Jason Eglit joins WhitePages as our new CFO

jason2

jason2The last year has been an exciting one for WhitePages, full of big consumer and enterprise product launches, growing profits and revenues, and acquisitions. And as we prepare for more of the same, I am proud today to officially welcome Jason Eglit as our new CFO! With more than 15 years of experience in strategy development, mergers & acquisitions, and operations planning & execution, Jason will help us carry forward our recent track-record of outstanding execution and positive momentum.

In this new role for the company, Jason will be responsible for all finance & accounting, recruiting, corporate development, legal, and human resources functions. Prior to WhitePages, he served as principal at Bayside (H.I.G.) Capital, where he led investments across a variety of sectors, including retail financial services, industrial equipment, and telecommunications. Prior to H.I.G., Jason served as senior vice president of finance and operations at AdvancePath Academics, a for-profit educational venture, of which he was also co-founder. Jason began his career at Bain & Company, after earning an M.B.A. from The Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth. Jason also holds a M. S. in Engineering-Economic Systems from Stanford University, and a B.A with honors in Physics from Williams College.

As we continue on our growth trajectory and our business becomes increasingly complex, I know that Jason will play an integral role in guiding us towards smart strategic and operational decisions. Welcome, Jason, to the WhitePages team!

WhitePages Acquires Android Call-Blocking App Mr. Number

mrnumbericon

mrnumberToday, I am very happy to announce that Mr. Number, the leading call blocking and spam identification offering on the market, has officially joined the WhitePages family of mobile apps!

Truly effective call management must provide consumers with not only an understanding of who’s on the other end of the line, but the ability to control who they actually communicate with. With Mr. Number, users can block texts and calls from a person, a business, or even a prefix, choosing to pick up and hang up on callers or to send them directly to voicemail. Further, users can decide whether or not to keep or trash the content of blocked texts, browse comments from other users when they get a spam call or text, or add ‘Suspected Spam’ to their blocklist for automatic blocking.

Call blocking features like Mr. Number’s, combined with the Caller ID functionality of Current Caller ID, provide our over 15M mobile users with yet another solution to help them address a growing consumer need to both identify and avoid unwanted calls and texts.

Needless to say, we are incredibly excited for the potential synergies Mr. Number provides for future product development at WhitePages! Stay tuned…

Hey Silicon Valley: If You Like the Seattle Tech Community, then Join, Don’t Exploit

monster.

After several of our team members participated in the last two Seattle Startup Weekend‘s, we at WhitePages were excited to cheer on the several returning WhitePagers at this weekend’s event. We were also excited to support it as a sponsor. This is one of those rare feel-good showcases of Seattle innovation that brings the whole community together, and I was encouraged to see Facebook’s support as the host of this year’s event. So the least we could do was to put a little bit of WhitePages support as well behind the non-profit that organizes the event. As the event drew closer on Friday afternoon, we were on our way to the Facebook offices with a truckload of Monster energy drinks for the event participants.

monster.

WhitePages branded Monster drinks.

Thirty minutes before our set-up time, the organizers of Seattle Startup Weekend told us to turn around. They had received a surprise memo from Facebook barring WhitePages from participating as a sponsor at the event. Both we and the Seattle Startup Weekend staff were dismayed, not only that it happened, but also how it happened. And WhitePages wasn’t the only target. Microsoft User Research was also blacklisted by Facebook in the last minute. Some vague competitive issues were cited as the reason for being forced to pull the plug on our sponsorships.

 
I’m sorry Facebook, but that’s not cool. You don’t own Seattle Startup Weekend, nor is it your or any other sponsor’s place to say who’s allowed to support this non-profit. It’s thanks to the strength of community organizations like this, and the talent showcased by them, that we have such a vibrant tech community in the first place here in Seattle. Isn’t that what initially attracted you to set up a remote office in Seattle? If you want to run closed recruiting events, go right ahead, but don’t use our precious community events to do it. Facebook has since apologized for this “miscommunication” and invited us back to co-sponsor the event, which we will be attending today.

But this incident is part of a larger discussion going on within Seattle’s tech community. As we all know, Silicon Valley has been moving into the Seattle area in droves. In addition to Facebook, many others including Google, Salesforce, and Zynga have also opened up offices up here in the hopes of garnering engineering talent. And as The New York Times’ Nick Wingfield put it, UW may “be the best computer science department you’ve never heard of”. I guess that they’ve finally discovered what I discovered when I chose Seattle as the home for WhitePages, after starting the website down at Stanford…we have amazing talent here in Seattle.

I’ll admit that this is a bit of a touchy subject for me personally. For one thing, I’m very protective of our talent, and for another, I am well aware of the giant sucking sound emanating from the Bay Area. We’re not only competing with Silicon Valley to attract new talent to Seattle, but now these firms have swept in to acquire talent in our own backyard. This war for talent has actually made a positive impact within WhitePages (and I am sure many other local tech companies), as it’s provided the impetus for us to reassess and make changes to create the best possible work environment. And in turn, it’s a great time to be a talented engineer in Seattle.

So don’t get me wrong. This northern tech migration can be a very positive thing for Seattle. Even when engineering outposts are set up here to write code for their Silicon Valley motherships, it can be an amazing thing for the local ecosystem, as far as knowledge sharing and attracting even more talent to Seattle. But it’s not quite the same net-positive when these newcomers boss around community organizations like Seattle Startup Weekend to the detriment of their well-being. If these remote tech giants want to come up here to take advantage of our talent, then I sure hope that they join rather than exploit our community, or else our vibrancy will be strip-mined away. To instead achieve the win-win that we all want, let’s join together and invest into the Seattle community alongside each other for the long term.

LinkedIn Co-Founder Konstantin Guericke and Startup Guru Geoff Entress Join WhitePages’ Board!

konstantin

konstantinToday, I am excited to announce that LinkedIn co-founder Konstantin Guericke and local startup guru Geoff Entress have joined the WhitePages board! Both Konstantin and Geoff are already making a positive impact on our business and we will continue to look to their guidance as we grow our investment in big data technology this year. A little bit about them:

Konstantin, a venture partner at Earlybird Venture Capital and mentor to Stanford student entrepreneurs, also serves on the boards of Doximity, Accolo and StartX. Prior to Earlybird, he was CEO of jaxtr, a social communications start-up with over ten million registered users that was purchased by SabSe Technologies in 2009. Before jaxtr, Konstantin co-founded LinkedIn and as vice president of marketing led the company’s marketing activities from launch to the first six million members and profitability.

goeff entressGeoff serves as a Venture Partner with Voyager Capital and focuses on information technology investments in the Pacific Northwest. A former venture partner with Madrona Venture Group, a Seattle-based venture capital firm, Geoff is a current investor in over fifty private companies in the Pacific Northwest including Walk Score and Context Relevant, who have both built successful businesses on top of big data. He is a current board member of ten companies, including Big Fish Games, Banyan Branch, Bonanza, LiquidPlanner and now WhitePages!

Please join me in officially welcoming Konstantin and Geoff to our board. And trust me when I say that the future of WhitePages just got quite a bit brighter!