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Archive for December, 2007

The Young Guns Of VC-Former Googlers

Most people are aware of the insane amount of money Google keeps earning, but the New York Times (h/t Online Media Daily) offers up an article about what the former employees are doing with it.  They are starting their own venture capital firms.

What I didn’t know was that this path was blazed by the former PayPal employees a few years ago.

Mr. Sacca, 32, joins a growing number of Google millionaires hoping to parlay their newfound wealth into even greater riches by bankrolling technology start-ups. Three years after Google went public, a fast-growing network of company veterans is fanning out across Silicon Valley. Some are joining the venture capital firms that financed the technology boom of the 1990s. Others are raising investment funds or backing embryonic companies with their own money as so-called angel investors.

It often pays to stick together in Silicon Valley. PayPal, the online payments system, spawned a bunch of serial entrepreneurs who went on to found and finance some of the hottest Web 2.0 companies, among them YouTube, LinkedIn and Slide. Many PayPal alums invest in one another’s companies. One co-founder, Peter Thiel, who now runs a $3 billion hedge fund and venture firm in San Francisco, is the godfather of what people jokingly call the PayPal Mafia.

A Headhunting Scam

This story is almost unbelievable.  The scam was set up at AIG and involved a VP of HR.  From Workforce Management (my editing):

Federal authorities have charged a former human resources vice president of American International Group Inc. and three accomplices with defrauding the insurer of $1.1 million with phony bills for employee search services.

According to a federal criminal complaint, Falcetta moved from Philadelphia to New York to take his job with AIG in September 2005. His duties included managing contracts with employee search firms, and he had the authority to add firms to AIG’s approved list of vendors and to pay vendor bills up to $50,000.

Over the next two years, until AIG terminated him in August, Falcetta approved payments to bogus headhunter firms set up by Santone, Pombonyo and Broadbent, authorities allege. Those payments included $320,525 to G. Santone Associates, run by Santone; $674,886 to two firms, Enterprise Business Group and Global Search Affiliates Inc., run by Pombonyo; and $120,000 to Broadbent Advisory Group, run by Broadbent, the complaint says.

The four companies then kicked back $462,476 to Human Capital Management Partners, an entity Falcetta had created, authorities charge.

None of the search firms actually performed any work for AIG, and at least some of them appear to exist only on paper, the complaint suggests.

It never ceases to amaze me how criminals will go to such lengths to set up a scam.  Imagine if they used their skills for a legitimate enterprise.

Hiring Continues To Expand In 2008

No real surprises from this article (emphasis mine):

Employers are trimming their hiring plans but still expect to add workers in 2008, according to a survey released Wednesday.

Online job search site said its survey of 3,016 hiring managers and human resource professionals in the private sector found that 32 percent of companies plan to increase the number of full-time, permanent employees in the upcoming year. A year ago, 40 percent said they expected to add staff.

Slow, steady growth is an ideal situation.  The hiring trend has been on such a torrid pace that finding strong candidates has become an extended process.  I’ve thought for the past year that a slight slowdown would be helpful.

Retention Starts With Recruiting

The Herman Trend Alert offers up an excellent analysis of the most pressing topic of today – retention.  I thought this statement was spot on:

The Hodes 2007 Workplace Study holds that two factors are critical to retaining valued employees. The first is choosing quality people, not settling for “warm bodies”. The second is choosing people who have long-term expectations of staying with the organization.

We encounter companies that have a hire fast, fire fast mentality.  Personally, I think this approach is high risk, low reward and we never condone this approach at Select Metrix. 

The second point is an important one also.  If you are looking at a candidate who is not currently employed, it is of utmost importance to take the extra time to make sure your position is a fit.  There are many salespeople who are in transition and are simply looking for a quick stop, money-grab position.

When employers make inferior quality hires, often they will inadvertently lose current employees who now no longer feel valued.

The study also cites what we have been saying all along—that employee turnover, regardless of industry, is expensive. Some reports even show the estimated cost of a single vacancy for some jobs has been calculated anywhere from $7000 to $12,000 per day. According to statistics from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the estimated 2007 annual voluntary turnover rate is about 24 percent.

For more about the Hodes 2007 Workplace Study, please visit (my editing)

I worked for a high-tech company in a Regional Sales Manager position.  My coworkers were better salespeople than me so I learned much and developed my skills immensely.  Then our boss hired two absolute stiffs to join our group.  They had little skill and were hired for the wrong reasons.  The morale amongst our existing team plummeted soon after as we observed their flamboyant incompetence.

The Spam Trend

This is bad – straight from Online Media Daily:

NEARLY 9 OUT OF 10 email messages delivered to large enterprises in November were spam, according to the latest stats from Proofpoint. The Sunnyvale, Calif.-based data security company released its Proofpoint Spam Index and found that while overall spam levels dropped slightly (from 89% in October to 88% in November), large companies were still receiving an extremely high volume of spam–with an upsurge in attachment-based spam of almost every kind.

If they think that is bad, they should see how much comment spam a blog can generate.

More Job Ad Errors

Ok, I know it is a holiday week so people are cruising at half speed, but there is no room for some errors.  Spelling mistakes in the title is inexcusable.  The title is the only information that is displayed on most job boards so you can see the significance of this mistake.

The position’s title:

Egineer – Mulitple Positions

Honestly, I am embarrassed for the company.

The NHL On New Year’s Day

Ok, there are plenty of college football games to digest this holiday week so why not try something different on New Year’s Day?  We here at The Hire Sense are huge hockey fans and all of our sons play in our local association and high school program.

The NHL is a second-tier (at best) league in the US, but they are fairly progressive in their approach to marketing their league.  Online Media Daily has an article titled NHL’s ‘Winter Classic’ Coverage to Include Historic Broadband Firsts.

In case you haven’t heard, the NHL will have an outdoor game on Jan. 1 from Buffalo, NY.  I love this idea (they held an outdoor game in Edmonton a few years ago).  Their tie-in to the Internet is well-constructed:

For the first time, the NHL is creating two live broadband shows, which will be available exclusively on

The first program will be a live preview show from the XM Radio Studio within the NHL Powered by Reebok store in Manhattan. Hosts Don La Greca and E.J. Hradek will cover topics such as outdoor games of years past, game analysis and the decision process behind the AMP Energy NHL Winter Classic.

The second show, hosted by Bill Clement and Sam Rosen, will broadcast live from Ralph Wilson Stadium in Buffalo, and will attempt to capture the experience of being on-site at the event, giving a behind-the-scenes look at creating an outdoor ice rink.

Buffalo natives William Fichtner of the Fox television series “Prison Break” and Chad Michael Murray, star of The CW’s “One Tree Hill,” are scheduled to participate in the’s blogging community.

Smart, very smart, by the NHL to go to these lengths.  If you are tired of college football that day, click over to NBC and watch some of the coolest game on Earth…outdoors.

Merry Christmas!

We are calling it a wrap today and are on our way to be with family and friends.

All of us at Select Metrix would like to wish you and yours a joyous and blessed Christmas!

Top 10 Travel Blunders

Since I suspect many of you will be hopping on an airplane within the next few days, here is an article from Yahoo Finance titled 10 Biggest Bonehead Moves at Airport Security.  It is a funny article especially if you have been caught in one of these scenarios.  I usually cause one of these scenarios:

4.) Sporting Lace-Ups When Loafers Will Do

You don’t need to wear your father’s slippers, but you shouldn’t wear his army boots either. Nowadays, everyone — and that means you, Your Honor — has to take off their shoes for X-ray inspection. So wear shoes that can be easily put on and taken off. And if you don’t want to walk through the security area in bare feet, wear socks. Clean socks. Socks with no holes.

9.) Being Unprepared for a Patdown

Not everyone gets patted down, but if you’re selected for the extra security screening, it can be a little creepy.

Patdown searches are supposed to be done by someone of the same gender “except in extraordinary circumstances,” the TSA says, and you can request to be taken into a private area for the procedure if you prefer.

Number 9 hurts.  Although I consider myself to have cherub-like innocence as pure as the wind-driven snow, I get patted down every stinking time at the security checkpoint.  My wife laughs at me and Lee mocks me, but it is like clockwork.

I was in San Francisco’s airport at 1:00am catching the red eye back to Minneapolis.  Only 2 other people in line and I’m pulled off to the side for the wand inspection.

Another time I was at Gatwick airport in London and I can tell you this – the British do a complete frisk of all areas.  So if you are traveling via airplane this Christmas weekend, I strongly encourage you to read the article beforehand.

Managing A Remote Salesforce

We talk about this topic at length because it is more than a trend.’s Long-Distance Teambuilding addresses this topic in a real-world manner:

“Sellers by nature like to be in a team environment—they want a high-five and a talk around the water cooler,” says Cowitt, vice president of national advertising sales for Freedom Interactive, the Internet division of Freedom Communications, a media company in Irvine, Calif. So Cowitt implemented a daily phone call, which lasts about 15 minutes, to allow salespeople to exchange ideas, successes and challenges.

That is the right approach.  We initiated a weekly conference call earlier this year with one of our customers with whom we are placing salespeople around the Western US.  We had multiple salespeople onramping around the same time so we had to develop a sense of team amongst a group who had never met each other.

The military often discusses and incorporates force multipliers and that approach is going to be a required tool for any sales manager in today’s market.  Technological tools are affordable and instant.  Managing remote salespeople is a daunting task that requires a different skill set in comparison to managing in an office environment.

At first, to generate conversation, he asked salespeople to come prepared with discussion points, such as a summary of a particular category. But eventually the talks became more organic.

Perfect.  “Organic” talks are the sign of community and something we experienced first hand in our national conference calls.  The first calls were quiet, measured and strictly on topic.  However, after a month the discussions became livelier, cross talk developed and the ultimate sign occurred – the salespeople started razzing each other.

Along the way, the salespeople started discussing national accounts that crossed over territories and they shared marketing messages, sales techniques and voicemail approaches.  As a sales manager, what more could you ask for?

Well, sales I suppose.  And they did.  In fact, they closed business at a faster rate than any previous salespeople in the company.

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