Land’s End

April 8, 2008

lands end

Originally uploaded by tombuckob2

One of my favorite Ireland photos.


Circuit City Part II

April 3, 2008
This story goes back to one of my favorite alltime posts about Circuit City firing 3,400 “overpaid” sales employees.  

Wattles Reignites A Proxy Battle Over Circuit City Management I don’t think CC management is going to survive this one.TO’B 

Hewitt wins Pinnacle Airlines

March 12, 2008

Delighted to see that my old company (RealLife HR) is proving of value to Hewitt. I think RealLife HR’s SAAS model and rapid implementation architecture will provide Hewitt with unmatched capability to provide superior service to mid-market employers (5k to 15k employees).

It gets really interesting when combined with some of Hewitt’s other capabilities (HighRoads and Hewitt Pharmacy Benefits).

Hewitt Strengthens Health Care Benefit Capabilities for Mid-Size Companies


Smoked Turkey

December 7, 2007

OK, in the spirit of Word of Mouth, I am going to share my Thanksgiving Turkey secrets.

This year we had family in for Thanksgiving which made us responsible for dinner. Throwing caution to the wind, I decided to try not one, but two new (to me) methods of cooking the turkeys. (This is a somewhat risky strategy because as you know the turkey is the linchpin of Thankgiving dinner – so I was more than a little nervous.

I grilled one bird on the Weber, and smoked the other on the Traeger.

2 Turkeys

Drumroll please . . . They came out great. We ate right on time – 4:00 PM and both birds were very well cooked. The smoked turkey on the Traeger took about 5.5 hours. The turkey on the Weber only took 2.75 hours.

I cooked both to an internal temperature (instant read thermometer) of 170 degrees and then took them off. Preparation was simple. Two 15 lb fresh organic turkeys (from the local food co-op) brought to room temperature and then dressed with a simple rub of olive oil, salt, pepper and finely chopped fresh sage, rosemary and thyme. I chopped up some apples, drenched them in the rub and put them in the cavities – just for flavor. (No stuffing.)

For cooking, I ran the Traeger on high for about 45 minutes and then turned it down to medium for about the next 4 hours. I then ran it on high for about 30 minutes to get up to 170 degrees. No turning, no basting, etc. On the Weber, I just followed their instructions from the website. Turkey in the middle with drip pan underneath. About 75 coals in two piles (on either side of the turkey) then add 8 briquettes per side per hour. That was it.

I was pretty surprised that they came out as well as they did – and will definitely do it again. They tasted great and there was no messy turkey pan to clean!


SuccessFactors IPO??? I’m going short . . .

July 24, 2007

OK, I’m technically not working in this space any more – or else I might refrain from commenting on this, but looking over the SuccessFactors IPO (thanks Jason) just makes me cringe.

Gravity defying claims of success, shrinking client size, profligate management spending and serious questions about SF’s ability (and track record) to produce financial statements consistent with GAAP and compliant with SarBox really make me wonder.

SuccessFactors sv1

SuccessFactors numbers are just ugly. And not just in a “we’re growing really fast” kind of way. The faster they grow, the more money they lose. Right now, Their annual loss > annual revenue. Breakeven is not even contemplated.

And it isn’t just sales and service costs driving the loss, but G&A grows faster than revenue. In ’06 and ’07 SF opened offices in Denmark, the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Australia, Hong Kong, Korea, Italy, and Singapore. These offices (combined) managed to contribute managed to contribute 3.6% of sales. Spend, spend, spend.

No disclosure on revenue by segment – my guess is they are selling 2 of the 8 claimed suites – goal management and performance management and really struggling with the other 8. (Gotta love this quote from the sv1 on why they do not report segment information: The Company’s chief operating decision maker is its Chief Executive Officer, who reviews financial information presented on a consolidated basis

Customer size? Went from 1.3 MM users @ 400 customers (thanks to Joshua Greenbaum) to 2.0 MM users @ 1,300 customers. Average client size dropped from 3,250 users/client to 1,358 users/client. Or, if you assume the old clients stayed, the new clients averaged 778 users/client. This is a pretty radical turn in client size, and I can’t imagine SF can possibly support a global, high comp direct sales model selling to customers with only 778 users each. Just doesn’t make sense.

Not to mention the holy grail of HRO, which is profitable (well, for the rest of us) implementation and service delivery for clients with less than about 3,000 or so users. My experience is that more smaller customers is very hard to do profitably – and impossible with a direct sales model. I think Employease is the only company that has really been successful implementing HRO technologies for smaller clients profitably, but they did it with channels. (SF reports only 10% of revenue comes from channel partners.)

Then you look at financial controls – their auditors cite material weaknesses relating to revenue recognition, stock-based compensation, deferred commissions and accrued liabilities (2005) and similar material weaknesses for year ending 2006 – and I think it should be enough to put anyone off of this IPO.

Put me down for a short on this one if it ever comes out.


TO’B HR Blog – Transition

June 13, 2007

Some of you already know this – others – well we haven’t talked for a while. In any event, I have just joined MotiveQuest LLC as the Chief Marketing Officer – responsible for sales and marketing.

I had a great run at RealLife HR and leave with a real sense of accomplishment. RealLife HR is a company totally focused on the most important thing. Taking care of their clients – and always exceeding expectations. They do this in an industry where “we suck less” was actually a viable competitive position. RealLife HR has raised the bar. Thanks and kudos to everyone there.

MotiveQuest is a company I helped start four years ago with one big idea. If companies could listen to what people are saying about them on the web – they would have great insight about their customers, motivation, competitors and products. (See Cluetrain Manifesto.)

I shared this idea with a brilliant friend of mine – David Rabjohns – then an SVP at Leo Burnett – and he turned it into MotiveQuest.

David launched MotiveQuest with this idea (listen, learn, advise, act) four years ago and has created the leading Word of Mouth Strategy consulting firm in the industry (According to Peter Kim at Forrester). MQ has already done great work for leading brands including DuPont, Citibank, Mini, Toyota, Nike, PlayStation, Motorola, HP, Dell and many, many others.

It is quite a break from my recent experience in the HR Services/Outsourcing field, but I am really excited about this opportunity. First, I have been a newsgroup geek for many years. Second, MQ is the leading strategy firm in the business and I have been on the advisory board since its’ founding. Finally, this is a permanent, significant shift in marketing. And MQ is on the leading edge.

Online conversations enabled by the internet have caused a massive power shift from the corporation back to the consumer. And it is only going to get louder. Let me give you a recent example.

I recently plunked down $1,000 on a new digital camera (Nikon D40x with lenses). To make my decision I didn’t go to the Nikon or Canon or Sony websites. I went to the digicam forums and newsgroups and asked detailed questions about what I needed and how I would use the camera. Within 24 hours I had answers by experts and peers from all over the world. With their input, I made my decision. Sony, Canon and Nikon had little to say about it.

I’m not the only one doing this – people are talking online about cars, gadgets, pharmaceuticals, healthcare, financial services, cell phones, game consoles, movies, etc.

Finally, I am launching a new blog called Human Voice that will be running in stealth mode for the next few weeks – feel free to check it out.



SaaS on Steroids

May 21, 2007

Google +

Enough Said!

Google, Weigh Alliance to Battle Microsoft –