Monday, 3 November 2014

‘The Yelp of business software’ springs out of ping-pong culture at Virginia company

Michael Ortner, front, owner of software service company
Michael Ortner, front, owner of software service company Capterra, and his office workers wore Halloween costumes to work on Oct. 29 in Arlington. (Jahi Chikwendiu/The Washington Post)
So I walk into the spacious, 10th-floor offices in a nameless Ballston high-rise and I immediately sense an unusual vibe to this company, which is forgettably named Capterra. dissertation writing services for UK customers.

The chief executive and co-founder, Michael Ortner, a 41-year-old Georgetown business graduate, is wearing cargo shorts, a green T-shirt and New Balance running shoes.

We are talking about the CEO here.

This level of informality is unusual even by technology company standards. So I look for the Foosball table. I look for a Nerf hoop. A squirt gun, perhaps. Something to fit with my expectations.
Then I see it.
“Want to lose a quick game of ping-pong?” Ortner asks, waving his hand toward the table. He takes me to his desk in the corner of the sprawling office and with a quick flick of his finger, the desk elevates.
"Ever see a height-adjustable desk?” he asks. (In fact, I work at one.) “We want employees healthy and happy, and that includes a height-adjustable desk to make sure they are comfortable.”
Last month, he took the team to an outdoor challenge course that included overhead ziplines.
“We encourage freedom and performance,” he said. “There’s lots of flexibility and freedom in your schedule, in what you wear and in what you work on.”
Ortner, 41, may promote an offbeat culture, but Capterra’s recent results are anything but forgettable.
The firm expects to earn a $5 million profit this year on $13 million in revenue, putting the profit margin at a Microsoft-like 40 percent. That is double what the company earned last year, which Ortner attributes to several factors, including the hiring of key bloggers. Online Essay Writing.
Ortner owns about half the firm. Co-founders, friends and family members who were seed investors own the rest.
He pays himself $240,000 a year and is taking an as-yet-undetermined bonus for 2014. Most of the $5 million in profit will be rolled back into the firm, although every employee receives a profit-sharing bonus.
The 15-year-old Capterra runs a Web site that helps businesses find the right software for their company. Are you a 1,000-member church that needs to organize your staffing, services or donations? Are you in charge of human resources for a large company and need to buy software to keep tabs on thousands of your employees, from payroll to performance reviews? Are you a plumber working for a small business who needs mobile software to track every call?
Capterra lists more than 300 software sectors on its Web site, offering reviews of software. The reviews must be signed by the author’s name, and Capterra has a team that constantly polices the reviews.
“We are known as the Yelp of business software,” said Ortner, referring to the popular online restaurant review site. Unlike Capterra, Yelp allows anonymous reviews.
The culture at Capterra springs from the boring, button-down jobs Ortner took after graduating from Georgetown. First, he was a consultant with one of the big accounting firms. Then he worked for a bank.
“At 24 or 25, I had an intellectual awakening,” he said. He started reading, especially philosophy. Most entrepreneurs I interview quote Jim Collins, author of “Good to Great.” Or former General Electric chief executive Jack Welch. Ortner quotes Plato’s “Dialogues.”
“I was at a J.P. Morgan office outside Philly, in their technology back office. I did my work in two hours a day, went home at 5:30 p.m., and read every book I could get my hands on. Reading raised the bar for what I wanted to do with my life.”
In 1999, after a long trip to Africa where he worked at an AIDS orphanage and helped build a health clinic, he returned to Washington and hooked up with a company that prompted him to become an entrepreneur.
He joined Digex, a Maryland suburban company that was doing cutting-edge stuff over the Internet. His job gave him a view into how fragmented and overwhelming the software industry was.
“I knew software was a big, complicated purchase for a company,” he said.
Ortner, who was single, 26 and ambitious, decided to bring order out of chaos.
“We created Capterra and went for it,” he said. The name is from the Latin “Capto” to search and “Terra” the world.
He quit and started in his Bethesda apartment with a few other software engineers.
Ortner and his team built a free Web site that anyone can use, listing various software. The business follows the basic Internet click-through revenue model. Companies pay Ortner every time a Capterra user clicks to their Web site.
The price for each click is set by what a company will bid. For example, a company that makes accounting software might agree to pay Capterra $10 for every click, because some of those clicks will become paying customers.
The business starved for years.
The first paying customer — Herndon-based Deltek — didn’t arrive until month 18. To cover rent and living costs, Ortner ran up $250,000 in debt on 18 credit cards. He still has the cut-up, plastic remains mounted in a picture frame, a gift from his wife.
It sits in a storage room.
The tipping point came in 2002, thanks to a growing new search company called Google.
“We finally started getting a lot of traffic from Google,” Ortner said.
The company turned its first profit the next year, and by 2004 it broke through $1 million in revenue.
Ortner, who is married to a scientist and has five children, said the bloggers he has hired have boosted the firm’s credibility, spurring more Google results, clicks and, ultimately, revenue.
He should have done it sooner.
“One big mistake was we should have started reinvesting into content marketing earlier, blogging, creating cool graphics, getting lots of good data,” he said. “It has helped make us a much bigger authority in the software industry. Magazines and publications quote us.”
Just because the culture is funky doesn’t mean it’s easy to land a job.
“We spend a lot of time on hiring,” he said, beginning with a series of e-mailed questions: What is your ideal job? What are some of your greatest accomplishments? What values and aspects of culture are important to you regarding your place of work?
“If all they refer to are the freedoms and no mention of performance, then that is a red flag,” Ortner said. “The vast majority don’t make it past the screen.”
Those who get through face a phone interview that tests how articulate they are. That is followed by in-person interviews with up to eight Capterra employees, always including Ortner.
The ideal Capterra employee wants to work long hours, learn new stuff and has a track record of success and hard work, including good grades and accomplishments.
Proficiency at ping-pong is not required.
At least when you start.
Post Credit: The Washington Post

Vince Cable plans to reduce white dominance of boardrooms

Vince Cable plans
Business secretary Vince Cable is to launch an ambitious plan next month to bring more ethnic minorities into Britain’s most powerful boardrooms, with the aim of eventually having one in every five directors from a non-white background. Dissertation Writing Services Uk.

The move to advance more black, Asian and other minority representation into senior management roles comes after a successful push to get more women into director positions in large corporations.

Under the plans from Cable, one in five directors of FTSE 100 companies will come from an ethnic minority within five years. It is expected that he will announce the target next month.

The business secretary has consulted with Trevor Phillips , the former chair of the equality and human rights commission and the actor Lenny Henry, to formulate a plan to increase ethnic diversity at board level.

A study of the top 10,000 executives published this year – written by Phillips and Professor Richard Webber, of Kings College London – found that more than half of FTSE 100 firms had no non-whites at board level, and two-thirds had no full-time minority executive directors.

On Wednesday, the government will publish a six-month progress report on the number of women in Britain’s boardrooms. This follows a review by Lord Davies into women in senior positions which began in 2011 and was required by the government to improve female numbers in senior business roles.

Davies set a target of increasing board membership of women to 25% in FTSE 100 companies by 2015. Having started at 12.5%, it stood at 22% in September. The commodity trader Glencore became the final FTSE 100 to appoint at least one woman to its board when Patrice Merrin became a non-executive director in June.

A source close to the business secretary said yesterday: “Vince Cable wanted to encourage a more diverse workforce and the obvious place to start was with women. He thinks businesses make better judgments when they have a diversity of opinions at the top. We feel like we have achieved a huge amount in terms of women and boards, but if you look at diversity in terms of ethnic minorities there is a huge amount of work to do.

“If we thought the problem in terms of female representation was bad, the problem with visible ethnic minorities is potentially even worse because you can count on one hand the number of visible ethnic minority heads of business or people on boards of FTSE companies.”

However, as with the drive for greater female representation on boards, the one-in-five benchmark will represent a target and not a legally binding quota. One of the initiatives that will be promoted in the plan by Cable will be to have a mentoring programme within the corporate structure to enable employees from ethnic minorities to rise through the ranks, according to the Sunday Times. The initiative may later be rolled out to include FTSE 250 businesses.

The move was welcomed by the Institute of Directors. “We have long advocated boardroom diversity, including a broad range of expertise, backgrounds, age, gender and skill sets. Forward-looking businesses recognise the benefits of pursuing this. Where, as with mining companies, an entire sector has historically appointed directors from too narrow a social pool, shareholders are forcing change in the interests of better business. Voluntary efforts to improve gender diversity are proving effective, and this is the model to follow in other areas,” said Simon Walker, IoD director general.

“Skills, business expertise and the climate for progress all need to be doggedly improved across the whole community. This work may be frustratingly slow at times, but ultimately a well-developed pipeline of diverse talent, in all its forms, is the only lasting solution.”

If the moves prove successful, it will result in a proportionately larger number of non-white people on boards compared with the current profile of the population. The 2011 census showed 86% of the population of England and Wales was white while the largest ethnic grouping was Asian or British Asian at 7.5%. The source close to Cable said the rapid growth in ethnic minorities meant those proportions were expected to change significantly within five years.

The report by Phillips and Webber was followed by further research from the charity Business in the Community which found 6% of senior managment positions were held by people from ethnic minorities. The charity’s report found 7.9% of management positions were held by black, Asian and minority ethnic people in 2012, compared with 10% in total employment in the UK. The management figures have edged up from 5.5% and 6.8% respectively since 2007. The BITC report called for ethnicity to be added to the UK corporate governance code, which sets out standards of good practice and states: “The search for board candidates should be conducted, and appointments made, on merit, against objective criteria and with due regard for the benefits of diversity on the board, including gender.”

In terms of public profile, Tidjane Thiam of Prudential is one of the most high recognised senior executives from an ethnic minority. He was the first black chief executive of a FTSE 100 company and has served as a government minister in the Ivory Coast, where he was born.

Post Credit: HITC Business

Sunday, 2 November 2014

Argentina Suspends P&G Over Tax Claims

Procter & Gamble is based in the US city of Cincinnati, Ohio
Procter & Gamble is based in the US city of Cincinnati, Ohio
Argentina has banned the consumer products giant Procter & Gamble (P&G) from doing business in the country, accusing the firm of tax fraud. If you need assistance in writing a dissertation about P&G then visit http://www.dissertation-writing-uk.com

A statement on the presidential website, published on Sunday, said P&G had inflated the price of imports by $138m (£87m) in an effort to get money out of the South American country.

It also accused the firm of attempting to avoid taxes.

The alleged fraud involves shipments of razors and other hygiene products.

P&G, which is based in the US, could not be reached for comment, due to the time difference.

The statement, published on behalf of Argentina's Federal Administration of Public Revenue (Afip), added that details of the alleged fraud have been sent to its counterpart in the US - the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Post Credit: BBC
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