We had a feeling 2016 was going to be a crazy year, but we could not have anticipated such a wild start. Welcome to 2016! As we head into February, we wanted to share why all of us at SPMB are excited about the year and to offer our musings on the current state of the talent market.
Why we’re excited:
- Our clients generated $6 BILLION in liquidity events last year. Clients including Fitbit, Pure Storage and TelaDoc went public while a handful of others like Lynda.com, Solidfire and Vormetric were acquired for solid returns. The IPO pipeline, despite plunging oil prices and market volatility, is solid and clients like DocuSign, Nutanix and AppDynamics, to name a few, will IPO this year or early next and a slew will get acquired. How cool is that?
- We were named the #1 search firm serving Silicon Valley – again (we’re blushing). We closed over 200 searches in 2015 globally and just closed a record 33 searches in January. We’re really proud to say 95% of our business comes from existing clients or their referrals. We don’t do any marketing. We focus on doing good search work. Simple.
- We continue to work with the world’s greatest innovators and disruptors, which keeps our brains whirling. Our clients are reinventing the way we live, from drones to machine learning to plant-based food products.
- We’re TOTALLY JAZZED about our Consumer team and LOVE our Consumer clients. In 2015, we promoted Nicole North to Partner and recruited Becky Stein (yep, recruiters recruit!). Becky was a Senior Client Partner at Korn Ferry and is one of the most knowledgeable consumer recruiters on the planet. We now have 8 folks who focus solely on Consumer and they are crushing it. Rent the Runway, lululemon, the Pittsburgh Steelers, Fitbit, Birchbox, T-Mobile, Walker and Co. and on and on … we love Consumer!
- Our Rocky Mountains Search Practice is booming! Jon Landau, our Partner based in Boulder, CO, has built an amazing practice on the Silicon Slopes, spanning Colorado, Utah, Arizona and Texas. If you’re thinking about a move to the Rocky Mountain region or kicking off a search in this market, Jon is the guy to call! He and his team have relationships with the region’s top VCs, CEOs and Executives, and have their finger on the pulse of the market.
- Our Financial Officer practice delivered proven CFOs, and other senior finance executives,for high profile, name-brand clients and over a dozen fast-ramping startups including Anaplan, Planet Labs, Indiegogo, AlienVault, and OpenLink Financial. These are just a few examples of the great clients they have worked with. We now have two full time project leaders, Steve Popper and Jeremy Levin, who live and breathe this world exclusively. They are all finance, all the time.
- We’re growing our Southern California presence. We love the short-haul commute, but it’s much better when you have someone living near the clients – so Jasper Hopper, who was promoted to Client Partner, is living down south and servicing our LA and San Diego based clients.
- GREEN IS ALIVE! Our Sustainability practice closed over 20 searches last year. Todd Greenhalgh has established himself as the #1 recruiter in the space. With the extension of the ITC and PCT Tax Credits and the UN’s Paris Agreement on Climate Change, we expect demand for our search services in sustainability to thrive.
- Finally, in 2015 we hired a CFO and strengthened the core of the firm in everything from HR to systems, apps, databases, and finance/administration. These investments in infrastructure ensure that our Partners and search teams can stay focused on what matters most…completing searches!
- We tweeted and blogged all of last year about caution and it appears it was appropriate. We don’t see an impending train wreck; we just see long overdue sanity returning and this process will be rough for a lot of people whose expectations don’t line up with the new reality.
- This year will be about rationalizing and not about ramping. It will be about finding efficiency, discipline and operational rigor. We’re not going to see a bull market across a spectrum of categories. People will have to dig in and scratch to pull ahead.
- The volatile markets will create an absurd amount of churn. CEO’s will turn over. Execs will leave and new ones will join – in companies of all sizes. The patience for early stage companies who don’t have a path to profitability will be very low, with investors stepping in and insisting on experienced management teams.
- Unicorn companies will have a double whammy with recruiting. Their valuations have gotten so high that it will be a challenge to convince new hires there is an opportunity for wealth creation on the equity component of their offers which will necessitate an increase in cash compensation. If liquidity remains elusive then execs will leave. It will be a tough year for the Unicorn.
- VC’s are pulling back. They’re exercising caution. The bar is higher for financings and valuations are correcting rapidly (this started 6 months ago). Easy money is slowing down.
- Functionally, this will be the year Data Scientists rule the world. Harvard Business Institute dubbed the data scientist “the sexiest job in the 21st century”. We already see our retail and consumer clients reorganizing to elevate the role of the data officer.
- We think companies will still go public this year but sub-scale companies (less than $100M) with big burn rates should shelve IPO plans unless they want to vaporize. Secondaries are harder and harder to pull off and way too many companies have proven this. We see the large, public companies courting the start-up executives like they’ve never done before. They are desperate for the innovation they see at smaller companies and will look for people who can help get them unstuck.
- While a lot of public companies will continue to struggle on a number of fronts, there are still some amazing companies powering to another level e.g. Tableau, Splunk, ServiceNow, and Workday.
- FinTech, health tech, technology integrating with the human body, self driving cars, drones, the subscription economy, the on-demand economy, the sharing economy – all are super exciting categories to watch this year.
Finally, we want to go back to what we’re excited about this year. You. Because thanks to you, we get to do what we love. All 68 of us. Yep, you read that right – SPMB is now 68 people strong! All thanks to you.
Good luck to all in 2016!
The Partners of SPMB