Glassdoor.com:TripAdvisor for the Workplace

Posted by: Rob Hof on June 11, 2008

If you’ve ever wondered what your officemates really make, Glassdoor.com may be what you’re looking for. The free Web site, which bills itself as a “career and workplace community where anyone can find and anonymously share real-time reviews, ratings, and salary details about specific jobs for specific employers,” launches a public beta Wednesday morning. In other words, TripAdvisor for the workplace. More details from the release:


* Detailed company reviews. Glassdoor encourages balanced feedback in its company reviews and asks respondents to provide “pros” and “cons,” along with “advice to senior management”. These unedited accounts provide insight into what employees on the inside really think, showing the good, the bad, and a lot more in between.

* Employee ratings on workplace and leadership, including CEO approval ratings. Through a series of questions, users are asked to rate the company and a range of workplace culture factors, including areas like work-life balance, fairness and respect, employee morale, and senior leadership. Glassdoor also features CEO approval ratings, providing a real-time pulse of how employees think the person in the top job is doing.

* Compensation information by company and position. Unlike most salary services that only report aggregated data by generic position type and industry, Glassdoor provides details of salary, bonuses, and other compensation for actual positions and titles at specific companies. For example, users can see exactly what a software engineer at Google makes, along with bonuses and types of equity grants, in comparison to a software development engineer at Microsoft.


Glassdoor.JPG
To see more than a sneak peak at four companies—Google, Cisco, Microsoft, and Yahoo—you have to complete a company review and salary survey. These are done anonymously, though you have to register with a verified email address. Once that’s done, you can see more than 3,300 reviews and salary reports on more than 250 companies, though 40,000 companies are listed in hopes of drawing contributions. Glassdoor has been in private beta, collecting data, for the past six months.

This promises to be more than the usual three-guys-in-a-loft Web 2.0 startup. The founders are former Hotwire.com president Robert Hohman, who’s Glassdoor’s CEO; Rich Barton, onetime Expedia founder and cofounder and CEO of real-estate information site Zillow; and former Expedia exec Tim Besse, who’s vice president of product and marketing. The Sausalito, Calif.-based company got $3 million in a Series B round in March from Benchmark Capital, whose portfolio includes Zillow, eBay, Yelp, and others.

In a recent interview, Barton took pains to distinguish Glassdoor from F***edCompany.com, a dot-com-bust-era site that hosted juicy tips on failing Web companies that sometimes devolved into gratuitous slams and unconfirmed innuendo. By contrast, Glassdoor checks each submission before it posts to make sure it doesn’t compromise the anonymity of the contributor or other employees or reveal trade secrets or inside information.

Hohman and Barton say vaguely that the business model will be advertising. I could also imagine acquisition as an option, since Hoover’s or Yahoo could be interested in such a collection of data and reviews.

Clearly, though, employers themselves, as well as recruiters, would be likely advertisers, so “for this to work, it has to work for employers” as well as prospective employees, says Hohman. Glassdoor’s offering employers benefits such as free feedback to supplement expensive formal employee surveys and free competitive analysis of compensation.

For now, the company’s priority is to amass content. The reviews, not surprisingly, are heavy in the tech companies at this point. Even some huge companies like Citigroup have no reviews or ratings yet, so there’s a long way to go. Neither does my employer, McGraw-Hill, and I assure you I won’t be the first to reveal my salary or my opinions. Indeed, I think that people will be careful about revealing too-specific information about their job, salary, and opinions about their company for fear of being identifiable. Yet Glassdoor needs pretty specific information about jobs to be useful.

I also wonder how well this can scale up to potentially thousands of employers if each review has to be checked by a real person. Barton assures us Glassdoor.com can handle this, noting that TripAdvisor—now owned by Expedia and headed by CEO Stephen Kaufer, who’s on Glassdoor’s board—also checks each of its user-contributed reviews.

At the least, the reviews currently on the site can be entertaining. Here’s a partial review from one recent past employee of Google who was “dissatisfied” with the company:


Google pushes a highly “googley” atmosphere, which is something akin to what the Brady Bunch would be like if they lived in communist Russia. Everything from the carpet to the bathroom tiles incorporate the Google colors into its design. People are encouraged to have googley attitudes, wear plastic smiles, and not to question the infallible nature of the executive management group.

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Reader Comments

william fischer

June 11, 2008 05:47 AM

The use of self-reported survey data is an established protocol for putting together survey reports. But it’s used in part to ease the process of collecting information so that enough data can be collected to have something statistically meaningful. When salary data is self-reported from a single company and the data sets per title are small, it’s fun anecdotal info but hardly actionable. With our salarytrack.co.uk tool, we look at millions of data points so that we can provide granularity and actionable salary data.

Cheers,
Bill
blog.workhound.co.uk

Dickson

June 11, 2008 11:55 AM

I think there will tend to be a bias in the population sampled. Even if the salary surveys are 100% truthful, you could easily be getting mostly young, highly paid (big egos, eager to brag), tech savy people inputting data onto this website. So the median (half making lower, half making higher) would be of a specific subset of the population and can not be generalized to the larger population.

user

June 11, 2008 12:34 PM

This site is terrible. Try doing a search and crash the whole site.

This needs a lot more work before getting this kind of attention...

shelly

June 11, 2008 01:17 PM

salarybase.com has been doing the same trick for a longer period of time I suspect

J Burlingame

June 11, 2008 02:48 PM

Good job BW, you crashed their server. All I'm getting is error messages.

sundar v

June 12, 2008 12:29 AM

There a tons of sites that give you an idea of salaries and most of them within an industry are off within 10%, i would guess. On companies culture and if you would fit in, check out OFFICEBOOK on Facebook. The app was released just a couple of weeks ago and has over 100 companies tagged and is far more easier and fun to use.

http://apps.facebook.com/office-book

If not on Facebook, check

www.beabl.com

joediddley

June 12, 2008 11:58 AM

if they can do better than sites like vault and f@company for reviews of companies, that makes sense. accurate salary informtion though is much better from a source like www.payscale.com

Linda Parker

June 13, 2008 02:50 AM

It's more focused on salary, and shelly has mentioned www.salarybase.com doing same sorta thing! One I found www.pingmycompany.com is more career and workplace community.... as it covers most of the workplace issues!

angellisa

June 18, 2008 10:51 PM

employeessoundoff.com is another site that you can rate your company and make comments. it is easy to navigate, totally anonymous and there is no log in required. check it out.

www.employeessoundoff.com

Smartpro Guy

June 30, 2008 04:37 PM

This concept is already there. Check out the website www.thesmartpro.org created much before glassdoor.com which is better same without the unwanted details. How many employees want to know the approval rating of the CEO before deciding to accept the offer?

Smartpro is neat, it classifies the responses under categories that are important and relevant to employees. It’s free and not for profit!

It does not have millions of dollars to promote like Glassdoor but is quietly aiming to provide newletters, jobs, reviews, ratings, industry benchmarks et al. All for free.

check it out at www.thesmartpro.org

John

July 3, 2008 03:15 PM

If you are looking for general salary information, check salary.com and payscale.com. If you are looking for salary information about a specific company, Jobs-Salary.com has much more.

BlockO

September 8, 2008 11:30 PM

To be fair, several other new salary website are also interesting with detail information from different perspective, like payscale.com and jpsdata.com.

M. B.

October 2, 2008 07:47 AM

It's a great idea in theory: people need an unbiased, insider glimpse of workplaces. But the data is misleading because GlassDoor.com only accepts feedback from *current* or recent employees, causing a statistical problem known as "survivorship bias" or "incumbency bias."

I'm among many ex-employees of one firm (a prominent investment research firm in Chicago) ineligible to post verifiable problems about questionable business practices and morale issues. Hence, the firm has glowing ratings mostly from employees and executives promoting the current regime.

Bill

November 26, 2008 10:08 PM

Salary List for Real Jobs offers another interesting view of jobs salary information. There are many interesting information there - Google Salary is $15,000 higher than Yahoo, and Microsoft Salary, professor salary is very decent (>$100k), attorney salary is really high, over $120k.

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