Thanks to the video from this week showing an 8th grader teaching President Barack Obama how to write his first line of code, you might have heard of the Hour of Code. This is just the latest in a long line of initiatives spearheaded by Code.org, a non-profit dedicated to expanding participation in computer science by making it available in more schools, and increasing participation by women and underrepresented students of color.
As part of this week’s “Hour of Code” event, I’m honored to say that Hearsay Social CEO Clara Shih will be joining tech titans Sheryl Sandberg, Bill Gates, and others in 15-minute video Q&As with 100 classrooms across the United States, including Pawcatuck Middle School in Stonington, CT, Birchwood Intermediate School in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, St Francis High School in Traverse City, MI, Cooper High School in Union, KY, Concord High School in Staten Island, NY, Perry-Lecompton Middle School in Perry, KS, and Houck Middle School in Salem, OR.
Watch Clara and her fellow thought leaders in the webchat at the bottom of the post. And here are some thoughts Clara will be sharing:
If an 8th grade girl thinks she might be interested in computer science, where would you tell her to start?
It’d be the same for girl or boy:
Make sure you have a strong math, science, and general academic foundation.
Start coding. It’s easy to start with Web programming and HTML.
Attend summer camp, which is valuable even if you don’t end up doing computer science, which is becoming as foundational in life as reading or writing.
I am a girl and a nerd who is interested in computer programming. Who inspired you and were any of these mentors female?
Ada Lovelace (one of the world’s first computer programmers)
Grace Hopper (invented the first compiler for a computer programming language)
Marissa Mayer (CEO of Yahoo! and Google’s first female engineer)
Bill Gates (co-founder and former CEO and chairman of Microsoft).
What would you consider “key” decisions you made or crossroads you encountered to get to where you are today?
Think entrepreneurially. The best jobs of 10 years ago aren’t the best jobs of today or certainly 10 years from now. The most important thing you can do is build a solid foundation, learn how to think for yourself, and then be opportunistic. In your opinion, what is the most influential social media platform out there today and why?
Social media has become so widespread that it’s basically impossible to answer that question, like answering what’s the most influential Web app. There are too many. Social has come to occupy different parts of our lives, from professional to family and friends to romantic to quick messaging utility. Aside from the obvious big three, Pinterest, Instagram, and WhatsApp are also very interesting to me. As new social media platforms pop up everyday, how does Hearsay Social stay on top of trends and change accordingly?
We download and try everything. It helps to be based in Silicon Valley, because we live and breathe technology here.
It’s already been a quarter since I started my gig at Hearsay Social–time sure does fly when you’re having fun! I’d love to introduce myself as well as give you a sneak peek into some exciting initiatives that we’re kicking off on the Customer Success team.
Journey to customer success
My journey into the world of customer success is quite the adventure story. Growing up in India, I experienced computer programming for the first time in 5th grade: a “Hello World” program I wrote in BASIC. I was hooked!
I pursued this passion with a degree in computer science and a job as a software engineer in the early days of the technology wave in Bangalore. A few years later, I found myself more and more intrigued by the business dynamics of Silicon Valley, and I knew that nothing invigorated me more than being in front of customers, prospects, and thought leaders.
My next challenge came when I transitioned into product management. I credit IronPort (acquired by Cisco in 2008) for empowering product managers like myself to truly be “CEOs of their products,” for that was one of the best learning experiences of my career. Then came YouSendIt (renamed Hightail in 2013), which is where my customer success story began. I spent every moment at YouSendIt helping build and grow our enterprise business–building the product, marketing and selling it, and then enjoying the early successes with big brands like Coca Cola, Nike, JWT, Clorox, and many others.
But I quickly realized that the initial sale is just a beginning in the world of SaaS. And so customer success was born.
I’ve thought long and hard about what I wanted to do after the incredible results my customer success team delivered at YouSendIt. I love running a business and see myself doing just that in the future. Traditionally, business leaders have risen through the product ranks or led successful sales teams. The rise of B2B SaaS, however, has forced us to rethink everything. And customer success, while still in its infancy as a discipline, is in many ways the center of it all. When executed well, customer success can (and will) be one of the most strategic arms of a SaaS company. Suffice it to say, I believe that the next wave of business leaders will have more than its fair share of customer success executives.
Customer success at Hearsay Social
I’m honored and excited to be a part of the Hearsay Social team. If you’re in the job market, you likely have a little checklist that represents your ideal opportunity. I did too, and I must say: Hearsay Social didn’t just meet the criteria, the company blew me away!
It all starts with the team. That’s what defines the culture, the leadership, our core values, and a sense of happiness. Next, the business opportunity needs to pass the back-of-the-envelope sniff test, which Hearsay Social did easily. Third, I wanted to be at a company where I could “be a multiplier” and help take the business to where we are confident it will be. We have an incredibly strong foundation and we’re ready to take customer success to the next level. Fourth on my list was a personal mission: to learn something new every day. I may not yet be an expert in social media or financial services, but the company has made a bet on me, and I intend to repay this trust with everything that I have. This speaks volumes about our culture too: we back our people to scale new heights, even if it’s a new mountain we’re asking them to climb.
We have a good thing going in Customer Success at Hearsay Social. Across implementation services, customer success management, customer support, training, and education, we’ve established an exceptionally strong foundation thanks to some of the very best customer success professionals around (you know who you are!); and, as a result, we have developed methodologies and processes customized for the financial services market.
Most importantly, I have personally experienced the passion for Hearsay Social directly from customers. You simply cannot fake that or make it up. This foundation gives us an opportunity to take customer success to the next level. Digging deeper on customer engagement, enabling users to progress along a customer maturity scale, creating customized education paths, partnering with CXOs on the their digital strategies, delivering value-based ROI analyses, partnering internally to drive our product and company vision–the list goes on, and I can’t wait for us to start digging in.
It’s a great time to be at Hearsay Social and I’m delighted to be a small part of something special. (And yes, we’re hiring – check out our careers page.)
Until next time!
Today we’re proud to announce that Hearsay Social has been selected by AlwaysOn, an online network and live event series for Silicon Valley companies, investors, and partners, as one of the 2014 OnDemand 100 Top Private Companies.
Every year, AlwaysOn formulates its list of the 100 technology companies delivering the very best cloud infrastructure, software as a service (SaaS), and analytics solutions in the industry. Hearsay Social is honored to have made the list once again alongside other prominent organizations including DocuSign, Dropbox, GitHub, Zendesk, and more.
As described by AlwaysOn:
The SaaS marketplace is awash in products claiming to tame big data and provide easy-to-use, yet robust, business solutions. While the data is certainly there, the maturity of the products and services capable of coping with it are competing for primacy. The OnDemand 100 winners in this category are ahead of the pack, with strong financial backing and heavy-duty technology packages.
Thank you to the AlwaysOn editorial team, its partners at the biggest venture capital firms in Silicon Valley, and industry experts around the globe for choosing to recognize Hearsay Social.
Celebrating innovation, technology and social business, Hearsay Social last week hosted its second annual Social Business Innovation Summit in San Francisco, bringing together executives and thought leaders from across the financial services and technology industries.
In attendance were CEOs, heads of sales and distribution, CMOs, and compliance officers, who packed Dogpatch Studios on Thursday morning to network, learn and understand the trends and themes that are guiding how people buy products and services as well as the opportunities and challenges driving financial firms to adapt.
Inspired by the rapid-fire, rousing talks given at TED conferences, the Summit provided those in attendance–and anyone following our Twitter hashtag #SBIS14–a front row seat into the future of technology and innovation and how businesses will survive and thrive.
See below for photos, tweets, and four key takeaways from the Summit.
Social media is about enhancing human capital, not replacing it
Kicking off the Summit, Hearsay Social CEO Clara Shih (@clarashih) shared how client expectations are changing, and technology is altering how consumers make buying decisions. Online sources today are key influencers in each purchase and consumers are conditioned to expect personalized service and an ability to communicate with brand on their own terms and with their own devices.
Faced with an aging advisor population, the firms of tomorrow need to prepare to serve the next generation of investors and provide the tools to recruit the talent that will serve them. Technology scales and offers the ability to serve those previously unreachable, as it challenges and redefines existing models.
Client expectations are changing, and technology is altering how consumers make buying decisions. Online sources today are key influencers in purchases. Additionally, consumers are conditioned to expect personalized service and an ability to communicate with brands on their own terms, with their own devices, through their own channels.
Chris Andrews (Managing Director, Northwestern Mutual) and Karen Kehr (Financial Advisor, Ameriprise Financial) shared how they are using social media to grow, maintain and serve their base of clients in this new climate. Key to their success was the realization that many of their clients were already using social media platforms to network and connect. A personal and professional presence was a natural extension of their existing platform use, allowing them to convert friends into clients and find new opportunities through organic referrals.
Establish a culture of innovation
Founded in 1847 in Philadelphia, Penn Mutual has seen its share of changes, and according to Eileen McDonnell (Chairman, President & CEO, Penn Mutual), the industry is in crisis. By the year 2020, over half of the workforce will be comprised of millennials, and financial institutions need to find a way to connect and add value to these consumers. The changing face of insurance means that firms need to broaden their reach to capture new talent, especially women and millennials.
This means firms need to employ tactical initiatives to address the change by choosing the right partners, embracing innovation, and stop making excuses.
“It’s not an either/or situation. People retreat to what is comfortable to them. It will tweak…but I do believe that there will be a next generation of advisor force that will operate very differently, and they will need to co-exist.” — Eileen McDonnell, Penn Mutual
Although Eileen admits that not everyone will be open to change, the next decade will show us new producers, as well as established ones co-existing to serve the market.
Set the vision, empower the team, and keep moving forward – solid advice from Eileen McDonnell on keeping up w/the times #SBIS14
On the advisor panel, Karen Kehr shared how she uses Facebook and LinkedIn to build brand awareness and connect with the multi-generational clients she serves. Through social media, she is able to connect on a personal basis with clients, getting to know their kids and grandkids, which makes the transition to new relationships and business easy.
Chris had a similar experience: recognizing that the financial services business is about high trust relationships, he understood that the ability to relate and share in similar circles makes it easier to grow a book of business based on commonality. Long gone are the days of using the phone to connect with new prospects and expect any kind of exchange, especially when people are avoiding their phones or not using them at all.
“The old models of calling people worked in the 1950s. The 40-calls-a-day model is now broken. There is a lot of power in social, lots of information, and we need to keep it personal.” — Chris Andrews, Northwestern Mutual
Social doesn’t just help grow new business, but it also helps retain existing business. People will continue to work with advisors they trust and can relate to, and social makes it easier for people to understand who you are on a personal and professional level. It reduces the intimidation that one may feel working with a financial professional and makes clients feel comfortable and connected.
The dial-and-smile mentality is broken and no longer addresses how clients are making buying decisions. Karen concluded: “If you don’t have a presence, you don’t count.”
Joe Fernandez (CEO and founder of Klout, @JoeFernandez), whose software measures social influence and explores how people buy products and services, expanded on this idea during his presentation.
People today don’t pay attention to ads or billboards like they used to, and consumers are using information from peers to differentiate and select products. We listen to our friends, not brands.
“84% of millennial say user-generated content influences what they buy.” — Joe Fernandez, Klout
The leverage and reach provided by social media has increased the power consumers have over brands to influence the perception of products and services. In the post-advertising world, we only care what our friends say, and the power shifts back to consumers. If you don’t recognize the power of the people, you are missing an opportunity.
As an example of one platform that empowers both individuals and brands, Ralf VonSosen (Head of Marketing for Sales Solutions from LinkedIn, @rvonsosen) shared how LinkedIn is helping professionals connect with current and prospective clients, making them more productive and successful.
In total, LinkedIn has over 300 million global members representing 300,000 jobs and billions of updates on a daily basis. They have built their platform to focus on three main areas:
Identity: The resume is not as important as it once was when you can now use a digital resume that brings to life your professional background and the ability to create an online brand.
Networks: LinkedIn continues to expand the growth of the network and talent pool available on a global basis.
Knowledge: LinkedIn is quickly expanding as the definitive professional publishing platform, as evidenced by its acquisition of SlideShare, the growth of Groups and Pulse, and the expansion of its Influencer program.
At a high level, LinkedIn continues to define the role it plays in providing value to its members and continues to develop the platform to serve as an Economic Graph–a digital representation of the economy by connecting talent with opportunity at a massive scale and creating a capital of talent.
“The vision is to digitize this and then leverage this capital to where it can be more productive.” — Ralf VonSosen, LinkedIn
For users, this can only increase the value that LinkedIn provides its members, whether they are looking for job, a connection or new talent.
Resist naysayers and embrace disruption
Tapping into its Silicon Valley network, Hearsay Social was proud to present a unique panel of entrepreneurs–Bill Ready (CEO, Braintree, @williamready), Aaron Vermut (CEO, Prosper, @vermooti), and Bo Lu (CEO and founder, FutureAdvisor, @bolu)–who joined the Summit to share their views on entrepreneurship, technology trends in financial services, and how to succeed in the digital era. The panel was moderated by Amir Efrati (Senior Reporter, The Information, @amir).
Although each business is focused on a unique value proposition, they each share a common theme: disruption.
Whether it’s addressing the underserved masses with financial advisory services, micro-lending opportunities or new payment options, each company is challenging existing business models with ones that are meant to improve efficiencies and client experiences.
This is not unlike what social media is doing in financial services. It would be easy for advisors and firms to ignore the benefits of social media and hide behind the excuse of regulatory or compliance concerns. As the panel of entrepreneurs pointed out, however, the changing consumer base is wired differently, and technology is making it easier to disrupt existing systems that have yet to evolve, echoing some of the same sentiments shared by Joe Fernandez of Klout and Chris Andrews from Northwestern Mutual.
John Taft (CEO of RBC Wealth Management — US) provided a different perspective on the disruptive challenge these new companies are creating. Like Eileen before him, John recognizes that the next generation investor’s mindset is different and that more established brick and mortar businesses need to adapt to serve this new consumer. But it won’t happen overnight. And not all consumers are the same.
Financial services continues to be a high trust, high touch business that demands a personal relationship. The average age of clients is in the mid-50s and their advisors are about the same. Businesses have been built around the trust that advisors gain through personal connections established at local golf clubs, associations and common interest groups. RBC Wealth Management – US, although progressive in its approach to social, is not looking to address the unseen client market. That being said, they are looking to explore the effect that digital technology is having on wealth management.
People want to support businesses whose principles align with their own. — John Taft of @RBC#SBIS14
John challenged the notion that younger generations don’t like or use the phone because it’s really a matter of where you are in your life cycle. Life gets more complicated as you age, as do your needs. Professional advice is a premium and, the more complicated your life gets, the greater the need to have someone help you navigate through the tough decisions.
To this end, technology is both part of the problem and the solution. Although consumers today have access to more information and are perhaps more confident to make decisions on their own, it’s still a relationship business. Social media provides the avenue for shared values and ideas that ultimately make it easier for people to select the financial professional who is right for them.
Bryan Schreier (General Partner at Sequoia Capital, @schreier) agrees with John that Generation Y is unlikely to abandon their phones once their lives get more complicated.
Sequoia Capital spends a lot of time listening to college-aged consumers. What they’ve discovered is that this generation has a “lean back” mentality and prefers to see things in their social streams. They are very willing to share — by taking photos, using Snapchat and sharing online. However, they also expect the brands and services to come to them–an important lesson in the high touch and high trust environment of financial services.
Today, in the age of information, strong relationship management matters, and those that embrace technology to scale both new opportunities and maintain existing relationships will have success. There is a premium in offering personal attention and nothing beats face-to-face; in fact, that’s why we hosted the Innovation Summit in San Francisco, not online via a Web connection.
We’d like to thank all of our clients, partners, speakers and panel members for joining us in San Francisco. And thank you to all of those who joined us on Twitter using hashtag #SBIS14, as well as the Hearsay Social team who made it happen.
Last week the New York Times published an engaging infographic exploring the toughest, most fascinating questions about the future: What far-off technology will be commonplace in a decade? Which technology will seem antiquated in a decade? What is tech’s role in reducing income inequality?
The graphic featured the best answers from seven of Silicon Valley’s most accomplished visionaries–including LinkedIn co-founder Reid Hoffman, Hearsay Social CEO and founder Clara Shih, Google X founder Sebastian Thrun, and Twitter co-founder Ev Williams.
Today the New York Times is continuing their coverage of these impressive topics with a live Facebook chat where you can ask Clara and Sebastian any of the biggest questions on your mind. At 11:30am PT / 2:30pm ET today, head overhead to The Upshot’s Facebook page to join the chat!
Next week, Hearsay Social is proud to be hosting its second annual Social Business Innovation Summit in San Francisco, bringing together executives and thought leaders from across the financial services and technology industries. CEOs, heads of sales and distribution, CMOs, compliance officers, and more will be traveling from across the U.S. and Europe to join us for the Summit.
Kicking off the Summit on Thursday, May 8th, Hearsay Social CEO Clara Shih (@ClaraShih) will share her perspective on how the financial services industry can embrace innovation, as well as the role that social media, mobile, and big data play in transforming the client experience. Every sector today, from hospitality to retail, is being disrupted by new digital technologies, but we truly believe that the relationship-based business of financial services is best poised to take advantage of these innovations. We’re not the only ones who think so. In two special fireside chats, we’ll hear executives Eileen McDonnell (Chairman, President and CEO of Penn Mutual) and John Taft (CEO of RBC Wealth Management — US) share their views on the state of the financial services industry, their vision on how technology complements the business, and how to build a culture of innovation.
We’re also honored to be welcoming Silicon Valley stalwarts — including Joe Fernandez (CEO and founder of Klout, @JoeFernandez), Ralf VonSosen (Head of Marketing for Sales Solutions at LinkedIn, @rvonsosen), and Bryan Schreier (General Partner at Sequoia Capital, @schreier) — who will be discussing social influence, the future of social networks, and what to expect overall from technology in the coming decade.
In addition to several other leading Silicon Valley entrepreneurs–Bill Ready (CEO and founder, Braintree, @williamready), Aaron Vermut (CEO, Prosper, @vermooti), Bo Lu (CEO and founder, FutureAdvisor, @bolu)–and financial advisors, we are thrilled at the caliber of speakers and attendees that will be joining us to share their views on entrepreneurship, technology trends in financial services, and how to succeed in the digital era.
For those of you unable to make it, be sure to follow the conversation on Twitter at #SBIS14 for live coverage and check our blog for key takeaways from this year’s Social Business Innovation Summit.
Tomorrow morning marks a key milestone in the social media era: Twitter’s initial public offering.
Along with the continued financial growth of Facebook (FB) and LinkedIn (LNKD) as public companies, Twitter is proving that social media is here to stay. Not just reserved for young people, social networks today span generations and cultures and have established themselves as essential to how companies do business.
Today, over 230 million people around the world use Twitter. That’s up 39% from a year ago, and it’s a figure that grows every day. While user growth is good, it’s not the only barometer for whether a social network will be successful.
Here are three reasons we believe Twitter will succeed:
From day one, Twitter was created as a mobile platform, so it has naturally proven to be a great mobile experience both for users and advertisers. As the first mobile-based social network, Twitter has always been used by people on mobile devices to engage with others. Right now, over 75% of users actively access the network from mobile, and as consumers spend more and more time on their phones, businesses across industries are adapting to capture some of this mindshare.
In the early days, Twitter users had to find special apps or workarounds to share images and video on the network. As cameras became standard on smartphones, however, Twitter identified the importance of sharing visual elements with tweets. Twitter has done a great job enriching the platform with many types of multimedia, and its latest update brought images directly to the feed, proving the company’s commitment to visual content. Vine, which launched a completely unique new way to edit and share videos, is another great example of this market leadership.
While Twitter (231.7 million users) isn’t as big as Facebook (>1 billion users), it is easily the largest public social network. In fact, it is precisely this public-by-default characteristic that has made it such a powerful force across many areas, from breaking news to real-time interaction with TV. In the business world, Twitter will continue to be a great way for brands to expand their multichannel strategy because it integrates so well with online and offline campaigns.
The Super Bowl and the Olympics are just two examples of how Twitter has become so integral to how people and businesses engage with events. Multichannel interaction with the customer means brands can take something as simple as an advertised tweet and tie it into campaigns across digital, TV, print, and other traditional channels.
We’ve just scratched the surface of how both consumers and businesses will be able use Twitter.
At Hearsay Social, we are really excited for our close partners at Twitter (@JohnP – It’s great to have you as a partner in the the financial services world!). We see the network as a huge opportunity for financial services and insurance firms to connect with their customers and prospects, and we look forward to future innovation.
Today we’re proud to take a step back and thank our customers, partners, and anyone else who has helped us get to where we are today. Thanks to your support and everything we’ve accomplished together, Hearsay Social has been selected as one of the 2013 AlwaysOn Global 250 Top Private Companies.
Now in its 11th year, the AlwaysOn Global 250 recognizes the top private technology companies changing not just the business world, but the world as a whole. Hearsay Social was specifically chosen for the “B2B Applications – SaaS and Enterprise” category:
The enterprise world has endured a long ramp-up to the cloud, but is now flocking to it with alacrity. Coupled with a broad acceptance of mobile and social technology, businesses everywhere are demanding robust, secure applications to run their operations-anytime, anywhere. Clearly, the innovation community is rising to the challenge with unfettered enthusiasm, providing business management solutions, IT infrastructure, and elegant, stable applications.
We also want to congratulate all the other companies that made the list, including Box, Dropbox, Twitter, and Zendesk. We’re proud of all the exciting innovation coming from Silicon Valley and other technology hubs around the world!
Engineers are the lifeblood of any true Silicon Valley organization. For any company with a vision of improving the world and streamlining the way business works, as Hearsay Social does by driving deeper customer relationships, great technologists and engineers are essential.
That’s why we’re so proud to see TechCrunch recognizing our strong engineering team and culture.
In the interview below, Michael Abbott (general partner at Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, previously Twitter’s VP of Engineering) talks to Hearsay Social founder and CTO Steve Garrity about our company’s engineering culture—from its early development to the present.
What was it like starting an entirely new company after leaving one as large as Microsoft? Why does Hearsay Social regularly send engineers into the field to speak with customers and end users? How do we implement efficient processes to make the most of each engineers’ time?
Steve details answers to these questions and more in the interview. And remember, Hearsay Social is always hiring the best engineers, so get in touch!
Bringing together 400 government officials, chief executive officers, leading investors, and analysts, next week’s inaugural New York Times DealBook Conference will be a monumental meeting of the minds.
We’re honored today to announce that Hearsay Social CEO and founder Clara Shih will speak on the future of technology and innovation at the conference alongside Silicon Valley luminaries like Eric Schmidt (Chairman and former CEO of Google) and Michael Moritz (Chairman of Sequoia Capital). Their remarks will follow perspectives on the state of the economy from JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon, Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein, Carlyle Group Co-CEO David Rubenstein, Blackstone Group CEO Stephen Schwarzman, New York Times Op-Ed Columnist Paul Krugman, and a handful of other global leaders.
Clara’s innovation panel, moderated by Quentin Hardy, deputy technology editor of the New York Times, will take place December 12 at 11:25 a.m. ET at the TimesCenter. (Limited seating is still available here.)
At Hearsay Social, we recognize a massive shift underway in the industry toward embracing social and mobile technology to drive deeper customer relationships and long-term productivity gains. Clara will focus on today’s board and C-suite innovation imperative in adopting Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and mobile devices.
Silicon Valley companies, from Apple and Google to Facebook and Hearsay Social, have flourished because they help grow the economy and drive business productivity across every sector. As chief executive of one such company, Clara will speak personally and professionally to the thriving “innovation economy,” and Hearsay Social’s role in bringing innovation to both Main Street and Wall Street.
In addition to Clara, other confirmed speakers at the conference include:
Dick Costolo, CEO, Twitter
Lloyd Blankfein, Chairman and CEO, Goldman Sachs
Jamie Dimon, Chairman, President, and CEO, JPMorgan Chase
Indra Nooyi, Chairman and CEO, PepsiCo
Andrew Ross Sorkin, Columnist/Editor, The New York Times