Reflections on {rr} Growth: Five Years and Counting

David SelingerMoving day.

This morning, we open the doors to our brand new San Francisco headquarters at 633 Folsom in downtown SOMA, San Francisco. This is an emotional moment for me as I reflect on all of the amazing moments that have accompanied our insane growth over the past 5 years.

Our first office was a small 2-bedroom apartment rented at the Avalon apartments in Hayward, CA—where despite the high local crime rate, we flourished, building out our first production server clusters and developing much of the core software which ultimately led to our seed financing in 2007. Our only brush with neighborhood crime was when my co-founder Mike DeCourcey and I went to the bank to deposit $500,000 from our initial investors. The bank got stood up, but our deposit cleared just fine—thank goodness!

Co-founder Tyler Kohn contemplating whiteboard technology—and yes this is after cleaning up a bit

So we moved.

We sub-leased 2 cubes from BrightRoll in their offices on Sansome for about a year (thanks Tod and team!!!). We launched our first customers including Walmart and Sears; and added two new board members, Dave Strohm from Greylock and Dave Whorton from Tugboat. Our team consisted of a bunch of silly, usually-bathing engineers with an off sense of humor (which sometimes got printed out and hung on the cube walls J) and one poor woman, Kate, who kept us honest.

Setting up computers at the new office

Sometime in early 2008, we moved into our first real HQ. A small team of 10, we put partitions up to cover the 5,000 sq. ft. of empty space so that we didn’t feel the emptiness around us.

My most poignant memory of this office took place on October 13, 2008. We spied the SFPD SWAT team positioned downstairs—but instead of protecting our building, they had the building surrounded, their shields facing us! Interesting. When the bomb squad arrived, we knew this was for real. While no one panicked, we were very sincerely scared. No news could be found anywhere, but we quickly learned the amazing power of Twitter—Twitter was the only source real-time information about what was going on from people out on the street Tweeting their “OMG’s” and pictures. Thank goodness it ended up being a false alarm (real threat, not real bomb), but this memory is etched into our brains for all time.

The chalkboard art at our entrance, courtesy of artist Cory Schoolland

Now, busting at the seams, we’ve moved to a new headquarters with 27,000 sq. ft. With us we bring a rich sense of culture: our values adorn the walls (revised and developed by a grassroots initiative led by the whole team—thank you everyone!); custom graphics from our very own Cory Schoolland—artiste extraordinaire—greet visitors as they exit the elevator; the logos of our customers hang in our lobby alongside our “first dollar”; and over the next month, we’ll be filling the walls with our patents, and memorabilia of company events. Our conference rooms are named after video games.

Mike D is pissed at me because Star Wars is next to my office—it’s ok bud, you can come visit me in the coolest conference room ever. Anytime.

But this new headquarters isn’t singular for RichRelevance. In the past 8 months, we’ve opened/expanded every single one of our offices. The Seattle software engineering and client support team has grown so much in the past year, we started swallowing up leases throughout our building (much to the chagrin of our neighbors). In New York, after sub-leasing and sharing space with our good friends at Sense Networks for a year, we opened a brand new office in Midtown. Our Boston team has re-branded the Searchandise office as part and parcel of {rr} home turf culture (we purchased Searchandise in December last year); I’ll actually be spending a week there this month to better get to know the area. Last but certainly not least, our London and EU team has grown enormously—we’ve more than doubled our presence in Reading and moved to a brand new suite to accommodate our growing family.


What I’m most proud of is that this expansion is the manifestation of something much larger, and much more meaningful than the literal growth of our company. While we’ve expanded in size, more importantly, we’ve grown closer together across the expanses of our teams and our geographies. Every office has a Spotlight monitor (our internal tool for messaging the whole company) that broadcasts and shares our successes and the successes of our customers, and every office evokes an overwhelming sense of commitment to our culture of customer-centricity, innovation, team, integrity, ownership and action.

Thank you everyone at {rr}, to each of our customers and all of our suppliers for being our partners in this growth.

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This post was written by David Selinger

ABOUT David Selinger
David is CEO and founder of RichRelevance. He first garnered international recognition as an expert in the field of eCommerce data analytics and personalization with his groundbreaking work leading the research and development arm of Amazon’s Data Mining and Personalization team. In that role, David increased Amazon’s annual profit by over $50 million (25% of US profit, 2003) setting the industry standard for recommendation services. To view David's full profile, click here.
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