Tuesday, November 29, 2011
Interview with David Bradford, HireVue
How do you take a process which has been essentially unchanged in the last 30 years--hiring--and bring it into the Internet age? Draper, Utah-based HireVue (www.hirevue.com) is trying to do just that, with an Internet-based, video interviewing platform. We spoke with CEO David Bradford, a serial entrepreneur whose last startup, Fusion-io, recently went public with Steve Wozniak on board; Bradford has also been very involved with Omniture. We caught up with David to learn more about HireVue plus to hear about his part in starting Fusion-io and signing up Woz.
First for those who haven't heard of HireVue, talk about what you do?
David Bradford: Basically, the interviewing process has been fundamentally unchanged in the last one hundred years. The reason for HireVue, is to change the whole value proposition as its relates to the interviewing process. Technology has been racing forward at the speed of light for the last thirty years, yet, the interviewing process has been a basically unchanged paradigm. We want to change that. We are looking to change that with a powerful suite of technology tools that will enable the hiring manager, the HR manager, the recruiter, or whomever to get better qualified candidates, in faster time, and with less friction.
How are you doing that?
David Bradford: The interviewing platform starts with just basic video interviewing. You can do it in two ways, either a live, synchronous environment, or an asynchronous, completely on-demand environment. For example, I've been looking for an executive assistant, and probably have fifteen applicants and resumes via social media. It's one thing to look at a resume, but it's quite another to actually have someone come in and physically interview. For me, my time is extremely valuable, so in this instance I created a set of eight questions, asking things such as what are your social media skills, what software do you know, how good are you with PowerPoint, etc., and I can send that link out to those fifteen candidates, and do a five minute interview. They can answer those eight questions in 30 second to a minute answers, and when they do that, I can view them on demand, on my own time, and at my own pace. That allows me to narrow down the candidates to the top three, and have them come into the office or I could also send that video to my colleagues here at HireVue, and ask them to take a look and rank them and evaluate them, and get their feedback. Longer term, say I hire someone into that executive assistant position, and after six months she needed to go or whatever, and I need to go and hire someone else. I can use the videos for other purposes, such as hiring another assistant or an assistant for someone else. Or, maybe we need a social media intern--we can use those videos and repurpose them for that analysis.
Who are the customers using your products, and why?
David Bradford: We have a robust set of high end, enterprise customers. We have over 200, including Accenture, Dow Jones, Nike, Starbucks, and even Walmart. They are using our platform for various purposes. Not all of them are using it for all purposes within those organizations, mind you, and might just have a particular division using our software. For example, some companies might be doing hiring over a three month period of time, and they'll grab our platform and use it for that project. As we go into these accounts, they continue to expand and accelerate usage when they see the return on investment they have received as part of using HireVue, and the natural inclination at those corporate customers is to expand usage.
You've got a great track record, between Fusion-io and Omniture, what drew you to become CEO of HireVue?
David Bradford: I've not succeeded in doing anything in my life by myself. The reason that Fusion-io was successful, is I believe in the premise--quoting Vinod Khosla, a well respected venture capitalist in Silicon Valley--that it's not the what, it's the who. In other words, any organization can have a great, game-changing product and technology, but only if you have the right management team and talent around that technology will you ever become a success. I'm huge on the belief that human talent means more than anything in an organization. I love talking to my CEO colleagues in the industry about how they can improve their acquisition of the best talent available, and HireVue is a great platform to do that. Every business transaction is based on personal relationships. In today's world, where we're all going one hundred miles an hour, it's still useful to see someone physically, rather than just review a bare bones resume. I think there's a massive social media play, as well as I believe that this company has a broad market it can go after. For any company to be successful in the marketplace, you need, number one, a broad and fast growing market associated with it. Hiring is a broad market--we sell to construction companies, to marketing organization, and so on--it's a broad market. The second thing, is this has a compelling value proposition. If you have the right product for customers, and a broad and fast growing market, you can drive success. That's something Fusion-io had, and even if you go back to 1985, when I joined the executive team at Novell, we had a very broad market we were going after. Every corporation on planet earth needed what Novell sold, and by the same token, I believe every corporation needs what HireVue sells. I'm very excited to be here.
A bit off topic, but maybe relevant--Fusion-io went from startup to IPO in a remarkably short time - what did you guys do there that made it grow so fast?
Dave Bradford: I would say that Steve Wozniak played a significant role in that. His luminary status, as one of the fathers of the computer revolution was key to that. That brought us a huge amount of air cover in the marketplace. As you step back, you might say--wait a second, the inventor of Apple Computer is going to work for a little Salt Lake City based company, what is that all about? It makes people interested, and curious. That gives us lots of air cover, and that was one of our keys to success. David Flynn and Rich White are extraordinary entrepreneurs. They're very ingenious individuals, and they saw a pain point in the marketplace that needed to be fixed. They did a great job envisioning and executing a product which would address the market, which is a tremendous credit to them. We also received early accolades--the Wall Street Journal at one point named us the number two most promising company in America, and the management team we had built around that core team was rather phenomenal. Jim Dawson, our SVP of Sales was out of a storage company, 3Par, and we convinced Dennis Wolf to come out of retirement and give us one more gig as CFO. He had been CFO as Mysql. Shawn Lynquist had been General Counsel at Omniture, and before that was a Partner at Wilson Sonsini Goodrich and Rosati, and is remarkable. He helped write the book on how to do an IPO, so when he's on your senior team, that's a difference maker as well. I also think that some of the things that contributed to the rapid growth and success of Fusion-io were key partnerships. Our early partner was HP, and that expanded to Dell, Samsung, IBM, which also was an investor. By combining strategic partnerships with a great product and sales team, magic happens. I continue to chair their Strategic Advisory board.
We understand you were the one who connected Fusion-io with Wozniak--do you mind giving us the short version of how that happened?
David Bradford: I believe that things happen for a reason. I got invited to speak at a conference in Sun Valley Idaho in July of 2008. I went up to the conference, kind of doing a friend a favor, because it was a long way to drive--five or six hours--from Provo. So, I drove up there in summer, gave my little speech in the morning, and as I was departing the venue, I looked down at a paper on a piano bench and noticed the luncheon was with Steve Wozniak. I decided to stay, and listen to Steve, because I hadn't met him, though I'd met Jobs a couple of times. I ended up sitting next to Julie Robuck, his Executive Assistant, one of the few people in the technology and information industry there. She introduced me to Woz, I told him what I was doing at Fusion/IO, and that got him excited enough I was able to convince him to join our advisory board. I introduced him to David Flynn and Rich White, and we all flew into Silicon Valley to meet with him. Once he understood the core technology, he was really fired up. He ended up joining as Chief Scientist. He was with us when we went public on the NYSE in June, and had been a good part of what we were doing at Fusion-io. So, essentially, I went to Sun Valley, met Woz, followed up, and got him excited about what we were doing.
Finally, back to HireVue--what's next for you there? David Bradford: We're still a small company at this point. But, we have a big vision of what this can become. As I said earlier, there just needs to be a new paradigm for recruiting talent into an organization. This will facilitate all of that. I think we will also continue to focus on driving strategic partnerships for the company. Any company that really wants success in an industry needs strategic partnerships. Microsoft had IBM as a partner, and Cisco's early partner was HP. Identifying and driving strategic partnerships is one of the keys to success. The other key thin, in my estimation, is in this market you really need to drive ubiquity. Everybody interviews in some way or form--you could even have sent me eight questions via HireVue for this--and webcams are now common place. I just got a new laptop, which has a nice webcam built in. 95 percent of laptops have a built in Webcam now, and I think the convergence of the speed of broadband technology, combined with a webcam, makes this really ready to erupt. We want to be ubiquitous, want to get the right starting partners, and continue to drive sales into an excited customer base, and make sure people know about us.
Thanks, and good luck!