Tech Entrepreneurship–Seeing Gaps in Customer Information Needs

Expedia and Glassdoor founder Richard Barton in his office in Seattle, WA, purposely away from the hubbub of Silicon Valley, he says.

It’s not a new game app; it’s not a “News Feed” update or new texting service.  It’s seeing (and giving) customers access to data that did not exist before or were closely guarded by professionals where the “eureka” moment is reached serendipitously (more later).

The entrepreneurial business model asks: What piece of information do people crave and don’t have?

It’s a twist on Michael Saylor’s admonition: Think like a software company in bringing innovation and creativity to the marketplace.

Richard Barton, a former Microsoft employee, founded Expedia by giving consumers a way to see airline ticket prices.  Then he went on to found Zillow by showing potential home buyers the market value of homes.  The Glassdoor a site that reveals employee satisfaction, salarires, and other workplace data that makes some executives, not to mention Human Resource professionals, squirm.

And the serendipitous moment ?

Mr. Barton had inadvertently left the results of an Expedia employee satisfaction survey on a printer  thinking, “OMG, what if the results leaked?”  Then he thought, “That would not be a bad thing, would it?”  From that Glassdoor was founded.  The website allows current and former employees to rate the company’s leadership and reveal compensation information.  The site now has more than 22 million members and raised nearly $93 million with plans to go public.

In this case, although not all, as former Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis wrote, “sunlight is said to be the best of disinfectants.”  In this case, Glassdoor filled a market need and created a marketing success by asking a pertinent question, What piece of information do people crave and don’t have?

Sound marketing advice in the age of the Internet.

Here’s the longer piece on Barton and his other ventures by Nick Wingfield:




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