Careers at Hootsuite
Hootsuite’s mission is to help organizations save time through social network management.
Ryan Holmes was the head of Invoke Media, a digital services agency. His firm maintained many different social media accounts, and desired a way to manage them all. He decided the best path forward would be to create a solution of his own. He partnered with his colleagues Dario Meli and David Tedman to develop a platform; the first version, a Twitter dashboard dubbed BrightKit, launched in 2008. The app allowed users to manage numerous Twitter accounts from one interface. Holmes figured that other firms would find the service useful and made it available to the public. The site’s publishing capabilities and clean interface led to a positive welcome.
By 2009 the dashboard had more than 100,000 users. Holmes announced a $500 prize for new name suggestions. The winning entry was Hootsuite, a term that combined the French expression “tout de suite” (meaning “right now”) with the word hoot, the sound an owl makes (the company’s logo was an owl). Later that year, Hootsuite enhanced its solution to provide more support to Facebook and LinkedIn. In December 2009, Hootsuite spun off from Invoke and became a fully-independent firm.
The next few years saw numerous infusions of cash from investors. Hootsuite obtained $1.9 million from BlumbergCapital, Heart Interactive Media, and angel investors Geoff Entress and Leo Group. In 2012 it raised $20 million from OMERS Ventures, who valued the startup at $200 million. In 2013 it received $165 million from Insight Venture Partners. In 2014 Hootsuite was selected as Employer of the Year by the Canadian Startup Awards, and reached ten million users, including 75% of the Fortune 1000. Hootsuite now has over 1,000 employees and a valuation of $1 billion.
Business model of Hootsuite
Hootsuite has a segmented business model, with customers who have slightly different needs. It serves the following groups:
- Individual Professionals: The company offers the “Pro” service for owners, entrepreneurs, and consultants.
- Small Businesses: The company offers the “Business” service for small firms and agencies.
- Large Organizations: The company offers “HootSuite Enterprise” for large brands and agencies who have multiple departments/teams/regions.
Hootsuite offers two primary value propositions: convenience and brand/status.
The company offers a number of features that increase convenience. It simplifies the process of social media management by enabling customers to organize their various platforms in a single interface. It supports the following social networks: Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, Foursquare, and Wordpress. Hootsuite also allows users to set up auto-updates so that networks can consistently publish content. Further, the solution provides real-time analytics for campaigns.
The company has built a strong brand as a result of its fast growth and prominent customer base. It now serves more than 10 million customers ranging from freelancers to more than 75% of the Fortune 1000. It has two million app installs from 150+ apps. It provides data from 100 million sources and 26 platforms. It is used in every country worldwide and is available in 16 languages. Hootsuite bills itself as the “most widely-used platform” for social media management.
Hootsuite’s main channel is its website, through which it markets its offerings. The company also promotes its solutions through webinars, free social media training classes (six are taught), and attendance at various annual events such as conferences.
Hootsuite’s customer relationship is primarily of a self-service, automated nature. Customers utilize the service through the main platform without interaction with employees. That said, there is a personal assistance component in the form of an e-mail form and the training classes it offers.
Hootsuite’s business model entails maintaining and updating its platform for its individual and business users. Its platform includes its dashboard and mobile app.
Hootsuite has four types of partners, to whom it provides training, marketing tools, and/or reselling opportunities. They are as follows:
- Agency Partners: The company partners with agencies to help them manage their clients’ platforms.
- Solution Partners: The company partners with firms who have customers seeking solutions for social marketing, social selling, social customer service, etc.
- Platform Partners: The company partners with developers planning to integrate their solutions into Hootsuite or build an app that expands its functionality.
- Affiliate Partners: The company works with organizations who promote its solution on their platforms and then earn a commission for any referrals that purchase a paid Hootsuite account.
Hootsuite’s main resource is its proprietary software platform, which now has more than 10 million users. It also depends on its human resources in the form of its engineering and customer service staff.
Finally, as a relatively new start-up it has relied heavily on funding from investors, raising $246.9 million in four rounds of funding from 11 investors.
Hootsuite has a cost-driven structure, aiming to minimize expenses through extensive automation and low-price value propositions.
Its biggest cost driver is likely sales and marketing expenses. Other major drivers are in the areas of customer support/operations and product development.
Hootsuite has two revenue streams, which are as follows:
Platform Usage: The company utilizes a freemium model in which it offers a basic level of service for free and then charges for more advanced features. The advanced feature plans align with the aforementioned customer segments, as follows:
- Pro: Costs $9.99 per month, billed annually. Plan includes up to 50 social profiles, one enhanced analytics report, bulk message scheduling, and access to premium apps.
- Business: Pricing varies; sales staff must be contacted for specifics. Plan includes all Pro features, as well as real-time analytics, publishing approvals, six social campaign templates, social media certification, a vanity URL, 24/7 priority support, and customer set-up and training.
- Enterprise: Pricing varies; sales staff must be contacted for specifics. Plan includes all Pro features, scaled up for larger organizations.
Training Classes: The company provides the following options:
- Online Hootsuite Dashboard Training: This involves on-demand certification and training on the Hootsuite dashboard for team members and admins; it costs $21 per month
- Social Media Marketing Certification: This involves instruction that will lead to certification, geared largely towards social media managers; it costs $199
- Advanced Social Media Strategy Certification: This involves instruction that will lead to academic credentials from the Newhouse School at Syracuse University, targeted at managers with industry experience; it costs $2,200
info: Ryan dropped out of college to start a paintball firm and pizza restaurant. He then founded Invoke Media, a digital services company whose staff helped him develop what would become HootSuite. He acts as an advisor an angel investor to other startups.
info: Sujeet studied at the University of Mumbai and the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Ontario. His past positions include roles at PwC, GT Group Telecom, and OpenText. He oversees Hootsuite’s facilities, legal, and finance departments.
info: Penny earned a B.S. in Computer Science and Business Administration from University of Guelph, Ontario. Her pas positions include CMO of Juniper Networks and Senior VP of Macromedia. She leads Hootsuite’s global marketing strategy.
info: Ajai earned a B.Sc. in Computer Systems at Royal Military College and a MEng in Electrical Engineering at Carleton University. He has over 18 years of experience. He leads engineering efforts to enhance Hootsuite’s product and technology.
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