2008 Holiday, “Awesome!”

We are very fortunate that despite all of the turmoil in the greater market, richrelevance gets to celebrate 2008 as the best year ever.

In fact this past holiday season was awesome. Absolutely awesome.

All of this is due in no uncertain terms to the hard work and dedication of our team—this note a big Thank You to each of you!

Our team has grown from under 10 full-time folks crammed into sub-leased offices in January to 30 people in our fantastic downtown San Francisco offices. The industry’s “best-of-the-best” have joined our ranks and fleshed out our management team: Todd Pearson as our Chief Customer Officer (formerly VP of Worldwide Sales at PayPal), Tyler Hoffman as VP of Sales (also a former PayPal executive), Elya Kurktchi (he’s known for building Akamai’s worldwide infrastructure of 1,000+ data centers) oversees our production environment and last but certainly not least our Chief Scientist Darren Vengroff (formerly CTO of Pelago and the Senior Principal of Amazon.com’s personalization department). Jim Collins’ Good to Great encapsulates many of our company principles and values—highlighting team as the most important of all. I count my blessings every day.

Our company-wide objective for the year was to ensure that we grew our customer base scalably and with high quality—though more customers is certainly good, 100% satisfaction is even better. Closing the year live on just shy of 30 different ecommerce sites (after starting our sales in April!), we also attained our objective of 100% customer satisfaction. Big thanks to the account management and customer success teams!

Enterprise-Class Infrastructure
Our IT team raised the bar this year. They deployed 5 data centers this year, spanning the continental US. For those of you with a tech-stint, you know how complex it is to transition to a multi-homed architecture. So instead of going through these growing pains, we took the challenge from the onset, building our fully 64-bit architecture from the ground up across numerous data centers.

Further, you know that redundant doesn’t always mean resilient. Our ops guys have taken all of this to heart, and the proof is in the pudding. They were able to provide our customers a perfect 100% uptime on this architecture. And to make sure we can continue to deliver this enterprise-class service, they verify and test our failover and disaster-recover scenarios monthly. To the production operations team, led by Elya “It doesn’t exist unless you test it” Kurktchi: Big hugs!

We’ve been delivering 4-week end-to-end integration projects without skimping on setup, UI, education or QA. This was a huge investment project for us. We put together a crack team of the industry’s finest in professional services to establish best practices and develop a rock-solid process. Our results speak for themselves: after finishing their 4-week integration, our customers are seeing between 5% and 30% increase in sales. Once again, to our account management and customer success peeps: thank you for doubling down, you’re just peachy.

Holiday Onslaught

Every retailer knows how important Q4 is—this isn’t the place to elaborate too much, but we’ve all sat at our desk on November 25, watching the monitor, gripping our chairs with white knuckles, waiting. Waiting. For what we don’t know, but we know something is bound to happen.

We made it our goal at richrelevance to not be that something. Come hell or high water, to deterministically not cause a single blip for a single customer over the holiday. We were ready for anything, but were successful in not needing it—0 problems.

We served over 100 million recommendations every day, drove over a million dollars in recommendations-attributable revenue each day (almost $10 million some days!), and maintained 100% uptime throughout the critical holiday season. The thanks for this one goes out to the whole team—everyone from development, led by Tyler “T1” Kohn to operations, to customer success and sales. You guys are miracle workers. 6-sigma, bah!

With all of this progress in 2008, we aren’t sitting on our haunches—we’ve doubled down our dedication to making 2009 an even bigger and more exciting year for our customers and partners. Despite the great challenges 2009 is certain to present for everyone, we look forward to all that is in store. Thank you for your ongoing interest and support.

We sincerely wish you all a fantastically successful and rewarding year.

Warm Regards,

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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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