SCN: What is your position, and what does it entail? What are your responsibilities?
Stephen DeWitt: I joined Work Market in January 2015, so I’ve been with the company a year-and-a-half. I joined Work Market from the senior leadership team at Hewlett Packard. I was also on the executive staffs of Cisco, and Symantec and Sun Microsystems, so I am a 30-plus year industry vet.
Like every senior executive at a young company faces, my role is a diverse one. I have the primary responsibility of building a great team, a team that can execute against an extremely large value proposition that we bring to the market. The industry, certainly over the 30-plus years I’ve been building companies, is littered with more failures than it is with successes. The sausage making process of building any company requires a perfect balance of strategy and execution.
SCN: How has your background prepared you for this role?
SD: In 1985, I was pushing tools that allowed the Macintosh to connect with printers. In the 90s, I helped build what is the largest networking company on the planet, Cisco Systems. Before Cisco Systems, I was at Symantec at the peak of Microsoft’s “dubious” behavior, if you will. You go to the late 90s, I built one of the most successfully companies in American history [Cobalt Networks] during the bubble. We had at one point the largest IPO in Nasdaq history. Then we had a multi-billion dollar merger into Sun, which was a very complex dynamic. From there, I did another startup in a very complex area, in microelectronics, where you’re dealing with very cutting edge technology that’s never been done before. Then later in my career, I ran a big chunk of Hewlett Packard.
Put all that in a shaker, and you shake it up, and what you get is someone who is a child of the industry, someone that has watched it go through multiple waves of business models, operations, global dynamics. In my career, I’ve offshored, near-shored, crowd sourced—I’ve had the opportunity to do just about everything out there. The company that we’re building right now its mission, true north if you will, is to help large enterprises transform their operations.
SCN: What are your short- and long-term goals?
SD: It’s important for us in the near term to prove the technology out to be very responsive, so our short-term goals are really all about that. How we prioritize our roadmap, how we gauge customer feedback, how responsive we are—those are the biggest short-term goals.
Our three-year vision is very aggressive. We think our software provides not only a tremendous management and administration tool, but it ultimately is helping to define what we all know is the future of employer/employee dynamics.
We believe the definition of the modern work market, is open, it’s federated, it’s free from a lot of silly costs that are currently in the system. That evolution is going to play itself out over the next decade, and it’s going to have societal impact. What we’re going after, this is a change in the human experience.
SCN: What is the greatest challenge that you face?
SD: The first is dealing with the volume of activity that we have. From a challenge perspective, it’s being focused, being able to prioritize, and build an order of execution strategy that has the highest and most efficient return on investment.
Then there’s the human side of the challenge. How do you get all of your organization aligned to a set of goals? We’re building our culture, what we value, what works here, what we hold up as an example of great execution.
The final area is the competition and the marketplace. We’re on to something magical here at Work Market, and that’s not lost on anybody. We will face competition from both the established vendor community, as well as the young upstarts—as we should. Big opportunities like what we’re going after, typically generates a crowd. We have to both stand out in the crowd and then we have to out-execute the crowd.
SCN: Where do you see the freelance staffing market heading?
SCN: I think the whole staffing process, soup to nuts, over this generation will be completely transformed, 100 percent. Staffing has a lot of engagement dynamics to it.
We started in the chaos of freelancing. From how you find and organize, how you generate trust, how you provision work, how you ensure the quality of that work, how you ensure your compliance with crazy regulations that are out there. How you pay, how you raise the whole lifecycle of dealing with an independent worker.
We’ve managed to bring all of that under one roof, one app, one experience for an employer, one experience for a worker, and we’ve delivered all of that for pennies on the dollar.
SCN: Are there new initiatives we are likely to see from Work Market?
SD: You’re going to see a number of initiatives from us, all designed to provide more comprehensive experiences for both employers and workers. You’re going to see a lot more mobile stuff from us.
The final frontier of new initiatives is around the worker. We’re not a marketplace company. We build marketplaces in the context of what a customer’s trying to accomplish. We have many service providers in the world of audiovisual that ultimately want to build and develop and constantly nurture a talent pool based on the technologies they’re bringing to market and servicing. I think in tech in general, we look at ourselves as your perpetual bench.
The final note I’ll make on initiatives is that our software is constantly evolving. It’s the beauty of cloud software. I can prove, empirically, that our algorithms will choose better labor than you will.
SCN: How can systems contractors better position themselves to profit from the services you have to offer?
SD: It keeps coming back to the point I’m making over and over again. How utilized is your labor? If you can’t articulate a strategy that gets you pretty close to 100 percent utilized, you’re going to have a tough go. Because I guarantee you, seven other companies are thinking about that.
In the world of AV specifically, these are skilled professionals that know their craft well. The ability to automate their businesses has great bottom line impact for them. Allow contractors to focus on what they do well, and automate the environment around them.