
Smile, you’re designed to.
Fab’s new mobile experience hits the app store in just a few weeks.
By now, it’s probably apparent that we’re color fanatics (what gave it away—a pop-up shop solely dedicated to the subject? Bradford, our chief design officer’s Instagram homage to his blue period?). And if you’ve noticed our obsession with bold, bright hues, you’re probably aware of our penchant for partnering with the best design brands, across the globe, big and small. So, it should come as no surprise that we’ve got another one up our sleeve for September! Drumroll please…
Just in time for back to school—the best time of year for revamping your workplace and buying office supplies as well as a smattering of other awesome organizational tools, many of which, ahem, can be found in our Back to School Pop-Up Shop—Fab is partnering with design darling Blu Dot to present a line of their desks, tables, chairs and lighting in Fab custom colors.
A huge Fab thanks to John and Maurice for welcoming us into their Minneapolis offices a few months ago where the idea for this unique collaboration was hatched. We’re thrilled and honored to be your partner. More and bigger to to come.
A few days ago Forbes named me one of the top 10 most transparent CEO’s in the world. I accept that and wear it as a badge of honor. Transparency is one of our core values at Fab and I believe wholeheartedly that the more people know about your company the more it humanizes it and enables them to understand it and get behind it. Especially in the age of social media, it’s about the conversation and the journey, not the transaction. Brands are built around relationships.
While I’d like to fancy myself as an angel investor the truth is that I’m too busy running Fab to effectively evaluate deal flow.
As such, I’ve adopted a very simple investment thesis:
I only invest in products that I use.
Until recently this thesis had led me to invest in only 2 companies beyond Fab: Twitter (via its TweetDeck acquisition - I was an early angel investor in TweetDeck) and RJ Metrics. I use TweetDeck/Twitter all day everyday. I use RJ Metrics daily as well.
I say no to dozens of investment opportunities because they don’t pass my “do I use it?” test.
Today I’ve gone long on Facebook, investing a good chunk of money in Facebook stock at $19.20 per share.
My Facebook investment thesis is as follows:
Hundreds of millions of people use Facebook every day. I am one of them. Facebook is not an app, it is the app that ties together the social web. I don’t know hardly a single person who doesn’t spend at least 30 minutes on Facebook each day. That’s time they used to spend watching TV or consuming some other form of media.
Fab spends millions of dollars on Facebook advertising and we get a great return on that investment. It is a fantastic channel for us and it delivers real ROI with high conversion rates to purchase and then super high viral sharing rates. Facebook advertising works if you know how to use it and stick with it and turn it into a science. And it keeps getting better. We’ve seen big improvements over the past few months. 75% of Fab’s advertising is on Facebook and we will continue going big on FB as long as it remains a productive channel for us.
Smart vision + smart team + smart execution = potential for amazing results. I really do believe that the smartest most creative teams win. The key for Facebook will be to keep its employees focused and incentivized for the next and next and next big things. Don’t become AOL (where super rich managers lost their way). Become Google where hiring standards were kept high, fresh managers were heavily incentivized to develop the business, and where the leaders constantly pursued an innovative agenda. I believe that Zuck and Sheryl will do this.
The naysayers question Facebook’s ability to evolve towards a mobile world. Facebook’s latest iOS upgrade shows already that Facebook is adopting a mobile-first strategy. The new FB app is 10x better than the previous version.
And, then there’s instagram. Instagram is THE mobile photo sharing network. Facebook just got mobile in a big way. I have no doubt that Facebook will figure out mobile in time. Heck, I’m on a tour bus right now in Rome and everyone on the bus is on Facebook on their mobile, and they’re taking all their pictures using Instagram.
In terms of valuation, I’m long. I believe that 10 years from now Facebook can be worth $200B. I don’t care if it takes 10 years to get there. My own math says that FB is worth around $30/share today. But, again, I’m long.
Facebook today actually reminds me more of Amazon in 2000 than Google. Amazon had an opportunity to define an industry, ecommerce, and they have. I believe that Facebook has a similar opportunity to define the social web for decades to come.
Disclaimer. Fab will continue allocating our marketing dollars based on the channels and platforms that deliver the best return on investment, despite where I personally invest my own money.
Chris and I are heading to Rome tonight where we’ll be meeting up with 20 friends and heading on our “friendymoon” cruise (like a honeymoon, but with friends).
Which brings me to the topic of Vacation.
You absolutely positively MUST take vacation. It is a requirement. It is not optional.
At Fab I have gone so far as to literally require every manager to take a vacation between the months of August and October so that everyone is rested and ready for the holiday push. My message to Fab’s managers is clear: If you don’t take vacation during this period, you’re fired. Seriously.
I take one vacation every quarter. During my vacations I try to get my mind off of work but in reality I’m constantly thinking about how Fab needs to evolve. My quarterly vacations help me get out of the daily grind and think up where we need to go and what we need to do to get there. Some of my best ideas and insights have come while on vacation. It’s critical. In addition to my personal vacations with Chris, Bradford (Fab’s other founder) and I have a regular practice of taking days off together to brainstorm Fab’s future while in a relaxed setting or while visiting some new foreign city. It’s critical. Major shifts in Fab’s business and new initiatives and projects were hatched while on vacation. It’s critical.
At Fab, we have 400+ team members who work passionately and tirelessly to help people better their lives with design. As CEO, a critical part of my job is to set the right tone and pace and make sure we don’t burn people out along the way.
Smile, you’re designed to take a break every now and again.
p.s. Anyone who says, “I’m too busy to take vacation,” is too busy doing the wrong things.
Fab & One Kings Lane & Mutual Respect & Managing Hyper Growth
Bradford and I had the pleasure of having breakfast this morning with Susan Feldman, founder of One Kings Lane.
We love Susan and we have a ton of appreciation and respect for what she and Ali and Doug and their team have built.
While the casual observer might expect there to be some competitive juices flowing between Fab and One Kings Lane, that’s not the case. We’re actually big mutual admirers. We are both disrupting huge markets for home and lifestyle products. We’re more quirky and modern. They’re more traditional. We both know our respective missions and target customers really well and we’re both laser-focused on our own one thing.
The Fab and One Kings Lane stories both share a lot of commonalities. We both have two founders. Bradford and Susan are both merchandising visionaries. Bradford and I took a huge flyer on Fab, pursuing a hope and dream that we could make inroads into the design market. Susan and Ali did the same for home products.
And, we’re both growing like crazy.
Between Fab and One Kings Lane, we’ll do more than $300M in sales this year. Think about that. That’s more than $300M in online sales of home and lifestyle products that was done elsewhere just a couple of years ago. We’re disrupting big, big markets. And, we’re both just getting started.
We both also now each have more than 400 employees. That’s 800 people who have been put to work the past few years because of Fab and One Kings Lane.
We also both have worked with thousands of thousands of designers, manufacturers, and makers. That’s thousands of people who have seen a boost to their own sales and to their own business because of Fab and One Kings Lane. We’re market makers.
A lot of our chat today was about merchandise. Bradford and Susan both choose products that they love, not just products that they think will sell well. That’s a big reason why Fab and One Kings Lane are so successful so far. The products we sell are the authentic representation of Bradford’s and Susan’s unique points of view.
And, we spoke a lot about managing hyper growth. Here are a few things we discussed:
Pace. Very few companies operate at the pace of Fab and One Kings Lane. We both effectively create and launch an entirely new store each day, 365 days per year. Think of your favorite offline store redoing the store window and the merchandise inside each day. That’s what we do. It’s fast. We have to make sure we hire people who can keep up with the pace while also not burning our teams out.
Perspective. As fast and as big as Fab and One Kings Lane have grown, we’re both just small fish in a much bigger pond. Tens of millions of people have never heard of either of us. We know we have a long long way to go to become long-lasting businesses. I like to say that we have Ikea-sized ambitions at Fab. Take Fab + One Kings Lane and multiply sales by 100 and you start to approach Ikea size. We have a long way to go.
Culture. The key to managing rapid growth is maintaining consistency in company culture. That’s not easy. It’s actually very, very hard. But so important as we grow.
Leadership. We spent the most time talking about how we work differently now vs. a year ago (or a few years ago in Susan’s case). Bradford and I have actually found a way to have more control over the important details while controlling less of the overall work that gets done. That’s a key to our success. We are more in control than ever while at the same time empowering more than ever. Susan expressed a similar sentiment.
It’s just awesome to see how both Fab and One Kings Lane have come out of nowhere to have such a big meaningful impact on our industry.
This Gay CEO Is Getting Married This Weekend - And Why That Matters
I am a proud gay CEO.
I am a proud gay CEO who is getting married this Saturday, August 18, 2012.
As noted in today’s New York Times, I’m hopeful that my being visible, vocal and active will help further the push for marriage equality. I’m hopeful that my actions will spur other gay entrepreneurs and executives to use their own unique positions to support this important movement. We’re on the right side of progress on this issue. National polls now show a clear majority of Americans are in support of marriage equality. Young people especially support marriage equality. In time, we will prevail.
But, it will also take many more fights and a whole lot of effort to get there. Change will come, but only with a lot more hard work ahead.
My fiance, Christian Schoenherr, and I got engaged on April 22, 2011. At the time, we promised ourselves that we would get married when it was legal. Two months later, in June 2011, New York State became the largest state to legalize gay marriage. Chris and I quickly set August 18, 2012, as the date for our big day.
Over the last few months, as our wedding day drew near, Chris and I went searching for the perfect wedding gift for each other. We wanted to give each other a gift that would help more people in more towns and more cities and more states get legally married.
We’re excited to announce that as our wedding gift to each other, Chris and I are the founding/principal donors behind TheFour2012.com, a new social media campaign launching soon in support of marriage equality in the four states where it is on the ballot this November. TheFour2012.com is a new online effort focused on creating and distributing cutting-edge social media content to excite pro-equality voters in Maine, Maryland, Minnesota and Washington State. This November, as the country goes to the polls to elect a President, Maine will be voting on whether to legalize same sex marriage, Maryland and Washington voters will decide whether to confirm or reject marriage equality laws enacted by their legislatures, and Minnesota will vote on a proposed state constitutional amendment to ban marriage equality.
TheFour2012.com is the first marriage equality campaign squarely focused on reaching and influence younger voters via social media with original online content.
There’s a palpable sense that this is a big, big moment for the marriage-equality movement. Never before have a majority of voters in any state elected to legalize same-sex marriage, but polls in Maryland, Maine and Washington suggest that majorities there do indeed support it, and the issue has caught fire nationally in a whole new way over the last year. The timing seems better and more hopeful now than ever before.
I left Minnesota out of the above paragraph because the vote there is about a proposed amendment to the state constitution that would ban same-sex marriage. Its defeat—which is what marriage-equality advocates are working for—wouldn’t mean the legalization of same-sex marriage in Minnesota.
But Maryland, Maine and Washington could indeed join the six states, along with the District of Columbia, where same-sex marriage is currently legal. In Maryland and Washington, state lawmakers earlier this year passed same-sex marriage bills that were then signed by the states’ Democratic governors, but voters are now being given a chance to overrule that.
Whether they do could boil down in large measure to turnout: in particular, to the turnout of young voters. Support for marriage equality is much, much stronger among people in their 20s and 30s than among people in their 60s and 70s. And part of what’s interesting about the effort that Goldberg and Schoenherr are helping to set into motion is that it’s directed at younger voters.
Dear betashop reader:
I would love to have you participate in this important new initiative with us. We hope it will help bring marriage equality to more Americans by exciting our supporters in these four states — and finally winning these initiative contests, which have previously been so challenging.
You can now make a donation of any size online by going to this splash page (the main site will launch soon). Your $5 could go a long way towards helping millions of people benefit from marriage equality.
Fab Appoints Allison Rutledge-Parisi as Global Chief People Officer
One of the biggest challenges we face at Fab is maintaining our modern, colorful, quirky, and passionate company culture as we grow our team. Fab today is 420 people worldwide. Last year at this time we were fewer than 50.
We take this company culture stuff very seriously. We know that if we are truly going to build a brand for the decades, Fab has to be Fab has to be Fab everywhere and in everything we do. From the design of our website and apps, to the design of the products we sell, to the design of our operations, supply-chain, logistics, and service, to the design of our team, it all has to be Fab.
To that end, I’m thrilled to announce today that Allison Rutledge-Parisi (we like to call her “ARP”) has joined Fab as our Chief People Officer. Allison will work closely with our management team to help make Fab Fab everywhere we operate.
I like to say that Fab works by joining together the hardest working, smartest, bunch of misfits and colorful personalities and then guiding them all towards our common mission of helping people better their lives with design.
She made her acting debut in the short film Swingin’ in the Painter’s Room in 1989. A year later, she was cast as Jane Clark in Metropolitan. In 1991, Rutledge-Parisi appeared in an episode of NBC’s Midnight Caller, with Gary Cole. (She was credited as “Allison Parisi”.)
In the early 1990s, Rutledge-Parisi gave up acting and enrolled at Columbia Law School in New York City, where she was named a Harlan Fiske Scholar.
After graduating from law school and passing the bar exam, Rutledge-Parisi clerked for Judge Robert W. Sweet in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York. After working as an intellectual property lawyer for the firm of Patterson Belknap Webb & Tyler in Manhattan, she joined Kaplan, Inc. in 2004. Three years later, she was promoted to Kaplan’s chief administrative officer.
Rutledge-Parisi is married to Dr. James Marion. They have two daughters and live in Manhattan.
We have asked every potential Fab employee to answer a very basic but telling question before we agree to hire them at Fab: Why, of all the companies in the world, do you want to further your career at Fab?
Here’s ARP’s answer:
It’s immediately clear this is an incredible business that engages folks (me included) with its color, delight, and imagination.
I have encountered a leadership team that is deeply serious about product, customer experience and culture - a rare trifecta.
Jason and Bradford clearly have the right perspective on technology and social commerce. Fab is doing it better and differently from others. This is a team that is wired for quality of experience for both customers and its people. (Thanks ARP!)
Clincher is an incredible culture at the very beginning - so that this Chief People Officer role can have a great impact.
She nailed it.
Here’s to making Fab Fab everywhere for years and years to come.
Fab added a record 1 million members in July, bringing our total to 6 million.
That’s 20% growth off a big base in 1 month. Wowza!
Why and how did Fab grow that fast in July which is typically the slowest month of the year for e-commerce websites?
A big reason was Facebook. In July and thus far in August Fab activity on Facebook has skyrocketed, growing by 1,448%, through some new and deeper product integrations and our just getting smarter about how to leverage the FB platform.
Hopefully signs of even greater things to come as Fab member continue to share their favorite design finds with their friends.
More than 6 million people around the world use Fab to discover everyday design products at great prices, to connect with the world’s most exciting designers, and to share their favorite design inspirations.
Hot Summer: Fab.com Adds 1 Million Members In July
Forbes. Startup Fab.com is not seeing any traditional retail summer slowdown in its business. Fab added 1 million members in July–a 20% increase in total members in one month fueled by mobile and social growth.
The New York company had forecast July as its slowest month of the year due to typical seasonal trends. Instead, memberships and sales have taken off. “It was far and away our best month ever,” says Jason Goldberg, founder and CEO at Fab.
Fab now has 6 million members, a remarkable number considering the company launched in its current form in June 2011. The company had 3.5 million members in April when I wrote a feature on Fab. The last week of July was also Fab’s best sales single week ever.
The 3,000-square-foot, four-bedroom house looks like a real-life representation of his company’s Web site, with carefully edited arrangements of furnishings in eye-popping hues.
“I love color,” said Mr. Shellhammer, who was wearing bright purple pants and aquamarine sneakers on a recent afternoon. “I think it’s very important to live with color. If you don’t like color, I feel bad for you.”
Fab Promotes Maria Molland to Chief European Officer
I keep a set of buttons on my desk designed by one of my favorite artists, Trey Speegle. The buttons have a simple yet profound message on them: It’s Not About You.
Just as I’ve endeavored to build Fab around the taste and sensibilities of my creative muse, Bradford Shellhammer, I’m constantly looking to identify, elevate, and empower senior leaders who are better at what they do than I could ever be.
With that in mind, I’m thrilled to announce that Maria Molland is now Fab’s Chief European Officer. There is no one more capable than Maria to lead Fab’s European expansion.
Maria joined Fab in April to lead our global growth plans. She quickly established herself as the go-to person for organizing and leading our European rollout. She has been my right-hand on all things Europe. As David Lapter likes to say, Jason sleeps at night (at least sometimes), knowing that Maria is there working with the Fab teams in Europe, representing me and Bradford, and making it Fab.
(Note: This is the part of the post where the PR flacks encouraged me to write a piece noting that Maria follows in the footsteps of other successful female leaders like Sheryl Sandberg and Marissa Mayer. Whatever. Maria is just brilliant. Her being a female has nothing to do with it, nor does it make her appointment any more or less interesting. That’s like making a big deal about the CEO of Fab being gay. Gay. Female. Whatever. We’re just Fab. It’s not about us. It’s about the designs, the designers, and the people who love them. It’s about making people smile.)
Maria will be working out of our Berlin office where we now have 105 employees, with plans to grow that team to 150 by the end of this year. Fab is now selling in 24 countries in the European Union. Fab’s growth in Europe this year has been nothing short of amazing. 1.4 million of Fab’s now 6 million members are now in Europe. We’ve grown our European membership from 60,000 to 1.4 million in 7 months. We fully expect Europe to contribute at least 20% of Fab’s 2012 revenue and we have plans for Europe to be a $100M+ business for Fab in 2013.
One of the key measures of the health of our business is repeat buying behavior. 67% of Fab’s daily purchases in the U.S. are from repeat buyers. Most remarkably, we’ve seen a dramatic increase in repeat buying behavior in Europe the past few months. 50% of our weekly sales in Europe are now from repeat buyers and we hope to achieve the same repeat buying levels as in the U.S. in the coming months.
The other major development we’ve seen in Europe is our rapid expansion into other markets outside of Germany. You’ll recall that we first launched Fab in Europe in Germany & Austria and German-language-only at the end of February. We then expanded to English and to the rest of the EU this summer. While Germany still accounts for the majority of our European sales (75%), other markets are growing fast. Just weeks after acquiring London based Llustre, the UK now accounts for nearly 10% of our European sales.
Into this huge opportunity to build a massive Fab business in Europe steps Maria.
We’re on a mission to help people better their lives with design. 6 million people around the world use Fab to discover everyday design products at great prices, to connect with the world’s most exciting designers, and to share their favorite design inspirations.
We believe that design is a universal language. It’s a lifestyle. It’s global. And Maria is the perfect person to help us build out our global brand in Europe.
Prior to joining Fab, Maria was Global Managing Director of Lipper and Digital Ventures, two subsidiaries of Thomson Reuters. Prior to that she was the General Manager of Marketwatch and Barron’s online (two subsidiaries of Dow jones). Maria also had successful stints at Yahoo Finance and Disney Internet Group. She got her MBA from Harvard Business School (don’t hold that against her!) and she currently lives in both Paris and London — and soon to be Berlin.
I first met Maria in 2008 when she was leading digital ventures for Thomson Reuters. Her team looked at acquiring my company at the time, socialmedian. It was through those talks that I came to know and respect Maria as one of the smartest, honest, and most fair managers I had ever come across. She didn’t get to acquire socialmedian then, but she did acquire a friend and admirer for life.
For 2012, our international plan is: Get Europe Right. Maria is critical to making that happen.
Joining Maria in Berlin are:
Roman Kirsch, formerly MD of Fab.de, and one of the founders of Casacanda (acquired by Fab in February 2012), will focus on the one thing he is the best at, Marketing, as our new head of European Marketing.
Tracy Doree, formerly MD of uk.Fab.com, and one of the founders of Llustre (acquired by Fab in June 2012), will focus on the one thing she is the best at, Merchandising, as our new head of European Merchandising & Design.
Maria will be adding more senior leaders to her executive team in the weeks ahead.
My message to Maria, Roman, Tracy, and our entire Fab European team: Be proud. Be humble. Be Fab. This is just the beginning.
One of the greatest joys of my job is coaching and mentoring super smart and super ambitious young people.
I find myself doing this a lot lately.
Here’s a common pattern we find at Fab (and, I’m sure, at many startups): Young person leverages his or her brain, passion, ambitions and talents to rise up to a senior role very quickly. They take on a ton of responsibility and they kick ass at it. But, then, invariably, the young superstar hits some sort of a wall. Often it’s a burnout wall. Other times it’s a managing-down wall. Other times it’s a managing-up wall. Other times it’s just a bruised ego. Most of the time though it’s just youth. There’s value and maturity that comes from experience and pattern recognition. And, for young people who rise to the top quickly, there’s a natural impatience that flies in the face of waiting for that experience and pattern recognition to guide the way.
Here’s a quick list of 5 things young people generally don’t know. Or put another way, here are 5 things I wish I knew 10 years ago.
(Apologies in advance if this comes across as preachy. It’s only meant to be helpful.)
It’s better to do one thing exceptionally well than to do many things really good. Everyone who knows anything about me knows that I’m a big believer in this “one thing” stuff: Find the one thing in the world that you are the best at and focus on just that one thing. Let other people do the rest.
This is very tough for young rising stars to grasp. There’s this urge to show the world that they can do everything. That’s a mistake. The best you can do is find your one thing and then work with other people whose own one things complement your one thing. One of the biggest signs of maturity amongst young managers is the ability to not be involved in stuff they are not as good at.
News flash: Specialists get farther than generalists. If you want to rise to the top, own something. Be known for something. Have your one thing that you are simply the best at. And own it with pride.
In my career I’ve found that people who have unique talents tend to rise to the top because they offer that unique something that others dont. Now, that unique talent can also be something broad like being a general, or being the the guy whose best at code reviews. My point is that you’ve got to be really good at something, not just kinda good at a lot of things.
I’ve been through this exact experience in my own career. I started off as a generalist and was constantly frustrated that I couldn’t get as much done as I wanted. It was only when I became a specialist that I realized that I had solved the “get shit done” problem. I found my own one thing that I could be the best at and quickly discovered that getting shit done was all in my own hands. (Ok, shit in the hands probably isn’t the best imagery, but hopefully you get the point. If you want to get shit done, own something.)
It’s ok to say I don’t know. These are the 3 hardest words for a young person to say: I don’t know. Yet, they are three words that are a sure sign of maturity. Guess what? You’re not supposed to know the answer to everything! That’s why we invent stuff everyday. That’s why we take risks. That’s why we make mistakes, and celebrate our mistakes. The simple smart person thinks that saying I don’t know is a weakness. The smart smart person knows that saying I don’t know is the f-in honest truth. Don’t sugar coat it. Just say it as it is. Say I don’t know, then come back with a well researched response.
The young person who pretends that he or she knows all the answers comes across as sneaky and hard to believe. The young person who says I don’t know and then who comes back with smart well though-out answers, earns respect and trust.
People will do great things for you because they want to, not because they have to. Here’s another lesson I learned the hard way. I used to think that people did things because of chain-of-command — I’m superior to you so you need to do what I say. Not true. People will do things for you because they have to, but they’ll only do great things for you because they want to. That means you need to spend as much time getting your colleagues to like working with you as you do getting them to respect your work.
Just because you are smart will not always mean that you are effective. If you want others to want to do amazing things for you / with you, you need to inspire them and ingratiate yourself to them.
It’s not the end of the world. Simply put, whatever you made a mistake on today we’ll fix tomorrow. There’s always another release. There’s always another campaign. There’s always another sale. Hopefully, there’s always another customer.
Make mistakes, just don’t f- it up too much.
This gets back to the pattern recognition thing. If you’ve been to battle a few times, shipped code a few times, gotten customer feedback a few times, seen the ups and downs of the process a few times, you come to realize over time that it’s all just part of the process.
The ups and downs are just that, ups and downs — what matters most is the long term shape of the curve.